Yahoo plus Bing, Strange Bedfellows

The news that Bing is set to become the search engine behind Yahoo is quite old now. The ten year deal between number two and three in the battle for search dominance was cut back in July this year.

There’s nothing too strange about Microsoft and Yahoo doing business together on the face of it, this came a bit of a year after a failed attempt by the Seattle software hawkers to buy out Yahoo lock stock and flickr pages for a cool $44.6 Billion in change.

What is strange is the positioning of Bing search results in the Yahoo pages.

Existing Yahoo search users have made a conscious effort to not use Live! Search and it’s successor in mediocre search result delivery, Bing. How are they going to react to Steve Ballmer sneaking back into their lives in 2010 when the deal is set to become reality?

Looking at this through my rather rose coloured glasses the bulk of Bing faithful is probably made up of three groups who can clearly be defined. Zealots who also lusted after attendance at Windows 7 Launch parties, ignorant users who don’t know how to change their default search provider, and interior decorators who are drawn to the elegant interface but secretly wish they could search for mis-spelt words but don’t change for fear of affecting the Feng shui of their office.

What portion of Yahoo users do you think changed their default search provider in their shiny IE8 install because they simply didn’t want to use something provided by Microsoft? While Microsoft know the power of bundling in making Bing the default for Windows 7 and IE8, they also know all to well that a portion of their customers resent them simply because they are a near monopoly supplier in their market.

So, will Bing and Yahoo joining forces and realise conversion of their 8% and 20% chunks of the search market into 28%, or will it carve up Yahoo’s 20% for Google, Cuil, Ask, and all the other players out there.

Interesting times.

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