The latest market share data release by comScore was followed, as always, by the avalanche of “you haven’t seen the last of Microsoft” and “Yahoo is going to beat Google as soon as they restructure” type of posts. Personally, I hate those posts because it’s just wishful thinking.
The truth is, Microsoft and Yahoo still have to give searchers a good reason to switch. In 1998 you just had to be a good search engine because the users had not yet decided which engine to use. Today, with Google delivering solid results for years, Yahoo and Microsoft not only have to be better but they also have to convince the public that they are better. I am not talking about coming up with one silver bullet feature. I am talking about solid results and useful (and unique) features across the board.
Yet no one is thinking outside the box these days (except maybe Ask.com, but they are not big enough to make a difference). In fact, Microsoft hasn’t come up with anything new since Windows 95. And Yahoo might be beefing up its social media side but even in 2007, search is still the king.
Netizens have been discussing ways of improving the search results pages for years. Although familiar, the layout of the SERPs hasn’t changed in over a decade. And who is actually trying out something new? Ask.com with their AskX and AOL with their FullView. That’s right, the underdogs of the search industry. When will the “Big Two” get the message?
Whether you love Google or hate it, one thing is clear, it’s simply a better search engine. And if Microsoft and Yahoo will keep playing it safe, they will always be 5 years behind.