HitWise Says Microsoft Bing Fell 5% to Google's Gain

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-10-07

Microsoft Bing is swooning a bit, with its U.S. search share falling from 9.49 percent in August to 8.99 percent in September, according to figures from HitWise released Oct. 6.

Google in September recorded 71 percent of U.S. searches, up from 70.2 percent in August. Yahoo dipped 3 percent, from 16.9 percent to 16.4 percent, and Ask went from 2.4 percent to 2.6 percent.

Bing's drop stands out because HitWise is the second Web analytics firm to find that Bing fell last month, a signal that Bing's luster may be dulling. StatCounter reported Oct. 1 that Bing's September search share fell to 8.5 percent from 9.6 percent in August.

Is this a sign that curiosity in Bing has peaked and users are heading back to Google? The world may not know for a few months, but this logic certainly dovetails with the expectations of financial analysts, who believe users of Google and Yahoo tried Bing in the first few months, curious over the hype. Bing launched in June, backed by a $100 million marketing campaign.

Many observers expected searchers to test Bing and head back to Google once they realized that Bing's results were not superior enough to Google's to make a permanent switch. That could account for Bing's slight September decline.   

HitWise's report marks quite a turnaround for Bing since August, when the analytics firm found that search query traffic to Microsoft Bing increased 18 percent. Bing's growth, up from an 8 percent share in July, seemed to have come at the expense of Google and Yahoo. For September, Google appears to be back to its traffic-hoarding ways.

Still, Bing has unveiled a steady stream of useful search features, from indexing Twitter tweets to shared search and visual search views.

Microsoft is also letting users search Bing by voice from a new Sprint Intrepid phone. Google hasn't stood still, rolling out new search options, a Fast Flip publication search tool and a Sidewiki annotation tool in recent weeks.

Microsoft hopes it has an ace in the hole with its bid to power Yahoo's search. If it meets regulatory approval and comes to fruition in 2010, it should help Bing and Yahoo grab 30 percent of the search market, narrowing the gulf on Google.


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