Join 3,363 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Microsoft! now! provides! Yahoo! search!
July 29, 2009 7:18 AM   Subscribe

Microsoft's Bing now provide Yahoo! seach. Yahoo, a 1994 internet pioneer of search, has now agreed to stop researching search tech and start using Bing. Some say it's a small deal, a Google deal rerun, and one says it's a tar pit. As pointed out, nobody yet knows if Yahoo can choose another provider if it all goes wrong.
posted by jaduncan (72 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Google gives much better search results for both "Microsoft sucks" and "Google sucks" than Bing.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:26 AM on July 29, 2009


It's a big deal. #2 and #3 search portals combine. Still won't make #1, but consolidates search market place. And it's not as complicated as Mr Blodget is making it out to be.
posted by dearsina at 7:27 AM on July 29, 2009


Bing's userbase just jumped from 3 to 4.
posted by DU at 7:27 AM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


This isn't a partnership to take over Google. It both sides thinking they're going to take over the other through stealth, positioning and guile.

Ballmer: "We've got the technology! They'll bow before us eventually."
Yang: "We've got the sales force! The sales guys always win."

They're both going to lose. The G-men in Mountain View are just rolling the hookers in cocaine like pastries, laughing their asses off.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:27 AM on July 29, 2009 [12 favorites]


Laugh all you want, this is a pretty smart deal. Someone's got to compete with Google. Microsoft's actually got the technical capability; Bing is pretty good at retrieval. And Yahoo's got the web inventory. If this doesn't work out, then the only thing that will ever be serious competition for Google will be some new, unanticipated business model.

What's sad for me is how much search and ads technology went to Yahoo to die. Inktomi, the distributed systems darling. Altavista the first great search engine. Overture the pioneer of CPC search ads. These guys were all giants in their time. Then Yahoo bought them and it slowly deteriorated. Talk about tar pits. Part of the deal is Microsoft gets access to Yahoo's search technologies, so maybe some bits of the old companies will live on inside Microsoft. I'm not holding my breath.
posted by Nelson at 7:31 AM on July 29, 2009 [13 favorites]


Eh, I'm just waiting for almost the entire Yahoo search tech staff to get hired at Mountain View.
posted by jaduncan at 7:34 AM on July 29, 2009


Yeah, this is an odd one. The timing is very confusing. Hot on the heels of Bing's launch, it might seem to imply that Bing has not garnered the expected traction, so MS has to go purchase some traction. OTOH, you could spin this as Yahoo recognizing Bing's awesomeness and throwing-in the search towel. Then your head assplodes.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:36 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't get it. Bing wasn't the complete Hindenberg we all speculated it would be, but who under the age of 35 is using Yahoo for anything? And given Yahoo's unparalleled ability to acquire innovative, interesting companies and smash them to pieces, what do they offer Microsoft other than a bargain and a mild boost in search share?

Maybe this will let Yahoo relax a little bit and get back to what they're, uh, good at? But I still don't know what's in it for MS.
posted by GilloD at 7:39 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can see how this is good for Microsoft, but I can't see the benefit for Yahoo. Yes, they get income but at great cost. Where is their future innovation going to come from? It seems like classic Microsoft embrace and extend. My prediction: in five years Yahoo will either not exist or be a Microsoft subsidiary.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:40 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sure, these guys came in second and third place in the race. But what if we tied their legs together and combined their powers?
posted by mullingitover at 7:41 AM on July 29, 2009 [23 favorites]


Yahoo's almost always contracted with third parties to provide web search. They started as a web indexer, which is a different service than text search: It required website owners manually submit their sites based on keywords and categories, and Yahoo staff vet the submissions and add them to the database.

So when free-form text search took off (thanks in large part to competition from Excite, Lycos, and AltaVista, none of whom sucked back in the day), Yahoo began hosting search results generated by third parties alongside their keyword-based web directory. They've changed their search provider several times, and the list includes Inktomi (who they bought), Overture (also bought) and Google (oh well) before bringing the service in-house for a while.

