February Search Market Share: Live Search is on the move

In last month’s search market share report I mentioned that a lot of people, present company included, were eagerly awaiting the results of Microsoft’s recent consumer launch of Vista. Specifically, many anticipate Vista to re-ignite its presence in Search. Microsoft’s move to set Live Search as the default engine within Vista could be the long awaited answer to Microsoft’s struggles in the space. The Compete numbers are in, and so far things are encouraging for Live Search.

MSN/Live’s market share increased a full point in February to 9%. This gain was the first major increase in share for the perennial third place engine in nearly a year. Overall web search volume on Live Search increased 10% to nearly 590 million queries in February.

Oddly enough I don’t think the folks down in Mountain View got the memo. Google market share continued to climb. The search giant gained a full point with market share tipping the scales at a record 63%. Consumers posted nearly 4 billion web search queries on Google alone; that’s a 15% gain since February 2006. Google’s growth can’t go on forever (trust me it’s a mathematical fact "¦ 100% is 100%) at some point incremental gains will be harder for Google to eek out.

So based on the fact that penetration of Vista is still in its infancy, this may bode well for the future of Search at Microsoft and MSN. In order to maintain this trend Live Search is going to have to start bringing some folks over from the Google side of the fence. The gains mainly appear to be coming at the expense of Yahoo and Ask for now. We’ll also need a couple more months of data to really know what’s going on.
Who said the search race was over? I think most of us did, but the launch of Vista is an interesting variable that gives us something to talk about other than "Google increases market share — again."

Of note, Compete Search maintained its market share of 0.01% in February; however they are confident that with the recent site redesign and addition of SnapShot previews they can exponentially grow their existing user base :)

* Search market share includes U.S. web search only and is calculated based on unique queries within each session during the given month.

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