We all know that there are 3 big players in the UK search engine game… well to be more precise – 1 massive player (Google with 90.58% of UK search) and two nippers (Yahoo UK & Bing from Microsoft with 2.91% and 2.36% respectively). So at the end of last week, the 29th of July, Microsoft & Yahoo announced they have gone into partnership to get a bigger share of the search pie chart.
How this partnership will work :
“Microsoft will now power Yahoo! search while Yahoo! will become the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers.”
What this really means, is that Yahoo will manage the ad sales, Microsoft will try to sneak in a different default search engine when you install their products, and will have a little more real estate to show off their extensive cheesy collection of stock photos with the consistently inflated ethnic minority to majority ratio.
So is this a cheesy threat to Google?
The Times Online business writer James Ashton seems to think so. When Google accounts for roughly 90% of searches in the UK, it seems very unlikely, but when you look at US search stats, with a more modest (but still massive) majority of 65% search share for Google, 20% for Yahoo and 8.4% for Microsoft, it still looks unlikely, but it doesn’t seem such a silly claim.
Latest search figures from Hitwise for the last 4 weeks:
When Microsoft have their hands slapped for installing IE as a default browser because it gives them an unfair advantage over the competition, they compromised by letting the user choose from a selection of browsers. This will be roughly what you will see after October 22nd if you have IE as a default browser:
Google gains monopoly by developing tools that users can use for free, and continual research and development to provide the most accurate and relevant search results, in a constant battle against the spammers, black hatters and Internet drivel. It will be a strange day when the European Commission asks Google to stop creating so much useful stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sceptical, and I don’t like the dependence we all have on Google, or the potential privacy issues, but my job is to increase relevant traffic to sites, and when she blows the 80-20 rule out of the water, I have to focus the majority of my time on her. (The Pareto principle suggests 80% of effects come from 20% of causes – it’s more like 90% of traffic comes from Google alone).
I particularly like Yahoo Image search, and I use Yahoo when Google puts Captcha on search results, but it’s easy to get into a habit of using something if it’s a better all rounder, so I’d say 99% of my search is from Google despite my reservations.
So I’ll be watching the Microsoft/Yahoo developments with mild curiosity over the next year or so.
In any case, I’d be interested in what you lot think…