If the moment I say education and your brain shows you flashbacks from or pictures of your school and university life, I’d say you were normal. But with the proliferation of the internet, education has transcended the physical boundaries of a room filled with desks, chairs and crushed dreams.
The phrase ‘Google it!’ has become an educational movement in itself and has helped millions around the world to attain knowledge and information of all sorts. Google over the years has become the most dominant search engine and has led everyone else to believe that competitors like Bing are just dead.
But what if I said Bing is alive and kicking? Yes, you read it right! Bing, Microsoft’s answer to Google’s search engine, is a profitable entity and is growing bigger every year. Still scratching your brains? Let’s dive a bit deeper to understand what’s happening here.
Bing was announced in 2009 as an answer to Google’s growing dominance and as a part of Steve Ballmer’s efforts to transform Microsoft into a services company from a software company.
But as we now know, Bing’s beams were never too bright for Google to wear glasses. And with the eventual rise of Android and Google services, most of us were led to believe that Bing never took off. But we might want to rethink that notion.
Microsoft’s 2018 Annual Report reads that Search Advertising Revenue (essentially Bing & Bing Ads) increased $793 million or 13% from the previous year. A simple calculation and tells us that Bing almost grossed $6.9 billion USD* in 2018 only!
Microsoft recently announced that revenue from its search advertising, excluding traffic acquisition costs, rose 14% in the fourth quarter of 2018. Some analysts have even stated that Bing has a bright future and is only poised to grow in both revenues & profits.
So what is sustaining Bing’s business and driving growth?
1) Alexa won’t talk to Google
Amazon’s Alexa searches are powered by Bing’s search engines. Given the animosity between Amazon and Google, you should’ve seen this coming, right? The global smart speaker market size was valued at $4.4 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach $23.3 billion by 2025.
In the United States alone, the smart speaker market grew 40% in 2018 with Alexa taking home 61% of the pie. In fact, according to a report by Thinknum, the 2nd Gen Amazon Echo Dot is the best selling smart speaker of all time!
The fact that Amazon’s Alexa division employs more than 10,000 people can give you an estimate of how big Amazon is betting on its smart assistant and associated hardware. This means that Bing will piggyback on Alexa’s success and keep cashing in on whatever we ask Alexa to do.
2) A Window of opportunity
Microsoft’s had a pretty good grip on the desktop OS market with Windows occupying almost 76% of all desktops in the world. Microsoft takes a very obvious advantage of the same by making Bing the default search engine for all Windows browsers. So unless and until a user makes the proactive effort of changing the search engine, Bing will continue to serve all the demands the user throws at it. While most of us do take the effort to change our search engines, there’s a whole lot of people out there who don’t nitpick and just make do with Bing.
Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant, is another essential part of the Windows OS that also is powered by Bing. Cortana is not only deeply baked into the Windows OS for desktop, but also makes appearances in other hardware made by Microsoft like the Xbox One and the Microsoft Surface Headphones.
If its any consolation, Cortana is also available to download on Android and iOS. While Cortana is definitely far away from finishing on the podium, Microsoft is not going to give up on its baby without fighting.
A recent patent filed by the company details plans to incorporate Cortana into third-party apps and let users control more than just Microsoft apps with it.
3) Bing is innovating
While Bing’s success can largely be attributed to the above two reasons, it’ll be wrong on my behalf to not talk about how Bing is continuously evolving its product to deliver a better experience to the end users.
Bing is constantly working on enriching basic search enquiries to provide useful information at a glance. A simple search of your favourite movie show will help you notice how Bing presents information in a more coherent manner. Instead of providing you with audience reviews like Google does (that can be vague), it displays reviews from critics that an end user might find more helpful. It also wonderfully syncs with Wikipedia and Fandom to provide with useful information without having to actually open the page.
Bing also focusses on visuals and presents a much more intuitive experience than Google does. For example, Bing’s video search results offer an array of thumbnails presented in neat stacks that are easy to explore.
On the other hand, Google video searches appear to be counter-intuitive by presenting extra information next to the thumbnail that may prove to be irrelevant to most.
By now, I hope I’ve helped you break preconceived notions on Bing’s ‘failure’. While Bing is nowhere close to achieving world dominance, it’s slowly writing its own success story. And for anyone who’s looking to know more about Bing’s growth prospects, Bing Ads (starting from March) is exclusively serving Yahoo Search Traffic.
“We estimate that our enhanced partnership could result in an increase in clicks across the Bing Ads marketplace for customers targeting the United States of up to 10-15%.”