Google’s Search Market Share Under Threat

Mozilla, the company that runs Firefox web browser has announced a change in their strategy and now have promoted Yahoo as the default search engine for Firefox, replacing Google’s spot. Google has been the default search provider since 2004 and while Yahoo will be the default search engine (from December onwards), Google and other major search engines will still continue to be built-in as alternate search options.

Firefox was once the browser holding the #2 spot for market share (peaked just under 32%), behind Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. However, over the last 4 years, Firefox has steadily dropped to the #3 position with now a market share of 11.65%. This is probably due to the rising dominance of Google’s Chrome browser, known for its simplicity and fast loading times.

StatCounter - Browser Market Share


Apple reconsiders Google too

Apple’s contract with Google which sets Google as the default search engine in Safari browsers is expiring in 2015. According to Business Insider, Yahoo and Microsoft is already pitching to Apple on the idea of replacing Google as Safari’s default search engine. It’s interesting to note that Bing already serves as the default search for Siri, so it wouldn’t be too surprising if Apple decides shake off Google in favour for Yahoo or Bing.

We’ve seen from the past that Apple has been trying to decrease its reliance on Google by removing Google Maps and YouTube apps that came pre-installed in iPhones until 2012.

Combining iPhone and Safari, Apple has a very large market share in mobile browsers, while Android and Chrome still remains dominant on top.

StatCounter - browser market share


In 2014, mobile devices overtook desktop in online traffic and this trend will continue to rise in this age of constant connectivity and mobility. While it’s known that Android devices have overtaken iOS devices in mobile device market share, this places great strategic importance on Google to continue having their presence on Apple products if Google wants to continue dominating the search industry which makes up majority of their ad revenue.

What Will Happen If Apple Switches?

If Apple decides to partner up with Bing or Yahoo next year, here are some predictions of what are the potential outcomes (in the context of search marketing):

  1. Google’s search engine market share will take sizable hit, in favour to Bing or Yahoo (whoever Apple decides on). This is pretty obvious.
  2. Apple users are generally known to convert better than Android users which makes them more of a lucrative audience. Advertisers may ramp up or flock to Bing/Yahoo in search marketing in order to show their ads to these valuable Apple users.
  3. As advertisers flock to Bing/Yahoo, this creates an increase in competition which will probably lead to higher average CPCs (cost-per-click) on Bing/Yahoo for mobile devices.

We can only wait and see what happens next. Will Apple switch or continue with Google? What are your thoughts on this?

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