Google didn’t invent the Web search engine, but anyone who just joined the Web-surfing world in the past five years or so might think so. Google has established itself as a trusted and reliable source of information on the Web, and now wants to extend its search dominance and make sure that you “Google it” from your smartphone as well.
Google’s recent acquisitions, namely AdMob and Teracent, position Google to raise the bar for Web-based search advertising, and extend its search advertising empire to the exploding mobile search arena. Google gambled $750 million on the AdMob purchase, which is facing antitrust scrutiny, but will provide Google with a lucrative mobile advertising platform if approved.
Apple has upped the ante on its growing feud with Google by following suit with a mobile advertising acquisition of its own. Apple’s purchase of Quattro will pit it head-to-head against Google in the mobile search advertising market.
On the Web search front, Google captured almost 70 percent of the total search traffic for December 2009, accounting for about 88 million searches out of a total 131 million searches conducted, according to comScore. What is more impressive is that the 88 million searches represent a 58 percent increase from the previous year.
What that means is that, not only does Google have a dominant piece of the pie, but that the pie keeps growing. Google’s 58 percent growth did not eat into its competitor’s shares. Yahoo is up 13 percent, Baidu is up 7 percent, and Bing increased a whopping 70 percent over the previous year.
Google and Bing have both aggressively pursued agreements with social networking providers–primarily Facebook and Twitter–to incorporate real-time status updates within search results. Instead of conducting a search of the Web with Google, and another search of public Facebook status updates, and another search of Twitter tweets, users can perform one-stop-shopping searches the way they always have–just Google it.
Google’s foray into mobile advertising–assuming the AdMob purchase goes through, combined with expanded Web search advertising from the Teracent purchase, and the inclusion of social networking updates within the search results set Google up to not only retain, but extend its dominance of both search and search advertising.
There are a couple obstacles which could get in the way. First, Google’s threat to shut down its operations in China, or to stop censoring its China search results which would result in China shutting it down, could lead to Google surrendering millions of potential searches, and possibly billions in search advertising revenue.
While it wouldn’t have nearly the same impact, Google may also soon be replaced as the default search provider on the most popular smartphone in the world–the iPhone. Apple and Google have had a very public falling out as their “bromance” fell apart, and that has led to the possibility that Apple may partner with Microsoft and make Bing the default search on the iPhone.
Google also faces increasing competition from Bing in general. Microsoft has made innovative strides with Bing which have led to increasing market share. But, even with a 70 percent increase in search traffic from 2008, Bing is still in fourth place with less than four percent of the global search market. Regardless of how successful Bing is, it will be some time before it really poses a threat to Google.