Last June Microsoft launched its highly-anticipated search engine, Bing. The would-be competitor to Google got more media attention than it got traction with the public. Bing currently generates about 9.9 percent of Internet searches in the U.S.
Hoping to improve its position, Microsoft is said to be in talks with News Corp, Rupert Murdoch's publicly-traded news conglomerate, to set a pay deal for exclusive access to the company's content.
The idea goes like this: News Corp, which owns sites like The Wall Street Journal and MySpace, would pull its content from Google, giving Bing exclusive search rights. And it doesn't stop there. The Financial Times reports that Microsoft is already looking to do similar deals with other news organizations.
This raises a lot of questions. For one, how far is Bing willing to go in order to square off against Google? The site has already suffered hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. Paying for exclusive content would be a big risk.
What if the decision fails to bring in the kind of traffic Microsoft execs are looking for? In addition, what does "exclusivity" mean when content from one Web site can be infinitely reposted and disseminated throughout the Internet? Would this even be a viable business model? Is it possible for any search engine to realistically compete with Google and, if so, what will it take for a competitor to make substantial inroads into the market?
It is not clear if Microsoft and News Corp. will follow through on theses talks and seal a deal. If they do, how will Google react?
In June, Google CEO Eric Schmidt had these comments to make regarding Google's position in the market: "We are spending all of our time on exactly what we've always done, which is innovation. I don't think Bing's arrival has changed what we're doing. We are about search, we're about making things enormously successful, by virtue of innovation.