Will Google ever lose its crown as the most popular search engine?

Will Google ever lose its crown as the most popular search engine?

Summary: I fully expect to see Google as the primary search engine of choice, so long as the search engine paradigm exists as-is. Here's why.

TOPICS: Google, Microsoft

Perhaps one of the most lucrative prospects anyone will ever stand to earn ridiculous amounts of cash from is successfully monetizing the most essential wants/needs of our species. Since the birth of the Web, search has become one of those essential wants/needs, and monetizing it has earned companies billions upon billions of dollars. Naturally, the head honcho of search is Google, but how long will it be that way? What would it actually take to dethrone them as the search engine of choice? I see two primary components to that question: 1) what the majority of people want; and 2) what an alternate search engine stands to offer.

Using Bing as an example of a competing search engine, according to recent advertisements of theirs, Microsoft is claiming that people prefer Bing over Google nearly 2 to 1.

As one might expect, there's a choice selection of fine print to follow up with to get to the bottom of that "nearly 2 to 1" conclusion, but every time I see commercials like that, all I imagine are dollar signs in the eyes of the companies running such advertisements. Why? At the end of the day, the only reason Microsoft wants people to switch to Bing is the same reason Google will fight tooth and nail to retain their users: because of how much there is to profit from search. Sure, the Bing team is tasked with building a solid product that they believe in and genuinely feel is ready to be proven better than Google, but what is it really going to take for someone to topple Google?

Realistically, Google is a juggernaut and their services are more than enough for the average searcher (which is, to say, the majority). Because of that, companies like Microsoft have to first convince those people that there's a problem with Google, and then offer their search engine as the solution to that problem. But to do that, they have to appeal to as broad a base as they can. There's no way they could stand to gain more users by saying "well, here, specifically, are all the ways we're better than Google." If they can make everyone take away what's most relevant to them, then that's going to achieve the most satisfactory results.

But as I said, the majority of people are just fine with Google -- much in the sense that the majority of people are just fine with Coca-Cola. I mean, a Pepsi-Cola might come along one day, but the difference is that a Google alternative will likely never be as sweet as the difference between Coke and Pepsi.

Let me step back for a moment just to clarify that, while I thoroughly enjoy Google's services, this post is in no way a brand-loyal offering. I use a multitude of search engines, but only because my search needs extend FAR beyond those of the typical searcher. Instead of looking for movie times, weather, or random info here and there, I'm looking for information residing on FTPs, ranges of sites that are all hosted on the same IP address, unprotected devices connected to the Internet, etc. (And delving back into the soft drink analogy, I happen to prefer Pepsi, but I also enjoy Coke and plenty of other tasty alternatives.)

Let's try this: Take a moment and ask yourself what you want from another search engine that Google doesn't already offer. Then, for all the things you come up with (if any), are you sure Google doesn't already offer them within their vast line of search offerings? Maybe you want better search results, but is it a matter of Google not being good enough, or could you stand to learn just a fraction more about power searching so as to quickly and simply refine your search results?

Whatever the case may be for you, for most people, their search needs are more than covered by Google. And at this point, Google is such a household name with search that the uphill battle for anyone offering an alternative is going to be quite arduous. But the search ecosystem is so much larger than that, too! There are the end users, and then there are the advertisers; and right now, Google is really the only search engine any company cares to market within because that's where all the search traffic is.

So, while Google has the lion's share of searchers and advertisers, and so long as the search engine paradigm exists as it is today (and will in the foreseeable future), Google will remain the top dog. But even more than that, I legitimately don't believe a company will come along and offer an index as extensive as Google's for quite a while -- at least, not enough to convert the majority of average searchers who can already find what they're looking for. And to that end, the greater point I'm trying to make is that it's not even about someone coming along and offering better search results, a better UI, or otherwise; it's about someone coming along and convincing practically everyone that to find the answers they seek, they need to do something other than "Google it."

