A Microsoft vice president has insisted that the company's search engine, Bing, will eventually make money.
A pretty big boast, considering to date Microsoft has never managed to turn a profit online.
Yusuf Mehdi, Senior Vice President of Microsoft's online audience business, feels that increasing Bing's market share will be the way to money. But at 10.7 per cent of the US search market, 10-month-old Bing lags far behind Google's 65.7 per cent and Yahoo's 17.3 per cent.
That number could jump to almost 30 per cent if Bing becomes the engine powering Yahoo's search.
According to Mehdi: "At 30 points we are now a credible option, so that number matters. The nice thing is we can say [to advertisers] you can be close to 30 percent share in one easy buy. That 30 percent carries a lot of weight in the marketplace."
No magic number
Google's lead has actually edged up .07 per cent since Bing was rolled out. Still, Mehdi said: "Ultimately we want to be a major player at scale, so we're going to have to grow against Google at some point."
He insisted that there was no "magical number" Bing had to hit to be called successful. However, he must be heartened by the success of the Bing app for the iPhone, and the rumours that Apple will make it the default search for the handset.
Mehdi also said that Microsoft had no plans to sell off its entertainment arm, MSN, even though its relaunch has been put back until next month. It will reappear with a new portal and a choice of custom home pages.
"To get that right, it takes some time, so we've delayed it a little bit to make sure we get the features right," he said.
And make some filthy lucre, too. Sometime before hell freezes over.