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Bill Gates thinks that users should benefit from using one search engine or another, and predicts price competition could emerge as engines bid for users.

The interview Gates did with British publication Computing touched on a variety of technology topics. For one thing, the man respects Google, but one will need to find the 'Unimpressed' crayon to color in his views of the search engine company:

But, while acknowledging Google as ‘a fine company, a serious competitor', he is dismissive of the threat.

"Which Google products are you talking about? Seriously? Other than search, which are you talking about? Google Talk? Wow. A total "me too" product. Even Gmail - what is the unique thing?" he says.

We'll revisit his opinion of Google in a moment. But what's all this about being paid to use a search engine?

As Gates sees it, Google makes about $50 per user every year from the searches they perform. Being atop the search pile means there's no competition, and Google's highly relevant results have kept it there.

Once competition does really begin, and one has to believe Gates means "once we figure out how to out-Google Google with MSN Search," users will benefit as he said in the interview:

"As search becomes competitive and people realize that other offerings are as good, or are even significantly better, there will be price competition.

"You will get some free content or a check, or some incentive to use a different search engine. Competition for users has not even kicked in. I can assure you it will not stay that way.".

And he added: "We are going to run some experiments on that in the next year."

Microsoft has a cash pile believed to be worth about $50 billion dollars. Shareholders have always wanted the company to give some of the cash back, and Microsoft did finally start paying a dividend in recent years.

But here it sounds like the company could use some of that to bankroll a campaign to get users to switch search engines; once its advertising network gets under way, some of its profits could take over funding incentives.

Amazon.com offers a small percentage discount on its web site for users of its A9.com search engine and toolbar. After a certain number of searches go through A9, users become eligible for a 1.57 percent discount on their purchase. That could pale in comparison to what Microsoft might offer.

Computing cited a Forrester analyst who doesn't see relevance being pushed aside simply for financial gain:

...Hellen Omwando says the quality of the search results will still be the major factor.

"What is relevant is whether the site is good enough to give people what they want from a search," she said. "Financial incentives alone will not be enough."

In the meantime, Microsoft will keep building its search and prepping its advertising network for debut in the US and elsewhere (it's running in France and Singapore now). Until then, Gates would like everyone to pay attention to Google:

And he can't resist one more dig at the world's biggest search engine company.

"Google is great, they are smart people, the press should continue to feed their arrogance as much as possible," he says.

About the Author: David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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