Google CEO Eric Schmidt, in a wide-ranging interview with Fox Business, largely dismissed Microsoft’s Bing as a viable entry into the search-engine arena
Google CEO Eric Schmidt, in an interview with Fox Business that aired on 9 June , dismissed Bing, Microsoft’s new search engine, as largely more of the same from the Redmond company.
“It’s not the first entry for Microsoft,” Schmidt said on the program. “They do this about once a year. From Bing’s perspective they have a bunch of new ideas and there are some things that are missing. We think search is about comprehensiveness, freshness, scale and size for what we do. It’s difficult for them to copy that.”
Besides offering a traditional search experience, Bing also offers users the ability to click on tabs for “Images,” “Videos,” “Shopping,” “News,” “Maps,” and “Travel” for a deeper drill-down into those particular areas. Although early numbers in the week after its June 1 launch suggested that Bing is off to a solid start in the search-engine wars, some online pundits have dismissed its chances, including Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz, who stated that any interest in Bing would be “temporary.”
However, Schmidt – who has publicly voiced concerns over the gathering antitrust focus on his company in recent months – used Bing’s presence to reiterate his position that Google’s substantial lead in the U.S. core search market could slip at any moment.
“I would offer Bing’s arrival as proof of the competitive nature of the market,” Schmidt said. “Google is literally one click away. Since Bing’s arrival, people switch to it to try and then switch back. It’s easy to switch from one to another. Many of the markets, in many other markets, it’s not true.”
But that didn’t mean Schmidt was willing to cry “foul” on any other potential monopoly developing in the search-engine space. Pointing to Google’s protests in 2008 over a potential Yahoo-Microsoft deal, he said, “Anytime that Microsoft causes a merger or an acquisition or a deal and restricts choices, it’s a bad outcome for consumers.”
According to Andrew Frank, an analyst with Gartner, Bing could become a potential game-changer in the search-engine space in two ways.
“One, Bing has to convince people that there’s something wrong with their current search experience; that’s the theme of their ‘Overload’ campaign,” Frank said in an interview with eWEEK. “So far as it sows the seeds of discontent, that could create an opportunity, and makes it imperative for Schmidt to continue on his promise that Google will continue to improve.”
“The second part of it is: can Bing get people to switch?” Frank said. “That’s more of a long-odds proposition.”
Part of this has to do with Google’s “stickiness” in the search-engine market. “Google was the category creator, and they’ve managed to generically associate themselves with search,” Frank added.
And according to Schmidt, Google seems determined to make its presence even stickier; despite the global recession – or perhaps because of it – the search-engine company is on the hunt for new acquisitions.
“We have been wandering around looking at companies,” Schmidt said during the interview. “The big ones, we haven’t found ones we like. We’re talking to smaller companies but we have done it routinely. We are looking for primarily technology.”