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Bing Search Engine News Forum

Microsoft's Ballmer: 5 years to catch Google, Yahoo

 6:38 pm on May 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said on Thursday he has a five-year target to gain a bigger slice of the lucrative online advertising market...

Reuters Article [today.reuters.com]

Interesting that the focus is so advertising focused that no mention is made of search relevance in general. IMO, this could be their downfall. First, I say, get search right altogether -- and then advertising revenue will follow on the natural coattails of that core competency.

That is exactly how Google got where it is. And if Google wobbles, it will be due to chasing the dollar more than their core mission. But only if someone else is performing that core mission in a better fashion.



 6:51 pm on May 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

maybe that's what they meant. I doubt they they are that stupid ;) It also depends on what quotes Reuters decided to use.


 8:31 pm on May 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

"I doubt they they are that stupid"

All their behavior suggests they are though...


 9:04 pm on May 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Of course they are that stupid, it's Microsoft. Perhaps they should get Windows right before they work on their search THEN they can work on advertising. But that's their method, spread themselves too thin on everything and watch it all fall apart.


 9:25 pm on May 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I look to MSN for freshness when I need CURRENT info on a particular subject, I'm afraid the sandbox has doomed G$ to historical type searches which they are pretty good at. Different engines, different strengths, I have no problem adjusting to "one size doesn't fit all".

I also use different OS's depending on what their strengths are, XP can do some things OSX can't and linux can do things neither of the other two can't. Whoo hoo, the search market is diversifying, thats a good thing for everyone, look for the strengths in every engine that can help you.

BTW, Ballmer was probably addressing the biz end of search, advertising.

Search in itself is not a business.


 9:59 pm on May 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

To be fair to MS, I was heartened to see their recognition of the immensity of the search job. They recruited and hired for a new department rather than just reassigning existing employees. And still, they see five years as a challenge.

And it will be a challenge, because who thinks of MSN for search except their ISP customers? They have a major battle to gain market share, both with awareness and with search quality. However, products such as Live and alliances such as Amazon are decent first steps on the five year road.

I also note the humility in these comments rom Ballmer. That was five years to gain a "bigger slice" not to to be dominant. And it comes with the admission "We are a little bit late in the game."


 10:17 pm on May 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

>> All their behavior suggests they are though... .

something tells me you're wrong. No one can get things right 100% of the time, or succeed in all, but it's safe to say that MSFT has had its share of success. I wish I was that stupid...


 10:21 pm on May 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Sounds like Ballmer can't figure out how to get it done now that it turns out they're not doing as well as he'd hoped by now, and needs a time that sounds far away to get the analysts off his back.


 11:00 pm on May 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I agree that current analyst expectations are probably not realistic, and MS could use some breathing space on the search issue, which is both a technical challenge and a marketing challenge. Heck, many webmasters have unrealistic expectations when it comes to what is realistic for any major search engine. The technology challenge is simply outside most of our experience, as well as the marketing challenge.


 7:31 am on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

For starters, what they need to change is the name. "MSN Search has more relevant results than Google" ... yeah right, might as well have "Geek" tattooed on your forehead.

PS: I got one of those already ... Oh, and here's an idea: What about "Balloogle"?


 8:03 am on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Unless they go international with paid advertising, they can never match Google... Even after so many years even yahoo is still only focused on U.S.... granted U.S. is the biggest market but the growth is elsewhere, as more and more people go online in India and China and other countries just awakening to the power and reach of the internet...

With better fraud detection and stricter quality control, they could sweep the emerging markets. As we all know, Google - quality control, in terms of selecting websites authorized to show G ads is pathetic with every One Page site displaying .....ads by Goooogle.....

They can steal a march over G , in selected Niche areas and then take a bigger slice of the existing market. The opportunity is certainly there and G monopoly needs to be challenged...


 8:58 am on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Total dominance is a terrible thing.

MS currently has a problem, it is too big and too powerful.

Only time will allow the World to adjust to that issue.

It is exactly the same problem as the USA is now facing, the only "Super-Power" left, becomes a target of everyone.

In time the problem will die down, and then MS can move forward again.

MS owns the OS used by 90+-% of people, it controls all of those people when at their PC's. It already dominates their online experience via IE, if it dominated their experience via search it would face a rebellion today.

Give it 5 to 10 years and folks will get used to it, then it can covert search as well.


 1:44 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

"MSN Search has more relevant results than Google."

This is what I've always thought, especially when I'm looking for information on something specific. MSN would take me directly to what I wanted on the #1 result, where with Google I'd have to wade through pages of links that were only vaguely related. But over the past few months, I'm seeing less difference between the two, and not in a good way. If MSN tries to boost its presence in online advertising, are MSN search results going to be sporting as many "made for MSN" sites as we now have MFA sites on Google?

"But at the end of the day it is going to be about the ability to create a mass marketplace for buyers and consumers."

See above concern. My hope is that more competition among the search engines will lead to the realization that what most consumers want is consistently good search results. But I wish I felt more optimistic about that than I do.


 5:38 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

"but it's safe to say that MSFT has had its share of success."

My gardener is a great gardener. When he decided to do brain surgery on the side, the initial results weren't good. He now says he'll be a great brain surgeon in five years.

