Another interesting tidbit from the recent search share numbers: Facebook is rapidly becoming a meaningful player.According to Liz Gannes’ analysis of the March Comscore numbers, Facebook has already blown past AOL and is catching up to Ask.
Here are the relative shares, as Liz calculates them. (The shares will look unfamiliar, because Liz is assessing each company’s share of the whole US search query market, instead of the relative share of the top 5.)
- AOL: 2.5%
- Facebook: 2.7%
- Ask: 3.1%
- Bing: 7.8%
- Yahoo: 11.3%
- Google: 59.7%
A few important points:
In a few months, Facebook will have left Ask and AOL in the dust. Facebook will also likely be catching up with Bing, without having to shell out massive dollars for toolbar distribution, the way Microsoft is doing.
Taken together, all the non-Google players still have only 27% of the market. Google has 60%. The other 13% is presumably distributed in tiny shares. This “other” will gradually disappear, as Bing or another provider becomes the back-end engine for everyone but Google. The possible exception is if Apple makes a big push here.
If Bing buys the Facebook search business (pays Facebook a huge share of each query to serve the results) and Facebook’s share continues to grow, then it’s possible Bing could cobble together 35%-40% of the search market just by buying it. Importantly, Microsoft’s economics on this 35%-40% will be horrible relative to Google’s, because it will have to pay majority revenue share for most ot it. But there does seem to be a path for Microsoft to control those queries. IF Facebook agrees to a deal.
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