Microsoft's Bing search engine has had a great 2009, jumping to just over 10.3% of the US search market. Not resting on their laurels, Microsoft is targeting the mobile space, looking to turn things around. Right now, they are playing from behind:
Mobile phone users are considerably more interested in having access to Google compared to Bing, according to Strategy Analytics.
In “Facebook and Google Most Desired Brands for Mobile,” Strategy Analytics investigates interest in the ability to use various applications from mobile devices. Survey respondents said they desire the ability to access Google and Facebook from their mobile devices.
“The key finding is that Facebook and Google are the most desired brands to have on a mobile phone in both the U.S. and Britain,” said Chris Schreiner, senior analyst of user experience practice at Strategy Analytics, Boston.
So what's Microsoft doing to close the gap? In short, they're focusing on local search, betting (we predict correctly) that when it comes to mobile search, most users are looking for local content. They recently released a slick Bing app for the iPhone, to compliment the apps already available for the BlackBerry and Windows Mobile platforms:
Users will be able to get turn-by-turn directions with Bing Maps, along with traffic information. The focus is on local results in other areas as well, with movie listings, weather and local businesses. Omitted from the app's home page is Bing Shopping. It's not clear whether Streetside, a feature of the Bing Maps Beta akin to Google's Street View, will make the leap.
Of course, the app can be used to search the Web, read the news, and look up recent and favorite searches. Matching Google's app, Bing also lets users search the Web by voice.
Other features include the ability to open multiple tabs within the Bing application, pushpins for saving locations and multiple locations shown on a single map.
If Microsoft is serious about the mobile space they need to release and Android app. They also need to either a) get their act together with Windows Mobile and release WM7, or b) give up on producing a mobile OS and focus on the mobile web and apps for other platforms that are so compelling you just have to use them. On the topic of having to use Bing:
BlackBerry smartphone users on Verizon Wireless’s U.S. cellular network may have noticed a small but significant change within their mobile web browsers in the past week or so: The only search engine option that’s currently available to some Verizon customers via their BlackBerry Browsers’ “Start” or “Go to” pages is now Microsoft Bing.
That's one way to gain marketshare, though it probably isn't a way to win fans...
You can read about a slew of other Bing mobile updates over at their blog.