Saturday, January 12, 2013

Microsoft Bing's Most-Searched Terms Include Bieber, Xbox

Microsoft has unveiled Bing's top-searched terms for 2011, a list that harbors absolutely no surprises.

Topping the list of most-searched people is Justin Bieber, which suggests a lot of tweens are using Microsoft's search engine for their teen-idol needs. No. 1 in the category of consumer electronics was Xbox/Kinect, followed by the Kindle, then PlayStation.

Top news stories searched out on Bing include the Casey Anthony trial, Osama bin Laden's death, and Hurricane Irene. Top finance queries included real estate agents, "cheap" and "coupons." Vegas ended up the most-searched world destination, and the upcoming "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" the most-hunted movie.

The complete list is available here, for anyone with a burning desire to find out, say, which reality star or morning show topped Bing's search list.

Microsoft accounted for 14.8 percent of the U.S. search engine market in October, according to research firm comScore, compared with Google at 65.6 percent. Although Yahoo racked up 15.2 percent of that market, its back-end search is powered by Bing, which for all purposes folds its share into that of Microsoft.

In essence, Microsoft holds a third of the domestic search market. From its inception, the company has tried to differentiate itself from Google in a number of ways, most notably its subdivision of search into a series of subject-specific verticals, including "Shopping" and "Travel." In contrast to the Google search page's famous blank background, Bing also refreshes daily with a new image.

In addition, Microsoft's partnership with Facebook has allowed Bing to take things a step deeper, layering search with social data such as the ability to see which friends "Liked" a particular Website.

Despite the steady stream of new features, though, Microsoft's gains against Google have come in a decidedly gradual game, and the company's online division costs it millions of dollars per quarter in losses. Nonetheless, as Microsoft moves increasingly toward the cloud and mobility, Bing plays an ever-greater role as both a collector of aggregate user data and as a branding tool.

That's more than enough reason (aside from giving Bieber-ites their all-important fix) for the company to continue pouring money into the effort.

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