Let's get one thing straight - Google remains comfortably ahead of the competition in the search wars, at least domestically, and probably will for a long while to come. But if Google wants to keep it that way, they can ill afford to become complacent, the mistake Microsoft made in the browser wars with Internet Explorer, which could realistically give up its position as the most used browser on the planet in the next few years.
Lest anyone accuse us of making a mountain out of a mole hill, both Yahoo and Bing continue to encroach into what has historically been Google's territory. According to net analytics firm comScore, Yahoo's US search share jumped from 16.9 percent in March to 17.7 percent in April, or nearly a full percentage point in a single month.
During the same time frame, Bing's US search share went up slightly, growing from 11.7 percent to 11.8 percent, representing the 11th straight month of small gains. Between the two, however, Yahoo and Bing claim almost a third of the US search market. Google still leads the way, but while the other two move up the search share ladder, Google dropped slightly from 65.1 percent in March to 64.4 percent in April.
As they say on the streets, watch your back Google.
Advertising, love it or hate it seems to work, but just how much money does it cost to get your point across? The exact marketing budget of the big tech companies has typically been difficult to track down, but the folks over at Businessinsider.com claim to have the inside scoop. Based on numbers collected from Kantar Media we now know what each company spent in 2009 across all advertising mediums, and some of the results might just surprise you.
Ebay for example had a pretty modest budget in 2009 of only 89 million, but had the highest percentage by far when compared to the amount of revenue they generate. This either means that the ads aren't working, or the business itself is on the decline. Not surprisingly Apple seems to get excellent mileage with an ad budget of only $249 million, a number that pails in comparison to the whopping $518 million spent by Microsoft.
The rest of the results are pretty straightforward except for Google, who only spent approximately 11 million in 2009 on traditional advertising. That number might sound a bit low, but when you consider that almost all online ads are served by the search giant anyway, what's the point of rolling a TV commercial right?
It would seem that Jerry Seinfeld was no match for Justin Long when it came to ad spending efficiency, but even the most hardcore PC enthusiast can usually agree that the Microsoft's ad agency should probably be sacked.
In a statement today the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) officially came out in support of Yahoo and their attempt to block a government request for access to a private email account. The sticking point here is that the government is seeking access based on probable cause and does not have a warrant. The nature of the case is unknown as all details are sealed.
The case being made by federal investigators is that since the individual has accessed the email, it is no longer "electronic storage" as defined by the Stored Communications Act (SCA), and therefore no warrant is required. This position does not have legal precedence, and strikes us as a bit nutty. Yahoo is in the process of challenging the government request citing the SCA and Fourth Amendment. The EFF court brief is expected to be of help in the case.
"The government is trying to evade federal privacy law and the Constitution," said EFF Attorney Kevin Bankston. The EFF is also pushing for government action to clarify privacy rights when it comes to technology. The EFF's brief was also signed by Google, NetCoalition, and the Distributed Computing Industry Association among others. If Yahoo is unsuccessful in their defense, this could have serious privacy ramifications for personal data storage.
Comscore has released its March U.S. search engine market share numbers, and the results might surprise you. While the vast majority of the Internet still turns to Google for search (65.1%), Bing has posted an aggressive share gain hitting a record 11.7%. What's even more interesting is that it turns out most of the hit came from ex-googler's as Yahoo's fortunes also nudged up ever so slightly to 16.9%.
Microsoft's growth in the search engine market has been slow and steady since the Bing rebranding, but its refreshing to see their might actually be some competition left in the search market. Its hard to imagine that this trend could continue indefinitely, but as we all know healthy competition is great news no matter which way you look at it. For those keeping score this is also the tenth straight month of share gains for Bing.
Sources are reporting that Yahoo is in talks to purchase location-sharing service Foursquare for $100 million. A source within Yahoo has said only that they've " had discussions" with Foursquare. Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley has spent the last few days meeting with companies including Apple and Facebook, but it's Yahoo that has been pegged as the most interested.
Yahoo has had a tough time as of late with their search business faltering and a botched Microsoft acquisition. Buying Foursquare would be a quick and easy way to get in on the location-based services game. Even with the offer of quick cash, Foursquare may not sell. Crowley has previously stated he only sold his last startup to Google because he was unable to get funding.
Yahoo missed out on purchasing Facebook in 2007, if given the opportunity to buy their way into social media again, it's unlikely they'd turn it down. Yahoo's official word is, you guessed it, " We don’t comment on rumor or speculation."
