Bing becomes No. 2 search engine in US

Google remains the 800-pound gorilla, but a recent Microsoft partnership could change that.

By InvestorPlace Sep 14, 2010 1:05PM

If you were one of the naysayers who thought Microsoft (MSFT) was nuts with its 2009 launch of Bing, prepare to eat crow. The latest numbers show that Bing is now the No. 2 search engine in the U.S., knocking Yahoo (YHOO) from its perch.

The steady march upward for the Microsoft model shows that Google (GOOG) may not be quite as invulnerable as previously thought. A profitable partnership Bing recently forged could help the Microsoft engine really go head to head with the biggest name in search. (Microsoft owns and publishes MSN Money.)

Here are the latest numbers: The Nielsen Co. reports that Microsoft's search services, which include Bing, surpassed Yahoo's in August for search queries in the U.S. Specifically, MSFT took 13.9% of the pie to Yahoo’s 13.1%. and AOL (AOL) each squeaked out a measly 2% or so. 

So where's Google, you ask? Towering above all with a whopping 65% share.

Not much of a fight, you might say. But it is worth pointing out that Bing and Yahoo announced a partnership last year that would merge their two search engines, using Bing technology to power Yahoo searches. That transition started last month and will continue through 2012.

Collectively, the pair may be equipped to take on the juggernaut that is Google, whereas apart they would effectively battle to be the last small fish in the pond to get eaten. GOOG will be twice as large as the combined search engine, of course, but that's better than the No. 1 topping the No. 2 by a factor of six.

The real battle may be fought on mobile devices, where toolbar and desktop search software on a hot gadget could presumably boost the Bing-Yahoo model or allow Google to continue its dominance. With Google's own Android OS as a big up-and-comer for smart phones and tablet PCs, that could mean big trouble for Yahoo and Microsoft.

Then again, Windows Phone 7 is due out in October and could juice the stats in favor of Bing and Yahoo.

Time will tell who will win the mobile war and ultimately whether Microsoft's Bing will have staying power. The reality is that someone can program a better algorithm tomorrow and take a bite out of both MSFT and GOOG. But for the time being, it appears that Bing is on the way up and could be here to stay.

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