Number of desktop searches declines 4 percent in October

Microsoft, Google make modest market share gains

Google maintained its hefty lead in the search engine market according to the latest figures from comScore, but the most surprising number was probably how much the overall number of searches dropped during the period of Oct. 12 to Nov. 12.

For the period, the overall number of explicit searches on the major search engines fell 4 percent, from 17,623 billion to 16,957 billion. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) dominated the period with 67 percent overall, up .1 percent, but fell in explicit search numbers by 4 percent, from 11,787 billion searches down to 11,359 billion searches.

Meanwhile, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) was up .2 percent overall to 16.2 percent, continuing its slow and steady gain, but it too suffered losses in the explicit search numbers, dropping 3 percent from 2,819 billion to 2,741 billion.

This means that both companies are making gains, but from a smaller overall search market, at least for this period.

Ask had the biggest losses of the month, losing .2 percent market share to fall to 3.0 percent. It lost a whopping 10 percent in explicit search numbers, falling from 560 million all the way back to 506 million searches. Ouch.

Yahoo! continued to lose ground in search as well, as it threatened to become the RIM (NASDAQ: RIMM) of search with its once dominant market share falling steadily every single month. And this period was no different with Yahoo! dropping .1 percent, down to 12.1 percent overall.

What has to be troubling for all these search engines though is the overall drop in searches. This could be attributed to a lot of factors, but it would seem that as we head into the holiday shopping season that searching overall would be trending up instead of dropping way down.

It could mean that desktop search is waning as mobile devices take over, and it's unclear if Google maintains its edge as we move across devices. I find myself using Google regardless of the device, and typically when I need to conduct a search on my mobile device, I open up the browser to do that.

If I'm typical (and I'm not sure I am), it doesn't account for why the overall number of searches is dropping. Could people be asking their trusted social networks? It's possible, but this doesn't seem like a reliable or fast way to get an answer, which is typically how I do research. I may ask my social network too, but I'll do research around the question and that usually involves Google.

As I've said in the past, the numbers may not mean much from month to month. We need to look at trends over longer periods of time and I would like to see comScore do more of that.

For more information, including the comScore charts:
- see the comScore press release

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