Do you think competition will ever come along to knock Google off its throne? If so, what do you think would do it: better search results, a better user experience, privacy concerns, reputation issues, or otherwise? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Topics: Google, Microsoft

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  • I wonder if anyone back in 2006 ever wondered if RIM would lose it's crown?

    Disruptive forces disrupt.
    • Wrong comparison

      RIM never had neither the market share not the market capitalization or the revenue Google has. If there was ever a real contester coming up, could could just simply buy it out, no matter how big it was. Also RIM only sold practically one product, whereas Google has hundreds, and has its foot in all places already, also outside the internet (which itself is also not just a single market, but is part of all markets). Last but not least: Google keeps innovating (or buying out innovative companies). RIM met its demise because it stopped evolving for years.

      That said Google could be easily dethroned if governments would force it to split up into smaller companies. Google is now 10x more dominant and a de facto monopoly in 10x times more markets than Microsoft was when it was convicted, still, governments do nothing against it, even though its obvious that it hinders serious competition in all areas it has its foot in, either by simply dominating the market to near total monopoly, or by killing its profitability through subsidization and offering services and products for free there.
      • Who's making the wrong comparison?

        "RIM only sold practically one product, whereas Google has hundreds"

        What total crap. Goggle has only and ALWAYS had just one product, advertising sales. Everything else Google does from Gmail to Android is to generate data for "The Algorithm" which makes it's ads more valuable. Up to now, that has been a very lucrative, but as we saw this week, it may be less so going forward.
  • Once Apple releases its own search engine

    and makes it as the default choice for its devices, Google would lose search market substantially and along the same lines the mobile apps and the vertical portals are going to play major role in breaking google's lead, http://www.zdnet.com/mobile-apps-verticalization-may-be-killing-googles-golden-goose-7000006013/

    May not be tomorrow, but eventually.
    Ram U
    • Why would Apple bother?

      It clearly has little interest in advertising sales. iAds makes the "hobby" of AppleTV look like a life-long obsession. They could screw Google just as successfully by making Bing the default search. I think that's what we'll see, when contractually and/or strategically optimal for Apple.
      • well they could partner with Microsoft and make bing as default

        or write their own or buy something and Appleize it. Apple has money and it can do that if it wants.
        Ram U
    • Apples search engine

      All android fans can rejoice that day and soak up in schadenfreude and we can watch the spectacle of apple maps repeated on bigger scale when it happens
      • Maps is not that bad

        but they could fix that easily. And dont underestimate Apple, they learn from their mistakes and probably buy search engine and improve it. Everything is possible and if you think that Apple could make the same mistake so that you could have your 5 minutes entertainment, you are wrong. No wonder you are not CEO of Google, otherwise it would have crashed long ago.
        Ram U
    • Then Apple better do a better job than M$, because Bing stinks!

      Why would anyone use Bing? Seriously! I try to find info or a download on Microsoft's own website with the Bing search built into the page, and I come up with irrelevant garbage. I go to my Google homepage and do the same search, and I have the item I want in the first 2 or 3 hits.

      Bing is pathetic, and if M$ put all that marketing effort into making the search work, they might get somewhere.
      • Apple *Can't* win at search ..

        ... sure, it can partner with Bung, and be a nuisance to Google, but Apple users are a small fraction of total Internet users; they'd find it hard to get across to the non-Apple world.

        And as the years pass, their sales will remain good (in a growing market) but their market SHARE will shrink (iPhone already is), as they lock up the 'deluxe' market and relinquish the rest (cf BMW; huge profits, big sales - big enough to have good buying power for components -but a niche market).

        In 10 years, Apple will probably have 10% of the market - and be happy with that, and it's huge profit margins. But not enough to support a Google-standard search engine.
  • Enjoy

    Enjoy the herpes.
  • Microsoft could just force it's way in.

    I have recently found myself forced to use Bing because I bought a Lumia phone with Windows OS. It drives me nuts and I feel like I never get good search results, but I'm not inclined to hack my phone over this. When I used to use a Windows computer, a lot of applications would install a toolbar on my browser that would set Bing as the default search engine for searches. Of course that is easy to change, but a lot of users might not do that if they manage to find what they need from Bing as well, perhaps 5 years later they have gotten so used to Bing that they prefer that over Google. Bing might get some converts just by being a nuisance and getting in the way all the time.

