Microsoft, home of the Zune, has just announced that they're going to launch Bing, a rebranding and reformatting of their search engine. So far, they've earmarked $100 million just for the marketing.
Bing, of course, stands for But It's Not Google. The problem, as far
as I can tell, is that it is trying to be the next Google. And the
challenge for Microsoft is that there already is a next Google. It's called Google.
Google is not seen as broken by many people, and a hundred million dollars trying to persuade us that it is, is money poorly spent. In times of change, the rule is this:
Don't try to be the 'next'. Instead, try to be the other, the changer, the new.
If Microsoft adds a few features and they prove popular, how long precisely will it take Google to mirror or even leapfrog those features?
With $100 million, you could build (or even buy) something remarkable. Something that spread online without benefit of a lot of yelling and shouting. Something that changes the game in a fundamental way. The internet works best when you build a network, not when you buy a brand. In fact, I can't think of one successful online brand that was built with cash.
[For an answer to the popular question: "The next Seth Godin" and a few more pithy Q&A, click here]
[For a preview of the real next Google, check out this presentation of Google Wave. As a presentation geek, I need to point out that the intro (the first 2 minutes) is a fantastic example of how someone (you?) can stand up in front of 4,000 people with no slides and make a significant introduction with no hesitation and no apologies.]