According to comScore’s December search numbers (now being circulated by various financial analysts), Ask is down slightly, so are AOL and Yahoo. Google and Bing are up. Here are the new comScore figures, which will be formally released today or Monday:
- Google: 65.7 percent
- Yahoo: 17.3 percent
- Bing: 10.7 percent
- Ask: 3.7 percent
- AOL: 2.6 percent
Compare the recent Nielsen data for December, 2009:
Yahoo will need to devote considerably more attention to search if it hopes to reverse the worrisome slide in its share. In January, 2008 (before Bing’s launch) Yahoo had 22.2 percent of the market, according to comScore. Now it’s hovering just above 17 percentm, per comScore.
If current trends continue, Yahoo and Bing are on course to reverse their respective standings at some point in the next 12 months. Meanwhile AOL and Ask search market shares continue to trend downward as well. What that means as a practical matter is that AOL’s search deal with Google is worth considerably less to Google than it once was.
That leads to Ask. Will Ask.com be sold or won’t it? In Q3 of last year IAC’s Barry Diller strongly implied that he was ready to sell Ask.com. But he subsequently turned away several world-be buyers, perhaps because the money wasn’t sufficient in his mind.
An analyst at Goldman Sachs has now upgraded IAC to “buy” in part because of the possibility that Ask could be sold. But who would be the buyer? Microsoft is the logical candidate but it’s uncertain whether such a transaction could pass regulatory muster. Meanwhile Ask.com’s search market share continues to slowly erode.
The question of whether Microsoft can buy Ask is an open one. We’re still waiting for the likely regulatory approval of the Microsoft-Yahoo search deal. But after that comes, it will be less likely that regulators would similarly approve a potential Microsoft acquisition of Ask.
Postscript: ComScore just formally released its December search market share numbers.