Last month, Google added a new feature to its homepage that enabled users to select a background image. Google included a gallery of professional photos to choose from, including those by famous artists and National Geographic. Soon, Microsoft responded via tweet over the obvious similarities of this feature to the company’s search engine: “We’ve lost a background image, if found please return to bing.com.”
A new report by ForeSee Results perhaps explains why Google is starting to “borrow” ideas from its latest competitor. Released yesterday, the Annual E-Business Report on customer satisfaction shows that Google’s popularity is waning. While the search engine remains in first place, it fell six points in customer satisfaction–its biggest drop yet. “Google may be suffering from trying to be too many things to too many people,” the report concluded. “[The] drop would be less worrisome if Bing hadn’t made such a strong debut.”
Indeed, Bing made an incredibly strong showing its first time on the chart, debuting in second place ahead of Yahoo and only three points behind Google in customer satisfaction. “Last year, when Google was riding high and Bing was a new player, we said it would be tough for Bing to challenge … Google’s dominance,” ForeSee said of its 2009 report. “But with the marketing power of Microsoft behind it and a customer satisfaction score that presents a strong challenge, it looks more and more like Bing has a fighting chance.”
The report also cited as a reason for its success Bing’s willingness to innovate–Google is taking those cues, too. Yesterday, for example, Google unveiled its new image search with an interface clearly inspired by, if not stolen from, Bing. And in May, Google rolled out a new look for its search results page, which added an extra toolbar and more menu items, including time-based results and suggested searches. The Web was quick to point out how similar the new layout looked to Bing’s.
Of course, it’s not just slipping customer satisfaction that Google must worry about but a slipping market share. Recently ComScore announced that Bing accounts for 12.7% of all U.S. Internet searches, a big jump toward Yahoo (18.9%) and certainly a figure for Google (62.6%) to keep its eye on. After all, if Google keeps “borrowing” its ideas from Microsoft, it only makes the transition to Bing even easier.