RealTime IT News

Bing Continues Growth Though Gains Are Small

More than a month after it launched, Microsoft's Bing search engine appears to be picking up some market share from competitors, but so far the numbers are small.

However, the same Web analytics firm that declared Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Bing overtook second-place search engine Yahoo briefly on one of its first days of public use, says Bing did it again this week.

Microsoft launched Bing on June 1, two days ahead of schedule. A few days later, tracking firm StatCounter said its measurements showed that, for June 4, Bing garnered second-place status with 16.28 percent of searches in the U.S. That put it ahead of Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO), which had 10.22 percent of searches for that day. Of course, both still ran well behind Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) which had 71.47 percent.

Now, StatCounter says Microsoft did it again -- this time on July 9.

"Microsoft's Bing search engine overtook Yahoo [on July 9] in U.S. usage ... Bing took 12.9 percent of the US market ahead of Yahoo's 10.15 percent but still well behind market leader Google at 74.9 percent," a statement from the firm said.

StatCounter market share figures for June still have Bing in overall third place -- Microsoft had 8.23 percent share in the U.S. behind Yahoo at 11.04 percent and Google at 78.48 percent, the company said.

Meanwhile, data from another analytics firm, Hitwise, actually shows Microsoft's share of searches declined -- albeit by a fraction of a percent -- in June.

Hitwise, which is owned by Experian, said that Microsoft's share fell from 5.64 percent in May (when Microsoft was still running Live Search and MSN Search) to 5.25 percent for June (after the transition to Bing). That constituted a year-over-year share decline of 4percent.

It's not all bad news for Bing, however. Even though Google's share grew seven percent year over year, Yahoo lost 17 percent during the same period.

Perhaps surprisingly, Hitwise also shows Microsoft's share growing 25 percent per week on average for its first month of use. Those numbers show Bing at 3.43 percent at the end of its first week of use, but growing to 6.63 percent of all U.S. searches for the week ending June 27.

While Bing's early performance is nothing to sneeze at, it will take time for Microsoft's already heavy investment in search to begin to pay off -- if it does. However, company CEO Steve Ballmer told an audience in Chicago mid-month that he's committed to spending as much as 5 to 10 percent of Microsoft's operating income over the next five years in order to make Bing succeed.

Given that the company brought in $22.5 billion in operating income in fiscal 2008 -- Microsoft's latest assault on fortress Google will not come cheaply.