Bing shows best monthly gain yet in search market share

Microsoft search engine tops 13% in January, comScore reports; death knell for Google?

Obviously I'm kidding with the death knell thing, but let's give credit where it's due. The latest data from online researcher comScore shows that Bing, the search engine launched by Microsoft in June 2009, last month recorded its highest-ever percentage increase in U.S. search market share. (Also see: Bing sting: Is Microsoft's search engine copying Google?) Bing climbed to 13.1 percent of the U.S. search market from 12 percent in December. That's a 9.2 percent increase in Bing's share of U.S. online searches, which sounds more impressive than the actual, overall gain of 1.1 percent. For its part, market leader Google saw its share of the U.S. search market slip to 65.6 percent in January from 66.6 percent in December, comScore reports. As the Wall Street Journal reports, Bing's previous biggest monthly jump was 0.6 percent, when it climbed to 11.3 percent of the U.S. search market from 10.7 percent in December 2009. Yahoo remains in second place, with 16.1 percent of the U.S. search market in January, up from 16.0 percent in the previous month. That's not so bad for Microsoft, though, since it cut a 10-year deal in July 2009 to power Yahoo's searches. I have to admit I still don't get the arrangement. Sure, Microsoft gets 12 percent of search ad revenues from Yahoo's searches (at least for the first five years), but it's still competing with itself and, in essence, diluting the Bing brand. If Bing eventually surpasses Yahoo in search market share, I suspect Microsoft will be far less eager to extend the partnership, unless Yahoo sweetens the deal. And who knows what kind of position Yahoo will be in seven years from now. In fact, it'd probably really work to Microsoft's advantage if Yahoo dropped search altogether, since it's likely Bing would pick up most of that market share. The other possible scenario is that Microsoft make another run at buying Yahoo. Then suddenly it'd have 30 percent of the U.S. search market. The recent dust-up between Microsoft and Google over allegations that Bing copies Google search results (see link above) leads some to believe that Google now eyes Bing with some trepidation. From the WSJ: "You could see that whole dispute about copying as a reflection of the way in which Google takes Bing very seriously now," says Greg Sterling, an editor at Search Engine Land, a Web site devoted to the search market. Maybe. Or maybe Google is just annoyed by Bing's alleged copying. Once in awhile I come across ITworld content that's been scraped by a tiny tech blog. I don't like it, but not because I think Phil's Wicked Awesome Tech Blog is a threat to ITworld. It's because I don't want people stealing our content.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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