What if the norm is already an exceptional experience?

mr-fixit

Or to paraphrase my grandfather, “If it aint broke, don’t fix it.”

Microsoft has been promoting its new search experience, Bing, with an estimated $100-$300M advertising campaign.  Factoring in development costs Billions have been invested in this new product.  Now people are wondering if this was all money well spent.  As you’ve heard from me before, the answer depends on which question you think to ask.

A Good Question: Are people using Bing?

Answer: Yes.  Bing has 50M +/- visitors to the site in June.  As a point of comparison, Google has seen slow and steady growth in 2009 nearing 150M in June.

A Better Question: Do these visitors like Bing?

Answer:
It appears that the answer here is yes, with some caveats.  People are starting to probe into this by surveying people active on the internet.  One recent study published these results:

“Of the respondents who had tried Bing, 38.3% listed the relevancy of the results as its greatest strength, with the variety of results including web, maps, images, etc. coming in second at 22.1%. Speed, organization of the results page, and the user interface also received positive reviews.”

The New York Times had article about a side-by-side comparison.  Takeaway is that Google isn’t quite the exceptional experience just yet.  Depends on what you’re looking for: quantity or quality of search engine results pages.  Bing is banking on quality.  Microsoft’s POV on Google has been that it’s all branding and perception.  They’d be happy to gain a few points from anyone.

If we stop pushing and asking questions at this point, this seems like a great story for Microsoft.  But for fun, lets take things one step further.

The Best Question:
Is Bing good enough to compel people to switch from Google?

Answer: No.  The same survey suggests that “98% of people won’t switch to Bing and that those who do will be coming from AOL and Ask (folks Microsoft might have gotten eventually, anyway).”

I’m not suggesting that this the end of the story, or that Bing has failed by any stretch.  But I hope this helps illustrate the value of pushing until we can answer the right question.

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