What the Heck is Bing Anyway?

Long story short: Bing is Microsoft’s old search engine plus some new features, rebranded and advertised aggressively to try and take search market share from Google.

No, it’s not some new Google-killer startup or a genius’s revolutionary breakthrough in search. It’s just Microsoft putting a new face on old products and distancing themselves from the branding to make it look new.

Before consolidating everything into Bing, Microsoft had two search engines and a bunch of web properties that searched for different things. They’ve now consolidated everything into one interface and renamed it Bing.

Is Microsoft looking to acquire both Yahoo! Search AND Facebook?

The rumor floating around Silicon Valley today is that Microsoft not only wants to purchase Yahoo!’s Search technology, but also wants to acquire Facebook for $15 to $20 million.  This has, of course, created quite a stir among techies and has Robert Scoble claiming that the web is in peril.

So what does this really mean for the internet? Aside from the intrigue of a new search engine to optimize for, there are three major considerations.

A few things could happen.

  1. The disappearance of Yahoo! Search and nothing more. I’m assuming that Microsoft will roll Yahoo! Search into their own product, tossing out the name but keeping the technology.  Live Search would either cease to exist or would (somehow) come together with Yahoo!’s technology.  Nothing would change on the Facebook front.
  2. The disappearance of Yahoo! Search and the banishing of Facebook’s data portability initiatives. Microsoft will follow the steps in #1, but also decide they like the closed environment of Facebook and decide to abandon any data portability initiatives the company is currently involved in.  Great strides have been made lately in data portability and information sharing between different social networks.  Facebook’s walls, which have been sealed tight for so long, are finally starting to come down just a little bit.  Microsoft could wipe out that progress completely.
  3. The disappearance of Yahoo! Search, the banishing of Facebook’s data portability initiatives AND the ability for Microsoft’s search to crawl Facebook. The possibility of this taking place is really what has the tech community up in arms.  Microsoft could acquire Yahoo!’s search technology,  keep Facebook a closed off environment, and then allow only their search engine to crawl Facebook’s vast amount of information.  Google search users would be hung out to dry.  You can see some of the FriendFeed discussion on the issue here and here (what is FriendFeed?  Look for a post later today).

Understandably, this is a very big story in the making, though it is still only a rumor at this point.  If Microsoft follows through on even one of these acquisitions, the results will be game changing.  More on this as information becomes available.