If you often find yourself pondering how many calories are in the meal you're cooking or needing to plot a complex equation, Microsoft's Bing has got you covered, courtesy of Wolfram Alpha. The company, which says its mission is to "make the world's knowledge computable," is bringing some of its data and algorithms to Microsoft's search engine, meaning users can get answers to queries like "what's my BMI?" directly within Bing.
The technology in and of itself is fairly interesting, as is the idea of mixing computed answers with regular search results, but the strategic implications are even more intriguing. Can you imagine Google reaching out to a third party for technology like this? It's hard to picture, given Google's image as a technology leader. Microsoft seems to understand that it's probably not going to out-technology Google on its own, at least not when it comes to search, so it has no qualms about bringing outside work on board. (And it probably helps Microsoft's case that when it comes to search, the general perception is that it's Google vs. everybody else.)
[ The Bing upgrade is the latest development in the ongoing battle betwen Microsoft and Google. ]
In fact, Microsoft's search strategy relies in part upon teaming up with specialists in particular fields in order to make Bing more useful. As a Microsoft spokesperson pointed out, "Bing provides access to medical information from resources like The Mayo Clinic and The American Cancer Society. Additionally, we have partnerships with Foreca for weather results, AMG and metacritic for movie results, and Teleatlas for mapping, and our partnership with STATS, Inc. allows you to view the latest sports stats through instant answers. Looking forward, where it makes sense and adds value for our customers, Microsoft may explore similar relationships."
As Microsoft looks to chip away at Google's search dominance, it's looking to bring outside expertise on board to enhance its own offering. It will be interesting to see how well this "let's draw on leaders in each field" strategy works against Google's "we'll do it ourselves" outlook.