All your contacts, all in one place
The integration of ‘social’ searching with Microsoft’s Bing Search engine is just the beginning of a new model of applications, in which applications talk to other applications, rather than operating in standalone mode. Although the ostensible competitor in so-called social search is Google, this is just the beginning of a much more complex and nuanced game, in which Apple is far more likely to experience some of the fallout than Google is.
What Microsoft has done is to create the platform on which applications can share information with other applications, a form of connection that Apple does not support. So rather than finding scraps of connections with other people that are locked within specific applications, using Microsoft software, you can find everything in one place – mail, “likes”, updates, locations and more. Further, Microsoft’s solution is more compatible with cloud-based services, in which the software is constantly updated and you are always using the latest version (like Skype, Facebook or yes, Bing). The Apple model is actually a throwback to an earlier time – when you bought software, downloaded or installed it, and it required continuous updating.
As many web sites have noticed, recommendations from other customers count a lot in helping people to make purchasing decisions. Hence the ubiquitous search engine support on sites such as Amazon, the posting of reviews on Yelp and the free availability of opinions on any number of shopping sites. Well, imagine how even more powerful this idea would be if the recommendations are actually from people that you know, so that you can know how much credence to give to their opinion.
While I wouldn’t say this is a “Google” killer, or even an Apple killer, it does have the potential to introduce what some call the App Economy to us, an economy in which a broad platform, such as Microsoft’s, will allow data to flow from application to application, rather than being stuck in single-purpose software. It will be interesting to see the competition playing out.