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Google, undisputed heavyweight champion of mobile search

GoogleGoogle has been dominating the search engine market for years, but at least there are some competitors that have a few percent each.

But if you look at mobile search, i.e. search on mobile devices, which is more or less the smartphone market, Google is utterly crushing the competition to a level that it’s never managed in the regular search market.

Just look at this very telling chart, showing Google’s overall search and mobile search market shares in relation to those of Yahoo and Bing, its two closest rivals. (These are global stats.)

Google, Yahoo and Bing search and mobile search market share
Above: The search market share does NOT include mobile search (confirmed with Statcounter).

Pretty incredible, isn’t it?

There are two things we’d like to emphasize here. They are two sides of the same coin, but worth pointing out separately:

  1. Google’s mobile search market share dominance is almost complete. The company has made an incredible land grab in the mobile sector. Compare this to the other search engines. None of them have managed to claim even one percent of the mobile search market.
  2. Google’s piece of the mobile search pie is even larger than their already impressive share of the overall search engine market. For Yahoo and Bing, the situation is the opposite. Their mobile efforts are nothing compared to their search engine market share.

If Google firmly believes that mobile is the future (which is the opinion of CEO Eric Schmidt), they are making all the right moves.

And Google’s mobile dominance has been increasing. One year ago, its share of the mobile search market was 95.58%. That’s significantly less than today’s 98.29%. Who knows, in a few months, perhaps they will pass 99%. At this point this actually seems plausible.

What can change?

Needless to say, Android is Google territory, so they have that market gobbled up. Google will remain the search engine of choice on that platform.

Then there’s the iPhone, which is another story entirely. Google’s grip on mobile search could be broken if Apple kicks Google out of the iOS platform. Even though the companies are currently rivals in the mobile market, we don’t think that is likely to happen. For one, we suspect users would be too annoyed for Apple’s liking.

Another thing that could potentially happen is that Windows Phone 7 becomes a huge success (something we’re skeptical to at this point in time), which would boost Bing’s market share since Microsoft would of course put its own search engine as the default in its own mobile OS.

Conclusion

Google seems to have taken the necessary steps to bring its search market dominance over to the mobile sector. This much thanks to its early collaboration with Apple and later secured by Android, which ironically now is the very thing that threatens Google’s dominance since it has made Apple a rival.

But for now, Google reigns supreme.

A side note on the data: This data comes from StatCounter, and is global data based on information from visitor stats from more than three million websites.



No Comments

This information is woefully inaccurate which should be obvious to anyone in the business. Google’s share of the search market has been well documented at 65 to 70% in the US (it’s main market) so it’s obviously not over 90% globally. And 98% market share of global mobile searches? Is China not considered “global”? Very misleading post IMO. – Alec

let me guess. you are american?

http://gs.statcounter.com/#search_engine-ww-monthly-200907-201007-bar

@Alec: By “well documented,” what unquestionable source are you citing?

Taking stats from 3 million sites is a pretty good sample size. Since StatCounter’s search engine stats are bound to come from referrer stats, the data here is the equivalent of “searches made using search engine X vs Y vs Z”. As an example, since you’re talking about US market share, if you show Statcounter’s data strictly for the US, you get an 81% general search engine market share (http://gs.statcounter.com/#search_engine-US-monthly-201007-201007-bar), and the mobile search market share (again for the US) is 97.59% (http://gs.statcounter.com/#mobile_search_engine-US-monthly-201007-201007-bar). Perhaps Hitwise, Comscore et al. (if those are the ones you refer to) even have a different criteria for what is considered market share?

Woopra apparently sees similar (global) numbers: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/analysis_what_are_the_webs_top_sources_of_referral_traffic.php

And regarding the US being Google’s “main market” and that its market share couldn’t be higher in the rest of the world: No, sorry, it can, and it is. Google is a global service, with plenty of country-specific portals. There are plenty of online services in the US that are bigger abroad. Look no further than Google’s own Orkut, which has a much larger market share in Brazil than in the US, to name just one example. Plus, the US is also the “home market” for Bing and Yahoo, which may help THEM as well, especially if they’re not as strong internationally.

You have a point regarding China, though. It’s quite possible that StatCounter doesn’t have a lot of Chinese sites to get data from, perhaps due to the dear old “great firewall of China.” But even saying “a 98+ market share for all the world except China” is pretty darn impressive.

Another interesting little factoid to take into consideration regarding the mobile search numbers is that Google is the default search engine in both Android and iOS. Users of these platforms surf the web more than your average smartphone user (presumably due to a better surfing experience). Example: http://gigaom.com/2010/03/25/iphone-android-dominating-the-mobile-web/

So since Google is the default on mobile platforms where users access the web a lot, their stats will be even higher. This, again, if we count market share as the share of actual web requests.

@Pingdom: The source will have to be StatCounters very own FAQ page.

I will have agree with Alec on this. The global non-mobile statistic is clearly incorrect due to StatCounters inability to sample China’s market. That is about ~20% of the total global population measured in a 395,273,361 sample by StatCounter. Using a sample of 0.041% to measure 1/5 of the worlds population is highly inaccurate.

@Stan: The source we were asking for was the one cited for the 65-70% US search market share (we’re guessing Comscore).

The point about China is certainly a valid one.

The point of the unlikelihood that Apple would ever kick Google off of the iPhone / iPod / iPad OS is debatable IMHO. Apple kick Adobe flash off of the Apple mobile OS so I wouldn’t put it past Steve Jobs. The man is a genius but a maniacal competitor. The more Android threatens iPhone, the more likely Jobs pulls the trigger on kick Google off of the iPhone OS IMHO. Agree it would really upset the user base but I disagree that this alone will deter a determined Jobs. Couple that with stories about Apple potentially rolling out it’s own mobile search.
http://www.toptechreviews.net/tech-news/apple-mobile-search-engine-just-to-block-google-eyes/

Hard to dismiss the possibility.