Bing – the next big thing or Microsoft’s latest gimmick?

This week, Microsoft released a new search engine called Bing. Its purpose is to revolutionize the way we use search engines.

Well, that’s what they hope.

Every now and again these new products enter the market, causing a bit of a stir and hoping to give Google a run for its money. Last year we had Cuil, and there’s now a constant stream of talk about the way social networking sites will become our hub for searching.

To be honest, Google is still pretty unscathed.

Bing looks interesting, mainly due to its ‘back to basics’ homepage.

Even when Google updates its front page artwork, people take an interest. Bing is almost certainly going down the same route with these photos.

When you start using Bing, the subtle differences introduced to the search pages are quite good. I like the extra content that gets dragged in when you hover over the orange dot that appears to the right of individual results.

Bing still manages to keep the results pages clean, clear and simple. Based on Google’s success this is clearly the recipe for getting people to use a particular search engine.

That said, I do wonder how long Bing expects to stay on a search engine page? The system is built to deliver lots of information on just one search and keep you on the page as you dig around and use different videos, images and posts. Realistically most of us using a search engine will simply go for the result that looks most relevant and – bing! – off we’ll go.

Research show there’s incredible dip in visitors for results below position 3 in organic or paid advertising, so if Bing is looking for you to spend more time analyzing the results pages then I can see its success to be short lived.

Google are much cannier because they keep you using all the products in their armoury, such as Google Maps, Gmail, Google Shopping and Google News. Unfortunately Bing doesn’t have this, if you click ‘Shopping’ you get farmed off to a partner product, not ‘Bing Shopping’.

Wrapping up, I think Bing’s success – or lack of it – will boil down to two factors.

It’s best if Google doesn’t monopolise the search engine market, so I am happy for newcomers to compete and make it interesting. Unfortunately, I feel that Bing still looks and feels like MSN live – even if it is much prettier.