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Google Loses Most US Search Share Since 2009 While Yahoo Gains (bloomberg.com)
143 points by sanxiyn on Jan 8, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 155 comments



Yes, choice of search engine is mostly by default. Most Bing searches come from Microsoft products where Bing is the default. One would think that Mozilla users would turn off Yahoo search immediately, but apparently some do not.

Yahoo doesn't really have a search engine, and hasn't for five years. They resell Bing and add some in-house content. The only reason to search with Yahoo is if you want their in-house content.

Bing is currently more literal-minded than Google. Google is using too much popularity-based machine learning to "correct" what you're searching for. It's become difficult on Google to search for a non-popular thing that happens to be close to a popular search target. Google does not treat quote marks as a mandatory exact match any more, just a hint.

Running a search engine is so profitable that even the little guys with < 1% market share make money - Ask, InfoSeek, DuckDuckGo, and Blekko are all profitable. (Cuil blew it - no revenue model.) The most valuable ads on the Internet are the ones on search results, because they appear when someone is actively seeking something. Almost all other ads are interruptions. The only thing that keeps the phone vendors and carriers from entering the search engine business is huge payments from Apple, Google, and Bing.

Microsoft's current approach to Bing is unusual. Bing used to have its own CEO; the last one was Satya Nadella, who is now CEO of Microsoft. Now, various parts of Bing are under five different Microsoft VPs who also have other responsibilities. Some people speculated that this was in preparation for closing down or selling off Bing, but that doesn't seem to be happening. Anyone know more about that?


> Google is using too much popularity-based machine learning to "correct" what you're searching for. It's become difficult on Google to search for a non-popular thing that happens to be close to a popular search target.

This has been getting me lots lately. It used to be 1 attempt, maybe 2, to find what I'm after.. lately I find myself regularly needing to try >4 different searches before getting what I'm after. I've consciously noticed that Google seems to have lost the whole thing that made them so great in the first place.


When smart engineers try to guess what non-smart non-engineers would be looking for on the Internet, they end up with an over-algorithmized mess that Google has become lately.

And now, among other things, Google is losing power users. They shouldn't forget that they gained popularity in the beginning by word of mouth which in this industry literally means: by power users' recommendations to others. It's the power user who would (or wouldn't) be replacing Bing with Google on his family member's new laptop.

This is crucial in my opinion: don't try to guess what people want to find, just guess how they want to be looking for something - anything.


>non-smart non-engineers >room temperature IQs

Boy, this bubble doesn't think too highly of the outside world, does it? What an attitude. We're not all idiots.

As someone who has run product before, I can tell you there's always some self-entitled blowhard who feels you owe them something for the time they spend on your product, or their "help". No one is upset when they finally leave (and they always do).

The fact that you have switched away from Google products (and are threatening to leave the last) means your value to Google is likely slightly above zero. But I'm sure the competition are beating down your door for your business.


Unfortunately, that always happens. New product gains power users, starts to dumb down to appeal to room temperature IQs, loses power users again. See also: Firefox.


As far as I'm aware as a long time Firefox user it has never lost any functionality.

The menus may appear a bit mor simplified at the surface but if you dig down you will find what you are looking for.


What are you missing in Firefox that you can't get back 100% with add-ons?


Well this is unrelated to 'dumbing down' but setting a minimum tab width below 30 pixels is remarkably painful these days. It used to be a single config setting, then a single rule in userchrome, but now it takes an add-on that removes Australis and a couple dozen lines of custom fragile CSS that took far too long to write.


Yes, but how do we prevent this from happening? That's the big question!


Be in touch with your power users.


the problem is that the mainstream non-power users are where the money is at - power users are just the foot in the door, and when you get in, you don't care about them anymore.


Well then ignore your power users and lose the non-power ones along with the money they bring. That's exactly what Google has been doing in the past years. They lost me on almost everything except GMail which is also hanging from the cliff already.

Speaking of GMail, it's the same attitude basically. For example they added these automatic labels with some nonsensical heuristics, which don't work most of the time and are impossible to remove. One more "smart" improvement and I'm closing my GMail account for good, seriously.


