Have you seen Bing Visual Search lately? Probably not.
Heck, nobody even noticed it was gone and the www.bing.com/visualsearch link was no longer working until a report from LiveSide.net this week pointed out that the feature – introduced as the search equivalent of walking into a store and visually browsing products – had quietly vanished.
Even the Bing blog post announcing its arrival in 2009 has gone down the memory hole.
The worst part? This vanishing act began in the Fall, according to a Microsoft spokesperson:
"Last fall, we began the process of removing Visual Search galleries on Bing. Like all of our betas, Visual Search was part of an on-going effort to better understand how we can offer the best search experience possible. We learned a lot from the Visual Search beta and we’ll apply that knowledge to Bing as part of our continuing effort to help users ‘do’ more, while keeping our offerings visually appealing."
The general idea behind Visual Search was that it offered a variety of galleries, including entertainment, famous people, reference, shopping, sports – even hurricanes.
Say you knew what a dog looked like, but didn't know what breed it was, you could type in [dog breeds] and search through Bing's galleries to discover the answer. Whereas, with Bing Image search, which is still available, you have to already know the dog breed you're looking for and type it into the search box.
So why was Visual Search turned off? I have a sneaking suspicion a serious lack of usage and it just didn't fit into their plans after the recent Bing redesign.