Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bing lost some zing last month, according to Nielsen's latest MegaView Search data. The aggressively marketed search engine started strong out of the gate after last year's launch, but it lost market share sequentially to Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) last month.

Microsoft isn't alone. All of the country's most popular search engines -- Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO), AOL (NYSE:AOL), and IAC's (NASDAQ:IACI) -- surrendered market share to Big G.

In other words, the problem may have less to do with Bing's shortcomings than with the strengths of market leader Google.


Dec. 09

Nov. 09















Source: Nielsen.

Yahoo!'s perpetual fade is old news, and it will be interesting to see whether AOL's market share inches higher this month after the publicity behind its IPO. But whatever happens, I'm surprised to see Microsoft and taking a step back in December.

Both engines seemed positioned perfectly to capitalize on the shopping-intensive month of December.'s seasonal deal$makeover and Microsoft's Cashback rebate program for online shoppers seemed like logical customer magnets over the holidays.

However, it's clear now that no one is going to slay Google. The company fulfilled a whopping 6.7 billion searches last month. If you're an advertiser, you can't generate paid-search leads without Google's platform.

Microsoft figured it may have had a shot by teaming up with Yahoo! last year, but it's standing on quicksand. Microsoft and Yahoo! combined for 24.8% of the country's searches last month, a significant drop from the 26% slice it commanded just a month earlier.

Consumers love underdogs on paper, but they lean on market leaders in real life. This is why Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) soared yesterday, when Google threatened to bow out of China.

Bing came in with its guns blazing last spring, but Google flat-out owns search in this country.

Will Bing bounce back? Let us know in the comments box below.

Google and Baidu are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Options recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders whether we'll even be using search engines 10 years from now. Howns no shares in any of the stocks in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.