The Bing Thing

(Bill Gurstelle is guest blogging here on Boing Boing. He is the
author of books including Backyard
, and the recently-published Absinthe
and Flamethrowers
. Follow him on Twitter: @wmgurst.

I don't purport to be an expert in things computer and Internet related. Usually I just read what people I respect say and go with that. Often, they point me me to Google's stuff (search, gmail, Picasa, youtube, etc) and I've always been pretty impressed with their services.

Microsoft just introduced Bing to compete with Google search. My friend Mark Hurst sent me a very interesting article he wrote about it.

Everything Microsoft has tried recently hasn't worked. They tried the "I'm a PC" ads, a knockoff of the Mac ads – didn't work. Tried the Zune, a knockoff of the iPod – didn't work. Tried redoing MSN Search again and again, as a knockoff of Google – didn't work. What's the world coming to, when Microsoft can't build a monopoly around a knockoff?

It's those effing customers. They keep choosing the best experience.

I have to imagine this is tough on Ballmer and whoever else over there. No matter what they try, the customers refuse to take orders from Redmond. Sure, lots of people still pay the upgrade tax on Windows and Office every two years, but only because they have to. There's no love.

So what does Microsoft do? They launch – I'm still reeling from this – they launch a search engine. To compete head-on with Google. In search. I just need to type that again: Microsoft wants to unseat Google with a search engine.

Now here's where it gets really nuts.

Microsoft's strategy, to win market share from Google, is not to compete on user experience. No. Microsoft's strategy is to advertise the heck out of the thing and hope people flock to the site.

They are spending – wait, let me try my best "Dr. Evil" voice – one hundred million dollars to order the world to use their search engine. According to a Microsoft exec in charge of the launch, "The key will be whether we deliver a product and connect with people emotionally in the advertising."

A hundred million dollars to "connect with people emotionally in the advertising." If I've learned one thing in my customer experience work over 12 years, it's this: any online strategy built on emotional connection, based on flashy ads or a new font or color scheme on the website, is guaranteed to fail.

Hurst's full post is at