Microsoft's Bing Dives Into Online Shopping

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Microsoft (MSFT) has closed the gap between itself and Google (GOOG) in search market share by just a little, based on data from Comscore and other online measurement firms. That may be because it has improved the relevance of its search results, or because of its search partnership with Yahoo.

Whatever the reason, Microsoft has jumped into online shopping to take advantage of Bing's modest success. The world's largest software company announced that "Today we're launching Bing deals for the desktop and mobile (m.bing.com) -- giving you access to more than 200,000 unique offers in over 14,000 cities and towns across the U.S. Bing deals assembles leading offers from Groupon, Living Social and Restaurant.com (just to name a few), making it easier to discover, share and search for the best deals in your area -- all from one place." The product will use technology from Microsoft partner Dealmap.

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The new product will enter a crowded market, which is nothing new for Microsoft. Companies like Groupon and Twitter already offer conduits to consumers who seek out shopping deals. Cellphone companies have begun to set up location-based software that also lets consumers use their smart phones to find and pay for products and services.

Microsoft's legendary staying power will be tested as it enters the new market. Many observers believed that Microsoft's search product would never do well compared to Google's. Some analysts also said that Microsoft's Xbox would never challenge the game consoles from Sony (SNE). The same holds true for its cloud-based software and virtualization products. In each case, Redmond has made successful headway.

Now, the question is whether the new Microsoft Bing shopping product is any good and whether the company will put its considerable marketing power behind it.

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