Report: The Top Two iPhone Search Engines — Are Both Google

According to ad network Chitika the top two search engines on the iPhone . . . are both Google. Coming out of the mobile search panel at SMX East earlier this month Chitika’s research director Dan Ruby presented data showing that Google is responsible for about 97 percent (96.9 percent) of mobile search traffic that the company sees on its network. During the panel Microsoft’s Jamie Wells disputed some of the share numbers.

Here’s the mobile search share breakdown according to Chitika:

Source: Chitika

These numbers are very consistent with earlier numbers put out by StatCounter/Royal Pingdom, which showed Google with about 98 percent of mobile search overall:

I’m surprised that the numbers are so skewed. Earlier data (2008) showed a more PC-like distribution of share on mobile devices. But all that appears to have changed dramatically in Google’s favor.

Following the conference Ruby took a look at the sources of Google’s traffic from the iPhone. Here’s the breakdown of Google’s iPhone search traffic according to Chitika (toolbar,, app):

Chitika’s Ruby offered the following commentary:

Essentially, the Google App can stand on its own as the second largest search engine on the iPhone. Yahoo! registers as the next search engine behind Google, but its 2.25% falls short of the Google App’s reach. Bing is difficult to gauge, as traffic from the Bing app cannot be tracked at this time. However, comparing the number of ratings for the Bing and Google apps in iTunes, Bing traffic could be anywhere between 1% and 4%. At the highest estimate, all of Bing’s traffic is still only about half of the Google app.

It’s worth noting how much larger a percentage the toolbar is driving in mobile, according to Chitika’s data, vs. the PC. (I was unable to find updated data but generally speaking it’s less than 20 percent of queries that come from the toolbar on a PC).

Finally here’s Chitika’s comparison of traffic/share from the Google app vs. all other traffic sources. According to Ruby, the Bing app doesn’t pass a referral URL so it’s challenging to track. Hence the two Bing entries below.

A word of caution: these numbers may not be equivalent to all mobile search traffic because they’re from a single network (on a single device), though based on millions of queries. But even if they’re off by a few points, it’s striking — to say the least — how dominant Google’s position in mobile search has become.

Last Thursday Google announced that it was on course to do a billion dollars in mobile ad revenue. By my rough calculation that comes out to just over $500 million in search ad revenue globally.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Google: Mobile | Google: Web Search | Microsoft: Bing | Search Engines: Mobile Search Engines | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • T Campbell

    “Kids, you’re BOTH Google!”

    I guess this reflects the difficulties of dealing with the world of mobile phones and how it both is and isn’t the Web, much like that “Web Is Dead” imbroglio did, but it does seem like the headline muddies the waters here a bit.

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