New Bing bits: Matchbox recommender, U.S. search share and more

Bing's been in the news for the past couple of days -- but not because of U.S. search share gains or the team's plans for "Matchbox."
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Over the past few days, Bing was in the news, though not for the right reasons. Social missteps aside, there were a couple of Bing-related bits that didn't get as much play.

First, the numbers. comScore's February U.S. search share scores went out on Friday, March 11. Bing's share grew from 13.1 percent in January 2011 to 13.6 percent in February, according to comScore. Yahoo's share held steady at 16.0 percent, while Google's U.S. search share dropped from 65.6 percent in January to 65.4 percent in February, comScore said. Bottom line: MicroHoo's combined share was up slightly, from 29.2 percent in January, to 29.6 percent in February. (Note: These are all explicit core search share numbers, which removes certain categories of searches that comScore doesn’t deem to be actual “user-engaged” searches.)

The Bing team also is touting at SXSW this week a Microsoft-Research-developed recommender technology, codenamed "Matchbox." Matchbox is being implemented by the Fuse Labs team with Project Emporia. (Fuse is part of Microsoft Research these days.) Project Emporia is a news aggregation tool that works in various Web browsers and on Windows Phone 7.

The personalization technologies underlying Matchbox/Emporia are of interest to the Bing team because of the growing importance of local/personalized search and advertising. It will be interesting to watch how Matchbox and/or Emporia end up more integrated with Bing, over time. One of the Matchbox researchers, Ralph Herbrich, heads the Bing Personalization team "which focuses on prototyping and enabling personalized experiences across Microsoft's Online Services Division, including Bing Mobile, Bing News, Bing Web and AdCenter, through agile development and fast deployment of computational intelligence and social computing technologies," according to his bio page.

Meanwhile, there have been rumors that Microsoft may be taking the wraps off a test version of HTML5-enabled Bing search site later today, March 14, as part of its IE 9 launch. Microsoft officials have said the final IE 9 bits will be available for download starting at 9 p.m. PT on March 14.

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