Aside from the hot-button quality of paying Microsoft -- their one-time erstwhile conqueror -- for their search services, this doesn't change things as much as you'd think.
posted by ardgedee at 7:49 AM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


And as an aside, Yahoo makes a heck of a lot more money off of hosted services that aren't directly related to web searching: News (especially business news), site hosting, email, games, and so on generate a lot more revenue than their search and web index. This could be seen more as a way to maintain a core service (licensing Bing might be cheaper than running their own search) rather than attempt to grab a bigger share of search. Without more info, I'm disinclined to act surprised.
posted by ardgedee at 7:52 AM on July 29, 2009


"under the age of 35 is using Yahoo for anything"

There's only one thing I have a Yahoo account for: flickr.
posted by jaduncan at 7:53 AM on July 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


Bing wasn't the complete Hindenberg we all speculated it would be, but who under the age of 35 is using Yahoo for anything?

The same people using IE?
posted by smackfu at 7:53 AM on July 29, 2009


There's only one thing I have a Yahoo account for: flickr.

There's only one reason I don't have a flickr account: Yahoo.
posted by DU at 7:54 AM on July 29, 2009 [9 favorites]


None of this is about search. It's all about ads. That's all.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:03 AM on July 29, 2009


Pfft...all the cool people use Cuil.
posted by milarepa at 8:03 AM on July 29, 2009


The reason the deal makes sense is that Microsoft has the technical ability to compete with Google but not the Web traffic to attract enough advertisers to make a significant market. Yahoo has a lot of web traffic, even if you yourself don't go there. Sticking the two together might work. Or it might not; Microsoft has a terrible track record doing web properties and Yahoo is entirely aimless.

(And a minor correction: Yahoo has not always used third parties for search. For the past few years the search engine has been internal, the result mostly of their Altavista and Inktomi acquisitions. This deal must be humiliating for whomever's left there.)
posted by Nelson at 8:10 AM on July 29, 2009


Man.

I remember the days when the internet first hit it big. Yahoo seemed awesome when they were just a directory, you could spend several happy hours just browsing around finding cool sites in their hierarchy. That directory, flickr and Pipes are the only cool things Yahoo has done that I can name. Everything else has been fail. The directory isn't even linked from the front page anymore.

They were a cool service that they turned into a brand, then the brand became their all and the services faltered, taking the brand down with it. How many other companies has this happened to? Why isn't this disease listed in business textbooks as something to avoid at all costs?
posted by JHarris at 8:15 AM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


I wonder if this will turn out to be good for Google by getting them out of the DOJ's antitrust crosshairs.

Of course for that to happen, MicroHoo would have to be somehow successful.
posted by Uncle Ira at 8:16 AM on July 29, 2009


I suppose this makes sense since Bing is the better way to Google.
posted by mhum at 8:17 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have to keep my Yahoo mail account to forward to my Gmail account. I have been trying to get people to update their address books for four years now without luck.
posted by octothorpe at 8:18 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


The G-men in Mountain View are just rolling the hookers in cocaine like pastries, ...

Whoa, what? Does that work? I love Linzer tarts but never had one of these.
posted by asusu at 8:19 AM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


mhum: "I suppose this makes sense since Bing is the better way to Google."
Ahem.
posted by boo_radley at 8:22 AM on July 29, 2009


Google gives much better search results for both "Microsoft sucks" and "Google sucks" than Bing.

Heh, I was working on a website yesterday and had IE open so that I could see how (screwy) it looked on there. I was having trouble with float commands, of course, so I did a search--but accidentally searched through IE instead of firefox. Bing's results for "float ie" sucked hard. Whereas this was the very first google result.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:24 AM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


The evolution of Yahoo!'s front page over the years is indicative of the company's strategy, which is "if I just make the right friends, I'll succeed." Their frantic attempts to partner with just about everyone have finally netted them someone big. They've done it by touting their "userbase," which is a crumbling phonebook filled with pornbots, throwaway addresses, spammers, and dead accounts left behind by disappointed users fleeing the first three.

