In an Instant, Google pulls further ahead of Microsoft, Yahoo

Google Instant is the latest salvo in the ongoing battle for search share

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Now is a good time for Google to fire a major shot across the bow of the new Microsoft Bing and Yahoo partnership. Late last month, Microsoft and Yahoo finished a major integration project, which has Yahoo using Microsoft's Bing search engine to power all searches on the various Yahoo sites.

The Microsoft-Yahoo deal is aimed squarely at Google.

Neither company has had much luck tearing away at Google's hefty lead in the search market. By merging their efforts, they're hoping for better luck.

With Google Instant, the search leader is firing back at its rivals.

"While I don't think that Google Instant will move the bar in terms of market share, it does give Google a new feature that will be noticed by every user they have and it'll be another reason to stick with Google for their search needs," Olds said. "We're going to see more innovations along these lines as Google continues to develop its offerings in the face of renewed competition from the combined Microsoft and Yahoo partnership."

Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, noted that despite Microsoft's team-up with Yahoo, Google is still so far ahead of it that the innovations are simply icing on the cake.

"Google is the dominant vendor in the space, which means they only need to be seen as 'good enough' and this goes over that admittedly low bar," Enderle said. "But this is exactly what they need to do to hold on to their base and keep [defectors] to a minimum. As long as folks think Google is good enough they won't move and this appears to be a relatively low risk way to do that."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at  @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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