Last month’s Microsoft/Yahoo! deal continues to draw attention throughout the search community. The market share of Microsoft’s Bing.com has continued to increase slightly since its June launch, but it is still a far cry from Google’s dominant stance in the industry. It is hard to argue that the deal is not affecting Google; the company has unveiled an update to its search platform. Experts see it as a response to the move, but Google denies such claims stating that the update had been in the works for awhile.
Perhaps the greatest challenge that Bing faces in its fight against Google is search loyalty. Google has simply become a habit for users over time, with most giving little thought to a potential switch. Gord Hotchkiss, CEO of Enquiro Search Solutions, said “For Microsoft-Yahoo to disrupt the Google habit, they have to offer a compelling enough reason to do the cognitive heavy lifting required to break a subconscious habit.” Bing will need to change its casual users into faithful ones.
Microsoft and Yahoo! may also be confronted with antitrust issues as a result of their agreement. The question posed by the partnership is whether or not online advertisers will benefit more with a single, more powerful rival to Google when compared to two less threatening foes. It will be challenging for regulators to make a case due to the fact that the number two and three competitors are joining forces (as opposed to the top two in a market). Legal officials are not expected to complete a review until 2010.
While nothing has changed dramatically since the agreement, competition among search engines is sure to remain strong.