Anyone who’s spent any time on the internet – or in a coffee shop – knows Microsoft just isn’t cool. Functional? Sometimes. Scalable? You bet. Cool? About as cool as U.S. Steel, Kaiser Permanente, or the New York Yankees. Having a gmail address says you’re a denizen of the 21st century; having a Hotmail address says you got it in the ’90s and don’t want to have to tell all your acquaintances your new email address. Using IE instead of Firefox says that you don’t really know anything about computers. And in the foreground of every mental picture you have of that really cute, painfully hip-looking, totally approachable dude or gal in the coffee shop is a glowing, white apple.
Microsoft’s newest attempt to kill its more-hip competitors (you may remember things like the Zune and those lame attempts at responding to the “I’m a Mac” commercials) is a search engine called Bing. They’ve tried before to do search, with the MSN Live Search that they tried to foist on IE users, but it hasn’t taken off.
Which, of course, raises the obvious question: So the name is better, but what about the search engine itself? Is it going to give us better results than Google, which rose to the top over competitors like MetaFilter, AltaVista, and Excite (boy, those names bring back memories) because it had better indexing and better page-ranking algorithms? Come to think of it, is it better than what might end up being the real Google-killer, Wolfram Alpha?
Apparently, if the New York Times is to be believed, they’re thinking all they need is the catchy name.
Microsoft’s marketing gurus hope that Bing will evoke neither a type of cherry nor a strip club on “The Sopranos” but rather a sound — the ringing of a bell that signals the “aha” moment when a search leads to an answer.
The name is meant to conjure “the sound of found” as Bing helps people with complex tasks like shopping for a camera, said Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of Microsoft’s online audience business group.
So what does “Bing” make me think of?
But I’ll let the Old Gray Lady have the final coup de grâce:
Meanwhile, some tech people were already noting that Bing is also an unfortunate acronym: “But It’s Not Google.”