Microsoft's stupidity when it comes to search is staggering. First they ignored the lucrative market altogether. The they launched an abomination of an engine. Then they did an ad campaign that did nothing but cause them to lose market share because people tried their engine and discovered how pathetic it was. Simultanteously they put policies in place aimed at making more money if they had a working search engine, but they did nothing to make one. Now they promise vaporware in five years.

In terms of lost revenue, it would be hard, seriously, to find a series of more stupidly self-destructive actions over the past several years than Microsoft's approach to search.


 7:25 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>It is exactly the same problem as the USA is now facing, the only "Super-Power" left, becomes a target of everyone.

aside: well you underestimate china there i think :)

however back OT, i think it is great news, ms have set a realistic target to get themselves into the game - the pie is going to be even bigger then too.

greatd news because unless the nature of search changes radically (and it just might - but that's for another thread) then to get a bigger share of the advertising then the search results are going to have to be good too. contrary to popular belief ms are absolutely not stupid, quite the opposite.


 8:04 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

>> Microsoft's stupidity when it comes to search is staggering. First they ignored the lucrative market altogether.

Microsoft's stupidity when it comes to the internet browser is staggering. First they ignored the lucrative market altogether...


 9:19 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Better check your definition of lucrative.


 10:19 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

must everything make money directly to be considered "lucrative"?


 3:32 am on May 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Good God. 5 years? Thats like eons away in web terms, anything can happen from now and then. Anyone realisticaly believe that Google will go unchallenged for 15 years?


 3:34 am on May 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

I see users having no brand loyalty in search. Something comes along that is better than Google and people will flock to it at an exponentially greater rate than users flocked to Google.


 6:55 am on May 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Brand loyalty ..huh... rstein68 pointed out rightly yahoo is concentrated over US market and MSN is just coming up, so its just that there is no perfect challenge for G at the moment.

Hope MSN comes up and people will try it more to find the near perfect result.

Now a days people only try out google as their first preference because there is less option for them, loyalty is not such as issue as far as they get better results or more to say relevant results.


 12:55 pm on May 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Ballmer's focus is clearly far broader than Search, hence the reference to "advertising market" rather than "search."

My impression is that MS is in the midst of a fundamental shift in its business strategy, away from licensing software toward selling advertising.

This is a logical response to Google's growth and tactical manuevers (Firefox, OpenOffice), as well as the broader pressures created by the increasing popularity of open source software. The key problem for MS is that open source software tends to be given away "free" -- just like Google's "maps" and many other beta "products" which Google is giving away free -- so MS can't necessarily succeed by simply adding "free" features and products to its core/monopoly products.

I think MS may finally be realizing that their monopoly position will be eroded if they continue to sell their software in a market which is trending toward "free" products. The solution is to find an alternative source of revenue which enables them to continue to benefit from their existing monopoly position.

If MS can navigate this transition successfully, they will retain their dominant position on computer "desktops" but they will no longer rely on software licensing revenue; instead they will make their money selling advertising shown to every "windows" user.

Note these portions of the Reuters article:

"At the core of this plan is Windows Live, an advertising-funded, one-stop shop for services from e-mail, to instant messaging, to blogs that targets the fast-growing online ad market.

...Ballmer said Microsoft would seek to create a marketplace where consumers want to spend their time and advertisers want to spend their money. It also plans to leverage the popularity of its MSN, Hotmail and Instant Messaging products, he said.


 1:04 pm on May 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

>> would seek to create a marketplace where consumers want to spend their time

search is key. Why would people go to live.com for something, but go to Yahoo or Google when they needed to search? Doesn't make sense.


 4:32 pm on May 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

What is interesting is that live.com doesn't work under SAFARI Mac OS X default browser! Search engine for windows users only?


 8:38 pm on May 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

msnsearch doesn't "work" under any browser...


 9:15 am on May 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

Itís the approach MSFT have adopted which is making them look absolutely stupid.

When was the last time they shipped a good product? They need to understand that they can't do everything. Sometimes its makes more sense to sync up with someone better.

MSFT's core strength is their OS and office app. They should keep working on those platforms. It just doesn't make sense jumping to any new money making service at the cost of their core strength. Today its search, tomorrow it could be social networking.

MSFT have the money. They should rather buy one maybe even two promising search startups. Thats how yahoo is scoring high. They bought flickr, del.icio.us, events etc. All these apps had a strong user acceptance when yahoo bought them.

MSFT now looks like a lost soul wandering where ever it smells money. All those great-search-in-6months or will-kill-google-in-a-year talk will fetch nothing. I have never heard Google publicly say they will dominate this or that. They just focus on their core competencies and the users and they keep innovating.

Maybe MSFT needs to learn from the kids and grow up. And Ballmer should learn to be nice to his kids.


 2:55 pm on May 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

It shouldnt be easy for them to bet G and Y,lets see if they can get any closer at all


 8:38 pm on May 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

We just felt extremely compelled to chime in on this thread.

seo24x7 --> the steveb that posts on this thread is not actually Steve Ballmer, or at least we do not think so :)

Hope this helps.

- msndude (msd)


 9:11 pm on May 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

LOL, I'm glad that's clarified.

(If I was I'd say what he said, but start doing things totally diffent than how they are... like don't geolocate "neptune" searches, don't make subdomain keywords score like Jordan on Kareem's shoulders, and for pete's sake figure out that "niche authority" is something to value)

And if I was that steveb I'd be pretty darn p-oed that we were not competive with the competiton that is bumbling around in the dark...

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