A $2.6 billion loss by Bing in the latest fiscal year, running into losses for the second time in a row, should be two good reasons for Microsoft to consider the sale of this online search division, as suggested by some of the industries leading experts.
The operating costs of Microsoft’s online search division were greater than the annual revenue brought in by Bing in the last financial year. Reuters columnist, Robert Cyran suggests that by selling off Bing to potential buyers like Facebook or Apple, who would also make the best out of the search engine, Microsoft can concentrate their time more effectively on other products like software developments and mobile phones.
While Bing and Bing powered Yahoo sites still control 27% of the US market shares, putting Bing into the 2nd spot behind Google, the point to be noted here is that Google controls 60% of the market. This is more than twice than share of Bing. Realistically, will Bing ever reach the same heights as Google, or will it simply continue to be a money-guzzling product for Microsoft?
Microsoft’s online services unit generated $2.5 billion of sales in the 2011 fiscal year, however Google generated about six times (more than $11 billion) in that same period.
With such results on the table, its not surprising that there is unrest amongst Microsoft shareholders, so why is the company still holding on to this sinking online dream? This is probably because
- Slowly but steadily Bing’s market share is growing
- If Microsoft were to consider doing away with Bing, it would mean to do away with one of their key selling channels for the products like Windows Phone 7 platform, smart phones and Xbox/Kinetic platforms and its future project; big-data/natural-language search solution’ in which Bing is expected to play a pivotal role.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer voiced his support for Bing loud and clear recently:
There’s a lot in Bing that I think represents the future of information technology.
The real holy grail of what we all need to do is transform these machines so they understand you and what you mean. You ought to be able to say to your computer, verbally, type it, I don’t care, ‘Get me ready for my trip to the Imagine Cup.’ That ought to mean something to these systems. It means nothing today.”
I’ll give you another one that’s even funnier. If you go to a search engine today and you say, ‘Print my boarding pass on Southwest,’ you’ll get nothing back but chaos. The truth of the matter is, computers, search engines, nothing really understands verbs today. We only understand nouns. And yet, most of us as human beings want to command these systems to do something for us. And the core technology we’re developing to understand and try to simulate the world of users and what they’re interested in, and how they want to get it done is all being done in Bing.
So even if the world is looking at Bing as a distant #2 search engine, the top brass at Microsoft think otherwise.
Do you think Microsoft will sell of Bing in the neat future? Feel free to share your thoughts below.