updated 02:45 pm EDT, Thu April 12, 2012
Bing may become expensive for outsiders to use
Microsoft warned Thursday that it would start asking a monthly fee for using its Bing Search app programming interface (API). Apps and devices that use the official code will have to pay a minimum $40 per month for 20,000 searches. Those who need Bing will use the Azure Marketplace Microsoft uses for its cloud services to manage what they're paying.
The deal will give more recent and more accurate results, Microsoft claimed, as well as a potential way to make money from use. No exact timeframe was given for how soon the priced model would start, although Microsoft expected it to start in several weeks and run through "a few months."
Charging for the Bing API may produce a chilling effect at a risky moment for Microsoft. Its draw for some has been the absence of a cost where Google only has a very limited, 100-query free option. Microsoft is still well behind Google in search market share and risks losing some support if companies are now forced to pay to have native Bing integration.
The effect on other companies isn't clear, although it may not necessarily have a deleterious effect. Apple has a Bing search option in iOS, but it's more likely to be receiving money from Microsoft for the inclusion than paying for access. Its searches may also just be text queries passed off to Bing's website rather than any direct link. Third-party apps and widget developers, however, might be discouraged from Bing use and steer towards Google or much smaller alternatives.