Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Great Bing Scam

It's amazing how much trust people still have in Microsoft (MSFT). Company launched a new search engine lately and it was meat with some incredible claims. This article reports that on the first day Bing overtook Yahoo! (YHOO) and asks if Microsoft can challenge Google (GOOG) in search. Hailstorm of articles makes similar incredible claims.

I was almost ready to believe it myself, but one small thing caught my attention. I just started a new assignment, and at my new workplace Internet Explorer 6.0 is the only allowed browser. Of course, in the first several hours I mistyped some link in the browser address field, and, surprise, I see a Bing search page! It was a classic WTF moment. I checked browser search settings, Google was a default search engine. A little googling made things perfectly clear.

This article explained it all to me. Microsoft made a "mistake" and IE 6 in the whole world switched to Bing as a default search engine. Why on earth all MSFT "mistakes" are always to the company benefit?

Bing is not a Google competitor. All statistics showing Bing great start are caused by this "mistake", which, if you ask me, is just a scam. Thing is, IE 6 is still the most popular browser, because of policies of many companies and common people laziness. So, when default search for a browser was switched to Bing, it made a blimp on the statistics. Little wonder, more than 50% of internet users still use IE 6. I'm surprised that this blimp wasn't even higher. Of course, Microsoft had to correct this problem soon, otherwise company would have serious antitrust problems. But initial jump in statistics gave Bing publicity it wouldn't get otherwise. Shame on Microsoft. More shame on everybody who get caught on this cheap trick.

(Correction made on June 23, 2009: IE6 is not the most popular browser anymore, it's share is about 15%).

Full disclosure: at the time of publication author had a long position in GOOG and did not have any positions in MSFT or YHOO. Positions can change any time.

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