I'm trying really, really hard to get excited about Search Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back. You can't see or hear it, but trust me, I'm squeezing my eyes shut, furrowing my brow in conversation, and reciting the mantra of Why Search Matters. So far, no epiphanies.
Despite any lack of enthusiasm the general public may have in the Bing v. Google bout, the steady drumbeat of stories like "Bing Beats Google To The Punch, Launches Twitter Search" will continue. While I actually do have the occasional need to search Twitter content, I'm not likely to stop using Google as my default search engine any time soon.
So far, Bing just isn't compelling enough to make the switch. And how compelling can differences in search engines really be? Search is one of the most commoditized of all technology industry commodities, with few major leaps forward in the last several years. Sure, I care about the inclusion of new types of content. Adding Internet-available Word, PowerPoint, and Acrobat files made Google searches that much more useful. Occasionally, new capabilities in image search can help me find a picture that might be difficult, through words alone, to locate.
But, as of today, Bing and Google are too much alike to provoke me into making any new choices. Using lone wolf and cub as keywords, the web page results looked pretty much the same. (Click here for Google, and here for Bing.)
Flipping over to the image search, I got an appreciation for Microsoft's slightly better hit results. You get more per page, and Bing hides the metadata until you mouse over the image. Clever, to be sure, but I bet that Google will provide some matching capabilities soon. (Click here for Google, and here for Bing.)
And when it came to video, Bing was less appealing. Mousing over the the video to play it in the thumbnail is kinda useful, but I'm usually pretty sure, from the single-frame preview, which video I want. (Click here for Google, and here for Bing.)
Obviously, it's a bit early to say for sure, one way or the other, if heightened competition will inspire new inventions in search technology. It'd be good if it did, since we've seen only marginal improvements in the last several years. So far, though, the epic battle is a bit of a yawner.
[P.S. My selection of lone wolf and cub as keywords wasn't completely random. I just watched the second movie in this iconic, over-the-top series about a former-shogun's-executioner-turned-assassin who pushes his infant son around medieval Japan in a baby carriage. So now you know at least part of what I did over the holiday weekend.]