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Bing gains more ground in search war with Google

Google remains miles ahead, but Microsoft's new Bing engine keeps plodding along

September 22, 2009 03:57 PM ET

Computerworld - Microsoft's Bing continues to show strength as comScore Inc. is set to report this afternoon that the new search engine increased its share of the competitive market by 4.5% between July and August. Bing held a 9.3% share of the market at the end of August to hold third place, according to comScore.

And comScore is reporting that the share held by market leader Google slipped 0.1% to hold 64.6% of the market at the end of last month.

ComScore also reports that Yahoo maintained its second-place spot in the search business with a solid 19.3% share. AOL's share dropped an unspecified amount to 3% of the market.

Today's report comes on the heels of last week's report from The Nielsen Co. that three-month-old Bing saw its share of the search market grow by 22.1% between July and August. Neilsen said its research concluded that Bing held a 10.7% share in August. Bing was the fastest-growing search engine on Nielsen's top-10 list.

Nielsen, though, also had Google showing growth, increasing its share by 2.6%, to 64.6%.

"This seems like a milestone for Bing," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at Technology Business Research. "Ten percent is a big number for a new entrant. They've become 'the other' search engine."

Microsoft definitely is looking to become "the other" search engine, busily beefing up Bing in hopes that it will eventually give Google a run for its money.

Last week, Microsoft released a beta version of a tool called Visual Search, which is designed to let Bing users search through galleries of images instead of mainly text.

In another shot at Google, Microsoft signed an agreement this summer calling for Yahoo to use Bing as the primary search engine on its site. The proposed alliance -- which still must pass antitrust muster -- could give the two companies some much-needed leverage in their ongoing battle against Google.

"Bing has made some good progress against Google, although I'm sure that both Microsoft and Yahoo, along with some of the market watchers, were expecting greater progress," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc. "However, we can't underestimate just how entrenched Google is in the search and advertising market. Displacing them will be a long-term effort. In fact, even getting parity with Google will require a sustained effort in terms of innovation and investment."

While Olds said 10% market share isn't a magic number for Bing, it does show that Microsoft is making progress.

"I think it will be another couple of quarters before we can tell if Bing will be a serious competitor for Google search," he added. "Google is definitely taking the Bing threat seriously, despite its still-overwhelming market position. Google understands just how important this battle is. More importantly, they know that Microsoft and Yahoo are determined this time to grab a big slice of the market. The resources that Microsoft and Yahoo can devote to the battle, along with their determination, make them a serious threat to Google. And Google knows it."

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