June 14, 2009 10:35 AM PDT
Does Microsoft's Bing have Google running scared?
by Steven Musil
Microsoft may have developed a contender that threatens Google's Web search dominance.
In a story headlined "Fear grips Google," the New York Post reports that the launch of Microsoft's Bing search engine has so upset Google co-founder Sergey Brin that he has top engineers working on "urgent upgrades" to Google's service. Brin is said to be leading a team to determine how Microsoft's search algorithm differs from the closely guarded one Google employs. The tabloid also notes that it's rare for Google's co-founders to have such a hands-on involvement in the company's daily operations.
"New search engines have come and gone in the past 10 years, but Bing seems to be of particular interest to Sergey," an anonymous source described as an "insider" told the newspaper.
A Google representative declined to comment on the level of Brin's involvement but did tell the newspaper that the company always has a team working to improve search.
Microsoft, which launched Bing earlier this month as an upgrade to its default search engine, is reportedly spending $80 million to $100 million in an ad blitz to tout its latest search effort. Google, meanwhile, spent just $25 million in total on advertising last year, according to an AdAge report.
Bing's launch bumped Microsoft's search share up to 11.1 percent last week from 9.1 percent the prior week, according to numbers released by market researcher ComScore.
However, that initial increase didn't seem to impress Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who was pretty tight-lipped when queried about Bing's arrival.
"It's not the first entry for Microsoft," Schmidt said Tuesday in an interview with Fox Business Network. "They do this about once a year."
Google Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette said Tuesday that the company planned to hold a "review...on it with the executive committee."
Although Microsoft has a long way to go before it makes a dent in Google's business, Bing may end up being the only true alternative to Google in a few years if Yahoo decides to stop competing in the search market.