John Akerson's Thoughts

Business, technology and life

Bing, like the Borg, Will Assimilate

Google is a wonderful company – an advertising company wrapped in a search engine, surrounded by  androids, covered in chrome and steeped in mysterious enigmas.   It is also facing the stiffest competition it will ever see, and it might not even yet realize that Bing, like the Borg, will assimilate.  I don’t think it is too bold to suggest that Google’s days may be numbered.

I predict that Bing’s percentage of the search-o-sphere will more than double in the next 12 months, growing from about 20% to well over 40%. I further predict that Google’s percentage of search will see a similar decline. I think it is somewhat inevitable, and I will explain why.

First a bit of background: I’m not a great lover of Microsoft technology, but I completed my MCSE in 1997 and have been continuously employed since then working on an assortment of large and small websites – and at least 80% of them were running some form of Microsoft’s Internet Information Server (IIS). I’ve technically edited of books on IIS and windows. I have considerable experience and expertise with Windows technology.  I’ve also optimized websites for search engines, as a marketing tool, since 1998. This gives me a unique perspective.  

Yesterday, I installed Windows 7 on one of my laptops. It took about two hours or so, and the install worked extremely well. I was surprised, maybe shocked how well it worked!  HP had NO windows 7 drivers on its website for my secondary laptop, a 2-3 year old HP DV6449 with 2g of memory and a 1.8g dual core AMD cpu.  I pressed on with the install. It was as close to flawless as any operating system install I’ve done. Ever.  

  • As a side note, I was impressed with PC World’s upgrade checklist and Lincoln Spector’s upgrade guide. (Thank you Lincoln Spector!) I also used their netbook idea to put the OS on a USB key to speed the install. Very cool – as another side note – given the prices that USB keys have been falling to, I think it might be cost-effective and user-friendly for more software makers to provide more upgrades on USB keys.

But I digress too much. This is a story about Bing’s upcoming search engine growth – and perhaps leadership.

Yesterday, interestingly, Microsoft posted on their Bing blog that they would be bringing real time twitter and facebook results to their searches.  That is huge because companies and people use blogs, microblogs, and social media to drive traffic, to optimize search engine results, to find traffic. Social media is a necessary part of any company’s comprehensive marketing plan.  (You might say that Microsoft used their own blog to make a product announcement that might have been in a press release in decades past.

SO here is the interesting thing – Microsoft’s Windows 7 comes with Internet Explorer 8 as a standard browser. It is a smooth, clean browser, and has a search window built into the top right hand corner. With that search window, you can add in a few dozen different search engines.  With that search window, there’s no real reason to initially go to the websites,,, or any other search engine website. The built in search window is convenient, easy to use, and completely functional.  The default search engine for that built in search window, of course, is Bing.   It is possible to add other search tools, even other browsers – and that is where Microsoft has installed a bit of genius. I will come back to that.

This morning Steve Ballmer on NBC’s Today Show said that Windows is installed on 9 out of 10 PCs. By saying that, he essentially lumped Apple, Linux and other operating systems together. He also lumped Windows XP, Windows Vista and other windows PC’s into a “windows” box.  From his perspective, that seems pretty accurate. It is also potentially deadly for Google, because XP is very old and Vista is very troublesome.  Hundreds of Millions of PCs will eventually run in Windows 7. It is a sound operating system.  I think that is going to be very good for Microsoft from an O/S profit perspective and I think it is going to be extraordinary from a search perspective.

Let me get back to the “bing as default” and where these numbers go. Say Microsoft has 90% of the O/S market, and over the next two years succeeds in getting 80% of those PC’s upgraded to Windows 7. I think those numbers are suspect, but they could easily be too short as too long.   My point is that it would be a fair to suggest that 72% of PCs, two years from now, will run Windows 7.

Nearly all of those PC’s will have Bing installed as a default search engine in their default browser. Well – what does that look like? bing-search  It looks like this.
There’s a search engine, it is right there, easy to use, installed by default, it will return social media results, it will give Microsoft the same sort of data that has made Google such an unstoppable force. It will also bleed traffic from Google, and it will bleed data from Google going forward.

I think it is pretty inevitable to say that Bing will double in use. I think it might be fair to ask if it will triple or quadruple. 

I wanted to add Google back in to my search bar, not because I love Google, or because I hate Microsoft, but because Google is relevant.  Google is essential.  Google is unique in many ways, and I think at this time, it is somewhat superior to Bing.  So – what happens when an average Windows 7 user tries to add Google to a browser? The “Find More Providers…” button seems to be the place to go. That takes a person to a windows add-in site. That add-in site offers search engine providers that can be added to IE 8.

search providers

There are DOZENS of providers – many of them very useful – the New York Times, Wikipedia, Amazon,, Yahoo,  Ebay, Yahoo Maps, New Egg, and even Google.   But it is very time-consuming to find Google, not very intuitive, and not very easy. If you pick “Most Popular Providers,” Google is on the second page. I’m not faulting Microsoft, Windows 7, IE 8, or Bing.

I’m just saying that there will be perhaps 72% of computers running a new operating system, Bing will be the default search provider on IE 8, which will be the default browser, and adding Google isn’t very easy.

People aren’t necessarily lemmings, and Bing isn’t necessarily a cliff – but the path of least resistance is an extraordinarily popular path – and that path will soon be Bing for an ENORMOUS number of people and companies. Let me be clear – this is not just about the people and their personal computers. Thousands of corporations have standardized desktop platforms running a somewhat antiquated Windows XP.  They WILL move to Windows 7 in the next few years.  One of the last things corporate technology executives want is for individual users to be able to customize software. For those executives, preventing user-customization is extremely smart from both cost and security perspectives.  Those computer’s browsers probably will be somewhat locked-down.  So – a huge number of people will have Windows 7 with IE 8, and Bing at work, and at home.

These are people who, in large numbers, switched from Yahoo to Google some time ago. They will switch from Google to Bing.  Bing, like the fictional Borg, will assimilate millions of people, but for real.  This is huge for many industries, many businesses. If Bing can scale, and if it can provide reasonably good results, Google may be in enormous danger.


October 22, 2009 - Posted by | Business, Competitive Advantage, Technology

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