January 17, 2010 (CAP Newswire) — Although it’s still nowhere near the point of reaching (much less surpassing) Google, Microsoft’s upstart search engine, Bing, is showing steady growth, search engine market share statistics show.

Bing gained about a half a percent of market share last month, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and Google’s percentage stayed about the same. While those numbers are still extremely in Google’s favor (it’s about 65.7 percent for Google to about 10.7 for Microsoft), they also show that the Bing is growing in popularity, albeit slowly. And really, considering Google’s absolute dominance, and even though it has seen a few dips of its own, it’s doing about as well as could be expected at this point. (Read the Star-Telegram story here.)

However, Bing maybe cooking up a plan that could shake up the entire search engine business model.

Consider this scenario: Microsoft is currently considering paying money to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation — the second-largest media conglomeration in the world, which owns dozens of newspapers and broadcasting channels all over the world, including the Wall Street Journal and Fox broadcasting — for the rights to exclusively index all News Corp’s web pages.

This is apparently because of Murdoch’s frustration with Google’s dominance (and perhaps his inability to negotiate deals with the company from a position of power, as he’s able to do with almost every other potential business partner).

“In a scenario under consideration, Microsoft would pay News Corp. for making articles from The Wall Street Journal and other Murdoch-owned publications searchable exclusively through Microsoft’s Bing search engine,” explains BusinessWeek’s Roger L. Kay. “If the effort encourages other powerful content providers to demand compensation from Internet companies that generate revenue from online ads, the Murdoch-Microsoft partnership could create a big problem for Google.”

Kay explains that, in theory, if this model is successful, it could be a game-changer that finally gives Google some serious competition. By restricting Google’s access to major content, and giving it exclusively to a rival, Microsoft or even a different search engine could quickly be propelled to dominance: “The search-engine economy doesn’t need to work the way it does; there are alternative models,” Kay writes. Think of how that would change SEO and online marketing — everything you know could be thrown out the window. (Read the article here.)

Of course, to get this sort of partnership started means a significant financial risk for Microsoft. And, furthermore, it’s been in the rumor stage for weeks, without much happening yet. But if it works, it could see Bing’s market share, currently about a sixth of Google’s, reach a much higher number and even possibly beat it — perhaps sooner than anybody thinks.

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