May 21, 2007 2:14 PM PDT

Study: Microsoft loses ground in search

After gaining ground for a couple months, Microsoft's search business lost market share in April, while Google and Yahoo posted gains, according to statistics released Monday by Nielsen/NetRatings.

Microsoft saw its share of the market slip to 9 percent, down from 10.1 percent a month earlier. Google, meanwhile, increased its lead, accounting for 55.2 percent of Web searches, up from 53.7 percent in March. Yahoo grew its share to 21.9 percent, up narrowly from the 21.8 percent share it held in March.

The April results return to a familiar pattern of Google gaining ground at the expense of its chief rivals, although Microsoft had been doing a bit better in recent months. In its January earnings conference call, Microsoft executives indicated that they were not pleased with the company's search results.

AOL remained in fourth place for April, but saw its share slip to 5.4 percent from 5.8 percent in March, while held steady in fifth place with 1.8 percent of search queries.

In an interview at Microsoft's Strategic Account Summit two weeks ago, a top executive expressed hope that Microsoft was starting to make inroads in search, but said that it might not post gains every month.

"I'm not even going to say it's a trend yet," Chief Advertising Strategist Yusuf Mehdi said, referring to the fact that Microsoft had posted share gains for each of the past three months. "I'm not going to predict that that's the bottom and now it's all up, but that's momentum."

See more CNET content tagged:
Nielsen/NetRatings, Yahoo! Inc., Google Inc., Microsoft Corp.


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Google has a simple search page, that's why
Google comes out in top. I'm sure the programming as far as relevancy has narrowed, but Google has a no frills search page, which is why I always use Google. No distractions!
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I don't agree
Live has a very minimalist interface too. I think it comes down to the fact that Google is now synonymous with search and that even people who have a very basic understanding of computers/internet associate searching with Google. Most people probably don't know that there are alternatives and even if they do/did, they probably wouldn't care anyway. I think MS (ironically) needs to advertise its services more to make people more aware - the same goes with other search engines.

Me, I prefer not to use Google for the simple reason that we need competition. Google is dominating search like MS is dominating the OS. Google's (virtual) monopoly, if it continues, will not be good for anyone except Google shareholders.
Posted by a85 (104 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft has name recognition
which is why, IMO, a lot of people would try their search engine, and MS's numbers go up.

But after trying it, they go back to a search engine that works well, and MS's numbers go back down.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Miscrosoft services forced on users via OS
Microsoft force MSN and Windows Live toolbars onto users PCs without consent, that's the only reason they have any traction in the market, at least here in the UK.

How many of you have found that MS search was the default when IE7 arrived, or that when the kids downloaded MSN Messenger there was suddeenly a search toolbar. Or that a bad URL invoked an MSN search due to some hidden Registry key ?

They should own up to the fact that nobody actively wants these services and stop infecting our computers with them.
Posted by SWBBPhil (7 comments )
Link Flag
Google Just Works
Microsoft, Yahoo, and Ask just don't get it. Google is spanking
them miserably at search relevancy. I was trying to search for a
new story on CNN a few months back, and naturally their search is
powered by Yahoo and not one of the results were even close to
what I was looking for. I went and done a Google search and the
ENTIRE first page linked to news sites reporting the story, including
Posted by PCCRomeo (432 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The reason is:
The reason is that Google is synonymous with the Internet and when you think of Microsoft, you think Windows and Office.

Microsoft are learning a hard lesson. i.e., you can stretch your brand too thin.

When Levis branched out and starting making all kinds of other clothes, they increased revenue in teh short term, but then noticed that their jean sales were going steadily down because they watered down their brand and ca. So they cut down their range so as to not cause confusion as to what Levis were.

Microsoft in its greed tries to take on everybody. As a result they have Xbox, Zune, OS, Software, Live, Advertising, etc.

Simply put, they have watered down the brand to the degree that no one knows what Microsoft means anymore.

People google because Google is Search.

What do people do when they Microsoft?

