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Should have entered search market sooner: Microsoft

June 19, 2009 13:04 IST

As Microsoft's new search engine Bing competes for market share with well-established rivals Google and Yahoo, chief executive Steve Ballmer on Thursday said the company should have entered the online search engine market earlier at the same time is willing to make investments in its search business over the next five years.

"If we could have one do-over, I would probably say I would start sooner on search. . . but we have got our mojo working now," Ballmer said at the Executives' Club of Chicago luncheon here, adding, "Our mistake wasn't that we didn't see the technology change coming, we didn't see the business change coming."

Ballmer said he would be patient and give the Bing search engine, launched in June, time to gain share in the market and gain consumers.

 He said Microsoft is willing to invest in its search business over the next few years just as it did for its gaming console Xbox, which now generates "nice economic returns for us."

Bing was launched earlier this month, replacing Microsoft's previous Live Search engine. Microsoft's faces tough competition from rivals Google and Yahoo in the search engine business.

According to data by industry tracker comScore, Google got 65 per cent of US searches in May, followed by Yahoo with 20.1 per cent and Microsoft with 8 per cent.

"Our shareholders, I told them we were willing to spend 5-10 per cent of operating income for up to five years in this business. We feel like we can get an economic return," he said.

Earlier speaking at the annual meeting of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Ballmer said tough economic times offer opportunities for companies to innovate and improve productivity.

"Tough economic times have historically been periods when innovation has actually flourished. Recession can also be a time of rebirth and opportunities for innovation and growth," he said, adding that 50 per cent Fortune 500 companies were started during a recession.

Yoshita Singh in Chicago