I recently opened an Outlook account because I'm finding Google's business model creepy and so far it's been pretty nice. It integrates well with my BlackBerry Passport (switched from Android) and two-factor auth was pretty straightforward to set up. I've moved my entire calendar to outlook.com and I'm forwarding my GMail there for now and hopefully will migrate completely over the next year.

When I started to think about how Google was privy to just about all of my online and some of my real-life activity, it occurred to me they could build a disturbingly accurate profile on me, and while I'm just a boring 30-something middle-class white guy, I still found that creepy. Now I spread my data out between Google, BlackBerry, Outlook, and Yahoo and it's not really any less convenient than having it all integrated (the phone does integrate it all I suppose, but BlackBerry is not trying to use that data to show me ads).


Outlook isn't much better. I ditched gmail ~2010 and switched to running my own mailserver. Also means I can DKIM sign my messages, I get unlimited aliases, full message headers, etc...


Try verbatim mode, available under Search Tools -> All Results -> Verbatim or by adding &tbs=li:1 to the URL.


Project Mycroft has hundreds of configuration files for browser search plugins, including Google verbatim.

http://mycroftproject.com/search-engines.html?name=google+ve...


Astounding - this small feature dramatically improves my results with google.

This is the first time I've even heard of this mode. As with the original article, I think this speaks to the massive power of the "default". Once upon a time Google's "default" was excellent for my use case, but it's slowly degraded over the years, and rather than dig through all of its options trying to make Google useful again, I just whined about it and started looking at competing services.

Changes in default behavior should be embarked upon with extreme caution. This is especially true when considering the way google does this (with many incremental changes that are totally invisible individually). I feel like if they more prominently highlighted 1) what they were changing and 2) how to work around it they could avoid much backlash from "power" users.

Firefox, in contrast, makes it very clear what they're doing when they change the default search engine, and it's pretty easy to switch back to google. But clearly for a large number of users, that "default" will be good enough.


Why am I only learning about this now? :(

It's like the mode to disable 'personalised results' (AKA filter bubbles) - I've explained it to several people in the last few months and they were all amazingly grateful. Of course, we still don't have any way to measure where there is no filter bubbling with them off, or just less... :(


But if you'd like to search Verbatim and also restrict your results to the most recent month/year/etc., even though these are separate dropdowns under Search Tools, you're out of luck. Google seemingly just won't allow this.


It gets harder and harder to search for your search terms (the plus operator and quotes no longer work for exact matches for example)... now you have to be logged in, add text to the address bar or add a modified 1-click search engine to the Firefox toolbar...

They seem to be aiming for a TV-like experience by showing you whatever they want and not what you search for (maybe Google should be called an inspiration engine nowadays, for lack of a better word)


Thanks for the pointer, here's a forum thread on using verbatim mode: https://productforums.google.com/forum/m/#!topic/websearch/Q...

To disable search result personalization: https://www.google.com/history/optout


Perfect usability.


I don't see a reason to search twice if I already know a key word I am searching for.

If Google returns a "popular" result, I usually add a second keyword to specifying the domain which usually returns the correct result.


I have been using ddg for a good amount of time now and every day I have to use !g to search on Google because the results are too literal. I like the privacy stand that they are taking but it's not close to the search relevancy for a lot of queries.


Being literal is one of its best features, I think, at least in comparison to other search engines. I don't want a google-style filling my search in with long lists of antonyms, related words, or context-changing term reordering... Words that literally mean the same thing are fine (although ideally that would be a selectable setting), but substituting words for something only peripherally related is not.


I try to use Duckduckgo, but end up resorting to google a lot, because the personalized searches are useful. I end up looking up Django documentation a lot, and if you try searching for "Django" on DDG, I end up with the film. Google knows I want the web framework.

Would there be a way to be personalized and anonymous at the same time? Or is that an oxymoron?


I use DuckDuckGo mostly, I always want a specific part of the Django documentation, say so I don't get the movie links (except for an ad).

As you say "django" gives you the movie, but "django class based views" gives you what you would expect.

