It seems the stage is set for Microsoft to unveil its new search engine Kumo. Rumours are ripe online that the software behemoth is planning to launch Kumo on June 2. Incidentally, on the same date the search industry conference, Search Marketing Expo also commences in Seattle on the same day. It is expected that Dr. Qi Lu, head of online services for Microsoft will formally announce Kumo’s launch at the conference. (its all rumour!)
It has been evident that Microsoft was implementing a major revamp of its Live Search service in an effort to catch-up with Google and Yahoo!. Its a second rebranding of their search engine. The first was Bing to Live, and now its Live’s rechristening to Kumo. Live Search all these years, was struggling to gain market share against the top two who have historically held on to their positions by a fairly large margin. Although you will see the changes to market share of late by reading this blog) For Microsoft there needed to be some clever strategy that could bring Live back as a player in the online search space. The rebranding as ‘Kumo’ may be the right move from big brand Microsoft!
Kumo Get Cooked In The Microsoft Cauldrons
Microsoft employees reportedly have already been testing their new offering. Microsoft has even started a clock in the lobby of its search headquarters that is counting down to June 2nd, 2009, the proposed launch date. Kumo will present search results with a toolbar (View the above image) which can be used to probe into the results and refine them into different categories. These categories are customized to the particular search keyword. Thus a search for a singer will return the categories images, lyrics, songs and bios.
It’s still not certain if Kumo is going to be the final name or even if it will eventually become Microsoft’s main search engine, replacing Live Search. But Microsoft has already acquired the domain kumo.com which gives a plausible sign that it would be the launch name at least.
What ‘Kumo’ Means
The word ‘Kumo’ is the Japanese term for “spider” and is a very relevant name for a web crawler service. Interestingly, there is another Japanese word with the same spelling but a different pronunciation meaning “cloud.” Cloud computing is something Microsoft is seriously involved in. The transition from Live to Kumo may stand for Microsoft’s attempt to reinforce true cloud computing and perhaps even palliating the growth of its competitor, Google.
Kumo Powered By Open Source?
Microsoft’s ‘anti-open-source’ activities and warnings have been legendary. Thus, it is rather surprising to hear that the Kumo Search technology uses open source software by default. It is good to see Microsoft befriending free software. Maybe they are getting concerned that their proprietary ways are no longer sustainable!
Kumo Moving Forward
It remains to be seen how Microsoft will benefit from this rebranding exercise. If Kumo delivers a better search experience for the user there is no doubt that Microsoft will finally be able to put their search engine in the position they desire to be; grabbing a pretty good share of the competitive search space. As we regularly report, the the search engine market share trend has been very good of late for Live and very bad for Yahoo!