A joke of a headline of course, but it I think it accurately captures the miserable state of things at MSN with the Live Search product. I just got my latest Hitwise monthly newsletter in my inbox a few minutes ago and it highlights just how bad things are going over in Redmond.
Here is the sobering data for Live.com product and marketing execs. Year over year search share for the month of April has slipped from 8.46% in '07 to a shocking 6.26% in '08. A whopping 26% decrease in market share in the past year. Yahoo, Microsoft's on again off again acquisition target? They only slipped 2.2% in the same period. Unsurprisingly Google has swallowed up most of these fleeing percentage points on their way to a nearly 68% market share. However, lowly Ask.com posted strong gains both year over year going from 3.69% in April of '07 to 4.17% in'08.
So, how is Microsoft combating this glaring issue? With gimmicks of course. Live.com is now the search engine that pays you back for your online purchases. In essence, MSN is vying to position itself as the worlds largest incentive based affiliate. Heady times these. You know you are going out on a limb when your home town tech columnist is already lampooning your efforts
How is it that a company with $50+ billion in cash has to resort to paying people to use its search engine? This is something that a hungry start-up would attempt as a marketing ploy to drive visitors to their new search technology. It has never been more clear why Microsoft so desperately wants to buy Yahoo.