Microsoft Almost Gets It Right

Bing-powered searches now account for 30% of all searches.

Rick Munarriz
Rick Munarriz
Apr 12, 2011 at 12:00AM

Kevin Johnson is looking more and more like Nostradamus with every passing month.

Analytical firm Experian Hitwise claims that Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Bing powered 30% of the country's searches last month. It was back in 2007 that Microsoft exec Johnson turned heads by publicly targeting roughly 35% market share for Microsoft in search -- and 40% in online advertising -- within three to five years.

It seemed ridiculous at the time. Microsoft commanded a sliver of search, and the Bing rebranding was still a couple of years away. A few months after Johnson's comments, Microsoft came up empty in its bid to acquire Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) outright.

Things are different now that Yahoo! searches are powered by Bing, but even that doesn't tell the whole story. Bing and Yahoo! combined for just a 24% chunk of market share this past summer.Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) clocked in with a seemingly formidable 71.6% slice.

Microsoft's ascension, Yahoo!'s resiliency, and Google's gravity have made this an interesting race to watch. No one is close to unseating Big G at the helm, but Hitwise pegs Google's share at just 64.4% during the four weeks ending April 2. Yahoo! and Bing checked in at 15.7% and 14.3%, respectively.

Bing still has an uphill battle to get to Johnson's 35% goal. It's going to have to happen organically, since Google just locked up IAC's (Nasdaq: IACI) to a new search-serving deal through 2016. It inked a new five-year deal with AOL (NYSE: AOL) last summer. Then again, it has made up more than half that ground since August.

Will the trend continue?

Google has never taken its pole position for granted, but this can't be the way it mapped it out.

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