The "services" provided to their users usually consist of marketing department driven "initiatives" which half-heartedly attempt to clone some other popular service. Most of their "fixes" involve either taking things away from users or otherwise inconveniencing them, after they've had fun shoving a shiny new idea down everyone's throat. Marketing creates blogs, but then deletes comments from users complaining about the annoying "innovations" foisted upon them.

If Yahoo! were on Facebook, it would be blasting out friend requests to its third grade math teacher and installing widgets left and right to make it looks more interesting and popular than it actually is.

Microsoft must know this, which means it either has a deeper strategy, is wildly deluded, or is desperate itself.
posted by adipocere at 8:25 AM on July 29, 2009 [6 favorites]


I had a tech support call yesterday, that went like so:

"Who is your internet provider?"

"Yahoo."

"Yahoo? They aren't an ISP."

"Then why does my internet always say 'Yahoo' when I turn it on?"
posted by empath at 8:34 AM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yahoo pipes is pretty great, though.
posted by empath at 8:35 AM on July 29, 2009


It may or may not be a smart deal for MS and Yahoo... but I think it's a crucial deal for consumers.

Google's remarkably dexterous, happy-faced, rainbow-colored tentacles are spreading dangerously far, dangerously fast... and seeing the Big G get more competition, even if it's lame competition, is a good thing. (Some putative future anti-trust intervention, on the face of it, seems neither that useful nor that realistic.)
posted by darth_tedious at 8:42 AM on July 29, 2009


Bing's results for "float ie" sucked hard. Whereas this was the very first google result.

I think this is due to Google's very aggressive substitutions they are doing nowadays. If you search Bing for "float internet explorer", the top result is the same as what you got for Google. In general, Google's approach works well, but it can be very aggravating when it misinterprets what you mean and substitutes in a different, bad keyword. I find myself sticking a plus on search terms a lot lately, so that it just uses what I typed instead of second-guessing.
posted by smackfu at 8:46 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Yahoo? They aren't an ISP."

Although... they were from the customer's perspective. AT&T sold their DSL co-branded with Yahoo until April 2008. (cite)
posted by smackfu at 8:53 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


and seeing the Big G get more competition, even if it's lame competition, is a good thing

I could be wrong, but if #2 and #3 merged, isn't that less competition?
posted by rusty at 9:01 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, I predict Bing and Yahoo(!) will rock the search world like AOL Time-Warner rocked the media world.
posted by rusty at 9:03 AM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's a good analysis of the deal at Search Engine Land. Includes numbers: 88% of ad revenue goes to Yahoo, a relatively short 18 month guarantee of revenue from Microsoft, and Yahoo's estimate of $500 million / year income plus saving $200 million / year in costs.

PS: I know I'm not the only (former) search engine insider on Metafilter. Anyone else from the business have any thoughts?
posted by Nelson at 9:12 AM on July 29, 2009


Pepsi still exists in case you people haven't noticed. It isn't winner take all out there just because that is what you see on the Apprentice.
posted by srboisvert at 9:16 AM on July 29, 2009


> if #2 and #3 merged, isn't that less competition?

Fewer but stronger competitors can sometimes produce more competition.
posted by darth_tedious at 9:17 AM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yahoo is great as a throwaway email address.

Uh, well, that's all I've got.
posted by tommasz at 9:18 AM on July 29, 2009


It seems obvious but goes unlearned; on the internet, it's revolution not evolution. You really don't want to compete with Google, you need to make them irrelevant.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:20 AM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think this is due to Google's very aggressive substitutions they are doing nowadays. If you search Bing for "float internet explorer", the top result is the same as what you got for Google.

Bing appears to be doing similar substitutions, albeit ones aimed at a different user. If you search Bing for "+float +ie", the third result is the "positioniseverything" link and you cut out the "floatie" results.
posted by Slothrup at 9:21 AM on July 29, 2009


Yahoo is such a search engine slut. When's the last time they did anything in-house?
posted by Evilspork at 9:26 AM on July 29, 2009


Maybe this will let Yahoo relax a little bit and get back to what they're, uh, good at?

