Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo largely retained their respective shares of the U.S. search market in February, according to comScore.
The research firms estimates pegged Googles share as blipping upward from 66.2 percent in January to 66.4 percent in February. Microsoft also held relatively steady during the same period, rising only from 15.2 percent to 15.3 percent. Yahoo saw its share dip slightly, from 14.1 percent to 13.8 percent.
There are some caveats to that data. Under the terms of a 10-year agreement signed in the summer of 2009, Microsofts Bing powers Yahoos back-end search, while Yahoo acts as the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for both companies search advertisers. Essentially, that folds Yahoos search-engine share into that of Microsofts, bringing the latters slice of the market to 29.1 percent.
Thats not exactly an existential threat to Google, but it does represent progress of a sort for Microsoft. In the summer of 2009, few of the tech industrys leading luminaries expressed hope that Bingoriginally code-named Kumocould endure for long in a search-engine arena handily dominated by Google. That June, Yahoo's then-CEO Carol Bartz told the audience at the Bank of America and Merrill Lynch U.S. Technology Conference that Microsoft would never get scale in search, and that interest in Bing would be temporary.
However, Bing managed to gain market share in fits and starts. That could be at least partly due to Microsofts decision to focus less on broad keyword searchGoogles area of expertiseand more on specific verticals, such as shopping and entertainment.
Meanwhile, Yahoo is struggling to adapt to a changing marketplace. According to a March 5 report from AllThingsD, the company is on the verge of instituting a round of layoffs on top of a broader corporate restructuring. A source close to Yahoo told eWEEK that the company had already started letting employees go.
Yahoo saw its search-engine market share surpassed by Google some years ago. Now, it seems as if Microsoft is also widening the gap. The big question now is whether Googles recent attempt to leverage user data, in an effort to personalize search, will persuade search-engine users to take another look at Bing. A recent survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that around 73 percent of Internet users do not want search engines to keep track of their searches and use that information to personalize future results.