I guess if there is an answer it is to find a way to stop viruses. Who knows anymore? But for old timers, they will always be Windows and Office.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MS and ggl
Who said that the rest of the net population thinks the same way? Sony used to rule the gaming world, that did not stop people from begining to buy XBox. Who cares if it is Google or MS, search is just another tool. I would choose whichever does a better job. At least for now google seems to work better than MS live

Posted by Serg_1 (19 comments )
Link Flag
Not following the logic
Legitimate point re Google = search at this point. Beyond that the logic breaks down. Unlike denim which remains denim indefintely (and even with that designs change over time), software has never been a static domain. Microsoft came into existence because they pushed the OS envelope, Google is thriving because they innovated in search. No tech company has the luxury of resting on its laurels, not even Microsoft with Windows/Office. Microsoft's mission is to enable people globally with essential technology and each of those items you listed is absolutely essential to the entire software experience. Additionally how many companies do you know that have their names as verbs (as in "to google"); does "to Apple" or "to Levi" apply to anything?
Posted by rbkraze (2 comments )
Link Flag
search has low switching costs
The problem with google is switching a search engine is very low cost for users. As soon as microsoft or yahoo or the next great startup comes up with a better algorithm, consumers will flock there. It is a very difficult position to defend.

The same thing happened when Google first came on the scene.
Posted by WillyWiggler (38 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I don't see how this is a problem WITH google at all, although it may be a problem FOR google... but this is just a plus to users because they can get the best product/service and drive innovation and imagination to make searching better for everyone.
Posted by bobmarksdale (29 comments )
Link Flag
search has low switching costs
The problem with google is switching a search engine is very low cost for users. As soon as microsoft or yahoo or the next great startup comes up with a better algorithm, consumers will flock there. It is a very difficult position to defend.

The same thing happened when Google first came on the scene.
Posted by WillyWiggler (38 comments )
Reply Link Flag
let MSFT stick to Vista security fixes, leave Search alone
Here is a company that thinks it can do anything, no matter
what. While thats a great attitude for a toddler, sooner of later a
grown-up learns what they are good at and stays on that. Since
Vista and XP present numerous security challenges that need
fixing, it would be best to stick 50,000 programmers on the
operating system fixes first.

There is No Midas Touch as Microsoft, and their dim-witted, we
got money, lets throw everything at the wall and see what sticks
mentality about markets they get into smells like desperation.
Google IS Search, nuff said.
Posted by educateme (101 comments )
Reply Link Flag
simple page
MS live if very simple as well. In fact MS borrowed a lot from google when it comes to the design of the front page and to how search reasults are displayed. I do not think simplicity is the reason why MS live has failed so far to gain popularity ...
Posted by Serg_1 (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
One reason
Is that the vast majority of 'netizens aren't as stupid as MS'ers like
to call them.
It's appalling, really, hearing MS supporters telling everyone who
doesn't agree with them "uninformed" (or worse), but that's the
mind set these people live with.
People fear Microsoft and are not willing to hand them another
Deal with it.
Posted by GGGlen (491 comments )
Link Flag
Conversion Rates
The article doesn't talk about click and conversion rates - that is, how well are advertisers doing per $ spent. That would be interesting to know.
Posted by sal-magnone (162 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google slipping?
Over the years I have noticed that my favorite saearch engine hits a wall after a certain ammount of time and stops returning relevant results. I've noticed it over the years with Webcrawler and others. It's just an impression but it seems to me the "new" search engines are better than old established ones. All of the sudden over the past month or so Google has not treated me too well. It seems to have become a shopping engine not really a search engine. I used to always find exactly what I was looking for in the first 1-3 results. No I find it difficult to find relevant unbiased information. I've been wondering for while if there are others that have noticed this or if I am all alone in thinking that search engines have trouble remaining relevant and unbiased.

Interested in your observations.


Posted by tgrenier (256 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Relevant Search results
I can't say about all search engines but I've definitely noticed that Google seems to be returning less relevant results for the searches I've been doing. I'd say this has been happening for more like 6 months at least for me.

