Google Cannot Get Over Losing NORAD Santa Tracker to Bing

You would expect the world’s strongest search engine to be able to keep its partnerships, but this year, somehow NORAD ‘Santa Tracker’ dumped Google for Bing.

Google has been supporting NORAD to track Santa Claus since 2007, but this year, the two companies parted ways, “agreeably” as they said. NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), which is a military organization of Canada and the United States, providing aerospace warning, air sovereignty, and defense for the two countries, told NBC News that NTS and Google mutually agreed to go in new directions. The company turned to Microsoft to keep on tracking a phantasy creature. Among the tools used for the purpose, NORAD mentioned Windows Azure, Bing, and iLink-systems.

To complete the user experience, NORAD also launched a new app for Windows 8, called NORAD Tracks Santa, in addition to already existing apps for iOS, Android and web apps.

Whether Google likes it or not, this was not the right time for NORAD to choose Microsoft. Bing has been promoting anti-Google commercials since early this Summer. The NORAD-Bing partnership only helps Google’s rival purpose: to prove that Bing is better than Google. There’s a search engine war going on out there, and Christmas is all about the hype. Public perception of Bing will rise accordingly. But that’s not all.

Knowing what’s at stake, Google couldn’t sit aside, watching Bing and Microsoft making headlines about Santa. The search engine launched its own Santa Tracker, just in time to counter Microsoft. On Dec. 24 at 2 a.m. Pacific time, users will be able to track a virtual Santa in real time on Google’s own interactive Santa Tracker site, using Google Maps and Google Earth.

Google Santa Tracker

“On Christmas Eve we’ll be proudly showcasing a preview of Santa’s dashboard — the technology that powers his sleigh during his around-the-world journey.” – Google said.

“In addition, with some help from developer elves, we’ve built a few other tools to help you track Santa from wherever you may be. Add the new Chrome extension or download the Android app to keep up with Santa from your smartphone or tablet. And to get the latest updates on his trip, follow Google Maps on Google+, Facebook and Twitter,” Google explained in an official blog post.

But can this effort really take on NORAD and Microsoft? NORAD’s Santa Tracker, regardless who are the partners, is a tradition since 1955. It all happened because of a typo, turned into PR genius by the Continental Air Defense Command, NORAD’s predecessor back then.

A Roebuck & Co ad, asking children to call Santa directly, had small typo in the phone number, that led callers to the Continental Air Defense Command. Colonel Harry Shoup, who was working that Christmas Eve when the first child called, had the idea to allow his staff on duty to check the radar for signs of Santa and to relay the information to children who called. Today, that hotline is 1-877-HI-NORAD, and over 1,200 volunteers are ready to take the call. There were over 102,000 phone calls in 2011 – a record expected to be broken in 2012.

You can now see why this partnership is huge, and comes at the right time for Bing. It’s easy to figure out why Google simply had to step in. The search engine is already using its dominating power to compete. The first search result for “Santa Tracker” is a sponsored ad by Google, unsurprisingly featuring… Google. Then comes NORAD, but is nowhere in sight:

Santa tracker search results.

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