If you look at the search market there are actually only a few ‘real’ players on the market. We have Google off course, we have Bing. Yahoo turned into Bing and in Eastern Europe we have Yandex and even further East Baidu has a lot of users. That’s about it. Yes, there are many ‘smaller’ search engines out there, with many verticals. And some are made bigger than they are. Blekko for example gets a lot of attention, but a lot less searches.
Now if the two major ones, in this case Google and Bing, get into a fight, that’s a big thing. Especially if one calls the other a ‘thief’. In this case Google accused Bing of copying their search results. A pretty big accusation. That set the world of search on fire. And it gave us something to talk about on the radio.
The war between the two continued Yesterday afternoon (late in the evening in Europe) when Microsoft’s Senior VP of Online Services Yusuf Mehdi responded to the accusation with a big denial, while at the same time accusing Google of clickfraud. It is starting to look more and more like two children fighting.
Mehdi claims Bing is doing nothing wrong. They are merely ‘learning from their customers’. They have been doing that for years and already got that out in the open in 2009. He is very strict when it comes to the accusations by Google:
“We do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period. Full stop. We have some of the best minds in the world at work on search quality and relevance, and for a competitor to accuse any one of these people of such activity is just insulting.”
Later on in his post he goes on to accuse Google:
“Google’s “experiment” was rigged to manipulate Bing search results through a type of attack also known as “click fraud.” That’s right, the same type of attack employed by spammers on the web to trick consumers and produce bogus search results. What does all this cloak and dagger click fraud prove? Nothing anyone in the industry doesn’t already know. As we have said before and again in this post, we use click stream optionally provided by consumers in an anonymous fashion as one of 1,000 signals to try and determine whether a site might make sense to be in our index.”
That is quite the accusation.
He also points out that in the past Google has copied many things from Bing as a NYT article shows.
Mehdi makes one very valid point in his post:
“One wonders what brought them to a place where they would level these kinds of accusations.”
Why is Google doing this? Are they scared of Bing? Is there something else going on? It seems like an attempt from Google to give Bing a bad reputation. And with Google being the ultimate example of a site that uses data from other sites to ‘sell’ their own stuff that seems a bit strange. One thing we can conclude is that it means they do believe Bing is their only rival. It would be a big deal if Bing had stolen the Google algorithm, but it doesn’t seem to be that they did that, they used available data. The actual reason for Google’s ‘attack’ is unclear, unless they really feel Bing was wrong here. In that case they acted as you can expect.
But it also looks like a bit of childish behavior. It’s like two kids who both stole each others candy and have now run to their mothers complaining about the other. Usually a mother takes away the candy all together, what will happen here remains to be seen.
Personally I like some more healthy competition instead of this but it does give us something to talk about… To be continued, I’m sure.