Archive - Jun 18, 2009

Bad, Da Bing

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Memo to Microsoft: I HAVE DECIDED THAT YOU ARE DUMB.

I understand why a company might want to beat Google in the search engine business. Google's on top of the search world, making piles of money. Which means if you beat Google, you end up on top of the search world, and you're the one making the piles of money. To be the man, as the saying goes, you have to beat the man.

What I don't understand is why Microsoft keeps trying. They just released their third, or fourth, depending on how you count, attempt to make a search engine people want to use. And because we all know you can't start a new web page these days without a god-awful name, they're calling it Bing. And they're calling it a "decision engine".

Nobody needs a decision engine, of course. But they can't call it a search engine, because nobody needs a search engine that isn't Google, either. I'm not saying this to kiss Google's ass. All I know is that either Google works pretty damn well, or the Internet has settled on Google and has collectively decided that if it's not on Google, it doesn't count. Which amounts to the same thing. To challenge that, you have to provide a feature none of us knew we wanted, and then pull it off really well.

As far as I can tell, Bing doesn't do that. I say "as far as I can tell" because whenever a new search engine comes out, I test it. It's an empirical test based on an incontrovertible fact: that I am the single most important Bryan Lambert on the entire goddamned Internet. It was true yesterday, it's true today, and it'll be even more true tomorrow. Google recognizes this. Put in my name, and boom, I'm on top. As it should be.

Bing fails this test miserably. Bing's "decision engine" has decided that the most important Bryan Lambert on the Internet is some goon with a Facebook page. I am not some goon with a Facebook page. Hell, if I were to decide to wake up one morning and embrace Web 2.0, I still wouldn't have a Facebook page. After the Facebook guy, the next most important Bryan Lambert is STILL not me. It's some minor-league baseball player. Sorry, Bing. You're going to have to put YAD higher than #35 before I stop mocking you.

And you'll also have to pull your ridiculous commercials, which are nothing more than a high-tech version of a Ron Popeil infomercial. Like Microsoft, Ron Popeil is selling you shit you don't need to fix a problem you don't have. So the infomercials have to play up the problem you don't have and make it look horrifying enough to get you to want to solve it by buying their product.

This is how you end up with scenes of middle aged housewives being strangled to death by tangled, sentient garden hoses. All they wanted to do was water the lawn, but they didn't have a Garden Hose Detangling Wheel, and now they're DEAD. Do you want to die? Do you? Your garden hose is out to get you. Don't trust that green bastard. Lock his ass down in the WHEEL OF PAIN. Show that hose who's boss.

The Bing commercials are exactly the same. People go on the Internet, search for something obvious, and CHAOS ENSUES! People are jabbering unrelated nonsense at them! And breaking into song! And they won't listen when all you wanted to do was look up the prices of hotel rooms! How can people live like that, with no decision engine to help them enforce rigid structure on the tangled Interhose? Well, nobody actually does live like that, because that's not what happens when you do a Google search, assholes.

Microsoft needs to give up on search engines. Take all the Bing people and reassign them to products that actually need to be improved. You know, like video game consoles that explode after six months of use. Why can't someone make a console that doesn't need to be constantly replaced under extended warranty? I'm sure someone at Microsoft could figure that out. Or PC operating systems that don't suck. There's a market with some room for growth. But no. Microsoft's gotta spend all its energy trying to make better search engines and portable touchscreen music players. Fucking geniuses.