A major storm is brewing in the hypercompetitive world of online search and at its epicentre is an Indian-American computer engineer.
Uttar Pradesh-born Amit Singhal, a Google Fellow, has accused search rival Microsoft’s Bing of copying Google’s search results.
Google controls 66.6% of the American search market, while Bing’s share is 12% (as on December 2010).
The allegation, according to Google, is based on months of research during which Singhal and his team carried out a virtual sting operation on Bing.
“It started in the summer of 2010 with a search for the term torsoraphy, a misspelling of tarsorrhaphy, a rare surgical procedure on eyelids. Google’s search results displayed the corrected spelling and the first result was a Wikipedia entry. Later, we found that Bing was returning the same top result without suggesting the correct spelling as Google did,” Singhal wrote in an official Google blog post. In October, Singhal’s team took the investigation to another level, manufacturing 100 fake search queries, with results that led to Google on Bing.
“We were surprised. As far as we know, the only connection between the query and result is Google’s result page,” Singhal said.
Bing countered Google’s charge of cheating. In a blog post, Harry Shum, Microsoft corporate vice-president, described it as a “a creative tactic by a competitor, and we’ll take it as a back-handed compliment.”
“The history of the web and the improvement of a broad array of consumer and business experiences is actually the story of collective intelligence,..” he said.