Posted January 25, 2008 8:48 pm by with 6 comments

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Is Google’s stranglehold on the market slipping? We all had to ask as comScore and Nielsen reported their numbers for December, with Google losing search market share. Although their losses were quite small, with Nielsen reporting a loss of 1.4 percentage points and comScore reporting a loss of 0.2 percentage points for Google in search engine market share between November and December.

So, what’s going on here? The Silicon Alley Insider assures us all that Google’s in no danger (in search market share, at least, no references to their falling stock price):

A person who follows search stats more closely than we do argues that Google’s December drop is probably easy to explain: Students spend less time on their computers in December because of the holidays.

Hmmm. Shouldn’t that phenomenon affect all the engines equally? No, says our search guru — Google’s share of students is much higher than its older rivals, so it gets hurt a bit more. And the same thing happens every spring, when school lets out for the summer: Last year comScore showed Google losing 1.6% from May to June. Then its share began climbing once again.

What do you think? Obviously most of us don’t have Google’s usage stats handy, and while these stats seem to ring true—well, you know me and data. Unfortunately, I can’t find anything more recent, but as recently as 2005, Yahoo! was still tops with the 18-34 demographic.

Naturally, search market shares and demographics have shifted greatly over time, but so much so that no other big search engine is perceptibly affected? (Nielsen reported a 0.2 percentage point loss for Yahoo and a 1.8 percentage point gain for Microsoft for December; comScore showed Yahoo up 0.5 percentage points and Microsoft holding steady last month.)

What do you think?

  • Yahoo may have the larger piece of the 18-34 year old pie, but that doesn’t say much about the student demographic. Most college students are still in the 18-24 age rage, but they’re undergrads, while the student demographic is actually made up of people from all ages (since many Baby Boomers use their retirement now to go back to school and get that masters degree or Ph.d.).

    It’s interesting that ask has the largest piece of the 18-24 year old market. Still, how much of that market is made up of students and where those students search?

    I’d be interested to know what the stats are by socioeconomic status.

  • Two-tenths of a percent loss? Google is right back where they were in October. I’m not seeing anything significant here.

  • I’m not sure if Google is slipping. I’ve read that Google has a large share of the student market so a December decline in searches seems plausible.

    Are these stats global or for the U.S. only? Does Google have a decrease in searches every December?

  • Just as scientific research results that are reported on in the popular media, there’s something missing in this report: what were the circumstances under which results have been established.

    In correct and factual scientific research one needs to maintain all the parameters but one in order to achieve reliable results. In the case of market research and reporting, there’s at least one varying parameter – time. Others are also important to determine, or at least indicate who they might be.

    Without such indicators any market report becomes a yellow press article.

  • The percentage losses are relatively small, and you would have to see a trend developing over a few months before you could conclude google’s stranglehold was slipping.
    It may be a good thing if it were true, as i don’t think it’s healthy to have such a dominant and all conquering force in any sector of business.

  • I think no it isn’t slipping. I also think people want to jump to conclusions without enough data. Doing so can provide something to speculate about but I find most of that speculation is worth little. The actual data is worth much more. similar to as the stock market predicting 6 of the last 2 recessions bloggers have predicted 10 of the 0 slips in Google’s market share (unless you count what I am sure some bloggers did last spring – predicting Google’s share would drop in the summer, which has become a pattern). The reasons mentioned about student market share… for that pattern (as you mention) seem plausible to me. I wrote previous about related though not exactly this topic