Sea change or a blip on the radar?

Did anyone notice an unfamiliar interface when searching for a site on Firefox recently?

For most of us, “Google” has become not only a verb in our collective vocabulary, but also synonymous with search- we don’t even consider going to an alternative when we need to quickly find something. This is partially due to the fact that Google had signed an agreement with Mozilla in 2011 to become the native search engine for Firefox, meaning that it was the default search engine for roughly 50% of browsing (the market share of Firefox and Google’s Chrome browser combined).

However, in November 2014 Yahoo signed a five year deal to supplant Google as Firefox’s native search engine. Users in the habit of typing a search term in their browser window are now automatically directed to search results on Yahoo. Google loyalists like myself (I swear that the relevancy of results is still superior to Bing and Yahoo) now have to make the extra step of consciously going to the Google homepage and entering the search term.

Due to this change in the typical user’s “workflow”, Yahoo is now able to claim one search conducted each time this happens. Google has seen an immediate dip in search market share in the US from 79.3% to 75.2%, while Yahoo’s share has grown from 7.4% to 10.4%. While those raw percentage deltas don’t seem high, that impact across the millions of users in the search market is significant.

It’s my personal opinion that Google will continue to be the dominant player in search, and gambits like this by Microsoft and Yahoo will fail to unseat them from the leader position. However, this is indicative of a trend of more and more anti-Google alliances forming- chiefly backed by Apple, Microsoft, and Yahoo, all of whom have tremendous amounts to gain with each point in market share that Google loses.


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