    Privacy concerns might also bother some people. Personally, I find it kind of creepy that half of the webpages I ever see have my name and picture at the top, and links to all of the Google services I've ever used. I know a lot of people that don't like Google because it seems they have managed to take control over every aspect of our online lives.
    • Spot on. Yes Bing has better results

      relevancy wise and yes they're way ahead of google in the social tie in areas of results recommendations from your friends and yes they have a substantially better user experience, but in the end most of all I like that they don't track every website I visit, scan every email I send, sniff my WiFi, etc. And about a 1/3 of all US searches are Bing now. If W8 tablets and phones start taking share that'll grow. When you're just verbally asking your phone search questions you're even less likely to care what the back end is. And in that case in particular it's especially nice that Bing is also so much faster than google
      Johnny Vegas
      • Bing- are you serious

        If you read the person you are replying to you would have realized that Bing was driving it nuts and she is only tolerating it because she cant hack the phone.
        Bing is the reason many wont buy a windows phone - [I for one decided against it as a second phone for the same reason] Bing might look relevant and uncluttered for dumb people but if you want better results from any search engine, one needs to be smart with search. If you do that you can be assured you wont miss a thing in google. Not so with bing. For things Bing does well, I dont really need a search engine
        • Well

          You are wrong again.....

          Bing results on the phone are different from Bing results on the web. I also have a Lumia 800, and i use Bing.com or Google.com to do my searching from my phone as pressing the search button and going that route tries to use localized search rather than just a general search which is why the user wouldnt have got the results she would have wanted and imho is a huge flaw.

          Now I use Bing on the desktop, i had always used Google, back when all my friends still used Yahoo, Altavista and ask jeeves, i started visiting the Bing page every day to see the new picture, as i guess many people do. Slowly i started using Bing to search, but i would still check Google because i would suspect i wasn't getting the best search results. But going back to Google and checking i would find they were pretty much the same, and now i am 100% convinced Bing gives more relevant searches.
          • oh

            and FYI, you can turn off the location section on Bing, click the Search button, 3 buttons in bottom right, go to options and turn off "use my location to provide search results" and your results will get infinately better.

            Try to run a search with this on, and then this off.. and you will see what i mean.
          • new picture every day

            ... is the reason I started visiting bing as well, i think that was a brilliant move on their part. then when google started shoving their chrome in my face every single time i opened their site i started going to bing more frequently. at first i kept rechecking if i would get better results from google but it was rarely the case. then i started noticing that sometimes google's results were actually worse than bing's.

            now i use google maybe a couple of times a month: when i need to do a local search at which bing still sucks compared to google, or when i need to search for the exact text or for a wildcard pattern ("counting * before sleep")
      • True

        Binge does do search better, even leaving aside social integration. Google are now obsessed with tweak like the last one to penalize rival ad platforms.
        Tim Acheson
        • Bing skews the results, doesnt use All of Google's features

          anyone that believes bing is better is falling victim to those stupid 2-1 commercials. The bing it challenge is rigged to win in bings favor. It strips out everything google does in its search to make it as unfriendly as possible. The information cards on the right hand side are gone. The spcific webpage searching is gone. even the way it is laid out on the page is gone. the only thing the challenge gave you are actual links and that is only a fraction of what google search can do for you. But it is every bit of what bing does for you. That's what the author meant by "there's a choice selection of fine print to follow up with to get to the bottom of that "nearly 2 to 1" conclusion"
      • 1/3 ? what are you smoking

        since you didn't cite a source for your ignorant remarks, i assume you are just ranting on about nonsense and offering oppinions disguised as facts. All this really does is make yourself look like an idiot when someone comes along and picks apart your arguement with real facts.
        Bin's search engine share in July was 15.6%, i highly dowbt it doubled that in 3 months.