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December 1, 2006

Two Microsofties chime in on search wars

Posted by Kim Peterson at 11:23 AM

Search engine statistics come out every month or so, but for some reason the latest round of numbers has seen some unusual attention and debate. Maybe it's because the SearchEngineWatch site posted an analysis of the numbers. What's most interesting to me is reading what two Microsoft employees have to say about why the company's search engine is regularly losing market share.

According to comScore, Nielsen//NetRatings and Hitwise, Microsoft ranked third in the search engine business in October with a market share that ranged from 8.8 percent to 11.7 percent.

That drew some comments from Erik Selberg of Microsoft's Windows Live search team. Writing in his blog, Selberg said that when he first arrived at the company, his bosses wanted to beat Google in relevance after just two years. That didn't happen, and the team is still debating how long it'll take to achieve that goal. At least Microsoft search is no longer laughable, Selberg writes.

Right now, he writes, Google wins on brand and quality:

Here's the honest truth... Microsoft will continue to lose share until it can make Live.com something people chose versus just the IE (Internet Explorer) default. That will happen when the average person starts to see Live.com as a bit better than Google.

Microsoft developer Dare Obasanjo chimes in with a post entitled "Competing with Google is like the war in Iraq." Obasanjo disagrees that beating Google means having better search results or relevance. It's only about brand and recognition now.

Google's brand is synonymous with search, he writes. And as far as distribution goes, Google has effectively made itself the primary search engine for many people who search directly through toolbars in their browsers.

As far as the Iraqi war comparison, Obasanjo writes, "As I read Erik's post, one phrase kept repeating itself in my head over and over again; 'Stay the Course...Stay the Course...Stay the Course'."

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