It’s easy to overlook Bing. Launched with great fanfare in 2009, it’s otherwise failed to dislodge Google in the search space. Despite that, it has fans, not least in the UK where it accounts for almost 25 percent of all search volume.
Catering to this market, British startup Booxscale has announced a partnership with Microsoft, allowing UK-based Bing users to order pizza and hire handymen, all with the press of a button.
Microsoft plans to use Booxscale’s technology to enhance Bing local search, as well as within Cortana and Skype. At the time of writing, customers are able to order food from Hungry House, as well as hire tradespeople from Rated People.
Here’s how it works: if you search Bing for “takeaways near me,” the search engine will show you a list of takeaways in the general vicinity. This comes enriched with data from Hungry House, like opening hours and reviews.
Clicking through, you’ll see a list of buttons. ‘Directions’ will show you how to get there (using Bing Maps, of course), while others direct you to the restaurant’s menu and booking page on Hungry House.
According to Max Moore, Booxscale CEO and co-founder, the goal is to give consumers a “cleaner search experience in Bing.” There’s certainly some truth in that. I felt there was less friction between finding somewhere to eat, and actually ordering some food.
Moore explained that Booxscale’s system includes 250,000 bookable businesses across several verticals — ranging from food deliveries, to health and lifestyle — in addition to 20 digital marketplace. These will gradually make their way to Bing over the coming months. The company expects that it’ll reach over one million bookable businesses within the next year.
And while there’s certainly an appeal in being able to order things directly from search results, I did find a few rough ends, particularly when it comes to the ‘currentness’ of the data.
I found some restaurants shown as being listed on Hungry Horse, but when I clicked through, the profile had been taken down. That’s not a big deal though; you just hit back and go elsewhere. Still, kinda annoying.
Ultimately, Booxscale’s deal with Microsoft is indicative of a wider trend in the search industry. It’s no longer merely about the quality of search results. There’s a push for value-added results.
And that might be as simple as Google figuring out a math problem for you. Or, it might be Bing helping you get dinner when you can’t be bothered to cook.