It's exciting time to be in the web community or just to be a web consumer. Three years ago when the Web 2.0 era started to pick up, we got a glimpse to the potential of the web in how it can change our lives.
But in the last months, we really start to see how all the different pieces and technologies are coming together to finally create a connected user experience. Products like Hulu Desktop, Twitter, Google Wave, Facebook Connect and the iPhone combined with now more mature technologies such as HTML 5 and Ajax adre finally bringing us the consumers the ultimate user experience.
The foundations of such experience are: Desktop like UI, seamless integration between services and real time communication. This year we finally saw the mobile promise gets realized with great web experience on the iPhone and now Android. We finally saw the borders between TV and web video completely blend. We finally start to see the concepts of federated identity and data portability come into place. All these things together won't solve the world hunger or bring world wide peace, but they will change the way we live our daily lives and communicate with other people.
As many people noted today, most of the initial reactions to the new search engine from Microsoft, Bing, are quite good. In the past weeks we all read so many negative things about it, that I think we can all admit that we expected a complete failure. But surprisingly, Bing is actually very good.
The big question now is whether this is enough to compete with Google?
I think Microsoft was very smart in the way they developed Bing. They realised that they can't and should not try to fight Google over index size or even ranking of search results. Google are just too good there. But with the combination of their aquasition of Power set, and integration with some of their owned content sites like Farecast what they achived is something else - a more relevent way to display search results.
Search for example for "Lakers Results" in Bing and in Google and you will see the difference. WHile both point to the Lakers site as the first result, Bing also shows you the latest game results and the next games schedule, right in the search results.
Add to that some really useful new UI elements such as playing videos right in the search results, auto preview for sites and relates searches tab and you get a quite impressive search experience.
That said, this is still not enough to beat Google. The problem is that in order to beat Google, you actually need to break users' habit. And this is the hardest possible task. In order to do so, Microsoft needs one of the following:
A "killer" feature - A feature that is so good that it will make people start to use it just for that.
A "killer" marketing campaign - After the semi successful "I'm a PC" campaign, can Microsoft pull a winner for Bing?
Use their "windows advantage" - Basically integrate Bing so hard into Windows 7 that users will just have to start and use it. This is unlikely as the last thing Microsoft needs right now is more anti trust issues.
Another very interesting scenario could be if Microsoft buys Twitter and integrate it into Bing... Twitter "real time" search is getting better and better and could potentially be this killer feature. Make the twitter search box to actually do Bing search, and you suddenly get millions of new users...