#search

Probably safe to largely throw away most of this piece as it’s by Scott Cleland, a known anti-Google lobbyist (often on behalf of Microsoft). But, there is at least one interesting thought:

Only some professional investors are aware that Microsoft has cumulatively lost about $15 billion trying to compete against Google in search advertising. Microsoft loses about $2 billion a year in search, while Google profits $25 billion gross a year in search. Not only are Google’s search revenues ten times bigger than Microsoft’s they are growing faster too, meaning Microsoft is falling further behind.

I’ve long been fascinated by Microsoft’s Bing loses. From a pure business perspective, it must be one of the worst run operations ever. But clearly, Microsoft just doesn’t care, they’re going after Google, costs be damned.

And while the new Facebook Graph Search deal may prove to be a huge boon, Cleland’s thought is fascinating: Microsoft simply shutting down Bing may do far more to hurt Google than all the billions they’ve wasted on it. Google saying “competition is only a click away” would have a lot less weight behind it.

An interesting, and ultimately I think pretty good, response from Google to an op-ed from the CEO of comparison shopping engine Nextag declaring Google a monopolist abusing its power.

Effectively, what SVP Amit Singhal is saying over and over again is: if you don’t like what we’re doing, go somewhere else. Almost the entire response is about Google’s competitors — they even bring up Google Minus Google.

That’s the thing — Google remains the best search product. In my opinion, they’re risking that with the Google+ nonsense, but people are free to go elsewhere.

This gets tricky when mobile comes into play though. Google is deeply woven into the fabric of Android and switching away from Google (not just the search engine) becomes problematic. In that regard, Google is lucky to have Apple around (and vice versa, by the way). 

Google’s larger problem though is one of perception. They’ve quickly making enemies out of seemingly everyone across multiple industries as they continue to attempt to do it all. And those enemies are increasingly calling them out. Having the words “Google” and “Monopoly” next to each other in a WSJ headline — even if it’s a misguided attack — isn’t good. Hence Google’s response.

And this will continue. As will investigations by governments into Google. And the grey areas of what they’re doing are bound to look black and white to someone eventually.

Danny Sullivan:

Back when Google was an upstart search engine, one way it distinguished itself was to fight against a pay-to-play business model called “paid inclusion.” Indeed, paid inclusion was one of the original sins Google listed as part of its “Don’t Be Evil” creed. But these days, Google seems comfortable with paid inclusion, raising potential concerns for publishers and searchers alike.

"Evil" is fluid, it seems.

Josh Constine:

While Google keeps cramming its search results pages full of tools and social content, today Bing confirmed with me the full roll out a redesigned search results page that completely clears the left sidebar, and replaces the tabbed header with a cleaner set of links. Bing Facebook integration is also more subtle now, instead of plastering names and faces beneath Liked results.

This more relaxing, dare I say zen, design gives Google a more claustrophobic and exhausting feel by comparison.

Bing now looks so much better. And smart.

Microsoft is going on the offensive. And they’re not just targeting Google Search, they’re targeting Gmail, Google Docs, and Chrome as well with their “Putting People First” ad campaign. 

Given Google’s stumbles, Microsoft’s timing is right. But these battles ultimately are ultimately still about the products themselves. It’s not enough to say you’re better, you have to actually be better to make users switch. And in the case of something like search, you have to be so much better that it’s noticeable beyond a doubt.

Despite what Microsoft may think and say, Bing isn’t there yet. And I’m not sure they’ll ever get by conventional means. But they do have a very real opportunity right now — not by getting better, but by Google getting worse. Which sounds absurd, but it’s happening.  

For their part, Google is attempting to counter these ads with their own ads. Which, unlike the Microsoft ads, are not a good idea. If you’re trying convince me that your privacy and data changes aren’t bad, the absolute last thing I’m going to believe is a paid advertisement.

Kudos to Facebook (with some help from Twitter and MySpace) for having the balls to do this. It’s a bookmarklet that replaces Google’s new “People and Pages” area, the hardcoded social search area, and the search completion drop-down, with organic results. 

In other words, it makes the new Google behave more like the old Google.

There has been a lot of back and forth in recent weeks over Google’s new Search+ functionality — about how “fair" it is, and whether or not it should lead to antitrust inquiries. But the bottom line is this:

Search+ makes Google worse. It replaces relevancy with Google’s own agenda to pump up Google+.

I say kudos to Facebook because while this isn’t an official app they created, they let their key product manager, Blake Ross, work on it and deploy it knowing full well that everyone would immediately tie it to Facebook. That in turn will put some heat back on Facebook, which itself is far from fully open with regard to data — and is gearing up to IPO. 

But again, the key issue here is that what Google is doing with Search+ is making Google worse. This bookmarklet illustrates that in a very effective way. 

John Battelle and Danny Sullivan have more on this, as do others. And be sure to watch the Focus On The User walk-through video, narrated by Ross himself.