Search Engines Got A Workout In 2009

Never mind the jockeying for position between the various search engines, every one of them was getting more use than ever before, according to an article from PCWorld.

Google, Yahoo, Bing, or perhaps one of the lesser known and used search engines, such as Ask, all were used more than in the previous year. Much of the new usage comes from the exploding number of internet connected devices that people carry around, tablets, netbooks, and smart phones.

More than 131 billion searches were made by people age 15 or older in December 2009, marking a 46 percent increase from 2008, according to a report from Web analytics firm Comscore. That breaks down into 4 billion searches per day, 175 million per hour, and 29 million per minute.

“The global search market continues to grow at an extraordinary rate, with both highly developed and emerging markets contributing to the strong growth worldwide,” said Jack Flanagan, Comscore executive vice president, in the report.

The U.S. represents the largest individual search market globally, accounting for 22.7 billion searches or nearly 17 percent of all global searches. China came in second with 13.3 billion searches and Japan was third with 9.2 billion. Russia showed the highest gains, moving up 92 percent to 3.3 billion searches.

People in this country want to know stuff, and can’t be hampered by things like books and libraries. On the other hand, it is providing a great opportunity for advertisers to inundate each page with advertisements for nearly anything sold.

Google tops the list of search engines as the most used. The Internet behemoth drug in 87.8 billion individual searches in December, accounting for two-thirds of all searches worldwide. Google’s numbers also show a 58 percent increase from 2008. Yahoo pulled in second with 9.4 billion searches, but an underwhelming 14 percent increase in total searches from 2008.

Microsoft was fourth most popular worldwide with 4.1 billion searches, but showed the greatest gains with a shattering increase of 70 percent in 2009.

Are those numbers too good to be true, or could Microsoft actually start to close the massive market share gap between Bing and Google?

Remember the old saw about figures not lying. When you’re on the bottom, like Bing, you have no place to go but up. Also, when you have one tenth the market share of the leader, you only need one twentieth of the total market to increase your share by half. Sounds much more impressive that way, and that is how Bing, and Microsoft, will be presenting things like this.

Comscore’s report only took December of 2008 and 2009 into consideration and lobbed all Microsoft properties into one category. Much has happened between the data, and Bing’s specific market share is showing slight, but steady drops.

Oops. You won’t see Microsoft spouting off about this, or the fact that most of the gains being had are actually part of a pyrrhic victory, as it cannibalizes share from “Microsoft-in sheep’s-clothing” Yahoo.

Bing slipped from 9.57 percent share in the U.S. in October to 9.32 percent in November according to a report by Experian Hitwise, which was summarized in a PCWorld post by Sharon Gaudin. Another report shows Bing losing additional share in December when it dropped to 8.92 percent of U.S. while Google increased its market share by one-percent.

Undoubtedly the introduction of Bing did quite a bit for Microsoft in the past year. Its impressive features, clever and not-so-clever marketing campaigns and respect for privacy helped it bolster its popularity, but it has a long way to go if it plans on becoming the top dog.

Then again, becoming the default search engine for the iPhone wouldn’t hurt Bing’s numbers.

There is also news that Verizon Blackberry users are having their default searches done by Bing, whether they like it or not. I’m sure that won’t last, as many will rail based purely on anti-Microsoft sentiments. I am sure all is not over in the search market, and there might possibly be a new player coming, that no one sees in the crystal ball now.

People I talk to are saying that searches for phones are not as great as they might be, as they are not fully optimized for mobile users. I haven’t been able to get much more than that from the people I speak to personally, and from the small number of mobile searches I’ve done, I’d say that the vital stuff is getting through.

It is sure that search will change for the market that is forming. As more and more mobile search takes place, we might find ourselves thinking that the shoe goes on the other foot and searches become first, and foremost, formatted for the mobile user, and begin to look very odd for those using the engines from desktop computers, with their larger screen sizes.


There is joy in work. There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something.

Henry Ford


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