And we're back with the tech wars. Ryan Tate reports that Google's search engine chief is feeling the heat from Microsoft Bing, a search engine that I find impressively designed, intuitive and attractive -- despite the fact that I have never used it except to write blog posts about it. I'm pleased that Google feels the urge to update its services to compete with an up-start like Bing, but I think Tate buries the lead here.
Bing's market share in search is 9 percent and stalling. Google's is 71 percent. Take away the internet buzz from people like me who are paid to see world-shattering revelations in grain-of-sand controversies, and this is a rivalry on par with Yankees-Orioles.
Still Google is better off feeling the heat under its bum. It's already responded to Bing with small changes -- like making the font bigger in the search boxes -- and I honestly think Bing remains a better search engine for consumers. Searching for plane tickets and electronics really seems easier and more streamlined with Bing's layout and suggested secondary searches.
If I were Google, I wouldn't be afraid to add art to the homepage. I'd
begin work on a consumer function that allowed users to search pictures
of items they're interested in buying instead of headlines. This wouldn't
be like the Image tab -- it could be an organized waterfall of product
pictures with specs and prices. I'd allow users to run dual searches
for some terms. For example, if I search "health care reform" I'd get a
regular waterfall of search returns plus a second column of recent news
in HCR (Google ads would just slide to the right). Or if I searched
"Kashmir," it might return a column of pictures and another of recent
news. I have a sense that in five years, we'll look back on Google's
one column of results as a needless limitation on the amount of
information you can fit on a search engine page.