It may well have been insulting—few of us enjoy being accused of cheating—but the bigger issue is this: so what?
How many of the hundreds of millions of search-users out there in the real world give two hoots about either the intricacies of search-engine technology or whether Yusuf Mehdi feels 'insulted' by Google's assertion that Microsoft cheated?
Who cares? Do such matters affect the success of your product in the marketplace?
As Troy Aikman said of the Cowboys' whining, "If you don't like what they're doing, then stop them."
The irony is that most of Mehdi's blog post countering Google's charges was quite strong and resilient because he focused on customers and Microsoft's desire to enhance Bing to create ever-better experiences for those customers. For example:
"Bing was launched nearly two years ago to break new ground and help move the search industry in new directions," Mehdi wrote. "We have brought a number of things to market that we are very proud of—our daily home page photos, infinite scroll in image search, great travel and shopping experiences, a new and more useful visual approach to search, and partnerships with key leaders like Facebook and Twitter. If you are keeping tabs, you will notice Google has "copied" a few of these. Whether they have done it well we leave to customers. But more importantly, we take no issue and are glad we could help move the industry to adopt some good ideas."
In the headline atop this column, I wrote that "insults are for losers." By that, I mean that if Google is fabricating these charges against Microsoft because Google sees Bing grabbing market share and threatening to overtake Google in the hearts and minds of customers, then such a ploy will surely turn out to be useless and would only underscore the fact that the search world will soon have a new leader.
Conversely, as the challenger in the market, Microsoft needs to understand that customers are interested in only one thing from Bing: superb experiences. They're not interested in inside-the-industry pissing contests, they're not interested in hearing about hurt feelings, and they're not interested in the intramural challenges that take place in high-stakes global competition.
They're interested in great experiences, and onlygreat experiences. To further quote Mehdi, "Period. Full stop."
If Mehdi and Microsoft don't like Google's tactics, then it's their job to beat Google in the marketplace. It's their job to deliver superior products and services and experiences. It's their job to dazzle customers by, as Mehdi said, bringing new ideas to market and moving the industry forward.
If you don't like what they're doing, then stop them.
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