New Comscore data was released today which clearly shows how Google's search share is continuing to rise, and despite Microsoft's best efforts (even giving away prizes to searchers), they are at best stagnant. Year-over-year, Microsoft's search share went from 9.7% down to 8.5% while Google rose from 58.5% to 63.1% according to the research.
A question that Microsoft executives and shareholders should be asking themselves is how viable their $1.2billion/year search budget actually is. In fact, I think Microsoft could do more damage to Google by leaving the search space than if they stuck around.
Spending extra cash on areas like mobile, their operating system and retaining enterprise clients could help keep Google from growing in those areas. Who knows, if they leave the space, that extra 8.5% search share (assuming they go back to Google) could help raise concern from legislators about potential anti-competitive issues -- something Microsoft would love to see happen.
If you were Steve Ballmer, would you gracefully leave the search space, or would you hope that your search share goes up over time? If you would "stay the course", what kind of things would you do to be more competitive?