Bing Stealing Google Thunder?

After listening to Eric Schmidt chat up CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo at Davos the other day, I heard him talking about how Google’s “brand new” topical search would give users more relevant choices. All I could think about was, ‘oh, Google plans to knock off Twitter, not surprising.’  For my money, topical searching on Twitter is the hottest thing since, well since, Google, and, before that, Alta Vista.

Now Danny Sullivan shares a story right out of the childish days back in the eighties when Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and friends spent way too much time imitating spoiled children with their Daddy’s credit cards.  I mean one-ups-men-ship is fine for those halcyon days of old, when few expected much from the likes of the Palo Alto crowd, but today things are different and shareholders must be reckoned with you know.

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According to Danny, Google has run a sting operation learning that Bing has been watching how users use Google and trying to improve on it.  So far, so good, right?  According to the keeper of the precious flame, Amit Singhal, at Google, or in their case the magic algorithm, which China has tried so hard to grab, “I’ve spent my career in pursuit of a good search engine, I’ve got no problem with a competitor developing an innovative algorithm. But copying is not innovation, in my book.” Evitently, Amit hasn’t spent much time learning about the fashion business, or the auto business.  In fact, apparently, Amit hasn’t spent much time in any business if he doesn’t understand how the term “innovation” has evolved over the years.

Danny quotes Stefan Weitz, director of Microsoft’s Bing search engine, whom he says emailed him the following:
“As you might imagine, we use multiple signals and approaches when we think about ranking, but like the rest of the players in this industry, we’re not going to go deep and detailed in how we do it. Clearly, the overarching goal is to do a better job determining the intent of the search, so we can guess at the best and most relevant answer to a given query.

“Opt-in programs like the [Bing] toolbar help us with clickstream data, one of many input signals we and other search engines use to help rank sites. This “Google experiment” seems like a hack to confuse and manipulate some of these signals.”

As is typical of how we flatter our competition, here are our favorite blog comments of the story:

From Huffington Post:

Alexis101

But didn’t Google do the same thing to AltaVista? Whatever happened to imitation being the better part of valor?

JGuerian (actually this guy gets a two-fer)

Ever hear of a meta search engine? A meta search engine, for example dogpile.co­m, is a search engine that searches search engines. So instead of 1 search with Dogpile you get 4. Dogpile searches Yahoo, Google, Bing and Ask.com. I have been using Dogpile for years and love it. The searches it yields are way better than Google or Bing. Check it out before you start crying about copying.

and

Really? What did they copy when they built Ajax? You know, that little thing that runs much of Google’s websites like Google Docs? Kind of odd for Google to be crying about big old bad MS when Google and its products are developed on MS products. Without MS Google wouldn’t be where it is today.

and one of my favorites (though it might be his handle) from Pucker:

Google’s whole business is accumulati­ng data, but they are offended that someone else is doing that? It’s the height of hypocrisy, if true.

I use Bing on my work laptop, and it works well enough that I’ve never had to go to Google. I don’t know if it’s an improvemen­t or which is better, but they are both very effective at what they do.

Tek-Tips
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