Can BingHoo really take on Google?

30 07 2009

Bing ScreenshotMicrosoft and Yahoo announced a strategic alliance which will see Microsoft power Yahoo’s search engine using algorithms from its Bing search engine while Yahoo will oversee the management of Microsoft’s advertising space.

This may be good news to businesses and organisations that buy ad space with search engines. Microsoft and Yahoo have very little share of the online search market individually, but together, they might have a share which may make it worthwhile for marketers to buy ad space from Microsoft-Yahoo.

Steve Ballmer said that this partnership would give users a real choice in a market dominated by one company. In other words, he hopes this deal will allow Microsoft and Yahoo to challenge or perhaps even end Google’s dominance in the online search market. That’s really weird coming from the head of a company that has enjoyed unrivalled dominance in the operating systems market. Not only that, it also has a big slice of the web browser market with its Internet Explorer and also the office applications market with its Office Suite. So, he shouldn’t be complaining about users not having a choice since anybody who buys apc has a copy of Windows thrust upon them since it is pre-installed. Only those with enough technical know-how really have a choice since they are able to install a Linux distro.

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Maybe he is complaining because Microsoft hasn’t got the bigger slice of the online search market. And if its offering choice that Steve Ballmer is after, I think the users already have a choice and make a conscious decision to use Google and since price has nothing to do with it, as they all are free to use, it all comes down to quality and brand awareness of each product. In a way, by Microsoft partnering with Yahoo, it is perhaps reducing user’s choice since Yahoo Search will now be a repackaged version of Bing which is really Windows Live Search with some make up on.

So, once Bing starts powering Yahoo’s search results, how will it exactly challenge Google’s dominance? Will users suddenly start using Bing and ditch Google? That’s the same as asking if a large number of users will suddenly start ditching Microsoft’s Windows in favour of Google’s Chrome OS.

I think that the problem is more to do with the image of each brand. Google is synonymous with online searches. So much so that the act of searching something online is commonly referred to as “googling”. In the same manner, Microsoft’s Windows is almost considered to be an integral part of the computer. So much so that many users that buy netbooks that come pre-installed with Linux OS prefer to do a clean install of Windows XP.

So, if Microsoft and Yahoo really want to take on Google in the search engine market, they should perhaps focus on a marketing campaign to inform, remind and reiterate to the users what their brand stands for. Something along the lines of Microsoft’s “I’m a PC” campaign which was meant to be an answer to Apple’s “Mac and PC” ad campaign.

Overall, I think this partnership will not be that beneficial to Yahoo in the long term, it will only be beneficial in the short term as a survival strategy. For Microsoft however, this could be a chance to diversify and depend less on its traditional business model of charging users to use their software and start focusing on providing applications online and generating revenue by displaying advertisements. This is even more important since Google is slowly encroaching into Microsoft’s territory by offering free, albeit with less functionality, alternatives to Microsoft’s Office applications and have recently announced the launch of their own operating system, Chrome OS.

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Tesco’s first half profit up 11%.

30 09 2008

Supermarket giant Tesco today announced a 11% rise in its half-year pre-tax profits which rose to £1.44 billion from £1.29 billion last year with sales rising 13% to £25.6 billion. Like-for-like sales grew by about 7% which seems very good especially since consumers are cutting back on their spending and discount retailers like Aldi, Lidl, Netto, Iceland, Wilkinsons, etc. are attracting customers from large supermarkets.

It was reported earlier this month that Tesco’s market share had decreased by 0.2% to 31.5%. However, it still has a much greater market share when compared to stores such as Aldi which has 2.9% market share which allows Tesco to benefit from economies of scale. This means it can buy its stock in relatively large numbers at lower cost which would normally allow it to increase its profit margin, but in the current financial situation, it allows Tesco to reduce its prices thereby attracting shoppers looking to reduce their grocery bills.

Tesco introduced a new discount range of about 400 products aptly named “Discount Range” with the aim to compete with discount stores and offer customers value for money. Tesco’s chief executive Sir Terry Laehy claimed that sales of its discount range was rising faster than that of Aldi or Lidl.