Rumours have been circulating that Microsoft has been looking to drop their search engine Bing which holds less than 15% of the market share, compared with Google’s whopping 65.7%.
Last year Bing was operating at a loss of nearly $1BN per quarter for Microsoft, which could explain why they’re eager to drop the dead weight. The loss can’t be blamed on Bing entirely, reports say that Microsoft has never made a profit on its online services division.
The source of the rumour is a Reuters opinion piece in which Robert Cryan suggests that Microsoft should do its shareholders a favour and sell Bing. Cryan goes on to say that selling Microsoft could generate up to $11 billion. Microsoft reportedly has its sights set on the SmartPhone market and are considering teaming up with Nokia to achieve this.
If they were to drop Bing, it has been speculated that the search engine would be bought by Facebook, which already integrates Bing into users’ News Feed, or possibly even Apple. As Facebook tries to infiltrate further and further into our lives, it looks like they could be set to compete with Google to offer a social search engine.
What would Social Search look like?
Social search relies on community and offers personalized results in a way which other search engines cannot. As search engines get smarter and start looking at content over keywords, social search is big news. Social Search includes an element of human judgement, as the returned results are considered relevant by real people, rather than keyword stuffing website owners.
Google has already made steps in this direction with the +1 button which we’ve seen cropping up. Giving a website a +1 gives the site your stamp of approval, and while this doesn’t directly affect search results, it does help. A page with a high number of +1’s is more likely to be shared, and will therefore gain a higher number of links, making it more relevant for search engines.