Imagine this. You have a friend who works for a company that makes peanut and his / her sole purpose at the company is to sell their peanut butter. While there are quite a few peanut butter options there are a few market leaders that tend to dominate. The brand your friend has the laser focused responsibility of selling is one of the top 3 but has a long way to go. One day while visiting his / her home you have lunch and it is, naturally, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You notice, however, that instead of using his own brand of peanut butter he is using the market leader that his existence depends on its overthrow. You ask him “Why aren’t you using your peanut butter?” and his response is “I wouldn’t eat that crap!”, you gotta figure something is amiss, right?
Welcome to the world of Live Search. In a cnet article the first few paragraphs tell an interesting story.
Despite investing five years and hundreds of millions of dollars on its search product, Microsoft has struggled to get people to use its service, even those whom it employs. Microsoft Senior Vice President Yusuf Mehdi said the company’s share of the search market–even internally–has been disappointing.
“That’s true,” Mehdi said in an interview last week.
At a company meeting about a year ago, one Microsoft worker recalls hearing that four-fifths of the company’s search traffic was going to Google. Although he uses Live Search personally, the worker, who asked not to be named, said plenty of his co-workers still use Google.
One doesn’t need any more statistics or anecdotal evidence than this to understand what is really happening in the search world. If Yahoo and Microsoft can’t work out something soon that poses some kind of real threat to Google’s search market domination then I think they should just pack up the plantation, so to speak. It’s painfully obvious that they don’t have what it takes on their own so they better get together fast.
If there was ever a case of “united we stand and divided we fall” this is it. You can crunch numbers and postulate all day long. Go read the read the rest of the article for all the things that Microsoft is planning and / or doing to finally break through in a real way in search. I’ll sum it up for you right here. Team up with Yahoo if you want a chance!
Want to see some corporate spin optimism? Mehdi goes on to say:
Mehdi said that the company thinks this time it may be able to make its case. Plus, he said, the company doesn’t need to persuade the whole world to drop Google. What Microsoft does need, he says, is for some vocal minority to decide its search engine is better than its rival’s.
“We need a fan base of people that love what we are doing,” Mehdi said. It doesn’t even need a lot of fans, he said, just a loyal following that can serve as the service’s champions.
Microsoft champions? What flavor of Kool Aid are these folks drinking in Redmond? The term Microsoft champion is an oxymoron to most. The world tends to tolerate Microsoft because it has few other choices. The great unwashed get herded to a Windows world then complain about it but then don’t do anything to get away. They just settle because doing something else is too hard. That’s not a customer base, that’s a prison population.
Microsoft can create the most amazing search product on the planet that could literally run circles around Google and it will only be a marginal success because of the general contempt for anything Microsoft and in particular the simple fact that most people are not looking to Microsoft for innovation. They just need to use their products because Microsoft was first to the dance and more aggressive. Congrats on that. Don’t, however, confuse that with hope for people in any numbers to abandon what they now trust implicitly (Google despite its own shortcomings) for another instance of the “company that cried innovation.” People are too smart.
Move on. Nothing to see here folks. It’s just Microsoft business as usual.