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Mapping the Search Partnership Scene – A Definitive Look At The Deals That Shape the Landscape of Search

This article provides a definitive look at the deals Google, Bing and Yahoo! have in place with software and hardware companies and service providers listing all the high profile partnerships with details and links. It also discusses how these deals shape the landscape of the search scene, and whether Google should be worried about Bing’s dealings with Facebook and Twitter.

How does an underdog search engine go about taking on Google? Google is an absolute giant of course in the world of search and pretty much the first and last word on the matter to all intents and purposes. Sure we all know about Bing and Yahoo!, but few people it seems opt to use either of them in the place of Google which has simply become too much of a staple in the way that we find information online.

Well there is one way that search engines can get our attention, and that’s to strike up lucrative deals with browser/software companies and device manufacturers, thus integrating their services with the hardware and software we use every day. By buying their way onto our phones and browsers, search providers hope to buy their way into our lives and win us over with their features and charm that way.

While you can,of course, choose to change the default search engine in most browsers, many people won’t bother; making this a great way to get people using a particular search engine and getting used to its particular quirks. Say your Mum buys a computer and downloads Firefox. She will probably know how to use the search box at the top, but won’t be likely to worry about who it is providing that service meaning she’ll be using Google without even knowing it. And then when she migrates to another system, she may want to seek out the same search provider she’s used to.

So this is one way Bing and Yahoo! could potentially take on Google, but how are they faring? Who has the most lucrative deals? You might be surprised to learn just how many such deals go on on a regular basis and impact on the way we use search. Below is a comprehensive list of the deals that the three major search companies have in place with browsers, telecom companies and manufacturers. So who’s winning?

In the red corner… GOOGLE

AOL: Way back in 2005, Google and AOL went ahead with a $1 billion deal giving Google a 5% stake in AOL. As well as integrating search, this meant that Google Talk and AIM users could communicate, and also resulted in the creation of an AOL marketplace.

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2060114/GoogleAOL-Deal-is-a-Go-AIM-and-Google-Talk-To-Become-Interoperable-White-Labelling-of-Google-Ad-Technology-and-Expansion-of-Display-Ads-on-Google-Network-All-Part-of-Whats-New

Apple: Recent news suggests that Google will be paying as much as a shocking $1 Billion to remain the default search engine for Apple’s products. This may seem like a huge amount to pay (and a big increase from the $82 million per annum they agreed to in 2009), but when you consider just what Apple brings to the table with its Safari browser and iPhone/iPad products, it’s a wise move from Google. Particularly as rumors have been suggesting that Microsoft would try and steal Google’s mantle (and M$ certainly has the $ to pull it off!), and with Apple seemingly making a number of moves to distance themselves from Google recently.

http://techcrunch.com/2013/02/12/google-to-pay-apple-1-billion-next-year-to-be-default-search-engine-on-ios/

AVG: On November 18th 2010, Google had another win over Yahoo when AVG chose to replace the latter for the former for their ‘security toolbar’. This means that those who use the antivirus software and ‘security toolbar’, will have quick access to Google search.

http://www.webpronews.com/google-enters-toolbar-deal-with-avg-2010-11

Mozilla: Google pay Mozilla a whopping $300 million a year to remain their default browser, even though Chrome has now overtaken Mozilla in terms of numbers of users. This huge amount actually aroused suspicion from IRS nearly costing Mozilla money in the long term – fortunately the company managed to retain its status as a ‘not for profit organization’.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16284196

Opera: Google recently struck up a deal with Opera to secure a position as the default search engine until 2014. While Opera has a relatively small market share at this point, it is nevertheless very popular among mobile users which the smart companies know is an ever increasing market space.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/22/net-us-google-opera-idUSBRE87L03J20120822

In the Blue Corner… BING

Amazon: The big win for Bing recently was becoming the default search engine on all Kindle Fires. This marks a departure from Google as the previous default, and could potentially be a positive sign of things to come for Microsoft suggesting that high profile 3rd parties may be becoming more open to working with them.

http://searchengineland.com/kindle-tablets-default-search-engine-is-bing-132457

Conduit Toolbar: In December 2010 Conduit left Google search in favor of Bing meaning that searching in the Conduit toolbar would bring up results directly in Bing. The next month saw a significant increase in market share for Bing suggesting this was a good move for the big M.

http://techcrunch.com/2011/02/10/the-funny-coincidence-between-bings-rise-and-conduits-declining-traffic/

