Bing saw 16 percent increase in unique users since launch, Microsoft says

On the same day Microsoft launched its revamped Bing Maps, a Microsoft exec said traffic to Bing was growing steadily.

It's been a good year for Microsoft's Bing search engine.

Roughly a year after launch, Microsoft's Bing search engine has seen unique users grow by 16 percent, a Microsoft rep said today. Speaking at an event in San Francisco, Satya Nadella, senior vice president for online services at Microsoft, noted that Bing had proved especially successful among younger users – an important demographic to advertisers.

On top of pulling in new people, the search engine's market share has quintupled from 1.9 percent to 9.9 percent since retiring the Live moniker.

That means Bing has enjoyed not only more users, but also more dedicated searchers, according to the figures reported by Dow Jones.

Nadella's comments come as Bing launches a handful of new features, including a 3-D mapping feature, a UK edition of Bing, and an update of the Bing mobile search application. In a hands-on review of the new Bing maps, Michael Muchmore of PC Magazine measured the features offered by Microsoft against its primary competitor:

[Bing Maps includes] Twitter posts, news stories (including a view of a newspaper's front page for a region you click), webcams, restaurants, hotels, and even an urban graffiti finder. You can enable or disable as many apps at a time as you like. Google [Maps] offers checkboxes to show photos, webcams, Wikipedia entries, and real estate listings. But in Bing the apps are a more full-fledged feature, and it's a surprising instance of Microsoft offering a more open platform than Google, in which third-party developers can add their own apps to the map platform.

It's been a good year for Bing, which replaced Microsoft's Live Search engine. Last month, media research firm SearchIgnite estimated that retailers spent 47 percent more on Microsoft search ads in the fourth quarter of 2009 than they did in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Moreover, Microsoft now accounts for 8 percent of all search ad spending by retailers – up from 6 percent at the same time last year. In an open email to executives in September, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said he was optimistic about Microsoft's future.

“I’m optimistic because there are encouraging signs that growth may resume in many parts of the world during the course of the next year,” Ballmer wrote. “More than that, I’m optimistic because I believe we are entering a period of technology-driven transformation that will see a surge in productivity and a flowering of innovation.”

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