Bing faces a steep climb on mobile

Microsoft’s gamble with Bing could end up paying off big time, but for now it’s still guzzling cash, especially when it comes to mobile. And despite growing marketshare, mobile is still a sore point for Microsoft and Yahoo.

A new piece from the New York Times highlights the problem, which Microsoft is more than ready to come clean about. “We have a lot of challenges,” says Harry Shum (below), chief technical officer of Microsoft’s Online Services Division. One thing they Microsoft does have, Shum says, is what “might [be] the biggest machine learning system on Earth,” referring to the systems that, simply put, improve your search results.

Even with Bing’s growing market share, things are a bit different on mobile. Getting things done as quickly and efficiently as possible is even more important there than on the desktop, and it takes data on what people want to do to figure out how to do it. The more folks use Bing on their phone, the better their results end up being. Google has a huge advantage over Bing there, not only because of the amount of devices that are hooked into their network, but because of how long they’ve been collecting that data.

So, what happens when someone tries to do a search with Bing’s more limited pool of data, compared to Google? It doesn’t necessarily mean worse results, but it ends up consuming a lot more resources to get things done. Generally speaking, Google knows what people want, because it’s given it to them before, while Bing has to figure out what they want. This means that a Bing search consumes a lot more computing power than a Google search.

The good thing about being Microsoft is that you’ve got lots of cash to fall back on. They’re already in deep with Bing, and they’ve proven that they have the willpower and ability to grab some of Google’s market share. As Shum told the New York Times, “We’ve been very clear that search is critical to our future.” They've also made strides in allying with social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and in harnessing the power of Microsoft's other products, like Skype and Hotmail.

If they can go from literally nothing to a good chunk of the market on the desktop in a relatively short period of time, we think they can pull it off on mobile, too. And when they do, it’ll be worth it.

Source: The New York Times | Image via Wired

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