comScore released numbers on Microsoft and Yahoo search engines this week, indicating that the two Google competitors are growing in their market share. The May 2010 U.S. Search Data report shows that Microsoft Bing/MSN and Yahoo each added around 60 bps and 30 bps, at 18.3% and 12.1% respectively. Google went down about 70 bps placing it at 63.7%.
This is the second month in a row Google has seen a decline, giving lots of people a foothold to grab onto when clamoring at the gates of Google. And for good reason–Google has been in a considerably dominating position for several years now, with a growing appetite for access through more consumer products.
And what of all those consumer products? They’re cloned search portals that roll around in consumer data all day, from purchasing behavior to geo-located movement. For search engines, that’s a good thing. Google’s taking advantage of this trend, as is Microsoft and Yahoo.
The comScore numbers, as thrilling as they may be to competitors, are already being critiqued by analysts that are incorporating their perspectives. TechCrunch quotes J.P. Morgan’s thoughts on the comScore report, noting the many changes Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have made to their search tools in the recent past.
“User interface changes continue to cloud the picture. Google, Yahoo! and MSN all made notable changes in April and May, according to comScore. As such, numbers may not be directly comparable to past months.”
Mmm hmm. Yahoo has incorporated photos into its tweaking, acquired Associated Content, and drastically changed its user interface and appeal with the addition of personalized Facebook content. Microsoft Bing is steadily turning to social mechanisms for the improvement of its search tools, leveraging its investments (i.e. Facebook) and existing products to offer services to consumers.
That makes the picture a little fuzzier, and has even encouraged comScore to reassess its processes. It looks like the real takeaway here is the fact that we all need to re-think what search actually is. comScore had to make similar adjustments when the mobile web first gained advertising momentum, and now that the social realm has come full circle it’s time again to figure out the true context of search.
There’s no easy way to address that concern, as search will only become more personalized and integrated with our daily activities and correspondences. While Microsoft and Yahoo were proactive in their attempt to dominate mobile search, the development of the smart phone as a consumer product went in a different direction.
Google’s Android platform helped to drive the market in that very direction, though Microsoft’s own mobile platform improvements stand to gain on Google’s dominance in this arena as well. Microsoft also landed a major partnership with Bing becoming the default search for the new iPhone 4, while Yahoo is linking up with Nokia for its mobile search efforts.
In the end, the growing number of access points and contextual inferences for consumer search leaves even the major search engines grasping for hard definitions on what search means as a business. Lucky for Microsoft, Yahoo and Google, they also have the advantage of dictating what it all means along the way. And from the looks of it, Microsoft and Yahoo are already on an alternate path, with their combined resources set to reveal “Microhoo” by the end of the year.