Facebook: With Google encroaching on Facebook’s territory with Google+, Facebook turned to Bing giving Microsoft another potential work. The two promised to partner to take social search to the next level in 2010, and the result was the ability to like search results (sound familiar?), to share shopping lists, and to integrate other features like locations through Facebook. Users can even message their friends via the search box. With 500 million Facebook users and ‘social search’ being such a hot topic, this could well work in Microsoft’s favor.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/228057/Bing_Facebook_Deepen_Ties_Threaten_Google_1.html

Twitter: Twitter also got upset with Google over the whole ‘plus’ fiasco it seems, and this lead to a case of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. Hence a partnership between Twitter and Microsoft renewed in 2011 that gives Microsoft exclusive access to Twitter’s Tweets. While the rumor was that this cost Microsoft $30 million (http://allthingsd.com/20110715/with-google-gone-for-now-twitter-tries-to-come-to-terms-with-microsofts-bing/), Microsoft opted to stay schtum regarding specifics as seems to be the case with many of these deals. Either way, this original deal marked the end of Google’s ‘Realtime Search’ and apparently made Bing a more tempting prospect for journalists in particular.

http://searchengineland.com/twitter-renews-deal-with-bing-google-deal-remains-mia-91928

Verizon: Like the Kindle Fire, many of Verizon’s products run Android which is owned by Google, and yet a deal between M$ and Verizon has meant that Bing will now come pre-loaded on many (but not all) of their devices. This is part of a five year contract between the two companies signed in 2009.

http://searchengineland.com/as-verizon-implements-bing-default-search-deal-company-sees-user-backlash-32650

In the… other corner… YAHOO!

Alibaba: China’s Alibaba group reportedly paid Yahoo a large $7.6 billion to gain more autonomy from Yahoo! which acquired a 40% share in the company in 2005. That initial acquisition resulted in the formation of www.yahoo.com.cn – a hub for search, news and e-mail however and this partnership continues with Yahoo! now holding a 20% stake.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/yahoo-closes-7-6-billion-deal-alibaba-group-161614948–finance.html

Bing: Here’s an interesting one – Yahoo! and Bing actually have a somewhat incestuous deal of their own going on since 2009 which they hoped would help them to take on Google with their combined might. Scroll to the bottom of the page after doing a search on Yahoo! and you’ll see a small ‘powered by Bing’ notice giving the game away. Recently appointed CEO Marissa Mayer however is currently skeptical about the state of the deal, saying that they want to ‘collectively grow share, rather than just trading share with each other’. Or does this deal just need to go further?

http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=29894

Telecom NZ: Telecom NZ has an outsourcing deal with Yahoo! which puts the search company in charge of their e-mail accounts. Unfortunately the hottest news at the moment regarding this deal surrounds a high profile security breach and Yahoo’s inability to deal with the situation. Could this particular deal be close to its end?

http://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/telecom-updates-yahoo-xtra-email-crisis-yahoo-refuses-answer-key-point

The Roundup

So as it stands Google still holds the most significant number of partnerships and seems willing to dole out the most money to stay ahead in the search game, benefiting from deals with Apple, Mozilla, AVG and more. Microsoft though seems keen at nipping at Google’s heels with some smart moves of their own regarding the Kindle Fire, Twitter and Facebook. Yahoo! meanwhile seems to be somewhat floundering and directionless (though with an interesting focus on foreign markets which could be a smart direction for them).

Let’s not forget either though that all three of these companies also have their own browsers and that Microsoft and Google own a range of devices too. With Google’s Chrome being the most widely used browser on the market at the moment, and Google also benefiting from integration with Android and iOS devices, the big G is once again trumping the competition. That said though, Microsoft isn’t doing too badly still with Internet Explorer only marginally behind Chrome and Bing! being pre-loaded on Windows 8 devices as an app and even built into the Xbox 360 firmware – if M$ keep up this momentum in all departments they might just stand a chance.

And no one is using Axis…

So there you have it, a complete picture of all the deals that go on behind the scenes of the search engine market that help guide our choices when looking for information on the web. Let us know if we missed any in the comments, and what you think all of this means for the future of the search scene. In short it seems Google’s in the lead with Bing just behind, and the next few years should prove very interesting. Watch this space!

 Mapping the Search Partnership Scene   A Definitive Look At The Deals That Shape the Landscape of Search
Jeet Agrawal is the co-founder of GetLinksPro, a small SEO company working with several top internet marketers and SEO companies. You can follow Jeet on Twitter.