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Bing Barking Up Google's Tree


Geeks hear this: Microsoft may have done this one right.

Is it possible that Microsoft (MSFT), the company that geeks love to hate, has done something right with Bing?

Early chatter suggests that Bing could become a credible challenger to Google's (GOOG) long-held position as king of Internet searches.

"(Google) co-founder 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 New York Post reports.

Google won't comment on the alleged panic swirling through its headquarters in Mountain View, California and simply notes that it always has a team of engineers working to improve its search engine.

If Microsoft has developed a credible challenger to Google, where does this leave Yahoo (YHOO)? Google now grabs about 60% of the lucrative search market compared with Yahoo's 20% and Microsoft's 8%.

In 2008, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang turned down a $47.5 billion takeover bid from Microsoft. Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz, who took over in January, has said that every aspect of her company is under review in an effort to spur growth. She's also open to discussion with Microsoft about a search partnership.

But if Bing can compete with Google, does Microsoft need Yahoo -- especially if the new search engine can grab and hold significant market share?

Microsoft launched Bing earlier this month as an upgrade to its clunky default search engine. According to press reports, Microsoft is spending $80 million to $100 million in advertising on Bing. Last year, Google spent about $25 million on all of its advertising, according to AdAge.

Google harrumphs that Bing is nothing new. "It's not the first entry for Microsoft," Google CEO Eric Schmidt told the Fox Business Network. "They do this about once a year."

Maybe. But unless Yahoo gets on the stick, it could be kicked to the number-3 search engine in the hearts of web surfers. That wouldn't be the best of all possible worlds for the struggling company. Could it be that Yahoo is headed the way of Alta Vista, Lycos, or Excite: search engines from the past now relegated to oblivion?

It's hard to imagine that Bing will dethrone Google, but at least Google would have a real competitor. And hey, maybe the geeks of the world would stop throwing bricks at Microsoft.
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