Search Engine Throne Up for Grabs
The world of search engines is on the crux of some big changes with no clear winners in the next 12 months, according to SearchEngine Watch founder Danny Sullivan.
Whereas major players such as Google, Yahoo! (Quote, Company Info), and Microsoft (Quote, Company Info) currently dominate the landscape, the remaining batch of survivors also look to play a pivotal role in how much of the pie everyone gets.
“Next year will be a wildcard with all new opportunities,” Sullivan said to a packed house during the Search Engine Strategies 2003 Conference & Expo here. “Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last three months, you know that consolidation and contextual ads are the hot topic with major implications.”
Already the wheels of change are turning with Google scooping up the assets of Applied Semantics. Overture said it would buy the AltaVista and AlltheWeb.com. Yahoo! (Quote, Company Info) then turned right around and announced plans to acquire Overture.
According to recent comScore figures, Google has a 32 percent slice of overall market share with Yahoo! a close second at 25 percent. But if you consider that many partners such as Yahoo!, AOL (Quote, Company Info) and MSN all use Google’s services, the upstart search engine’s sphere of influence grows to 76 percent with the rest all clustered together.
But by 2004, Sullivan says that is all going to change as consolidation and innovation grow. The search engine guru predicts Google’s overall pie will dip to 51 percent with Yahoo! at 25 percent and then there is Microsoft.
“By next year, I expect Microsoft will have their own crawler generating unpaid results. I also see them expand their paid listings or likely to develop new self-serve cost per click program,” Sullivan said. And then there is the chance they may acquire someone like Ask Jeeves, FindWhat, LookSmart or even Google.