Despite the push Microsoft has made with Bing, Google remains the most popular search engine in the UK. In this short series I look at historical mistakes Microsoft has made – and at the ways things could change. Don’t forgot to read part one. Part three will be available on Friday!
Reason 3 – Perception and Association
I have a friend who last owned a Windows PC three years ago. That machine was a badly built, low-spec budget model, several years old, and frequently subject to the infamous “blue screen of death”. He switched to a modern Mac and hasn’t looked back. To him, anything Microsoft is tainted, despite the fact the problems with his old machine were hardware related which is nothing Microsoft were involved with.
Even when they’re not to blame, problems like this cause Microsoft to be perceived as an untrendy supplier of buggy software. The name “Microsoft” stops being an advantage and becomes a drag factor. Do Microsoft know this? Possibly. Take a look at www.bing.com and apart from the copyright, how many references to Microsoft can you see?
Reason 4 – Range of Services
Google was clear from the start that search was its speciality; with Microsoft, search was just an addition to many other products. For many people, the association of Microsoft with search isn’t immediate.
Google offers more than just search results and returns reviews, maps, and other information along with extra’s such as mathematical calculations and currency conversions. These are delivered straight into the web results. Bing has increased the number of features it offers but has less integration. For example – using Google, I can type “search marketing in Portsmouth”. In addition to regular results, a map showing each SEO business in the area will be included. The term “temperature in Portsmouth” will give me weather results – Bing will initially just list websites.
But having already announced new social networking features in Bing, Microsoft is clearly working to improve Bing and there are obvious ways such functionality could be added. The close association with Nokia could give Microsoft access to Nokia Drive which could be a great source for business listings.
Reason 5 – Beyond Search
Microsoft owns the traditional PC market, but sales have started to give way to smartphones and tablets, many running Android. Android is free so Google are attributed with helping manufacturers provide powerful devices that anyone can afford which addresses complaints at Microsoft and Apple’s pricing. Android has tight integration with other Google products which helps prevent people jumping to rival platforms.
Microsoft is fighting back with Windows 8 on desktops and tablets, plus Windows Phone 8, but many analysts suggest this will be difficult struggle. I’ve been researching and browsing some of the Windows Phone 8 devices and like what I’ve seen – almost buying one. Almost? The low pricing on a Sony Xperia T lured me away from the HTC Windows Phone 8X and the Lumia 820. Nobody wants to pay more than they have to and this is another problem Microsoft has to face – how can cheap ever be as good as free?
A balance of low pricing, an attractive design and great functionality will help alleviate this but the late arrival of Windows Phone means many people won’t want to jump from the existing platform they’ve been using – the same battle Apple have faced against Microsoft in the desktop arena. Despite this, I know at least one person who isn’t technical but bought his first smartphone this year – an entry level Nokia Lumia. He absolutely adores it. Maybe to some people a smartphone is a smartphone and it doesn’t matter what it’s running or who made the operating system.
I’ve seen a lot of consumer anger directed towards Samsung and Sony for how long it takes to roll out updates to the latest version of Android. But in their defence, Google are releasing new versions at such a rapid rate it must become difficult to fully develop custom additions for the OS and test these. If Windows has a slower update cycle, this could well be preferable for many manufacturers.
I previously explored the Bing integration in desktop Windows 8, and although I can’t fully review Windows Phone 8 without buying one (donations anyone?), it’s likely the same will apply. I feel there is room for Windows Phone in the market and people appear to like what they’ve seen of them. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops over the next few years.
Things conclude at 4pm on Friday things when I discuss concerns raised by clients about Google’s motives, and how trust could ultimately be the deciding factor.