Lots of talk the last couple of days regarding the proposed partnership where Bing (Microsoft) will be powering the search results and advertising at Yahoo! There are mixed opinions about this - many support it, but the question is why would you support it or why would you not and does it really matter? Once the partnership takes shape, we will finally have a solid number two (2) player behind Google with Yahoo! making up approx. 30% of the global search market. The rumor is that Yahoo! and Bing could be announcing their agreement and the terms of that agreement as early as later on this week....Is having a solid number two (2) player a good thing? Perhaps...Google has dominated paid search and pure search for so long now - at least as far as most people can remember. What got Google there and keeps them at number one (1) for so long now is their distribution partnerships throughout the web, their availability and applications built in on smart phones and their brand name - think "I will Google it". That has made it hard for Bing (Microsoft) to grow their market share which is why the deal with Yahoo! is so important to their growth strategy.
Like any online medium (or traditional medium), it's about your reach and the size of your network at the end of the day - without it, you simply can't move on. What Bing will have to do beyond powering search for Yahoo! is to get in to a position where they can actually challenge Google for the number one (1) spot in the space is grow their distribution, create unique apps and even steal certain key partnerships that Google benefits from and displace them as the key search provider.
Search was once a very competitive space. You had hundreds of pure engines, many meta-search engines and several pay per click engines all competing for a slice of the pie. Google somehow emerged from the bunch and took it all over because of their ability to distribute their products and monetize users - what remains to be seen is if Bing can truly challenge Google if not displace them altogether. That is no easy task and I would not bet on that happening anytime soon.