If you haven't noticed, Bing and Google are engaged in a tit-for-tat over which search engine has the best features.
On Wednesday, Bing unveiled new and improved tools like Wolfram Alpha integration, Facebook Previews and full-page weather reports. Then Google hit back on Thursday with enhanced movie listings and even safer SafeSearch. Before that Bing unveiled an overhauled maps interface, the next day Google announced Street View was now available in all fifty states. Last month during the Web 2.0 Summit, the two search engines sent out competing press releases bragging about Twitter integration, and on and on it goes.
Google may be the dominant search engine, but Bing is doing its best to push its way up the popularity charts.
With so much attention focused on adding new stuff, you've got to wonder what the future has in store for search and whether this feature war is getting out of hand.
The Battle for Search
It's nothing new to try and suck the life out of a competitor's product by making a competing major announcement around the same time. Palm and Sprint tried to do that to Apple with the launch of the Palm Pre. Not to mention that Google Wave launched on May 28, the same day that Bing made its debut. But lately, the battle between Google and Bing is getting to be like a tennis match that never ends, just a constant rally back and forth as each side tries to outmaneuver the other.
Look at Wednesday: Bing announces some interesting new features that integrate the computational power of Wolfram Alpha into its search results. As an added bonus, Bing gets limited Facebook integration and tweaks its weather results.
How does Google respond? An announcement about tweaked movie searches, and password protection for your SafeSearch settings--Google's filter for explicit content. Improved SafeSearch is worth talking about and likely a welcome improvement, but the Google Movies announcement looks like a desperate plea to prove that Google can be just as consumer oriented as Bing.
Although competing announcements can get a little tiring, there's a lot to love about the heavy competition in the search market. Google and Microsoft realize that search is where the online money is, which is why they spend so much time on new features and products that will keep you coming back for more. Increased competition could lead to helpful technologies emerging like improved semantic search, hyper local features, voice activated search on your PC and who know what else?
It's an exciting future for search--I can't believe I just said that--and Google and Bing are working hard to deliver the latest and greatest features to their loyal users. I just hope they don't lose focus on basic things like filtering search spam and phishing detection in the rush to deliver new features before the other guy does.