Microsoft's Bing continued its pattern of incremental gains, according to research firm Experian Hitwise, which reported the search engine grew to occupy 9.85 percent of the U.S. search engine market in June.
That represents a 7 percent change from May, when Hitwise estimated Bing's share of the market at 9.23 percent. Meanwhile, Google continued to dominate with 71.65 percent of the U.S. search engine market, dropped nearly a percentage point since May. Yahoo dipped only slightly, from 14.43 percent to 14.37 percent.
Since launching in summer 2009, and despite some early predictions of its imminent demise, Bing has managed to seize between 9 and 12 percent of the search-engine market, depending on the survey. While those numbers are dwarfed by Google's, which holds between 66 and 72 percent of the market, Bing's growth over the past year suggests the Website is capable of longer-term survival, even after Microsoft ratcheted down its initial multimillion-dollar marketing push.
Bing has also been experiencing strong growth in a number of vertical industry categories. Hitwise previously reported that the percentage of U.S. upstream traffic sent from Bing to shopping sites increased 100 percent year over year; to health care-related sites, it increased by 105 percent; to travel sites, by 71 percent; and to automotive sites, by 95 percent. In contrast, Google, despite a higher overall number of searches, experienced lesser gains in vertical categories, with a 15 percent increase year over year for shopping, -6 percent for health, 6 percent for travel and 11 percent for automotive.
Those gains could be due to Bing's focus on what one Microsoft executive called "nontraditional areas" such as event-driven tasks and commercial queries.
"As we look at how people are using the Web itself and how the Web is changing, we think we can expand that which people do with these engines," Bing Director Stefan Weitz said to eWEEK in March. "The more exciting place, and the place we're looking at more often, is how we expand the art of the possible in search." Traditional keyword search, Weitz added, remains largely the providence of Google.
In that spirit, Bing has continued to expand the number of tabs on its homepage that access specific categories of search. In late June, an Entertainment tab appeared, leading to a page with separate tabs, in turn, for Music, Movies, TV, Games and Video Games.
"In this release of Bing one of the biggest investments we are making is in the area of entertainment," Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of Microsoft's Bing unit, wrote June 22 on the Bing Community blog. "Working with key groups inside Microsoft that have deep entertainment heritage, we've made significant investments in four key areas: Music, Gaming, Movies and TV. Our focus was on making it easy-if you can type in a search box, you can have a great entertainment experience on Bing."
The Entertainment section allows users to play casual games for free, listen to streaming songs via Microsoft's Zune service, and watch trailers for console games and movies. Such features may give Bing more the feel of a Yahoo-like Web portal, which is fitting, considering that Microsoft's search-and-advertising deal with Yahoo will soon see Bing powering back-end search on Yahoo's Websites.