For those of you keeping score at home Google's search market share continues to be dominant but the share gains appear to be slowing. MSN is creeping up and Ask is off the pace a bit.
All that scorekeeping comes from Wall Street analysts at Bear Stearns and Citigroup who watch the comScore data closely for any hint of changing dynamics in the search market.
Here's the scorecard:
Google: U.S. search share came in at 47.5 percent in January. That's up 20 basis points from December. The problem: Bear Stearns analyst Robert Peck notes that:
"Google grew search queries by 44 percent year over year in January 07, significantly ahead of the industry growth at 26 percent, but marking a significant deceleration from 50 percent in December 06. We note that this is the first time that Google's year over year search growth rate dropped below 50 percent since April 06."
Then again search growth has decelerated in the industry so maybe it's nothing. Overall, analysts are expecting big results from Google in the first quarter.
Yahoo: Search market share was down 40 basis points to 28.1 percent. Year over year growth was 23 percent. Yahoo's search growth in December was 26 percent.
MSN: Share stood at 10.6 percent in January, up from 10.5 percent. That's progress right?
AOL: Share logged in a 5 percent, up from 4.9 percent.
Ask: Apparently those aforementioned gains came at Ask Network's expense. The Ask Network lost 20 basis points to have a share of 5.2 percent in January. Ask.com by itself saw its market share fall to 2.1 percent in January from 2.3 percent in December. Let's just say these results aren't anywhere near Barry Diller's goals.
What's it all mean? "We treat the comScore data as directionally accurate, but would not read too much into any one month's results," said Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney.