How can Google have a 69% market share in web search in a near-commodity market?

Have you ever asked yourself why you use Google for your web searches? I did today, and the answer was not convincing: I use it because I’ve always used it. It is set as my home page and I never think about it. In terms of features, web search is not much differentiated. It may have been 10 years ago but not anymore. Google versus Yahoo! (or Bing) is like Coke versus Pepsi, Energizer versus Duracell, or Colgate versus Crest. I doubt that you use Google because of its speed advantage or because you think ‘’Oh! These search results are particularly good for this query!’’, or ‘’These ads are great and so well-tailored to my tastes!’’. So, why then would Google have a 68.7% market share and Yahoo! a meager 6.7% (Baidu is 2nd with 17.2%)? Yes, brand equity plays some role. I have yet to see an ad touting the merits of using Google or Yahoo! for web search. Or maybe it is the way that Google continually changes its logo?

If people are like me, the reason would be more along the lines of habit and lack of benefits for switching. I type words in a box (or dictate them). Relevant results are displayed as links. It works. In Yahoo!, it would also be that I would type in a box, results would be displayed as links, and it would also work. In my mind, Google is not better than Yahoo! (or not *significantly* better, at least to explain the humongous market share difference). Maybe this is the reason. It’s just hard for competitors to differentiate enough to turn the tide around. Status quo will prevail unless a competitor revolutionizes search. It is not completely impossible. One area where I would look into is in new data visualizations for the display of search results, rather than the old and boring links which haven’t changed since 1998.

I do feel like ‘older’ web technologies (search, email, and browse for example) are now, for the time being, more or less standardized or commoditized. I’ve read that Duracell has a 29% market share versus 25% for Energizer. Colgate has a 33% market share versus 20% for Crest. In the US, PepsiCo’s market share is 30.8%, while The Coca-Cola Company’s is 42.7%.[25] Coke has one of the strongest brand equity in the world based on decades of marketing investments. The market shares for email clients are more similar to these numbers. Internet browsers market shares are also more evenly distributed. But 70% market share? Google has managed to get its brand synonymous with search and this has been quite an achievement. However, its product is not much differentiated in terms of features. Thus it needs to be alert and not rest on its laurels. 96% of Google’s revenues are from advertising

I’m sorry if I am not completely answering the question at the beginning of this post. I did try to type ‘’Why does Google have a 69% market share in web search?’’ in Google, but to no avail… Should I try Yahoo!?


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