First, it was with their sidebar on the left. Next, it was having a wallpaper on your home page. Then, it was testing full-screen results. After that, it was showing results that included social data in an incredibly similar way to Bing (in relation to the recent announcement of Bing and Facebook being in cahoots but not to be confused with Google Social Search).
Now, Google appears to be rolling out visual previews (called "instant previews") of sites such that users can see them prior to clicking through to them. Personally, I think Google's rendition of the feature is quite nice but it lets me know that we shouldn't be so quick to count out Bing. Now, I know that some -- if not most -- of you just looooove to hate on Bing, but there is absolutely no doubt that they're getting a lot of things *right* in Google's eyes and that's the important thing to consider here.
While I will be the first to say that I love Google for its search capabilities and I've yet to find a search engine that comes even remotely close to giving me the ability to drill down into results the depth and breadth of Google's index, I think it's time for some competition and innovation to happen in the search space. I know that some of you are going to point out the ever-present "Microsoft copies Apple" debate, but this is different (unlike Apple's users who are actually all thinking exactly the same when they buy into Apple's products and marketing).
;) Seriously, though, I think it's time to stop hating Bing just because XYZ internet persona you know and love hates Bing. Here's a novel concept: Instead of just hating on Bing and saying, "their search engine results suck," why not actually try out Bing and then provide some *constructive* feedback? I know their search engine results are lacking for some of you, but when was the last time you actually gave Bing a shot? After taking a look at some search results today on Bing, I think they're coming along quite well! Now, you may say to yourself, "I'm not going to do that because I'm perfectly fine with using Google." If that's the case, then that's great and I urge you to stay on your path.
But if you happen to be like me and you're excited at the prospect of just how deep Internet search still needs to go to provide adequate information based on extensive investigation, then Bing just might be the team you need to speak to. Between the two companies, I would wager that Bing is more eager to listen to the requests and constructive criticism of users than Google is right now. I may be completely off-base on that, but, hey... it's been known to happen before. :)
Oh, and what about Yahoo? Well, you may not realize this, but Yahoo uses Bing's search results now. No, seriously. If you love searching Yahoo but you say Bing sucks, then you just got busted for fruitlessly hating on Bing! Don't believe me? Compare this (Bing) to this (Yahoo) and see for yourself. Yes, even image searches between the two are exactly the same (Bing Image Search and Yahoo Image Search). And despite the competition, Bing still puts Google on quite the pedestal if you search for Google:
Much nicer and far more useful to the end-user than this, that's for sure:
Anyway, I'm a realist. I know that companies are going to copy other companies in some capacity and that there's a certain amount of innovation and implementation overlap that's inevitable -- much like when one hit song contains the same chord progression as another hit song. What I'm gleaning from this particular instance of Google taking from the pages of Bing is that we may want to start paying more attention to Bing. At the end of the day, the only thing Google may not use from Bing is their search algorithm because it's not public and I'm sure Google is quite confident in their own. Everything else appears to be fair game, though.
Now, what do you think? Hammer me with your worst insults! Take your horrible day out on me! :D
*"Think different" image courtesy of http://rubasu.deviantart.com/art/Think-Different-5-100352943.