January 16, 2007
@ 05:57 PM

Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land has a post entitled comScore: Google Wins Again & IE7 Doesn't Stop Microsoft's Slide where he writes

It's that time again -- search popular stats for last month are coming out. Actually, Hitwise sent me their figures earlier this month but I'm diving in with the comScore figures that just came out. The main real news is despite the Internet Explorer 7 launch, Microsoft's Live continues to show a drop in usage.

What is puzzling to me is that people thought that the release of IE 7 would cause a increase in search share for Microsoft's search engine and a decline in competitors. The fact is that built-in search boxes within the browser encourage people to treat search as a feature of the browser instead of a site they visit. That means that the defaults built into the browser/operating system are important. But what exactly is the default search engine on most PCs running IE 7? I don't have any hard numbers but here's some data from my post about this entitled Competing with Google is Like the War in Iraq which stated

The combination of the proliferation of search toolbars and a new generation of Web browsers with built-in search boxes (e.g. IE 7 and Firefox) have reduced the need for users to actually go to websites to perform a search. This means that it is now very important to be the search engine that is used when a user enters a search directly from their browser. Guess which search engine is the one used by your browser if you
  1. Are you a user of the Firefox browser?
  2. Are you a user of the Opera browser?
  3. Are you a user of IE 7 and have installed Adobe Acrobat?
  4. Are you a user of IE 7 and have installed the Java runtime?
  5. Are you a user of IE 7 and have installed the WinZip archive utility?
  6. Are you using a newly purchased Dell computer?
  7. Are you a user of the Google Toolbar?
Yes, the answer is Google in every case. So even if you are an Internet n00b who hasn't made up their mind about which search engine to choose, there is a large chance that the default search engine you end up using thanks to recent innovations in IE 7 and Firefox will be Google.

If anything, browsers like Firefox and IE 7 make it harder for users to switch from Google not easier because it gets them away from the notion of visiting websites to perform searches and instead they just accept whatever default the browser provides.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007 7:52:31 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Saw an interesting article the other day, which explains Google's dominance a bit more convincingly:

How zero switching costs paradoxically yield a winner-take-all market

Search engines have zero user switching costs. Unlike switching email providers, there is no user data to move over, or addresses which need to be forwarded or communicated to peers. You just type in a new name and go to the new place.

If switching costs are zero, the first thought is that it should be easy for a worthy challenger to take some share away from the leader. Paradoxically, it's the reverse that happens.

Zero switching costs lead to a winner-take-all market for the leader. Even a modest initial lead will snowball until majority market share is reached and maintained. This is because, faced with a choice between two products, in the absence of switching costs users will choose the better one, even if it is only slightly better.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007 8:11:44 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
http://www.opera.com/pressreleases/en/2007/01/08_2/ Just affects mobile phones though.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007 11:40:52 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Dare, what ideas do you have that would help combat this problem (for Microsoft)?
Wednesday, January 17, 2007 8:36:08 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Don't entirely agree.

If you install IE7 on a blank machine (in my case in a VM), then you have to jump through multiple hoops to make Google your default search engine. In my cases, you may think Google is your new default, and simply restarting the browser will put Live back in.

Anyway. I think it will be interesting how many non tech users will use the built-in search box at all two years from now. I am pretty there will be surprises...
Stephane Rodriguez
Comments are closed.