Here at Horizons, we are great, unabashed fans of the Bing and Google and Yahoo horse race, if only for the moments of fleeting entertainment it provides. Will Bing ever really unseat Google? Probably not – at least not any time soon. But that doesn't mean that Bing can't bring some interesting ideas to the search engine market. Case in point: Bing's new Entertainment section, which launches this week.
Microsoft is billing its Bing Entertainment tab as more of a portal than a search engine. The heart of the experience is content. The Entertainment site is divided into four distinct sections – Music, Gaming, Movies, and TV – each of which is chock full of videos, MP3 files, and point-and-click games. For instance, the Music section features full-length streaming for more than 5 million songs, along with a repository of song lyrics.
Meanwhile, Bing's TV section is loaded with what Microsoft says is "thousands of episodes from over 1500 shows including lots of HD content." The programs are hosted directly on the Bing site, as are comprehensive viewing guides. Ditto for the Gaming tab, which includes desktop hits such as Plants vs. Zombies and Samantha Swift and the Hidden Roses.
Thus far, Bing's Entertainment site has been a hit among critics.
"I think Microsoft is on the right track with these changes," writes Jared Newman of PC World. "If I was actually looking to play Bejeweled or watch an episode of NCIS, searching on Google would've revealed more cryptic results, and I would've had to dig through a couple of links or refine my search. The idea behind Bing Entertainment is to act like a content portal without actually being one. Because Internet users access so much by search, this seems like a natural fit."
Earlier this month, Microsoft announced Bing will be included as a search option on the new Apple iPhone 4. Google will remain the default browser, but in a recent blog post, Microsoft staffer Yusuf Mehdi predicted the iPhone would help increase Bing's market share. "Needless to say, we are excited that Bing will be included as an option in Safari because it will make it easier for you to search and get the benefits of Bing," he said.