Does Microsoft's Bing have Google running scared?

Microsoft may have developed a contender that threatens Google's Web search dominance.
In a story headlined "Fear grips Google," the New York Post reports that the launch of Microsoft's Bing search engine has so upset Google co-founder Sergey Brin that he has top engineers working on "urgent upgrades" to Google's service. Brin is said to be leading a team to determine how Microsoft's search algorithm differs from the closely guarded one Google employs. The tabloid also notes that it's rare for Google's co-founders to have such a hands-on involvement in the company's daily operations.

"New search engines have come and gone in the past 10 years, but Bing seems to be of particular interest to Sergey," an anonymous source described as an "insider" to the newspaper.

A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the level of Brin's involvement but did tell the newspaper that the company always has a team working on improving search.

Microsoft, which launched as Bing as its default search engine earlier this month, is reportedly spending $80 million to $100 million in an ad blitz to tout its latest search effort. Rival Google, meanwhile, spent just $25 million total on advertising last year, according to an AdAge report.

Bing's launch bumped Microsoft's search share up to 11.1 percent last week from 9.1 percent the prior week, according to numbers released by market analyst ComScore.

However, that initial increase didn't impress Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who was pretty tight-lipped earlier this week when queried about Bing's arrival.

"It's not the first entry for Microsoft," Schmidt said Tuesday in an interview with Fox Business Network. "They do this about once a year."

Google Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette said Tuesday that the company planned to hold "a review tomorrow on it with the executive committee."

While Microsoft has a long way to go before it makes a dent in Google's business, Bing may end up being the only true alternative to Google if Yahoo decides not to compete in the search market over the next few years.

BY Steven Musil

Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. Before joining CNET News in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.

©2009 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved.


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