The Inevitable But Annoying Rise of Bing

We all hoped it’d fail, but it looks like Bing is here to stay. Like everything Microsoft seems to do, it became popular without anyone really knowing why, and being slightly rubbish. If you need an example of other things Microsoft have made popular whilst also being rubbish, there’s Windows, Internet Explorer, Windows Live Messenger, Hotmail, .NET… the list goes on, and includes everything Microsoft has ever done, with the only exception being the Xbox. Somehow they got that right. But it does now have Internet Explorer, which makes me want to hate it.

Where do I start by describing how annoying Bing is? There’s those awful spine-shudderingly terrible examples of product placement that have ruined TV episodes and films, like this incredibly awkward moment in Hawai Five-0:

And a terrible bit in the Amazing Spider Man where Peter Parker uses Bing as the audience gawps and goes “Why isn’t he using Google?” as if that’s more unrealistic than a man swinging through the city using cobwebs:

Spiderman uses Bing
Image Source: earwolf.com

Google is so ingrained into our collective conscience that to see anyone use anything else seems completely unnatural, which is why it stands out a mile. It’s even in our vocabulary. “I’ll just Google it” someone might say, no matter what search engine they’re actually using. A non-technical friend of mine even called a website’s own internal search a “Google”. It’s a word that has now replaced search.

Google is the most popular search engine, and it’s still a long way ahead of Bing. But Bing is trying very hard, not only with those terrible example of product placement, but by making it the default search engine in Internet Explorer, and by making Internet Explorer the default (or only) browser on all Microsoft’s new devices.

As predicted, Microsoft’s Surface tablet would do okay, helped by some pretty good advertising that actually make it look surprisingly cool:

Also, of course there’s the new range of Windows phones, which again are helped by cool adverts where celebrities tell you how cool their new Windows phone is. This presumably really appeals to people who want to be “alternative” now everyone and their dog has an iPhone. A friend of mine who used to be the world’s biggest Apple fanboy is actually now ditching his iPhone in favour of the new Nokia Windows phone. Times are changing.

So Windows phones sales are increasing which have Internet Explorer as their default browser, and Bing as a button right there on the phone itself. So it’s no wonder we’re seeing more people use Bing, and Google’s market share dipping.

Google is still 90% market share

Okay Google is still pretty far ahead. It has roughly 90% of the search market, which is waaay far ahead of Bing. But if the current trends continue and Google continues to tumble, Bing (currently roughly 5%) will be the most popular search engine by 2016.

What if Google kept losing market share
Image Source: Guardian Online.

Ask a web developer which browser he hates the most and he’ll say Internet Explorer (probably followed by a 6, 7 or 8 if he wants to get specific). But unfortunately it comes as standard on all the devices we mentioned earlier, and it’s not even possible to change the browser on Windows mobile to the usual web developer’s favourite, Chrome or Firefox. Plus how many users will be bothered to change this? Only technical people like us will even mess around with default applications on a mobile device. Which leaves more people in the world using Internet Explorer, and therefore Bing. Great.

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This post has been written by David Ball, a web developer and social media fanatic working at Silktide. Recently, David has been researching web accessibility to improve Silktide's automated website testing software, sitebeam.net.

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