Microsoft Bing experienced largely flat growth in July, according to Experian Hitwise. That could mean the Microsoft search engine is holding the line against Google, or else that its features are failing to attract large numbers of new users.
Microsoft Bing saw its
percentage of U.S. online searches hold steady between June and July, according
to new data from Experian Hitwise. Depending on how one interprets that data,
either Microsoft's search engine has staying power in its long-term battle
against Google-or else Bing's offerings are losing traction for robust growth
During that month-long period, Bing's market share increased
from 9.85 percent to 9.86 percent, said the analysis firm, which estimated that
Google dipped marginally from 71.65 percent to 71.43 percent. Yahoo experienced
an incremental gain from 14.37 percent to 14.43 percent.
Yahoo's transfer of its backend search to Bing is well
underway, with the transition of its search infrastructure in the United States
and Canada scheduled to take place over the next few days. If that happens as
planned, Yahoo users will start seeing "Powered by Bing" tags on all their
Yahoo and Microsoft signed a search-and-advertising deal in
summer 2009 that would see Yahoo take over worldwide salesforce duties for
both companies' search advertisers, while Bing took over backend search.
Microsoft executives have voiced the hope that major parts of the agreement,
which includes porting Yahoo's U.S. advertisers and publishers onto Microsoft's
AdCenter platform, will be in place by the end-year holidays 2010.
For their part, Yahoo executives have repeatedly claimed
that, although their search is now handled by Bing, their Web properties' new
features will allow the company to maintain a robust Web presence.
Theoretically, the combination of Yahoo's and Bing's
respective market shares-assuming little attrition-will give Microsoft a more
powerful competitive position vis-??Ã-vis Google. But given how Bing's growth
seems to have leveled off in recent months, it may take Yahoo's added efforts
to inch Bing closer to the 30-percent share mark-something of an irony,
considering the occasionally bitter relationship between the two companies.
Perhaps more worrisome for Microsoft, the
flattening of Bing's growth comes despite the integration of new features, such
as Bing Maps with new color and applications.
"The search share for Bing remained flat month-over-month at
11 percent, and roughly 60 basis points lower than March levels, indicating
that Bing's momentum is perhaps slowing down," Youssef Squali, an analyst with
Jefferies & Co., wrote
in an Aug. 17 research note. "That said, with Yahoo's share added... Bing
should become the de-facto No. 2 search engine after Google."
From a governmental point of view, the Microsoft-Yahoo deal
seems to be proceeding relatively unimpeded, with both the U.S. Department of
Justice and the European Commission having previously cleared the two
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.