It seems every two years Microsoft announces some new development designed to compete with Google. First it was MSN. Then it was Live. (Yeah, that was a great idea.) Now it’s Kumo – due to release next week, and just as likely to change absolutely nothing.
Perhaps Microsoft is just so used to releasing ineffective “Google Killers” it no longer cares that each attempt gains them little ground over the long term. Their paid search is starting to do better for some markets, but overall they still get killed by Google and Yahoo!.
Why? Well, Google has better search and Yahoo! has better everything else. The reason anyone still searches with Yahoo! is because they’re already using Yahoo!s other products – Answers, Mail, Yahoo! Radio, etc. What does Microsoft really bring? A lot of Hotmail users, who by and large are older users who were engineers in the 90s and are now retired. Hotmail was one of the first web-based e-mail clients, so those who stuck with it are an older demographic. They’ll search using MSN (sorry – Live) because that’s where they are anyway. Or, they are still using Internet Explorer because that’s what they’re machine came with, and their search engine is the default choice, and digging through all those options is far too much of an ass pain to bother with.
So Microsoft search is a hands down winner among the ludites and the lazy.
If they want to gain more ground in the search market, they simply need to provide better results. There will be a lot of talk about the results of Kumo in the coming days, but I discount this out of hand because frankly, if they knew how to give better results they would have just implemented it on their current platform and started bragging about that. Re-branding is way of changing people’s people’s perceptions without having to offer anything terribly new. If Microsoft is serious about competing in search, they need to cut it out with all the marketing about their latest new product yet again, and actually produce search results that give people what they need.
Ask did the same thing by bragging about their “algorithm” in 2007 – and it didn’t help them any more than it will help Microsoft.