As expected, Microsoft took the wraps off its overhauled search engine this morning, introducing a new brand name, Bing.
The Wall Street Journal reported online that Chief Executive Steve Ballmer was demonstrating Bing at the Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, Calif. Here’s Microsoft’s release on the introduction.
The Journal’s report said the search engine, which has been called Live Search, will sport a new look next week when it goes online. In addition, it is being designed to give users “access to a range of categories of search” and that Microsoft is targeting four distinct categories: shopping, local, travel and health.
Whether Bing can cut into Google’s overwhelming lead in search will be one of the most closely watched issues in tech.
Bing will attempt to accomplish this by adding more features to Microsoft’s search. Among other things, Microsoft is adding Bing Travel to the Bing.com site — a combination of technology from Farecast and content from MSN Travel designed to help people in making travel plans. Microsoft acquired Seattle-based Farecast, an airfare prediction Web site, in April 2008.
Separately, BusinessWeek has an interesting interview with Qi Lu, president of Microsoft’s Online Services Division who came to the company from Yahoo. In it, Lu gives a broad outline of where Microsoft thinks there are opportunities to advance search beyond what Google has accomplished:
“When you see a query box, you type in it. [The assumption is that] it will give you what you want. But [consumers’] expectations have increased. They are using that search box for all kinds of things: to purchase product, to plan a vacation, to research a particular organization, to study a particular concept.”
Lu also says he came to Microsoft because the company has the resources to invest in infrastructure and “a world-class R&D team that has top-notch experts in all the critical disciplines.”
Oh, yes, one more thing: Fortune magazine columnist Stanley Bing has a few words to say this morning on brands and brand names, including his own.
Update, 4:36 p.m.: The Live Search team (presumably that now becomes the Bing team?), responded to Stanley Bing’s call to work out their differences by accepting Bing’s (the person’s) offer of services. The team’s blog said:
After an emergency meeting (three people were invited, all declined), we’ve decided to take you up on your offer. We’re not certain what exactly this would involve. We’re not certain it would pay much (nothing, actually) but we look forward to starting a dialogue and hope we can work together soon. Let’s do lunch.
Listen up and you can hear the badda bing.