Cash Rebates Could Stir Up Search Engine Battle

Microsoft has announced a cash rebate plan that would award its search engine users who actually end up buying something. This could certainly cause Google to take notice.

It's kind of a wacky idea, but I like it and it just may work in taking market share away from Google. It really plays into the agreeable notion of getting something for nothing (frequent flier programs, cash rebate credit cards and hotel frequent guest programs capitalize on the same notion. Microsoft is partnering with several major vendors to give the plan some depth.

Microsoft does need to strengthen its online services business. This idea seems certain to lure more users and advertisers. Under the cashback plan, users could search for products, get the cost and determine how large their rebate would be if they actually made the purchase. It's an interesting concept, and you can bet others are going to copy it if it takes off. It also plays to the web's strength of increasing competition and driving down product costs. However, success may hinge on the details of just how the cashback plan is structured, so execution will be a key element here. Is this bribery or simply rewarding customer loyalty? My guess is, no one will really care if the service proves popular.

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