And Bing’s Strongest Vertical Is…Kayak?

June 26, 2009
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Many people (myself included) have said that Bing’s strongest vertical is travel. And a number have noted the striking similarity between Bing’s travel search and Kayak.

David Radin:

This feels so much like Kayak that without asking, I assumed Microsoft licensed the technology from Kayak. Can you say “eerily similar”?

David Weinberger:

Bing’s ripping off of Kayak.com has me pretty cheesed.

Charlene Li:

Bing’s flight fare search reminded me very much of Kayak, my favorite travel search engine. In fact, it feels like an exact copy except for one major improvement — the integration of Farecast

That was a few weeks ago. Today, it looks like Kayak’s lawyers decided to do more than notice. As reported in Wired:

“We have contacted them through official channels about concerns about the similarities between Bing and Kayak,” Kayak’s chief marketing officer Robert Birge told Wired.com “From the look and feel of their travel product, they seem to agree with our approach to the market.”

Indeed. I am not a lawyer, and I have no idea whether Kayak has a legal case. Nonetheless, I can certainly empathize with Kayak’s designers, who must be less

Many people (myself included) have said that Bing’s strongest vertical is travel. And a number have noted the striking similarity between Bing’s travel search and Kayak.

David Radin:

This feels so much like Kayak that without asking, I assumed Microsoft licensed the technology from Kayak. Can you say “eerily similar”?

David Weinberger:

Bing’s ripping off of Kayak.com has me pretty cheesed.

Charlene Li:

Bing’s flight fare search reminded me very much of Kayak, my favorite travel search engine. In fact, it feels like an exact copy except for one major improvement — the integration of Farecast

That was a few weeks ago. Today, it looks like Kayak’s lawyers decided to do more than notice. As reported in Wired:

“We have contacted them through official channels about concerns about the similarities between Bing and Kayak,” Kayak’s chief marketing officer Robert Birge told Wired.com “From the look and feel of their travel product, they seem to agree with our approach to the market.”

Indeed. I am not a lawyer, and I have no idea whether Kayak has a legal case. Nonetheless, I can certainly empathize with Kayak’s designers, who must be less than amused to see their distinctive look and feel copied wholesale.

But perhaps the more damning point this makes is that Bing, for all of its claims to be different or innovative, is simply copying the leaders. They certainly have good taste to use Kayak as a model for a travel “decision engine”. But, legal or not, imitation isn’t innovation.

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