Marketplace Scratch Pad

Bing vs Google

Scott Jagow Jul 9, 2009

Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing, has been around for about a month now, and well, I’ll be. It actually seems to be doing well.

According to one measurement, Bing had almost 50 million unique visitors in its first month. That makes it the 13th most-visited site, ahead of sites like Twitter, CNN and Digg. That’s US visitors only, though.

Bing still has Mt. Everest x 2 to climb before it competes with Google, or even Yahoo or Facebook in terms of visitors.

But this week’s favorable review from the New York Times won’t hurt:

For the last 15 years, Microsoft’s master business plan seems to have been, “Wait until somebody else has a hit. Then copy it.”

I know that sounds mean, but come on — the list of commercial hits/Microsoft knockoffs is as long as your arm. PalmPilot/PocketPC. Netscape Navigator/Internet Explorer. Mac OS X/Windows Vista. Apple iPod/Microsoft Zune…

And now we have yet another me-too effort. It’s something called Bing, and it’s the latest iteration of Microsoft’s multiyear attempt to imitate Google…

Here’s the shocker, though: in many ways, Bing is better.

But you don’t have to take a critic’s word for it, or agree. There’s a new site that lets you compare Bing and Google results yourself. That would be Bing-vs-Google.com.

The Times points out a few differences:

For starters, how’s this for a dream feature? Point to any search result without clicking; a pop-up balloon shows you the first few paragraphs of text on it. Without leaving the results list, you know if it’s going to be helpful. Simple and irresistible.

Here’s another example. On Google, search results usually appear as a long list of blue text links. Occasionally, a photo appears, too. Or, if there’s only one possible answer for your query (weather, stock price, sports scores, street address), you get that answer right at the top: a five-day weather forecast, a stock chart, game scores, a street map. In those cases, you don’t have to click through to anything on the search results list.

Bing does all that, too. But it also expands those “let me make sense of this for you” results — in a big, beautiful, very successful way — by introducing a new panel to the left of the search results.

I can’t tell that much of a difference, but I do like the pop-up balloon thing and the photos and tidbits on Bing’s front page.

Do you have a verdict? Bing or Google?

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