I'm waiting for someone to tell me what this is. They seem so 2001 to me.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:35 AM on July 29, 2009


Yahoo seemed awesome when they were just a directory, you could spend several happy hours just browsing around finding cool sites in their hierarchy.

These days with Google or even Bing and the other less popular search engines, we take it for granted that search is the core method of navigating on the Internet. But back when Yahoo became popular, there really was a legitimate place for hierarchical categorized link directories, mostly because the first few generations of search engines just weren't very good. If you typed in some keywords into a search engine before Google came in and changed everything, you'd find the most SEO-friendly pages rather than the most relevant ones, so having someone list out the top few sites in a given category was helpful. Web directories like Yahoo and the later more open Dmoz were one way of doing this, as were webrings or just simple Links sections of sites that pointed to other good similar sites. By the time Yahoo's directory failed to scale to the increasingly large amount of content on the Internet, Google had already established search as the dominant method of finding things, and Yahoo itself had already moved on to focus on being a generalized web portal.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:51 AM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'll be waiting to see something about this posted on a fave blog of mine - Machine Learning ( Theory ), as the operator of it is the "Doctor of Learning" at Y! Research. Hopefully he can shed some light in the near future on what's going to happen to him and his team.
posted by cloax at 9:59 AM on July 29, 2009


You really don't want to compete with Google, you need to make them irrelevant.

I think that Bing is going to try to outflank Google by making it a completely different "search experience." Instead of trying to out-perform Google in simply keyword searches, MS is likely trying to leverage its properties like Expedia and things like Yahoo Cars and Yahoo Real Estate to allow people to search for plane tickets and search through classified ads from a single points of entry. I suspect that Bing is trying to create a completely different model for what we use when we think of "web search."

At least, that is what I hope they're doing, because if they're not, and if they're just trying to create just another search engine, but "better," then they're wasting their time.
posted by deanc at 10:11 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


It seems obvious but goes unlearned; on the internet, it's revolution not evolution. You really don't want to compete with Google, you need to make them irrelevant.

This typically-American (or maybe -Western) concept is really toxic in a lot of areas. It's part and parcel with "the perfect is the enemy of the good" and "anything worth doing is worth overdoing".

I see this all the time in energy discussions, for instance. "Solar is a great idea, but won't solve the whole problem." So? Not every improvement is a paradigm shift. If we are better of with the improvement than without it, then we are better off, period.

And not every company has to be, or even can be, #1. You really don't "need to make them irrelevant". It's OK to just quietly build a better mousetrap and let that speak for itself.
posted by DU at 10:16 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can't wait for my Flickr and Delicious accounts to be owned by Microsoft!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:32 AM on July 29, 2009


And not every company has to be, or even can be, #1. You really don't "need to make them irrelevant". It's OK to just quietly build a better mousetrap and let that speak for itself.

Eh. When it comes to certain technology niches, I disagree: was it really worth MS's while to create the Zune? Sure, it's good enough, and maybe it has a few features that the iPod doesn't have, but even if it was "better" in an objective sense, would it really have succeeded or even be worth spending time on?

That said, I probably would have made the same argument about the XBox, and that was a platform that provided an incremental improvement compared to Sony (being cheaper) that succeeded in the marketplace. But even there, Nintendo succeeded not by trying to compete head-on with Sony but by creating an entirely different gaming niche.
posted by deanc at 10:34 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


The really need to rebrand their engine and call it *ACME* because, every time they (yahoo or microsoft) try to do something they look more and more like Wile E. Coyote.
posted by Danf at 10:37 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, Wall Street doesn't like the deal. Yahoo is off 10% and Microsoft is down too.

(Then again, the entire market seems to be a bit cranky today, so who the hell knows what's going on anymore?)
posted by dejah420 at 10:43 AM on July 29, 2009


...was it really worth MS's while to create the Zune? Sure, it's good enough, and maybe it has a few features that the iPod doesn't have, but even if it was "better" in an objective sense, would it really have succeeded or even be worth spending time on?

