Microsoft looked a lot less sickly in 2010 than they had in the several years prior. Their partnership with Yahoo has garnered them a much higher portion of market share — with numbers as low as 10% market share or as high as 29%, depending on which report and segment of time you’re looking at. Additionally, Bing itself is simply a healthier search engine than its “Live” predecessor (an ironic name if there ever was one).
But one question remains: Can they catch up?
According to one analyst, Tim Altom of IBJ, it’s not likely — but that may not be because Bing is actually a worse search engine. Partially, it may be the search engine’s history that’s to blame.
Unlike Google, which Altom describes as “having entered the world fully formed,” Bing in the final stage of a process that’s taken over a decade now. Their original search engine actually nabbed results from AltaVista — now a Yahoo product that’s soon to have no other label but “R.I.P.” The site became more popular and streamlined over time, eventually changing its name to the aforementioned “Live” search. Then, trying to capture a new generation of searchers and gain some footing in the territory, Live relabeled itself as “Bing” and added a heaping mound of features and improved search.
Altom says that the search results for both Google and Bing are equally viable, but that the interfaces have different personalities. While he describes Google’s as Spartan, he says that Microsoft’s says something more to the effect of “Aren’t baby seals cute? It’s a great day to search, isn’t it?” Additionally, however, Bing has some features that offer significant advantages over Google, such as the Silverlight run Bing Maps tool. Sadly, they’re likely late in coming. “It’s all about habitual use,” says Altom, “and the searching public is definitely fixated on using Google.”