Microsoft Corp. has finally reached a long-sought and expensive goal – its Bing search engine now ranks second behind Google in the Internet’s most lucrative market. Bing and Microsoft’s other websites fielded 2.75 billion search requests in the U.S. during December, catapulting in front of Yahoo Inc. for the first time in the jockeying for runner up to Google Inc., according to statistics released Wednesday by comScore Inc. Bing’s December volume translated into a 15.1 percent share of the U.S. search traffic, comScore said. Yahoo processed 2.65 billion search requests, representing 14.5 percent of the U.S. market. Google remained Internet’s go-to place for information, with 12 billion U.S. requests in December. That works out to a 65.9 percent market share. Other research firms track the Internet search market. But comScore’s numbers matter the most to industry analysts and the companies trying to attract queries so they can make more money from the ads that appear alongside the results. Google’s dominance of online search is the main reason it has established itself as the Internet’s most profitable company. Analysts have expected Microsoft and Yahoo to flip-flop their positions in Internet search since they announced a partnership in July 2009. The 10-year agreement has enabled Yahoo to save money by relying on Microsoft to provide the bulk of its search technology. Microsoft wanted the deal so it would have billions more search requests to analyze each year, giving it a better chance to learn about people’s tendencies and preferences.
Six French newspapers have come together to create an online newsstand where readers will be able to buy and read their content. The initiative, which will be launched in September, was announced Thursday by France’s National Daily Press Union as an alternative to Google News, El País reported. The maneuver comes months after Google announced its intention to include advertising on its news aggregation system. French newspapers had tried to negotiate with Google to receive a percentage of the ads revenues. But, as their request was denied, they have decided to launch a paid service of their own. The content’s price will be fixed by each daily and several subscription packages to either individual articles or an entire publication will be offered. “The monetization of the web contents, which has been agreed on by the editorial groups, is the main priority,” Les Echos explained. So far, Le Monde, Libération, Le Figaro, Les Echos, Le Parisien and L’Equipe have agreed to develop and finance the virtual newsstand. Nonetheless, editors expect other newspapers and magazines to join the project. The group is also trying to obtain state subventions offered to the press by the Sarkozy administration, ABC.es informed. According to Xornal de Galicia, the six dailies are currently negotiating with Orange and Microsoft Bing to build the platform, which will be accessible by personal computer, mobile phone and e-reader gadgets like the iPad.
A personalised mobile newspaper for iPad users has been launched by a team of former Google and Bing engineers. Apollo News, the first product from Hawthorne Labs, aggregates content based on a user preferences algorithm, in a similar way to how Pandora recommends music for its users. The app was created by Evan Reas, Shubham Mittal and Prasanna Sankaranarayanan, who together have an employer history which includes Google, Microsoft and Bing. Reas told Journalism.co.uk that their idea came from their own frustrations with accessing interesting content online. The app costs users $4.99 for unlimited usage. The team now plans to make the app available on the iPhone as well as on the web itself, but says future developments will reach much further than the Apollo app. “Our hopes are more for the future of the company than just this one app,” Reas said. “We want to create a company with the main daily destinations (mobile and non-mobile) of news for consumers”.
Microsoft on Tuesday introduced the latest update to its plucky come-from-behind search engine, Bing, offering specialized results for music, TV, movies, and games. On the music front, Bing now offers playable search results. The feature is similar to what Google introduced last October, but Google is dependent on partnerships, which has created some problems. Lala was acquired by Apple, which discontinued the service on May 31, and iLike (owned by MySpace) only lets you play the song once before relegating you to a 30-second sample on subsequent visits. Microsoft, on the other hand, has its own music licensing deals for its Zune Marketplace service, and some of these deals have now been extended to Bing, giving you unlimited full-length playbacks of more than 5 million songs. If you like the song, you can then purchase the MP3 from the Zune Marketplace over the Web–a first for Microsoft. (Previously, you had to launch the Zune application.) You can also purchase it from iTunes or Amazon. Google only lets you buy from its partner iLike. Bing’s music search results beat Google in some other ways as well: artist results contain embedded biographies, a list of albums and – where available – lyrics licensed from LyricFind.
Google is ready to start letting users customize its famously spartan home page with photos of their own. The company announced Wednesday afternoon that over the next few days, U.S. visitors to Google.com will be able to drag photos from their computer or a Picasa library onto the home page, giving it a unique background. Users outside the U.S. will get the feature a little bit later as Google gradually rolls it out around the world, said Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience and the keeper of the Google Look, in a blog post. Google’s approach to its home page has always been minimalistic: it even removed all extraneous links from Google.com last year until the user moved their mouse, based on the belief that those quickly searching for info didn’t need distractions. It has allowed users to set up customized iGoogle pages, but has otherwise left the basic Google.com page alone other than the usual holiday doodles or occasional promotions for things like Chrome or the Nexus One. This is a major shift in the company’s design philosophy, and one that shows it’s paying attention to the competition. Microsoft’s revamped Bing search engine is a year old, and since the redesign went live has featured a striking photo linked to various search terms as the background for its home page.
Twitter CEO Evan Williams took no time in getting to the juicy part of his keynote address at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival on Monday afternoon. He announced the “@Anywhere” platform, a way to pull Twitter links and data onto partner sites and media outlets. A brief demo of @Anywhere showed off “hovercards” that bring up Twitter information with a mouse-over, let readers or users connect with their Twitter accounts much like Facebook Connect, or explore more specific possibilities, like instantly following a newspaper columnist’s Twitter account by clicking on his or her byline. The company has 13 launch partners, including Digg, The New York Times, MSNBC.com, eBay, Amazon, and Bing. As Williams describes it, “it’s not an ad platform, it’s an ‘@’ platform,” referring to the syntax of using the ‘@’ symbol to denote communication between individual Twitter users.
Software giant Microsoft said Tuesday it would slash by two thirds the time it holds Internet users’ personal data gathered from search queries. The US giant, behind the Bing search engine, called on market leader Google to do likewise during a Brussels press conference. “Microsoft will remove the entirety of IP addresses from search queries at six months,” said John Vassallo, vice president for European Union affairs, referring to Internet Protocol data identifying individual users. The company currently holds the information for 18 months and said the new rules will come into force within 12 to 18 months. The decision marks an abrupt change of stance as previously it said it would only reduce the stockage time if its rivals followed suit. Analysts said the move was triggered by pressure from European privacy campaigners, but Microsoft said users worldwide would benefit. In Europe, Bing has just two percent of the market compared to Google’s 80 percent