And for what I'm searching for the hits are really odd sometimes. I definitely noticed this with Alta Vista way back when it was cool as well.
The trick here is that I can't say that other search engines are faring any better because I generally use Google simply because it's built into Firefox and I'm lazy.
Posted by Fireweaver (105 comments )
Link Flag
Stop rewarding book-report writers
My biggest beef with Google is my beef with all the SEs. They tend to favor sites who essentially do book-reports on existing content over those who do the hard work, and put in the hard time to produce original content. Ultimately this: "reward the professional-students/editors, punish the producers" attitude will shed producers of new content and reduce the ratio of new-content to re-hashed "book-report" content on the web. A very bad thing if you ask me.
Posted by StoshNick (14 comments )
Link Flag
Live toolbar for firefox
I'll use live as soon as i get a live toolbar for firefox
Posted by smokinmunky (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
When did name-recognition become a marketing no-no?
I'm not a marketing guy, but the little I've learned about marketing had always suggested that the name was everything. That is apparently no longer the cutting-edge thinking in marketing circles though.

Consider IBM's AS-400. It was a midrange computer found only deep within the data-centers of banks and hotels. Nobody outside of the data-center should have known what it was, but everybody did. It was being mentioned in best-selling novels, and showing up in movies. Almost everybody knew --at least-- that an AS-400 was some kind of corporate-level computer.

So what did the geniuses at IBM's marketing department do? Oh Crap! People all know what an AS-400 is, let's change the name to iSeries quick! Yeeeaaah, THAT's the TICKET.

And later, when people started figuring out that iSeries was really just an AS-400, the marketing department again sprang into action: "Oh, no, they're still thinking of it as an AS-400, let's change the name again quick!"

Now Microsoft?

So, up until recently I thought this was just some strange aberration at IBM's marketing department. But now I see that Microsoft's marketing department is doing the same thing: "What? People are starting to think of the letters 'MSN' when they want to do a search?!? We need to fix that quick! Let's start calling it 'Live' now! Get Gates out on the morning shows referring to our search engine as 'Live', we'll fix those pesky potential customers".
Posted by StoshNick (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft what eles can you say they sold allot crappy software and now are trying to sell the crappy search why dont they fix one problem at a time and really why cant google own the market in seach Microsoft owns the market in crappy software untill i see anything better from them i have to trust the people that get the job done and done right and thats gooogle
Posted by linuxcable23 (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Maybe... just maybe...
nobody gives a crap about MSN Search or Live Search or whatever it
is. I know a lot of people who have google as their home page and
the rest of of us use Firefox/Safari,etc. that has Google search built

Screw Microsoft!
Posted by kentonr (25 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RE: Maybe... just maybe...
"Maybe... nobody gives a crap about MSN Search or Live search or whatever it is... Screw Microsoft!"

- I'm really surpised: how come kentonr starts his very deep, technical analysis and highly objective evaluation of different search engines with absolutely inappropriate word "Maybe"??? :)
Posted by Dandy55 (66 comments )
Link Flag
Debunking The Myth Of The Desperate Software Labor Shortage
google it & read it -
- Underemployment in unemployment in the US service sector will be the biggest election issue for 2008 because it is already causing BIG financial problems for middle class Americans.
- Credit problems, foreclosures up in mid-upper middle class America and main reason cited was job loss (CT)
Posted by dornbear (21 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Definition of monopoly
Why is it that the MS haters are always the most clueless? The way that you use a monopoly has nothing to do with the existence of a monopoly. If you have a significantly dominant market position, which in and of itself poses a significant hindrance to new competition, you have a monopoly. Whether you leverage your products or unfairly control the marketplace is moot - the fact that you have that market power available is what constitutes a monopoly.

That being said, I personally do not think that Google has a monopoly by the classic definition. However, I do believe that Google's name recognition is giving it additional market share over other, more capable, search engines, and if it continues, they will rapidly reach a monopoly status. As it is now, most people who search on Yahoo or Live do not go to those sites to do a search, they are already there and the search is ancillary to their visit. If we consider only the users who actually visit a specific site to perform a search, I think that Google's market share would be significantly higher than 55%, and AOL would be close to 0%.
Posted by MikeeeC (43 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google, Ebay, YouTube
These sites have become verbs in today's language. Want to find something online? You Google it, you don't MSN Search it. Google is quick, simple, and not distracting. I'm there to look for something online, not to have to look through a heavily spammy site trying to find the data I requested.

Google. It works. It doesn't need anything more than it is. The toolbar in IE is not invasive and doesn't cause problems with the system.

It just works.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Reply Link Flag

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot



RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.