Backed by a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign and great word-of-mouth marketing from happy users, Microsoft's new search engine Bing has once again improved its market share. The gains, as before, are modest. But they also come, at least partly, from market leader Google, which is racing to incorporate Bing-like features in its own (still dominant) search engine.
According to various market researchers, Bing accounted for 9.3 percent of all Internet searches in August, up from 8.9 percent in July. Market leader Google saw a 1 percent decline in usage to 64.6 percent, while number two Yahoo! was flat with 19.3 percent of the market. According to comScore, the US search market experienced growth of 19.2 percent year over year in August.
It's hard to know what's really driving Bing's steady growth. Microsoft has invested $100 million in an advertising campaign around the service, and it's unclear whether Bing growth will end once that campaign comes to a close. But Bing users are overwhelmingly positive about the service, which offers a number of huge benefits over Google and Yahoo! search engines (especially for vertical searches around products, travel, health, and celebrities).
And let's not forget that Bing's usage share—which is widely derided as tiny in certain circles—compares quite favorably to industry darlings like Apple's Mac, which has yet to crack the 8 percent market share figure in the United States, and represents less than 4 percent of users worldwide. The Mac is widely seen as a hugely successful alternative to the dominant player in its own market. Why isn't Bing afforded the same respect?
Instead, Microsoft's efforts in the search market are widely seen as futile, and many point to its failures in this market over several years. I'd remind those people that Apple has been trying, even more unsuccessfully, to gain share for the Mac for a much longer period of time. And Apple, too, backs its Mac products with an advertising budget that dwarfs what Microsoft spends on Bing.