Nielsen NetRatings released their February US Web search estimates today and Google seems to be pulling away from Yahoo while Microsoft got a reprieve:
Google Inc. commanded 55.8 percent of the search engine market in February, gaining further ground over rival Yahoo Inc., according to market research firm NetRatings Inc.
Google’s share of searches climbed from 53.7 percent in January of this year. An estimated 3.6 billion search queries were conducted on Google, up 40.3 percent year-over-year.
Yahoo’s market share slid to 20.7 percent from 22.7 percent in January. Users conducted an estimated 1.33 billion searches on Yahoo during the month, up 12 percent from the year-ago period.
Microsoft Corp.’s MSN search engine held 9.6 percent of the market, up from 8.9 percent in January. About 618.3 million searches were conducted on MSN search during February, up 9.1 percent year-over-year.
Yahoo’s not taking it lying down however. Today, they announced the expansion of their mobile search service to cover most US cell phones:
Yahoo! Inc. has today expanded the reach of the popular new Yahoo! oneSearch service to the Mobile Web in the United States. Yahoo! oneSearch reinvents search to give consumers exactly what they want on their mobile device – instant answers. The innovative search service that initially launched in Yahoo! Go for Mobile 2.0 is now accessible on more than 85 percent of mobile phones through the mobile Web and is also available through the gamma version of Yahoo! Go for Mobile 2.0. The service leverages Yahoo!’s deep experience, investment and expertise in search on the desktop as well as relationships with leading content providers to deliver an un-matched search experience to consumers.
The search experience is the selling point and if you hit the “Dare to Compare” button on the oneSearch website you’ll see a graphic and flattering comparison to Google for various searches. (Apparently they didn’t feel Microsoft was worth swatting.) Yahoo’s search results are certainly prettier than Google’s, but I’m not entirely sure that all the bling is beneficial and Information Week’s Eric Zeman kicks the oneSearch tires and similarly suggests that the services are comparable.
However, the winner won’t be determined by reviews – do what everybody else will do and try them both (and any applicable mobile version of Windows Live Search too) and decide on your personal favorite. Later we’ll count the votes.