Google vs. Bing: The fear stops here

Bing's debut has been more successful than nearly anyone expected, but it's a long way from causing Google to tremble in its boots -- despite what some tabloid newspapers might claim

It isn't quite up to the New York Post's gold standard -- "Headless Man Found in Topless Bar" -- but the Post's "Fear Grips Google" story over the weekend certainly got some attention, if only for its over-the-top headline.

According to "insider sources" the Post conveniently declines to describe, let alone identify...

Sergey Brin is so rattled by the launch of Microsoft's rival search engine that he has assembled a team of top engineers to work on urgent upgrades to his Web service, The Post has learned.

[ Earlier, InfoWorld's Robert X. Cringely asked: "Is Bing worth a fling?" Find out what he decided. | Stay up to date on Robert X. Cringely's musings and observations with InfoWorld's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]

Well, duh. If Google weren't paying attention to Bing, it wouldn't be Google. But "rattled"? Please. When you own 60 to 80 percent of the search market, depending on who's counting, I don't think a 2 point percentage gain by a distant-third-place competitor is worth pulling the covers up over your head at night.

(Though I have to admit that Hannibal Lecterish graphic the Post ran of Ballmer is kind of frightening. He looks like he's about to bite Larry Page on the face. I'm gripped with fear just looking at it.)

SearchEngineLand's Greg Sterling has a somewhat less adrenaline-fueled take on what's likely happening over at the Googleplex:

Bing is probably better than Google anticipated and early indications are favorable in terms of user adoption; however not on any scale to threaten Google's position. I wouldn't be surprised if Google is taking Bing seriously and trying to carefully assess its algorithm.

My take: This is Rupert Murdoch's way of jabbing his poison pen into Google, which newspaper publishers have loudly (though somewhat inaccurately) blamed for the demise of their industry. Or maybe he sees it as a competitor to MySpace, or maybe it's just cuz Al Gore is on their board, and we all know how Rupe feels about green pinkos (or is that pink greenos?). In any case, it's a hit piece, and it's not the first one the Murdochians have aimed at Google.

Like, for example, ""Google Strokes Porn Guy" (April 2007), "Google Scares Senate" (September 2007), and "Google Glitch Causes Surfers to Reap Pages of Fear" (February 2009). Thank you, Google's Matt Cutts, for digging up those gems.

As Download Squad's Lee Michael Mathews opines, "Oh God, please get the New York Post out of my tech news."

FYI, There is no truth to the rumor that Sergey Brin has locked himself in a conference room with explosives and half a dozen of his top coders, vowing to either out-"Bing" Bing or blow himself up. Remember: If you saw it on the Web (or in the New York Post), there's a good chance it's not really true (unless, of course, you read it at, where we publish the truth, whole and nothing but).

What strikes fear into your hearts? I bet it's not a search engine. Post your thoughts below or e-mail me:

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