Why is Google Afraid of Bing?

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.