Was A Fizzy Drink The Inspiration For Microsoft’s New Search Engine?


Microsoft recently launched its new internet search engine. It had been code-named “Kumo”, but when it went live it was under the name “Bing”.

Search engines are becoming more and more important to our lives because of the spread of the internet. When my children want to research something for their homework, they wouldn’t dream of going to the library as I used to do; they type their questions into Google; the World’s most popular engine.

No-one seems to know just how many searches are carried out on Google each day, but it’s thought to be several hundreds of millions – and growing.

A successful search engine is a very profitable thing. Google’s revenue from advertisers for the first quarter of 2009 was five and half billion dollars, so you can see why Microsoft wants a piece of the pie.

The web has been alive with threads and posts discussing whether Bing will one day replace Google as King of the search engines. But I was curious about something else; Why had they chosen the name Bing?

The obvious explanation seemed to be a tribute to the legendary Bing Crosby. As a lover of jazz and vintage popular music, I’ve always been a big fan. I especially love his late twenties and early thirties stuff. Also his forties period with Bob Hope.

However my father in law wondered if it was named after his favourite soft drink. This is called Bing and is made in Folkestone by the Silver Spring Company. He drank it as a boy in the 1930s and they still make it today; it’s a dark orange colour and tastes like cherryade.

Could that be it? Did top Microsoft executives come across an obscure British fizzy drink and name their new product after it? After all, someone at Microsoft must have researched the name and that person would have soon discovered that Bing is fizzy pop from South East England.

So, time to put Bing to the test I thought! I typed in, “Why is the Bing search engine called Bing?” And up came Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer with the answer; “The name Bing” he said, “is short, it works globally, we could get the URLs and it makes for a good brand”.

That’s it then. A disappointingly functional answer and apparently nothing to do with British retro fizzy drinks or crooners.

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