Well, it's that time of the year again. Every year at around this time (SES San Jose) there are lots of announcements and research released on the search engine landscape. What got me thinking this time was research from Hitwise that announced that Google had finally surpassed the 60% market share mark.
Back when they were feeding Yahoo and MSN, this was an easy thing to do (they were in the 85% range), but since all three now offer their own search services, it's been almost a 3 way split for a while now, with Google in the lead, but MSN and Yahoo catching up fast. Ask usually stays constant, with a small but very loyal following.
Lately, Google has been gaining more and more against it's competitors, with Yahoo and MSN actually losing a bit, according to Hitwise. Well, now that's very interesting.
I've been noticing the increase on a working level, but I hadn't actually charted it formally since Oct of 2005. After doing so, the results, especially side by side using the same methodology, are interesting. The information comes from both the Hitwise statistics and other information sources (my own log sources from several different industries).
It's apparent that the market is maturing - the niche engines are dying out and the mindshare is spreading out. If I may make a prediction, I would say that Google will have 66% (2/3) of the market by this time next year, with Yahoo, MSN and Ask fighting it out for the remaining 1/3. I also predict that the "Other" category will be permanently relegated to the less than 1% range.
Do I think that this will be it? No.
I think that "Other" category, which currently does not count for much in traditional internet search, will bloom as specialized search and social tagging. which is not measured in this chart, but will be as soon as I can figure how to do so reliably.
That's a prediction, not a guarantee, but I'll be watching that space, and I think you should, too.
Anyway, here is the side by side comparison:
US Search Engine Share Landscape - 2006
US Search Engine Share Landscape - 2005