Desperation Sets In: Bill Gates Finally Launching His Plan To Bribe Users

from the search-fraud,-here-we-come dept

Way back in 2005, Bill Gates announced that one way that Microsoft could beat Google would be to pay users to use Microsoft's search engine. At the time, we noted all the problems with this approach. First off, it's been tried and failed many times in the past (even Google once had a program to pay users, though almost no one remembers it). Many such systems are also prone to gaming. Also, while we were just noting yesterday that money doesn't "ruin everything," it can change the way people view a service -- and not always in a positive manner.

Either way, Microsoft is finally moving forward with this plan, as Bill Gates is announcing a new program to give cash back to users who end up buying things following a search. It's not a pure "pay-for-search" offering, instead focusing on offering cash back after the fact for buyers. That's certainly better than a pure bribe 'em strategy, but it still seems like something of a desperation play. Basically, it's admitting that Microsoft hasn't been able to compete with Google in terms of overall user experience and now has to resort to paying users instead. In situations like this, implementation is everything, and while people will definitely use this to get certain discounts, it's not clear that it will really make a huge dent in Microsoft's efforts to lure users away from Google's overall search. In general, though, business models that pay people for doing something useful tend to make sense (it's paying them for their effort). Business models that simply pay people to attract their attention don't tend to work nearly as well (and are much less sustainable). In this case, it seems like Microsoft is doing the latter, rather than former, which may make it difficult to succeed.
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Filed Under: business models, competition, incentives, microsoft live, pay, search
Companies: google, microsoft

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  1. identicon
    Wesley Parish, 22 May 2008 @ 2:33am

    Microsoft and Bribes

    Microsoft has known for quite a while that it can bribe me, and how I can be bribed - the source trees of various Microsoft products, such as Win95, NT 3.51, Office97, Visual [Programming Language] Express - well off the market by now or not being sold for an immediate financial return - released under the GPL version 3, so as to assure me that they have no malign "software patent" issues to throw at me for having the audacity to actually use those source trees. I live in hope of seeing flying pigs and purple cows, obviously! ;)

    As for their fluffing around with search - the key is adding value to (the use of) their products, not adding extra layers of icing - after a while the cake sinks ignominiously into the pavement. Unless they actually come up with an online "experience" that I like, I won't waste my time.

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