Report: Google lost some ground to Bing in June

Microsoft's Bing search engine, which today announced it would begin displaying some messages from Twitter, performed well in June. But many analysts doubt it will catch up with Google anytime soon.

The media loves a good fight.

That's why the news of Bing's early successes – the upped traffic; the positive reviews from critics and users alike – have produced so many headlines. And here's the latest: in its first full month of launch, Microsoft's newest search engine upped its share of overall US web searches, while Google actually lost a tiny fraction of the overall market.

Or, to put it another way: the mouse climbed into the ring with the gorilla, and got off a few good swings Bings.

These latest figures come from StatCounter, an internet data firm, which shows Bing with 8.23 percent of US searches in June, up from the 7.81 percent Microsoft search claimed before Bing's June 3 launch. Meanwhile, Google, the undisputed heavyweight king of search, slipped from 78.72 percent pre-Bing to 78.48 percent post-Bing.

"At first sight, a 1 percent increase in market share does not appear to be a huge return on the investment Microsoft has made in Bing but the underlying trend appears positive," StatCounter Chief Executive Adohan Cullen said in a statement reprinted by Reuters.

The backstory

Earlier this month, comScore reported that Bing’s average daily penetration among US searchers had reached 16.7 percent during the week of June 8, a 3 percent increase from the week prior to the engine’s introduction. At the same time, Microsoft’s share of search result pages in the US – a good gauge of overall search intensity – increased to 12.1 percent during the week of June 8. Positive signs for Bing.

Then last week, a focus group study revealed that although a majority would likely stick with Google for the time being, many users preferred the visual design and feel of Bing. One test subject, for instance, said “Bing’s search refining features were more helpful than Google’s.” And when focus group participants embarked on their search for a new digital camera, they spent 150 percent more time viewing the ad space at the top of the page.

Not so fast

Today's StatCounter figures are good, obviously, for Microsoft, but not particularly groundbreaking. That's the gist of a PC World piece by JR Raphael, who notes that one month isn't exactly enough time to reach a concrete conclusion on the Bing-Google showdown. Over the years, Google's market shares have "fluctuated fairly regularly over the past several months," Raphael writes:

In March, for example, Google randomly dipped down to 76.49 percent of U.S. searches. Then, it bounced back to 79.08 a month later. Why? Who knows. But it wasn't because of Bing – that word hadn't even entered our vocabulary as a proper noun at that point. What this appears to indicate is that, whether as a result of shifting usage or margin of error within the measurement, the numbers do bounce around occasionally. Putting too much stock into a minor two-month change, then, seems a bit premature.


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