In January, there were murmurs of Bing replacing Google as the default search provider on the Apple iPhone. The Gregorian calender has moved to March at its traditional pace and nothing has happened on that front. But Google Search is now on the verge of getting snubbed on its own turf: Android. If you are unaware, Android is coming to AT&T in the form of the Motorola Blackflip, which is scheduled to hit stores on March 7, 2010. But Google will be a little less excited about the launch now, for the carrier is said to have removed Google as the default search provider “throughout” the phone and opted for Yahoo instead.
“Yahoo has replaced Google as the default search provider throughout the phone. It's crazy: the home screen widget, the browser, everything's been programmed to use Yahoo. We love us some irony, but golly, we'd prefer Google searches most of the time,” Engadget's Chris Ziegler wrote on the blog after unboxing the phone.
It is no secret that Google is the world's most popular search provider by a long distance. It is difficult to imagine why smartphone users may want to use Yahoo or any other search engine over Google. However, in case there is even an iota of doubt over Google's popularity among smartphone users, it is best to leave the choice to the users themselves. Search engine ballot, anyone?
One thing Google and Yahoo have in common is that they're both big into the search game. And what else? They're both also being sued by Xerox.
In a lawsuit filed late last week, Xerox says both Google and Yahoo operate products and services that infringe on two of its patents, No. 6,778,979 and No. 6,236,994. These patents, granted in 2004 and 2001, respectively, have to do with how documents are organized.
Xerox said it has tried to work out a licensing deal with the two search giants, but neither Google or Yahoo would have any part of it. As it currently stands, the trio will do battle in court, where Xerox will seek an injunction against both search parties as part of the case.
As if the story of the Chinese cyber-attack wasn’t convoluted enough already, there’s still more news coming out. As Google was investigating the attacks it became apparent they were not the only victims. Upon discovering that Yahoo was targeted, Google reached out to “share knowledge”. It seems that Yahoo was aware of the attacks prior to Google contacting them, but chose to remain tight-lipped.
In the wake of the sophisticated attack, many of the victims are keeping their involvement secret. This is most likely to avoid demonstrating their vulnerability to the world at large. Several companies have, however, disclosed that they were affected by the attacks. Included in this group are Adobe, Juniper Networks, and Rackspace. Yahoo said in a statement that it is not their policy to disclose information relating to attacks on their systems. It remains unclear if Yahoo knew that the incident affected other companies. It’s possible their investigation was not as thorough as Google’s.
Yahoo has a history of cooperation with the authorities in Bejing. Activist groups have been outraged when, on several occasions, Yahoo handed over details on Chinese dissidents to the government. Should companies like Yahoo come clean and discuss the attacks?
And advantage is an advantage, no matter how slight, and no matter how you come by it. Microsoft is using the ‘coerced’ limiting of its retention of search information by the European Union (EU), as a one-up against Google in the search-engine war.
Microsoft has agreed to a policy change for the retention of search requests on Bing, its newly launched search engine: six months rather than 18 months. The data retained by Microsoft consists of IP addresses (which can identify specific users on the Internet), and search terms. This data is used to improved the quality of Bing, as well as develop auxiliary services that enhance the search experience. Microsoft also claims this shorter retention period will better protect user privacy.
Google, on the other hand, just cut its data retention rate to nine months. While shorter than before, this is three months longer than the EU recommendation for data retention and Microsoft’s new data retention policy. Google defends its policy, stating: “Data from our search queries represents a crucial arm in our battle to protect the security of our services against hacks and fraud. It also represents a critical element allowing us to help users by innovating and improving the quality of our searches.”
While both Microsoft and Google claim they are motivated by user security, Microsoft says that Google's policy is not only riskier, but proves Google values less its users than does Microsoft. If you want your privacy protected, says Microsoft, you should be using Bing.
If privacy protection is your concern then your best bet is to avoid Google and Microsoft, and head over to Yahoo. Google doesn’t appear likely to budge on its policy anytime soon. Microsoft says it will take 12 to 18 months to figure out how to store data for six months rather than 18. Yahoo, on the other hand, says it will only keep your data for three months--a policy which its already implemented.
Microsoft’s new Bing search engine has made huge strides this year. Its market share is now somewhere north of 10%, and still increasing. Most of this increase is coming at the direct expense of Yahoo. In fact, some new projections indicate that Bing could pass Yahoo by the end of 2010.
This increase in Bing’s market share didn’t just happen. Microsoft is spending a lot of money to get a piece of that sweet search pie. In addition to advertising, the Redmond giant has bought up toolbar deals and is basically paying companies to foist Bing on their users. Verizon recently pushed out an update to Blackberry users that made Bing their default search engine.
Yahoo is in the odd position of being pretty cozy with their would-be usurper. Yahoo sells the ads on Bing, and uses the Bing engine on their site. Still, Yahoo makes most of their money on their own ads. If their search market share continues to decline, 2010 could be a tough year for Yahoo.