While Google is working on an online music service that will reportedly debut later this year, Microsoft is getting out of the gate right now with new entertainment features. The new features include streaming music from its Bing search engine.
It seems the software giant smells an opportunity to help people use search to make entertainment decisions, and Microsoft wants to show off its "significant investment" in music, gaming, movies and TV.
The company is inviting consumers trying to decide what movie to buy or see, which TV shows to watch, what music to listen to, and how to find casual video games to use Bing Entertainment. Analysts are bullish on the new project, but it's easy enough for Google to replicate.
A Winning Bing Bet
According to Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, the entertainment category will appeal to a lot of consumers -- and Bing has brought together a great deal of content and created a solid user experience.
"More broadly, Bing has improved the look and feel and search user experience overall. The inclusion of more content in search results as well as the enhanced navigation -- left column and tabs under the search box -- make Bing a more and more viable competitor to Google," Sterling said.
"Having said that, we're not going to see a mass exodus to Bing. But over time these changes and improvements start to have an impact," he said. "Even though Google has not seen its market share decrease, it clearly has been affected and made defensive moves because of Bing."
Making Entertainment Decisions
Microsoft research found that more than 70 percent of people look for song lyrics online, and Bing has added plenty of lyrics for searchers. Zune is also offering a single free play of all five million songs in its catalog, and then the songs can be repeated in 30-second previews.
Soon, Microsoft will offer the ability to purchase or download songs from Zune, iTunes and Amazon.com MP3. This model could encourage consumers to turn to Bing first to find new music. Whether it brings any incremental revenue to the Zune store remains to be seen.
On the gaming front, Microsoft is offering detailed information on more than 35,000 games, including in-depth reviews, cheats and walk-throughs. Searchers can find and play -- for free -- about 100 popular games from within Bing. That keeps computers safe from malware, Microsoft said. It also keeps gamers in the Bing universe, which could ultimately be good for Xbox Live, since there are likely to be promotions there.
Microsoft research also found that 30 percent of people watch all their TV episodes online, and more than 60 percent of people have used a search engine to look for full-length TV shows online. Bing Entertainment now offers thousands of episodes from more than 1,500 shows.
Finally, Microsoft reported that 90 percent of people go to search engines to find movie information. Bing Entertainment works to offer movie reviews, real-time Twitter and Facebook feedback, traffic info and directions, and restaurants and parking information from Bing Maps.
Posted: 2010-07-05 @ 9:02am PT
Why doesn't some white knight come in and invest in Blockbuster Entertainment's enormous worldwide potential as a way of expanding their search presence? Perhaps Google or Bing??? They need a brick and mortar presence in the physical entertainment stream that has Blockbuster like global reach to sell their wares, as well as those of gadget and device partners! A deal with Blockbuster Entertainment would be a win-win and at the same time, bale out Blockbuster from their debt crisis!!