When Microsoft introduced its new Internet search engine more than a month ago, most industry analysts simply yawned. Microsoft had released several generations of its search engine before, and while each had its advantages, the company has only lost usage share in the past year and a half. It had a funny new name, but it was greeted with ambivalence.
Analysts, you just got Binged. In the month since Microsoft introduced Bing, consumers have responded with overwhelmingly positive feedback. The service has made steady gains in the market each week, and while it still ranks well behind Yahoo! and Google, Bing gives Microsoft the one thing it's never had in search before: respect.
According to Microsoft, traffic to Bing Shopping is up 300 percent. Bing Cashback transactions are up 5.42 percent. Bing Travel is up 90 percent month-over-month. And overall, Bing has driven 8 percent growth in unique users to Microsoft's search service.
"You are trying Bing and the word is spreading," Microsoft Senior Vice President Yusuf Mehdi wrote in a blog post about Bing's first-month successes. "We have a long term view, and we are committed to steady progress over the years to come. Thanks for giving Bing a try, and we look forward to your continued feedback as we improve."
The question, of course, is whether Microsoft will maintain this momentum long term. Currently, Bing is backed by a massive advertising campaign. Will Bing continue to grow after Microsoft stops promoting it so heavily? We'll have to wait and see. But for now, Bing is out-performing even the most positive of expectations. And that's a great first step.