The Big Bing Theory

GoogleHandcuffsOn Monday (December 1st, 2014), the Mozilla folks released a new version of FireFox. Yeah, big whoop-de-do. But wait…there’s more! This particular release replaced Google with Yahoo! as the default search engine. Yahoo! announced recently that they have given up on trying to compete in the search engine business, and have outsourced Yahoo! search to Bing.

It’s a very interesting development. By some measurements (and I’m not sure who did the measurements or how they did them), Google “market share” went from 82% on November 31st to 63% on December 2nd.

That’s gonna leave a mark.

There are already several big-name Internet marketers who are so excited about this that they are practically jumping up and down trying to turn out new “infoproducts” on how to do SEO on Yahoo! and Bing.

Yours truly is not quite so excited. Yes, I’m working on an infoproduct of my own, but I’m really not much interested in SEO.

I have no doubt that the folks at Google are surprised by the sudden decline in Google searches. Especially since they figured that with FireFox’s declining market share, they could snub Mozilla with impunity. Turns out that the new version of FireFox is slightly faster-loading (which is the main complaint users have had about FireFox for a long time now), and Mozilla is promising that it’s going to get better. Maybe even enough better that people will quit switching to Chrome.

I think there is a substantial percentage of people who don’t actually notice that the default search engine has changed. Granted, those are probably the same people who still use the same simple password on every account they have, but still…

OTOH, the fact that Google lost a boatload of money in ONE DAY on their flagship service cannot fail to get their attention, and I doubt that they are going to just sit around contemplating their navels.

Microsoft will probably work diligently to leverage this windfall. If anything, their marketing department is one of the best on the face of the Earth. Things are likely to get very interesting.

I see at least 3 major trends. There will probably be some more important trends surfacing over the next month or so (probably some that run counter to these), but this is what I’m seeing at the moment:

  1. While Google is still the 600 lb (now down from 800) gorilla in the business, there is now a large group of people who are going to discover that Bing is actually a better search engine, at least for some types of searches. They are likely to tell their friends about that. Google’s market share may go down even more.
  2. While Chrome still loads faster than FireFox, there are still some features of FireFox that people (like me) prefer over Chrome. Granted that the differences are really minor (except for that load-time thingy, which is a pain). If Mozilla does manage to improve FireFox speed to the point that it compares favorably with Chrome, the deserters might return. That would be more bad news for Google.
  3. Marketers switching to Yahoo!/Bing will discover that Bing is much easier to deal with, at least for now. Up until Monday, the return on effort with Yahoo!/Bing was so small that few marketers bothered, but suddenly the landscape looks noticeably better. Now, there is going to be a pile-on predicted by Lancaster’s Law. That will have some interesting effects, too, including at least a small reduction in the incredible market inertia of Google. I predict that one of those effects will be that Google suddenly gets easier to deal with, although probably only temporarily.

Who knows…maybe Google will even get a customer service department.

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