Microsoft and Facebook vs. the Google Behemoth
Microsoft recently announced a major update of the Bing search engine website that it claims will transform the way users search the web1. Microsoft says that this is the biggest change to Bing since they launched the search engine three years ago. It introduces a new snap shot feature that replicates Google’s Rich Snippets, and social integration with Facebook that allows users to access their Facebook friends while they are looking through Bing’s SERPs.
This is the latest in a series of Microsoft-Facebook integrations that have been taking place since 2007, when Microsoft invested $240 million in Facebook to buy a 1.6% share in the social network2. This turned out to be a wise investment with Microsoft’s share of Facebook now worth around $1.5 billion, but it was the start of a mutually beneficial relationship as well. Since then there have been integrations with Microsoft’s Messenger that allow Hotmail users to access their Facebook friends while they pick up their e-mails, and likewise merges their Facebook friends with their Messenger friends in Microsoft’s IM platform. Facebook has also included a Microsoft-friendly attachment function to Facebook Messages that moves the social media site closer to a proxy for traditional e-mail services. Microsoft has also made a Facebook template for Word available for its Office users.
The Enemy of My Enemy is My Facebook Friend
The dynamic that is driving all of these developments is the complex jockeying for ownership of huge parts of cyberspace that is going on at the moment between Microsoft, Facebook and the all dominating behemoth of the internet, Google. With 66.1% of the search engine market share compared to Microsoft’s combined 29.3% of search engine traffic from its Bing and Yahoo (which is powered by Bing) sites, Microsoft is struggling to compete3. Google’s launch of its social network site Google+ last year was an open challenge to the dominance of Facebook in the massive social media market. The merger of Microsoft and Facebook is a combined effort to remain competitive with Google as that company expands its membership in the social media world and continues to attract more of the search engine share.
When the Hotmail-Facebook integration was first announced in early 2011 Microsoft reported that 2.5 million users connected their services in the first two weeks4. Since then it has hardly changed the way that most of us use either Facebook or Messenger. Then Bing began including Facebook Likes at the bottom of the SERPs in an effort to claw some of the search engine market share away from Google. In response, Google has integrated all of its services like G-Mail, Blogger and Google+ into one interactive platform that offers all of the same services as the Microsoft-Facebook merger has and is showing signs of grabbing a larger market share in the future with Google+ membership continuing to grow at a healthy rate.
The latest integration of Facebook with Microsoft is an attempt to take advantage of the evolution of internet use in recent years and according to Qi Lu, president of Microsoft’s Online Services Division, Microsoft are “…evolving search in a way that recognizes new… paradigms like the growth of the social graph, and will empower people with the broad knowledge of the Web alongside the help of their friends.3” In other words, after you have found what you are looking for in the Bing SERPs you will be able to ask your Facebook friends what they know about it. It remains to be seen whether or not this is the next evolution of search engine use or not; but one thing is certain, Microsoft and Facebook will continue to have to compete with the Google Goliath for control of cyberspace for quite some time.
Integration of Facebook with Microsoft is an attempt to take advantage of the evolution of internet use in recent years. But Microsoft and Facebook are certainly continuing to compete with the Google Goliath for control of cyberspace for quite some time.