October 30, 2009

Competition and Innovation: Duh.

So another release of Ubuntu is officially out in the wild and it is just another example of the credit due to Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical for making a head-strong push into bringing Linux into mainstream PC usage. But that's all I'll say about Linux because believe it or not I'm actually here to talk about Microsoft today... no don't go... crap!

Anyway, if you're still with me I want to discuss a bit about how competition has proven to get Microsoft off of it's laurels and into some innovative business thinking, even if the ideas aren't their own at least they're trying.

Bing! Though the TV ads are catching on I don't think the ad campaign is the innovation going on here. Let's think back to a few years back when Microsoft decided to start pushing a big ad campaign for it's own search engine (Windows Live Search) in order to try and win some customers over from the ever popular and ever growing do-no-evil giant of search, Google. What ended up happening was people saw the commercials and thought: "Oh look, that company that makes computers has a place on the internet to search for stuff." Because to the general public that is what Microsoft is, a computer manufacturer (and some might even thing they run the internet!)

Some of these people might have even tried this search engine. Those who had used MSN search before would think how it was nothing new and the new people coming from Google would think how it doesn't really work. Results aren't what I'm looking for. To the former I say "Spot on!". Live Search was barely even a rebranding with a bit of new CSS thrown into the web page to make it look more web-modern. To the latter I'd have to conclude that it's not that it didn't 'work' but that it was different than the results you were used to seeing with Google. They used different ways to determine what was relevant to your search terms, and on a behemoth of data such as the world wide web that can produce drastic differences in results.

So it seemed that Microsoft went off the grid as far as their new plans of search engine domination went. But then there were rumors... Something new was in the mix and it was rumored to be a new search engine from the company that brought us PCs, the internet, AND Windows Live Search. When it finally came out of hiding it wasn't a new version of Windows Live Search at all, it was a completely NEW product. Microsoft branding all but disappeared from the product and this new brand emerged: Bing.

But they didn't stop there. If you've paid attention to the TV ads yo probably noticed a difference in how Bing is being promoted. It's not a presentation of "Hey! we have a search engine too!" but more of a claim of "Bing is new, Bing is different, try Bing". Now even taking direct hits at Google int he ads by claiming a sense of feeling inundated with floods of info from Google (which I don't find accurate, but it's an ad folks) and how Bing brings different results (their slant on different being more of what the searcher wants.. again, just ad speak).

Do I think Bing will take the reigns from Google and begin dominating the web search engine usage? No. But I think Microsoft finally got something right. I think they realized that sometimes it's not good enough to just be Microsoft and have the Microsoft brand (in fact with today's viral market it's a bit of a detriment).

until next time

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