The search engine Ask.com continues to surprise in its dogged efforts to hold on to a piece of the search engine market. Through March of 2010, Ask increased its share of the market by 21% month over month — of course, we’re talking about a percentage of a percentage in terms of the actual percentage (increased 2.84% to 3.44%), but it’s still a significant portion relatively speaking (source: Hitwise Experian). Considering that the big 3 search engines varied only by 1%-3% in March compared to February, a 21% change for Ask is significant. More significant is the fact that this is the fourth straight month that Ask has shown an increase in the share of the search market.
Of course, Ask is still a distant fourth in the race, but it shows no sign of weakening in its hold on that position. Google still hangs on to just under 70 percent of the US search market, Yahoo! at about 15%, and Bing just under 10%. In some ways, Ask and Bing are in more of a direct competition, given that Bing’s goal of being the “decision” engine inches closer to the premise of Ask as a program one can ask any question of. “Answers” and “decisions” can be closely related in some circumstances, although the intention of Ask seems more related to actual, physical questions rather than the more amorphous, generalized looking for a decision about a situation.
Ask may evolve into a larger competitor to the Big 3 as things continue to change as the details of the Microsoft-Yahoo alliance work out. What’s interesting now is the fact that Ask not only continues to hang on by its fingernails, it seems to be ever-so-quietly and slightly pulling itself up out of the quagmire that is the 100s of small search engines in the market.