Google remains the dominant player in search marketing, but the industry is changing very rapidly and the old certainties may erode. Does voice search provide a platform for Microsoft to compete? A study earlier this year revealed that Microsoft’s speech recognition technology demonstrated only a 5.1 percent word error rate in Switchboard, a conversational speech recognition task. This shows impressive development and shows that Microsoft is more than competitive in this domain, but it is only part of the picture. Speech recognition and voice recognition are significantly different. The former extracts words and comprehends what is said; the latter also understand who said it. We could frame this as content and context. Context will be the defining factor in who becomes the dominant player in voice search, with an increasing amount of internet-enabled devices providing the opportunity for a seamless, conversational experience. No doubt, search is at the very heart of this battle. Bing has positioned itself as simply a more effective search engine, with campaigns like Bing It On aimed at showing users the quality of its results compared to those of Google. Occasionally we see stories of impressive user growth for Bing, but never quite enough to suggest a significant…
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