The only thing Bing really has over Google (well to be fair they have engaged in some decent innovation with their iPad US of A search app, Project Emporia, partnerships with sites such as DealMap and my favourite –mall maps, however I digress) is their investment in ( $240m for a 1.6% stake in 2007), and close firehose relationship with, Facebook…
And finally Bing is REALLY starting to utilise this partnership with their improved social search integration that was released a day ago.
In their new right hand social column Bing is tapping in to not only universal ‘standard’ search but also in to your social networks. Increasingly users will see the new “What Your Friends May Know” social sidebar that integrates Facebook personalisation (Twitter, Google+, Quora and LinkedIn to follow apparently) directly in to Bing (see the video above for more info).
To see the new pane you have to be one of the lucky Beta participants, have signed in to Facebook and installed the Bing App in Facebook.
What I love about the development is not only the direct improved results but the deeper Q&A that comes with friend engagement… Also in the social pane you can “Ask friends…” and type a question related to your search that in turn is added to your Facebook posts (or ask specific Facebook experts and friends to assist in your search via a tiny person-plus icon). Whilst the success of this development depends on how many friends you have, how knowledgeable on your topics of interest they are and how engaged they are it is still a great feature to see.
If you believe Bing when they say “90% of people consult with a friend or expert before making a decision” and if you couple this with the study from Social Labs (they looked at 450m+ visits to various retail websites and found more than 50% of visitors were logged into Facebook while browsing) then you have a powerful new social search integration with a leading Search provider who is not frightened of spending $millions to refine it.
The one thing Bing needs to be wary of here though is the provider themselves; Facebook.
If this tie up proves to be super successful then Facebook must surely look at launching its own Search engine.
This launch would be particularly likely after the flotation as it looks to stem the valuation loss when people wake up to Facebook’s overvaluation (my opinion that will absolutely come true!). There is certainly credence to this view as I have heard on the grapevine that Facebook is quietly working on a new, upgraded version of the site’s search engine. Facebook have reportedly hired former Google engineer Lars Rasmussen who is being aided and abetted by 25 other top engineers. If you couple this talent with Facebook user behaviour and the huge amount of crop-dusting/ human pre screening that has been done across the web with its ’Like’ button and then sprinkle in Bing learning’s then you have another huge Search provider waiting in the wings.