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Microsoft Bing Bungled?

Microsoft Bing Bungled?

So there I am, wondering what would be a nutritious meal to provide for my family, when I decide upon some Chinese food because you know that stuff is healthy because it has vegetables inside. As with most Chinese meals it came with some fortune cookies. Each of us took one cookie. I opened mine, unraveled the little piece of paper, and was greeted with this little nugget of usefulness:

bing_failI spit out my boneless spare rib in what can only be described as the best ever spit-take in the history of our household. Congress still talks about it to this day although I am starting to get the sense that she doesn’t think it was all that awesome but it was definitely memorable. And yes, that is a speck of boneless spare rib above the ‘N’ in Lucky Numbers. Anyway, I had to read this more than once to really understand what it was saying to me.


The Chinese word for “disease” is…Bing?

Someone at Microsoft must have been aware of this, right? Or did they just assume that no one in China would be allowed to use Bing so it wouldn’t matter what it was called? And how does this affect me when I talk about Bing? If I am in a Chinese restaurant and using my Blackberry (I know, what are the odds on that?) and I turn to Congress and happen to say “Bing” are the people there going to think I have the Swine Flu or something?

And what about the whole Bing-Bang-Bung thing I trademarked last month? Is that now worthless because about 20% of the world’s population will think I am talking about some disease?

This reminds me of many other marketing oversights, but only time will tell if Microsoft gets added to that list. By the way, those numbers were not all that lucky. I mean, they didn’t put me on an island in the middle of nowhere, but they didn’t exactly do all that much for me either, though I suppose they could have prevented me from being marooned somewhere so maybe they were incredibly lucky and I just don’t realize it yet. I suppose I could Bing the numbers to find out more about them, but I don’t want to contract some virus or disease.

Maybe I could use Bing to Google the numbers, which would be similar to wearing a surgical mask in order to prevent getting the Swine Flu because when you are wearing the mask it is that much harder to eat bacon or other pork products. I really liked using Bing, but I really don’t want to risk getting a disease.

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  • Actually, apparently the word in Bing can mean a lot of things depending on how you say it and which context it is in.

    I don’t remember the article, but Microsoft’s explanation of Bing was totally different, and the name was apparently chosen by a Chinese on the team – do some digging, and you will find it, I think 🙂

  • Oh by the way, you found out about the meaning of Bing in the most oblique way possible… since there was a lot of uproar about it when the engine came out 🙂

  • Huh, my smileys keep getting posted in the wrong place….

  • SDC

    Also: Bing Crosby: not always a model Dad/Husband.

  • It’s also apparently a Chinese flat-bread.

  • Yeah, bing in Chinese can mean a few different things depending on the tone that you give it. That’s what the little mark above the i indicates. It can also mean cold, and a flat bread item. Funny that I can speak Chinese and never noticed the correlation between the Chinese words and Microsoft’s refactoring of search functionality. For some reason, I don’t think it’s going to be the Chinese correlation that is going to limit the success of Bing, unless Google is a word in Chinese…

  • Awesome! That’s even better than what I initially thought when I saw the picture of your fortune: that Microsoft was using fortune cookies for advertising these days!

    (Thanks for the linkage, btw – it gave me an excuse to spend some time on your blog – good stuff!)

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