- Case Studies
Windows 8’s Threat to Google’s Market Share
Where did Google go? Well, Google has not gone anywhere, I’m simply referencing the launch of www.getyourgoogleback.com. Get My Google Back is a new site that Google has launched to mitigate the potential loss of search engine market share caused by the launch of Windows 8 and its high level of Bing search integration.
Bing first launched to the world more than three years ago with mixed results. Bing has steadily increased its share of online searches since launch, but most of these gains have come from other “lesser” search engines like Yahoo, Ask.com and AOL. During those three years, Bing has taken very little — if any — market share away from Google, but that could all change with increased Windows 8 market penetration — especially within the mobile and tablet markets.
As one of six people in the U.S. that actually uses a Windows Phone and an avid user of Windows 8 since the consumer preview launch in spring of 2012, I’ve always been a big follower of Microsoft. With Windows Phone and Windows 8, I found myself utilizing Bing search more frequently than Google search, but when on my Windows 7 work PC, I fell right back into “Googling” habits.
This has led me to hypothesize that I cannot be unique in this regard and that Windows 8 may change the Internet marketing landscape.
How is Windows 8 Different from Previous Versions?
Windows 8 is the first radical redesign for the Windows platform since the release of Windows 95 more than 17 years ago. Microsoft has completely overhauled the traditional windows UI in favor of what they call a “metro” interface. This interface was designed to be touch friendly, for use on touch screen tablets, hybrids-laptops, traditional laptops, and all-in-one desktop computers.
Microsoft’s newly designed start screen is highly-customizable by the user, but it will look roughly like this out of the box:
Figure 1 Windows 8’s redesigned start page
Windows 8 does include the option to use the traditional desktop mode, but what you see above is the new standard. It will undoubtedly require Windows users to rethink the way they use Windows, but the learning curve is really quite simple, especially for users that have touch-screen enabled devices.
Why is Windows 8 a Threat to Google?
What is the biggest reason people do not use Bing? If you said because “Googling” has become synonymous with searching, you are correct. In fact, “Google” has officially been added to the dictionary. When people want to search for something, what they really mean is they want to Google something. At this point, Google has become a part of the cultural vernacular associated with online searching. In fact, a new study from the Pew Rsearch Center’s Internet & American Life Project in conjunction with the College Board and the National Writing Project suggests that 94 percent of U.S. teachers say their students equate “research” with using Google! Bye bye library!
Integrated Bing Search
Naturally, when the average person wants to search for something they open their web browser and type in Google.com (or they already have it set as their default search engine).
Windows 8 takes this step away by integrating a Bing search box right into the home screen. See:
Figure 2 Click the image to see a video presentation of integrated Bing search with Windows 8
Circled in red is a pre-loaded Bing search application that allows you to perform web searches directly from your home screen — without the need to launch a web browser. An average computer user will do whatever takes the least amount of steps. This is why Google integrated the ability to search directly from the URL bar into their Chrome browser rather than requiring users go to Google.com. Microsoft quickly followed suit with their Internet Explorer browser, but with Internet Explorer market share steadily declining, they knew more needed to be done to increase Bing’s market share in the search space; hence the integration of Bing search throughout the Windows 8 platform.
You may have noticed that there has been a slew of announcements and launches of new Microsoft products and services over the last few years: Bing, Windows Phone, Windows 8, Office 365, SkyDrive, Kinect, Microsoft Surface, and the purchase of Skype just to cover the major ones.
These applications have been developed and acquired so that Microsoft could build a platform that could be operated seamlessly across all mediums — mobile, home computing, tablets, and even the Xbox. For years, Microsoft has struggled with stagnating sales and stock value at the hands of increased competition and complacency. The successes of Apple and Google have continued to stifle Microsoft’s ability to grow in the mobile, online, and even hardware markets.
With Windows 8, Microsoft has attempted to create a package of software, products, and services designed to not only tackle the decline of PC sales, but also carve out a large chunk of the online search market. Carefully planned and methodically placed Bing integration will tackle the latter. Experience with the new Windows platforms leads me to believe that Microsoft will accomplish this as Windows 7 computers are phased out and replaced with newer Windows 8 machines. This will occur over several years and will not result in immediate changes, but strong Windows 8 Phone pre-orders and holiday sales of Windows 8 powered tablets could prove to give Bing an immediate shot in the arm by Q1 2013. In fact, a Microsoft executive has predicted more than 400 million Windows 8 powered devices by July 2013 — a lofty goal and a number that will be very difficult to reach in only nine months. Microsoft has officially distanced itself from the prediction stating that they have no official sales predictions for Windows 8.
Is Bing Really a Threat to Google?
Today, Bing accounts for approximately only 16 percent of total searches (25 percent if you include all Bing-powered searches). This has led many search engine marketing firms to largely disregard optimizing for Bing, instead focusing on best-practices for optimizing for Google.
Bing has steadily increased its market share since launching and the ad blitz around Windows 8 and the adoption of Windows 8 will only increase this market share. Many discredit the threat Windows 8 poses and some are even predicting it to be a costly failure for Microsoft, but Google has taken notice. Google has gone on the defensive to combat Microsoft’s attempts to gain market share by integrating Bing across the Windows 8 platform with the launch of www.getyourgoogleback.com.
See the video below:
From my perspective, this legitimizes the threat Bing poses to Google’s dominance in the search engine market and should be something search engine marketers take into consideration when developing SEO strategies. Google realizes that convenience ultimately drives habits, which is why THEY want to be on your home screen and not Bing and Internet Explorer.
Even if I am over-estimating the impact of Windows 8 and Bing achieves only modest gains to 20+ percent of the U.S. market, search engine marketers still need to begin taking Bing optimization into more serious consideration. Ignoring 1/5 of potential customers is not an effective way to grow a business, and for search engine marketers, a major disservice to their clients.
Be sure to check back in the future as I monitor Windows 8’s adoption and impact on the search engine marketplace.
About The Author: Hannah is the Organic Team Lead at Blue Corona. If she's not busy daydreaming about the training session for her team, you can find her improving client conversion rates and planning her next trip.
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