#search

Misdirection, Doublespeak, Non-Answers, And Straight Up Bad Decisions

God bless Danny Sullivan. You should read his latest post tonight in which he tries to squeeze some information — any information — out of Google chairman Eric Schmidt about today’s rather disastrous deep Google+ integration into Google Search. Unfortunately, all he gets are bursts of hot air. 

Schmidt tells him that Google would be happy to talk with Twitter and Facebook about integration into the new Search+ features. So why didn’t they do that before, you know, they rolled the feature out? Well, never you mind that. Schmidt refuses to say one way or another if they did or didn’t. “I’m not going to talk about specifics.”

My understanding is that they didn’t. But perhaps more telling is the fact that they didn’t have to.

Both Twitter and Facebook have data that is available to the public. It’s data that Google crawls. It’s data that Google even has some social context for thanks to older Google Profile features, as Sullivan points out.

It’s not all the data inside the walls of Twitter and Facebook — hence the need for firehose deals. But the data Google can get is more than enough for many of the high level features of Search+ — like the “People and Places” box, for example. 

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It’s not just that Microsoft is losing money online, it’s that they’re bleeding it. And it’s getting worse, not better. The company has lost $9 billion online since they started breaking out the numbers in 2007 — $2.5 billion of that was in the past year

And Bing has accounted for $5.5 billion of the total losses. 

And what is Microsoft spending all that money on? Stealing market share from Yahoo, not Google. Yahoo is their search partner. Google is their enemy.

So what is Microsoft’s plan to make money on Bing? Essentially: get more people to use it.

Why didn’t anyone else think of that?

Microsoft’s real problem here is that in order to beat Google in search, they can’t just be better — they have to be exponentially better to get people to switch. And I’m just not sure that’s possible.

Microsoft is fighting a battle they’ve already lost simply by not taking it seriously earlier.

Billions in loses later, Microsoft may be starting to understand this. They have to compete with Google by not competing with them. They have to do something totally different and something Google can’t possibly copy.

Only one possibility comes to mind: Facebook. 

They’ve been doing stuff with Facebook already thanks to their small investment in the social network. But they need to completely blow it out. Facebook search sucks. But it won’t suck forever. Eventually, they’ll do it themselves. And they’ll do it in a way that will compete with Google by being completely different. It will not be Bing.

Microsoft needs to hurry.