Microsoft and search branding has been a mess for a while ... there has been separate chatter about a rebrand back to Windows Live Search, which would tie the search engine back to the other Windows Live properties and Windows as a whole.
A few months ago ... Kumo, jumped out at us due to the sheer scale of [domains] that had been acquired during 2008, as well as the corporate owner hiding anonymously behind the registrar. Incidentally, Kumo means cloud or spider in Japanese ... Fast forward to this week and Microsoft suddenly showed its hand. Control of the Kumo.com domain was moved from the registrar to Microsoft.
This is likely the first step in the rumored rebranding of Microsofts search efforts. It is taking a bit of self-control on my part to not be mean-spirited about this rumored effort. If true, it would be yet another sign of Microsofts bumbling efforts when it comes to search.
I am not sure that a new cool-sounding name is going to help much. If Microsoft wants to compete with Google in search, it needs to show that it has a better mousetrap. Thus far it hasnt really been able to deliver better search results than Google. Whenever I use Microsofts search, after trying it a few times, I give up and go back to Google. Dont get me wrong: Google isnt perfect, but it somehow gets the job done. If Googles results are like a vinyl record, then Microsofts search delivers the performance of a much-used cassette tape.
Microsoft has to get fidelity of its search results up, and not muck around with names, if it wants to prove its mettle.
One reason Microsoft's many Internet initiatives have done so poorly over the years is that the company has been unable or unwilling to settle on a simple brand. Windows, Windows Live, Live, Hotmail, MSN, Windows Live Search--Internet users can be forgiven for just giving up and typing "Yahoo" or "Google."
It sounds as though Microsoft is just poised to make its usual online branding mistake all over again ... Once again, in the interests of protecting its existing brands (Windows, Office, and, now, "Live"), Microsoft will create yet another online brand, this one to isolate search. Google and Yahoo, of course, long since stopped being just about "search".
Microsoft will relaunch Windows Live Search under a new brand sometime early next year, says a source within the company ... Over time, weve heard, Live.com will become a pure social network and personal productivity portal ... but search belongs somewhere else, and it definitely needs a fresh start..
Microsoft wont comment on the name change, or even if there is a name change. But our sources caution us that nothing has been finalized, and the fate of Yahoo could swing this one way or another as well. So Kumo may very well be the name Microsoft is planning to use, but that decision may change.
Creating a stand-alone search brand is just one step in the process. Differentiation in the search product is also required as is distribution. Speaking of the latter, as a commenter to my last post noted, it would be great if this wasn't a single company effort. How about a new search brand, with a differentiated product, where other highly trafficked sites - like say, I don't know, Yahoo? - sent their traffic?
Now that would be a Microsoft - Yahoo deal that made sense to everybody. It certainly would make life more interesting in the search space. Especially for the folks down in Mountainview. .