Bing cuts the clicks

Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft, so take this with a grain of salt.

Since Bing launched I’ve been thinking a lot about search engines and how I use them.

I’ve got two recent examples that illustrate why I think Bing might be onto something. Bing, for certain scenarios, cuts the clicks you must make to get the information you need — or at least the information I need.

Checking a sports score

I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan. When I want to get a Cardinals score, I often go to ESPN, but that site loads so slowly and is so busy that I have been going to Bing lately and just entering “Cardinals” in the search window. Here’s what I get:

bing_cardinals

Bing gives me a nice summary of the Cardinals schedule. If there’s a game going on at the moment, I get a real-time sports score, which is nifty. Google, as shown here, only gives me a link to the Cardinals’ site. Another click, instead of a score.

google_cards

Checking on a flight

My wife flew to Oakland recently and I wanted to check on her flight. So I entered the flight number into Google and Bing. Here’s what I found:

bing_southwest

I got the arrival time so I knew when I could call her.

Google gives me a link to another site that will give me the details that Bing already gave me.

google_southwest

Google got to where it is today by prioritizing speed. Austere web design and massive data centers gave its search engine a massive advantage over everything else out there.

But speed isn’t just about how quickly a search page loads, it’s about how quickly you find what you’re looking for. If a search engine knows you’re looking for a sports score and not a sports team web site, it can save you a click and, as a result, save you time.

Time is clicks. You save people time by saving them clicks.

Granted, I’m probably not the most objective observer of the Bing vs. Google debate. So what do you think?

Are these two Bing innovations going to stick?

Bing Beats Google in Insta-translation

Bing recently added a nifty new translation feature — one that is so simple and in many ways so obvious that I can’t help wondering why Google never got around to doing it. But that’s a topic for a later post.

For now, I’d like you to try entering the following text strings into both Bing and Google (to save you time I created pre-loaded hyperlinks):

Below are screen shots of the first text string in both Bing and Google. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:

bing-iloveyou

google_i_love_you

Google, despite its massively powerful translation engine, doesn’t simply answer your translation question. Instead, it provides links.

I realize that this is a relatively minor feature and that it currently only supports a small number of very common text strings, but it’s still a very handy feature for a translation geek such as myself.

Now, I’m not saying Bing is perfect. When it comes to technical searches — or when I just need to look up a Wikipedia article quickly — Google still does better, sometimes far better.

But I’m glad to see Bing integrating translation in an intuitive way. It’s a feature that I’ll be using again.

PS: Here is the blog announcement of this feature from Microsoft Translate team.

The Twitter Domain Rush: Don’t Get “Twit-jacked”

My previous post on Twitter got me thinking about what other companies had registered language-specific domains for their Twitter accounts.

Turns out, most companies haven’t even registered Twitter accounts for their primary brands.

Like who?

Apple, for one.

Here we have someone who apparently likes apples but isn’t Apple:

twitter_apple

It appear that Microsoft reserved its account early on, though nothing is there. Microsoft does have about a dozen Twitter accounts that do include content.

twitter_msft

Coke — someone who drinks Coke, but not the company.

twitter_coke

While Pepsi does have a Twitter account.

twitter_pepsi

The Wall Street Journal has an article out about this domain name rush.

So many questions come to mind:

  • Will Twitter enforce trademarks for valid holders? Usually, the WIPO does this with domain names, but this isn’t actually a domain name in the traditional sense.
  • What percentage of the millions of new Twitter accounts being registered every day simply squatters hoping to make a quick buck? That is, how much of Twitter’s growth actual growth?
  • And what about third-party domain marketplaces — will we see them emerge? Or will Twitter start its own marketplace?

In the meantime, if you’re thinking about reserving a Twitter domain, do it now before getting Twit-jacked…

Is this the next language icon?

langiconclassic_r9_c19

Does this icon say “language” to you?

It doesn’t to me.

But the OMC design studio feels so strongly about it that it has launched a web site to promote this icon as a global standard.

I applaud the effort and I fully agree that there is a need for such an icon, but I don’t believe that this one should be it. I find that this looks like a floppy disk (and, yes, I’m aware that there is an entire generation of computer users out there who don’t even know what a floppy disk looks like).

If I were to vote for an international icon, I would vote for a generic globe icon. Companies such as Panasonic, Dow Corning, and Microsoft have used a globe icon to denote either language or country/region (or both).

Other companies use tiny maps, such as John Deere and Caterpillar.

I prefer the globe, but either will do the trick.

What do you think?

PS: I just discovered that I wrote about the need for a standard icon way back in 2004. I preferred the globe icon even back then.

To learn more, check out my new book The Art of the Global Gateway.

Microsoft Translation Widget: Moving MT one step closer to the Web page

translator_widget

I’m happy to see Microsoft Research launch this new Web site widget.

I’ll have to test it out on my site when I get the time — and would love to hear from others who have tried it.

A demo site is here.

I really like how the widget creates a more seamless translation experience, which is a big step toward taking machine translation to the masses. I’m looking forward to the day when I no longer have to manually copy and paste URLs into Google Translate and the like.

However, I did get confused initially on figuring out how to return the page back to English. That bar at the top of the page blended in a bit too much at first. I’d like to see a language reset button on the widget itself.