On Tuesday, Google released a blog post accusing Bing of “stealing” their data. Danny Sullivan wrote a nice piece on the details of Google’s experiment. This is a bold accusation and both sides are fighting for search market share. Google’s claim is that they were able to manually manipulate the search results in Bing using Internet Explorer and Google’s search capabilities. By changing the results in Google using an obsolete query term, they were able to also impact the search results on Bing. This lead to the claim that Bing is simply copying Google’s results.
In my opinion, this makes both companies look poorly. Bing is very foolishly using a competitors results to impact their own. Google is foolishly making a big deal about this when they were, essentially, manually manipulating the user search behaviors on low traffic terms, thereby having a large impact on the overall correlation between a search query and the desired page. (Some might even argue this constitutes click fraud.)
Bing is basically admitting that they use all possible points of data to improve the search results for their users. That data, coincidentally or otherwise, includes the data provided by Google’s SERPs or, in this specific case, 20 of Google’s engineers manually clicking.
Below is a good video of Matt Cutts, Principal Engineer at Google and Dr. Harry Shum, Corporate VP of Core Search Development at Microsoft discussing the issues at hand.
Maybe it’s time to jump over to DuckDuckGo.com, who does nothing for tracking whatsoever.
2/4/11 Update: Matt Cutts expanded on his thoughts on his blog and it certainly makes a more convincing argument in Google’s favor. While Bing may not be, technically, copying Google’s results, they’re certainly leveraging them quite heavily. Some of the comments are quite insightful, too. Two in particular that caught my attention;
“If it is truly only 1/1000th of their algo, they should drop it….not just for PR’s sake but also for the sake of unique and diverse search options.” Vincent Ammirato
While I agree with Matt & Vincent that this is certainly turning sour from a PR perspective, I see nothing wrong, conceptually, with Bing using all available data sources for user analysis. A case could certainly be made from a strategic standpoint to exclude competitor data but from a search quality perspective, more data is better.
Google copied Overture (AdWords)
Google copied Twitter (Buzz)
Google copied Flickr (Picassa)
Google copied iPhone (Android)
Google copied MapQuest (Maps)
Google copied Yahoo (Finance)
Google copied Alta Viata (Translate)
Google copied AIM/ICQ (Chat)
Google copied Friendster (Orkut)
I could go on, but you get the idea. Glass houses, an so on. [Posted from AnonCuzImScaredOfGettingOnYourBadSide]
I love this quote. It’s true that Google has certainly been critical of Microsoft’s lack of innovation (copying Apple) but Google is certainly no different in practice. Their “Don’t Be Evil” motto seems to be wanning these days.