I'm ready to believe that Bing is a better search engine than Yahoo's search engine; most of the Yahoo faithful will be pleased with it. I'm impressed at some of the innovations the Microsoft engineers have brought to search with Bing, an area of innovation Google has dominated for years. For instance, Bing introduced a left-side panel, called the Explorer Pane, that allows you to quickly choose from among a number of different angles on your search. Bing lets you preview videos in the search results by simply mousing over them, and Bing's method of parsing through image search results is far superior to Google's.
But, in the grand scheme of things, these are incremental improvements, not game-changing innovations. As for larger-scale improvements, I've seen no evidence that Bing's algorithm searches the deeper, darker corners of the web any more thoroughly than Google's, or for that matter, Yahoo's. As for the much-hyped "Semantic Search," that technology will indeed drive search's evolution, but over the long term, and it will definitely not be the sole domain of one search engine or other.
If Microsoft and/or Yahoo ever make a serious run at Google in the search business, it will take place over years, not months or quarters. Microsoft will get a quick boost in market share from the addition of Yahoo's search traffic, but after Yahoo, what other substantial search player is left to partner with or acquire? None that I can think of.
Let's look at the numbers to get an idea of what Microsoft and Yahoo are up against. Comscore says Google controls 67 percent of the search market worldwide, compared with Yahoo's 8 percent and Microsoft's 3 percent. Looking at the US market alone, Google controls 65 percent, compared with Yahoo's 20 percent and Microsoft's 8 percent.
That's a wide deficit to make up, against a very strong, and deeply entrenched competitor. Microsoft--a software company at heart--may someday get itself into the same league with Google in the search business, but it's going to take a lot of time, money and radical innovation to get there. Its long-awaited partnership with Yahoo may be just the starting gate.