Microsoft today announced the terms of a potentially groundbreaking deal with Facebook and Twitter, which will allow the Bing search engine to churn out results from public data on both social networking sites. Already, Microsoft has launched a Twitter subsection on Bing.
In coming weeks, Bing's scope will expand, giving users the ability to click through Twitter and Facebook feeds in real time.
Real-time search is getting a good deal of attention these days, and for good reason – Twitter use is soaring. Americans spend hundreds of thousands of hours on Facebook. And yet aside from occasionally wonky internal search mechanisms – and a handful of sites such as OneRiot, Topsy, Tweetmeme, and Scoopler – there's no really good way to comb through the messages and pictures posted by users.
The new deal announced by Microsoft could change things, and just at the right moment. According to the Web analytics firm StatCounter, Bing slipped from 9.6 percent of the market in August to 8.5 percent in September. Meanwhile, Google inched from 77.8 percent in August to 80 percent of the domestic market in September.
Bing was first unveiled on May 28, at the All Things Digital Conference. A major multimedia advertising campaign – comprised of banner ads, video spots, and interactive displays on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter – soon followed. Bing benefited from the early publicity, but has struggled to define itself in the crowded search market.