I don't know about the special case of MS and Zune, but I know for certain that I'm glad other companies made mp3 players. When I was in the market for one I specifically wanted a non-iPod.

Nintendo succeeded not by trying to compete head-on with Sony but by creating an entirely different gaming niche.

It's kind of "mere semantics" whether this is an example of your argument or mine. On the whole, I think it's mine (but then I would). Wii doesn't make the other players irrelevant, they just found customers that wanted to do something different. Did the invention of dishwashers make refrigerators irrelevant? No, they solve different problems and both devices are on the market today, doing well. Wii vs xbox vs PS is a closer-knit family than that, but the point remains.
posted by DU at 10:51 AM on July 29, 2009


In general, Google's approach works well, but it can be very aggravating when it misinterprets what you mean and substitutes in a different, bad keyword. I find myself sticking a plus on search terms a lot lately, so that it just uses what I typed instead of second-guessing.

Honestly? I don't think I've ever had that happen. I would guess that the average user--say, like my mother, who has no technical knowledge--would far prefer a search engine that tries to intuit what you mean than one that takes the search terms overly literally. I definitely can't imagine my mother sticking a plus next to terms on a google search.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:08 AM on July 29, 2009


deanc said: was it really worth MS's while to create the Zune?

Erm, ok...maybe I'm one of the only folks...but I love my Zune. I do. Sure, it has it's issues, but no more than the ipod. For one thing; Apple has pissed me off, so I didn't want to pay hipster prices for a generic toy. Also, for me it's that I really like bigger electronics. I can find them in my purse. I can't find tiny little phones or teeny little mp3 players in a purse that has all of my crap AND all the stuff that accumulates from following a 6 year old around. The zune...unfazed by animal cracker crumbs, sticky candies that have been enrobed in stickier tissues, towelettes, and being used as an emergency plaything when my dentist visit ran long and I need to amuse the Boy with a ton of Merrie Melody cartoons while my braces were coming off.

I get that the proprietary thing is a pain in the ass, but just like hacking an iphone, you can hack the zune...and you can completely ignore the proprietary software if you just want to use it like a regular mp3 player. I guess I just don't get where all the zune hate comes from.
posted by dejah420 at 11:22 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I guess I just don't get where all the zune hate comes from.

The Zune is the Zima of MP3 players.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:38 AM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


That directory, flickr and Pipes are the only cool things Yahoo has done that I can name.

And YUI.

But while Pipes is very cool, has anyone actually done something proper with it? Not a demo, not a diversion, not something "cool", I mean a real application with utility? Serious question.
posted by outlier at 11:44 AM on July 29, 2009


But while Pipes is very cool, has anyone actually done something proper with it? Not a demo, not a diversion, not something "cool", I mean a real application with utility? Serious question.

For a while, I was working on a Pipes-like environment for graphically developing bioinformatics pipelines, where data is passed on from point to point and analyzed at each step. The general idea of Pipes is applicable to lots of processes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:54 AM on July 29, 2009


But while Pipes is very cool, has anyone actually done something proper with it?

Pipes is sort-of a first-generation product- the real money is in YQL, which is a SQL-like system for querying data from almost anywhere on the web. I highly recommend you check it out.

Disclosure: I am a Yahoo! employee, and today's news is less than thrilling. It feels like we're throwing a lot of talent and research down the drain.
posted by potch at 11:57 AM on July 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


The fundamental problem for competitors to google search is this: there is no real dissatisfaction with google search for large enough groups of users. If there was, a competitor would have the advantage of users actively searching them out. The users would come to them of their own initiative - you don't have to create positive incentives. Absent that, the competitor must create positive incentives - they must outshine google by a very large amount to overcome the inertia. And inertia is a powerful force in the marketplace. The trouble for search engines is that they truly must appeal to end users - because appealing to ad buyers and businesses is not nearly enough... nobody is going to keep buying ads if there are not enough users for the ads to be effective - chicken and egg. So is Bing + Yahoo going to vastly outshine Google search? I'm skeptical.
posted by VikingSword at 12:06 PM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


VikingSword: ... there is no real dissatisfaction with google search for large enough groups of users. If there was, a competitor would have the advantage of users actively searching them out.

