Using Google's search engine feels so natural and familiar now that heading for the likes of Bing or Yahoo just feels like a waste of time – hence why 'to Google' has become a verb. Meanwhile, its nearest competitor, Microsoft's Bing, has become the butt of a lot of jokes, despite the company's relentless push to convince people it's a better search engine. There are signs, though, that its dominance could be on the wane somewhat - but not thanks to Bing.
Yesterday, figures from analytics provider Statcounter revealed Google's shares of the desktop search market fell by more than 4% last year to 75.2%, its lowest level since 2008. Yahoo's share climbed from 7.4% to 10.4% in the same period. The shift is largely down to Mozilla's decision in November to automatically send users of its Firefox browser to Yahoo search results, rather than Google's as had previously been the case.
'The move by Mozilla has had a definite impact on U.S. search,' StatCounter's chief executive Officer Aodhan Cullen said. 'The question now is whether Firefox users switch back to Google.'
Firefox accounts for around 14% of US browser usage, so one could argue that, if anything, the changes in market share should be more dramatic. But the news will still come as a boon to Marissa Mayer, the former google executive who landed the top job at Yahoo in 2012. She has been battling to turn around the fortunes of the business, which has struggled to make the same mark as the likes of Google, Amazon and Facebook.
Given the relatively small size of the changes, Google's CEO Larry Page is unlikely to lose any sleep at this point, but the news does serve as a small reminder that there are other search engines out there determined to snap up a slice of Google's business.