Both Microsoft and Google used the Web 2.0 Summit as a forum for unveiling new deals and plans to incorporate social networking and real-time search results in their respective search engines. The announcements indicate that the Bing-Google rivalry is heating up.
Microsoft drew first blood by announcing deals with both Facebook and Twitter to index status updates from the social networking sites and provide them within Bing search results. Microsoft has already rolled out a beta edition of a dedicated Twitter search within Bing.
The Bing Twitter service shows a tag cloud of trending topics on Twitter followed by clusters of shared links related to the hottest tweets. At the top is a search bar where you can enter your own search term for which Bing will display the most recent related tweets and the most popular shared links related to the search.
Google followed Bing by announcing some social network indexing of its own. Google also stated that it has come to an agreement with Twitter, but that inclusion of tweets in Google search results could be a couple months out still. The bigger Web 2.0 Summit bomb shell was the unveiling of Google Social Search.
Google Social Search, which will launch soon as yet another Google Labs experiment, is a sort of hybrid approach to real-time search indexing. Social Search results will include content created by contacts in the user’s social network. For example, a search for World Series might include Gmail messages or FriendFeed entries from friends related to major league baseball’s World Series.
Google Social Search defines the social network as a function of the user’s Google Contacts. Social Search will require that the user have a Google account, and that the Google Contacts data is populated with the network of contacts to be included in search results.
Bing also announced a deal to index status updates from Facebook, but the details of the Bing arrangement with Facebook are less clear. Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg did confirm that Facebook would be providing access to public status updates to Bing. She also said that no money is changing hands in the deal.
With over 300 million members, Facebook boasts over 45 million status updates per day. The majority of those status updates are private by default though. Only status updates that users have chosen to share publicly will be included in real-time search results. Microsoft has a stake in Facebook and an existing relationship, which might explain why Google is apparently not even trying to negotiate a similar arrangement.
The chess match between the two tech giants threatens to squash smaller players in the market. Sites like OneRiot, Crowdeye, and Collecta have already been delivering real-time search capabilities. These smaller entities will have a tough time surviving the battle of the behemoths, similar to the way mom & pop book stores may be forced out of business by the price war between Amazon and Walmart (and now Target has joined the fray).
The best-case scenario for these smaller companies may be acquisition by one of the two search rivals. Google stated just last week on its Q3 conference call that its coffers are full and it is looking to make acquisitions in specific markets, including real-time search. Perhaps that cycle has already begun-- a visit to crowdeye.com simply redirects to the default google.com page.
Tony Bradley is an information security and unified communications expert with more than a decade of enterprise IT experience. He tweets as @PCSecurityNews and provides tips, advice and reviews on information security and unified communications technologies on his site at tonybradley.com .