Yahoo Search Gains on Google

Google may be getting most of the attention among search engines, especially with its upcoming initial public offering, but new Forrester Research data on search habits shows Yahoo is still getting a big piece of the action.

Use of Yahoo as a search engine ties that of the mighty Google in the most recent Consumer Technographics survey, sponsored by Forrester, of more than 60,000 North American households. Each of those search engines shows up with 40 percent of Web surfers who use a portal or search site at least once a week. And Forrester believes use of Yahoo search will surge ahead of Google in the first quarter of 2005, says George Colony, Forrester chair and CEO.

Dissecting Search

Why the spurt by Yahoo, especially amid the recent Googlemania?

Colony says a great search site has three components: personalization, presentation, and quality of service.

"Of all the search engines out there, Yahoo is the only player that gets all three," Colony says. Google impresses primarily in its quality of service, he adds.

Colony also points out that few, if any, barriers to entry exist in the search engine universe. "It's very easy to make a quick switch to another (search engine)," he said.

Certainly competition remains fierce, as the search sites look for other ways to lure surfers and make money.

Digital Music Dominates

Other interesting tidbits from the survey's snapshot:

  • PC sales are dominated by Dell, at 31 percent of the market, trailed by Hewlett-Packard at 24 percent and Gateway at 9 percent. Apple shows up with 6 percent. The study also says, "Although games are the most important PC entertainment activity, it's digital music that's changing the face of the PC." Consumers are treating PCs as personal digital-music jukeboxes, where they store CDs, download new tunes, and refuel their MP3 players.
  • Broadband is in 23.1 million U.S. homes, and nearly 8 million more households are expected to join that number next year. Broadband households, not surprisingly, spend four more hours each week online than dial-up Internet users. They also earn more money and are three times more likely to own a digital video recorder. However, those online via broadband represent only 18.3 percent of all U.S. households.
  • More than 50 percent of households now have DVD players.
  • Ownership of digital cameras leaped 26 percent over Forrester's 2002 survey figures, due to falling camera prices, easier-to-use cameras, and better, more affordable photo printers.

Forrester calls the study, now in its sixth year, an "annual guide to technology adoption, device ownership, and online behavior."

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