Yes, but using what?
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:13 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


The fundamental problem for competitors to google search is this: there is no real dissatisfaction with google search for large enough groups of users.

What's funny about Bing's ad campaign is that it's actively trying to convince people that Google isn't giving them good enough search results, specifically trying to convince the public that Google will give you a lot of results that aren't applicable to what you were looking for. Does this happen to most people? Maybe there are a lot of people who don't have good keyword-search skills.
posted by deanc at 1:32 PM on July 29, 2009


Yang: "We've got the sales force! The sales guys always win."

I'm pretty sure that Yang, who quit/was fired months ago was asleep throughout the 5 AM conference call. I assume you mean Bartz.

As for "killing" Google, who cares? You don't need to be #1 to make money online. Being #1 helps a lot, but there's zero difference in effort between going to Google vs Yahoo. This leads to something that's going to help Google a lot - as long as there's a strong #2 in this space it will be very hard to launch an anti-trust campaign against Google. Honestly, this is the best news Google could receive. Yahoo failing would be very, very bad for Google.
posted by GuyZero at 1:41 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I find myself sticking a plus on search terms a lot lately, so that it just uses what I typed instead of second-guessing
And so the circle is complete. I switched to the Google beta the very second I saw that "Tip: Google searches for all terms, you don't need to use +" in grey text below the search box. It was always mystifying how Altavista decided that a search for, say, "snow leopard" meant you were either interested in precipitation or cats, and results for either would be dandy.

As for Bing: Is it true the name stands for Bing Is Not Google, or is that a backronym?
posted by fightorflight at 1:42 PM on July 29, 2009


backronym?

backronym.

And so the circle is complete.

Well, Google is trying to figure out what you meant ("intention") versus what you literally said. When it works you don't notice it much and Google seems like a mind-reader. When it fails it looks like it was ignoring what you said. it's far from done.
posted by GuyZero at 1:44 PM on July 29, 2009


"I guess I just don't get where all the zune hate comes from."

Well for one thing if you were a MS fanboy when the Zune came out your previously purchased from Microsoft music with the ironically named "Plays for Sure" DRM didn't work on the Zune.
posted by Mitheral at 2:42 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


cloax, yes, Langford is the master.
posted by mubba at 4:35 PM on July 29, 2009


Ballmer: "We've got the technology! They'll bow before us eventually."
Yang: "We've got the sales force! The sales guys always win."


Yang was canned after the MSFT deal (the first one, where Microsoft tried to buy the company) failed.

This leads to something that's going to help Google a lot - as long as there's a strong #2 in this space it will be very hard to launch an anti-trust campaign against Google. Honestly, this is the best news Google could receive. Yahoo failing would be very, very bad for Google.

I'm not sure that's google's thinking. Google tried to do their own Yahoo deal (which fell through due to anti-trust issues) and they said they didn't want MSFT and Yahoo to merge.
posted by delmoi at 6:00 PM on July 29, 2009


Two heads are better than one.

Except when they're half-wits. A half-wit times a half-wit is a quarter-wit.

Or in other words, this is like tying the legs of the second- and third-place "winners" of the 100m dash, and expecting your three-legged abomination to handily beat the first-place, record-breaking winner.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:10 PM on July 29, 2009


Once upon a time, Yahoo! didn't do search at all; it was a destination. Then they bought Overture, and Inktomi, and so on and so forth, attempting to become a search company, too. That went horribly awry over five years of Terry Semel leadership, leaving Yahoo! as a company that does search badly (and everyone talks about it) and destinations very well (that nobody talks about.) This deal -- if it works out as planned, and lord knows we have no idea -- just brings Yahoo! back to when they were profitable. After all, before they bought Overture, Yahoo!'s search results came from Overture, and Overture took a percentage on the ads. Now the search business is outsourced again, and it's just like it was before, only we get the larger percentage (whereas Overture got it before.)

