Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bing search engine in December surpassed partner and rival Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) in search, grabbing 15.1 percent U.S. share, according to comScore's latest statistics.
Yahoo can credit Bing and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) for taking its share, which slipped from 15.1 percent in November to 14.5 percent to finish 2011, a precipitous drop at a time when percentage points, and even tenths of percentage points, come at a premium versus Google.
Indeed, Google saw its U.S. search share hike to 65.9 percent in December, up from 65.5 percent in November. Bing's ascension to the No. 2 position is the big news, as Microsoft has spent a lot of money to get there. Bing launched in June 2009, when Microsoft's search share was around 8 percent.
To put more muscle behind Bing, Microsoft in July 2009 struck a deal with Yahoo to power its partner's search queries and ads on the back end. Along the way, Microsoft paid Yahoo 88 percent of the traffic acquisition fees from ads as its online business hemorrhaged cash.
While Yahoo was getting much-need cash from Microsoft, it continued to watch its search share slip and remained in flux as a carousel of CEOs tried to turn the company around. The company introduced former PayPal President Scott Thompson as CEO earlier this month.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, Google hasn't slipped, hovering between the 64 percent mark and the 66 percent mark since Bing launched. Google users remain loyal, enabling the leader to branch out and build Web services such as Google+ and local search services such as Google Places.
Moreover, comScore counts only desktop searches in its metrics, leaving out international, video and mobile searches, which would make Google's clout far more formidable at a time when Microsoft and Yahoo are struggling for relevancy in the nascent mobile market for search and ads.
"All of these are becoming an increasing part of Google's overall traffic, growing materially faster than U.S. desktop search," Jefferies and Co. analyst Youseff Squali wrote in a Jan. 10 note. "By some estimates, 10 to 15 percent of all search queries are done on mobile, and Google has 90 percent of the mobile search market."
Google also bid to boost its ad-serving capabilities by launching search, plus your world, a social search service that includes users' Google+ content in search results. The move has come under fire by Twitter and media.