There are some that would argue that the popularity and positive perception of Microsoft’s Cortana is a signal that Microsoft should allow Cortana to ride that wave over to iOS and Android to help disseminate Microsoft’s brand of services to an increasingly iOS and Android centric user base and to further establish Bing’s growth in search.
It is true that Microsoft desires to and is working diligently to expand Bing. To compete against Google who has spread its services across millions of iOS and Android devices, particularly Post-PC devices (smartphone and tablets) Microsoft needs to have Bing and its array of services in front of users as well.
Cortana is popular, and in essence she is Bing. In truth however Microsoft does not need to expand Cortana to competing platforms to put Bing (and other MS services) in front of the users of those platforms. Here’s why.
Microsoft has an install base of 1.5 Billion PC’s across the globe. That’s 1.5 billion PC’s in homes and running most enterprises on the planet. EVERYBODY “knows” Windows, and mostly everybody uses Windows. So how does MS get Bing in front of millions of users or its 1.5 billion users?
- Incorporate Bing Search into Windows OS. Yep, they did that in Windows 10. Right there on the start button. That incredibly familiar, highly desired little tool that is constantly accessed by Windows users who have been thoroughly trained over the decades to defer to that bottom left corner of the UI to perform most tasks now picks up the useful and seamless function of conducting both local and Bing powered internet searches. So as the hundreds of millions of PC users update to Windows 10, Bing searches will increase exponentially. Bing!
- OEM Partners & Dropped Licensing Fees. We are in the Post-PC era. Tablets and smartphones are the “new” personal computers (though a recent report shows a stabilizing of the decline in PCs). So how does this help Microsoft? Well When MS dropped the licensing fees of their Windows OS (for devices under 9”) and also offered an affordable SKU of Windows with Bing guess what happened. They added 50 NEW OEM partners. Yes 50 new companies ready to build Windows devices. Bing!
What does that mean you ask? Well it means that holiday shopping season 2014 and the year of 2015 forward are going to look much different for Microsoft than 2012 and 2013 did in the tablet and smartphone space.
Actually take a look around now, you’ll find a slew of affordable tablets and Windows Phones being released by a number of OEMs right about now. Yes they’re running Windows. Yes they’re equipped with Microsoft services. Yes they’re being offered to the “next billion.” Yes at under $100-$300 these Windows tablets, phones, hybrids and two-in-ones will work hand in hand with Microsoft’s plan to get its OS and services in front of millions of users.
The Chromebook, which had low cost as it’s fundamental core advantage over Windows based alternatives, no longer has this cost advantage as OEMs are now building equally and even more affordable windows devices. The price factor in conjunction with other inherent benefits of Windows devices (like not requiring an internet connection to be useful) will make them a more tantalizing option to schools and businesses. Coupled with Windows based services highly affordable devices for consumers, schools and businesses will place Bing and other MS services in the hands of millions starting this holiday season. Bing!
3. Spotlight: Also let’s not forget that Bing not only powers Siri’s search for Apple products but Bing will also be handling Spotlight web-searches in OS X and iOS 8. More Bing; more Ka-Ching for Microsoft! See what I mean. Bing!
4. MSN: Finally, as many articles have pointed out lately Microsoft’s MSN network/services gets a lot of visitors each month. 400 Million “a lot”. Microsoft is a global corporation and 400 million people on this beautiful globe of ours simply love MSN. It’s so popular in fact that Microsoft has revamped the website and rebranded its host of “Bing” apps, Finance, Sports, Health etc. to MSN. So how does this help Bing and Microsoft you ask? Well these 400 million MSN lovers now only need sign on to the MSN site and they’re immediately tied into Bing, along with other MS services, preferences, favorites, interests (Cortana) etc. 400 million. Then of course you have users who are now drawn to the MSN brand that was somewhat forgotten in some regions. But in rebranding apps that were previously Bing labeled some users of those apps are led now to engage the MSN page, a very popular content portal. Thus they actively are beginning to engage MSN content and services and Bing!
So yes, Microsoft needs to get Bing and it’s other services out there in front of millions of users. And yes with Bing search baked into Windows 10 and targeted at its 1.5 billion install base, the millions of tablet/smartphone users that will be purchasing affordable tablets/hybrids/2-in-1’s and phones offered by new (and old) OEMs this holiday season forward, the increased Bing usage as iOS and OS X users using Bing via spotlight, and the 100’s of millions of MSN users who will sign in once and tie into MS services, favorites, interests, Cortana (on PC), Sports, News, Money etc., I think Microsoft has it covered. Added to the fact that Cortana will be part of Windows 10 upon release MS will be reaching hundreds of millions with her PC based services, and millions with Bing and their other products/services, as well as updated apps on iOS and Android that tie into MSN services/content without loosening its grip on, Cortana, their ecosystem (currently Windows Phone) hero feature. Bing!
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