According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft may begin to pay people to use it’s search engine
Speaking to Microsoft partners in India, Mr. Gates said the Redmond, Wash., company may woo individuals to its search site with cash or free content or software.
“We’ll actually go to users and say instead of us keeping all that ad revenue, we’ll actually share some of it back with the user,” said Mr. Gates, according to a transcript supplied by Microsoft. “The user essentially will get paid, either money or free content or software things that they wouldn’t get if they didn’t use that search engine.”
Currently Microsoft is saying that this is “…one of many possible services that Microsoft could roll out but that it currently has no plan to do so.” Still, it would be interesting to see the reaction and what type of buzz something like this would create. Microsoft would certainly attract a lot of new users to their search engine, but as the article points out:
…paying consumers to use search engines could create significant headaches. Individuals could start visiting the search site solely for payment, without any real interest in searching or viewing the ads presented alongside search results, defeating the goal of helping advertisers.
The big question would be how would Google react to such a strategy? While it might not be a long term economically feasible way to run the search business, could Google just sit by and do nothing while customers go over to MSN search? Even if they are only doing it for the money, it will give a bunch of new search users a look at a new search engine and will likely convert at least some of the people who begin using it. If Google doesn’t want to lose those people, it will have to come up with their own incentives to keep people from wandering.
It should be an interesting battle and may one day give everyday users the opportunity to put some money in their pocket at the same time as they search.
Originally found at Consumerism Commentary