Google, Microsoft Search Engines Retained Share in February: comScore

Google and Microsoft's respective shares of the U.S. search market remained relatively unchanged in February, according to new estimates from comScore.

Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo largely retained their respective shares of the U.S. search market in February, according to comScore.

The research firm€™s estimates pegged Google€™s 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, Microsoft€™s Bing powers Yahoo€™s back-end search, while Yahoo acts as the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for both companies€™ search advertisers. Essentially, that folds Yahoo€™s search-engine share into that of Microsoft€™s, bringing the latter€™s slice of the market to 29.1 percent.

That€™s 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 industry€™s leading luminaries expressed hope that Bing€”originally code-named Kumo€”could 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 €œget scale€ in search, and that interest in Bing would be €œtemporary.€

However, Bing managed to gain market share in fits and starts. That could be at least partly due to Microsoft€™s decision to focus less on broad keyword search€”Google€™s area of expertise€”and 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 Google€™s recent attempt to leverage user data, in an effort to €œpersonalize€ 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.

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