As a Yahoo! employee, I'm happy, personally. Then again, I don't work in the search engineering area.
posted by davejay at 7:11 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


What's funny about Bing's ad campaign is that it's actively trying to convince people that Google isn't giving them good enough search results, specifically trying to convince the public that Google will give you a lot of results that aren't applicable to what you were looking for. Does this happen to most people? Maybe there are a lot of people who don't have good keyword-search skills.

There are definitely a lot of people who's google-Fu isn't strong. The problem for Bing is that this demographic is just going to shrink as time goes on. Search for the un-savvy is a dead end. Bing is gambling that the end is far enough away that they can make sufficient cheddar in the meantime.

Bing's problem is that the first generation of digital natives are growing up with googling as second-nature. They're not just going to google.com, they know intuitively how google works and how best to find what they need on google. For a lot of folks, their first impression of Bing is going to be, "that's dumb, it doesn't give the results I expect (from google)."

I think deanc has it: if Bing can become the portal for things that currently take more research than a simple search (plane tickets, for instance, which require using a number of sites to get the best deal) then they have a future. Still I'm skeptical: startups with fresh blood will always have the upper hand and MSFT will constantly be fighting uphill.
posted by wemayfreeze at 9:58 PM on July 29, 2009


Is it true the name stands for Bing Is Not Google

I hadn't thought of this (or heard it before, oddly) and I must say, if it is, I like the name a hell of a lot more than I did before.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:25 PM on July 29, 2009


me & monkey: None of this is about search. It's all about ads. That's all.

me & monkey got it. This deal is happening because it benefits both companies and the timing is pretty terrific.

The Bing search engine debut has been pretty successful and has gained market share from both Google and Yahoo. Putting the Bing search engine under the hood at Yahoo gives Microsoft's search engine greater search advertising reach. Remember, this is a search advertising deal - Yahoo keeps its display advertising business. This deal in effect doubles Bing's search advertising inventory. So the combined pool of ads on search engines is now 75% Google, 25% Microsoft instead of 75% Google, 12% Microsoft, 12% Yahoo. For customers looking to spend advertising dollars on search engine ad placement, this is a good thing because the potential reach for their ads increases by 100%.

Talking financials, Yahoo slashes expenses by not having to pay search engine developers. Let's say they keep half of them on to handle the transition and work on various search-related projects. That's a 50% reduction in developer salaries while retaining 88% of the search engine revenues. That's no small amount - search engine developer salaries are extremely pricey since it's practically voodoo science. And Yahoo has a very well established sales force so keeping them on to handle the premium sales and customer relations face for both companies makes a lot of sense.

Taking search development out of the picture lets Yahoo focus on its core strength as a portal (the various Yahoo branded properties) and a platform for providing display advertising. Yahoo was never a search technology company - it simply bought what it needed to compete. Microsoft is a technology company and has the cash and developer pool to compete against Google's search technology. The 10-year search engine deal effectively states that Yahoo is permanently out of the search engine business and probably what allowed it to negotiate the sweet 88% cut of revenues deal.

At the end of 10 years, Yahoo will be free to negotiate for a search engine vendor and I'm sure they're betting on a few things to happen:
1. Yahoo will be even more valuable portal for display advertising and search advertising
2. Microsoft will make Bing an even more worthy competitor to Google's search engine
3. Yahoo will be able to use #1 to initiate a bidding war between Microsoft and Google to power search on Yahoo properties

Of course, all of this predicates on Yahoo still being around in 10 years, a lifetime in Internet years.
posted by junesix at 12:00 PM on July 30, 2009


It makes total sense for it to stand for Bing Is Not Google, there's a long tradition of those kinds of names in software, and Microsoft would never, ever admit to it.

I'm going with the assumption that was part of the reason they went for it.
posted by empath at 6:04 PM on July 30, 2009


I hope that more people start using bing - it's not a good thing if one company own an entire market
posted by SamsFoster at 9:36 PM on July 30, 2009


« Older Scientists at the University of Rochester Medical ...  |  Jyothi Raj [it gets cool at :5... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments