Has Microsoft’s Bing Strategy Paid Off?

Despite launching its redesigned Bing search engine in May, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) lost $364 million from its online services division last quarter, and Bing’s market share continues to be meager.

According to data compiled by comScore, Bing’s share of the United States PC search market was 16 percent in the month of October, a slight increase from 15.9 percent in September and 15.1 percent last December. Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), which is powered by Bing, had a 12.2 percent share, in line with its September results and down from December’s 14.5 percent. In comparison, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) hit a record high of 66.9 percent in October.

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On the international and mobile level, Bing’s market share is much lower. NetMarketShare’s October statistics show that Bing has a 5 percent search share globally, with Ask (AKMN.PK) at 1 percent, Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) at 2 percent, Yahoo at 8 percent, and Google at 85 percent.

But Microsoft has made efforts to be more competitive. As the company’s chief executive Steve Ballmer told USA Today in October, “I think about search as a part of a bigger picture. It’s about building systems that learn about us, and the world around us, and help us better connect with and accomplish the things that we want to do.”

Last May, Microsoft announced that the company had redesigned its search engine in an attempt to “beat Google at its own game.” The game is social search. As both companies realize, search has now become a social experience. Bing makes the claim that 90 percent of people consult with a friend or expert before making a decision, and Google returns search results that have been endorsed, or +1’d, by friends. The “New Bing” features three columns: search results, a “snapshot” view, and a social sidebar. To build up this social element, Microsoft has made several content partnerships with social networks like Yelp (NYSE:YELP), which announced in June that its reviews and pictures would appear in Bing Local searches.

However, judging by comScore’s results, the “New Bing” has had little effect on the search engine’s market share. With Bing pulling Yahoo’s results down as well, USA Today reported that Yahoo may turn to Google when its contract with Microsoft ends next year.

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