For most search I feel that DuckDuckGo has become increasingly good, while Google has become worse. It might be because I don't login or flush cookies when I close my browser, but that would mean that Google rely on personalization to a disturbing degree.


Sure, but it was a kind of general example I was giving. My problem when I specify class based views, is that it usually takes me to version 1.3, while Google points me to the dev version (usually I want the most recent stable version so neither is perfect in that respect, but Google is usually closer).


Well, they could do client-side filtering/sorting, saving the personalization parameters in local storage. It'd require the server to send a bunch more results up front, though, otherwise the client would have little to work on.


ProTip: !sp will give you StartPage proxied Google results. Google search goodness without Google tracking.

My progression is DDG => !SP => !G


Try using a Google+ account. That way, Google can learn about you, and it doesn't need to resort to "popular" search results.


So the solution is to have your privacy invaded? Count me out.


You want a company to omnisciently select from billions of webpages the most appropriate result for you.

You refuse to tell them anything about yourself.

That's not having your privacy invaded, that's wanting to have your cake and eat it too.


No, I don't want omniscience. I want them to actually match the fricking keywords I give them. Is that too much to ask in these days of privacy invasion for profit?


Yeah, I don't want search results based on my personality just gimme the facts!


I want the most appropriate results for my search text, not me.

It's a human language question, not an FMRI.


You could use different user profiles to protect yourself from excessive privacy invasion.


Because it isn't like Google love to share data between services and cross reference user activity or something, is it? Oh, wait...


> Bing is currently more literal-minded than Google. Google is using too much popularity-based machine learning to "correct" what you're searching for. It's become difficult on Google to search for a non-popular thing that happens to be close to a popular search target. Google does not treat quote marks as a mandatory exact match any more, just a hint.

One of the biggest things that irks me now about Google. Sometimes I want to search just for the word, "sofa" I don't need you to match it with "relevant" other words like "couch"


Not quite the same, but I quite like the fact that Google is way better at spelling than I am.


Why not? I consider sofa and couch to be synonyms. This lets me do two searches in one.


Well, you used to be able to use "sofa" with google, which would exclude 'couch' etc. but then they killed that. Still works with other search engines.


sofa -couch still works. Also, verbatim mode: https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/142143?hl=en


Won't sofa -couch exclude pages that have both words?


> Why not? I consider sofa and couch to be synonyms. This lets me do two searches in one.

For you. For this one use-case. Which may or may not be good.

It's the effect of this scaled up, for all use-cases Google's cluster can identify, for all users which is bad. It's one of the reasons I use DDG instead of Google these days.


sometimes you dont want that eg try to find solutions for open directory problems on OSX Server (as the docs for OSX server are F%$^ S%^t) you get lost a low quality results about how to make OSX work with Micrsofts AD!

if I wanted those results I would search with Acive directoy as part of the flipping query!


Bing won't go away. Search is more than 'searching for a term in a browser', it can and should be integrated deeply into the OS (well, at least a consumer OS) and other software products. Bing will be -- and to some extent, is -- the basis of information lookup in Microsoft products. A first, simple example of this is the 'Insights' menu in Office Online (see http://blogs.office.com/2014/12/10/whats-new-office-online/). Microsoft cannot possibly risk relying on Google in these cases as Google could break the functionality of core Microsoft products in a second.


>it can and should be integrated deeply into the OS

No, it shouldn't. Some people care about their privacy.

I also hate this fascination with search in general. If I want somefile, I know it's in Documents/stuff/foo_project/ ; I don't need to search for it.


Well, I don't need it either, but I clearly see why and how others do need it. At the moment, the industry goes towards search instead of manual structuring -- it's an interesting topic to think about, but that's a fact. Google tries everything to move people in this direction. You don't even need to look at the search engine, just think of how Google Maps or even Google Keep works. Menu entries, options, basically explicit filtering/search is transformed (dumbed down? maybe, maybe not) into a single search box where you tell it what you're looking for. When the most popular Linux distro integrates Amazon search into it's desktop search, then you know this has arrived. :)

Well, obviously it needs to be switchable, and it certainly will be both in Linux and in Windows. Not so much in Google OS, obviously.

Again, I'm not voicing my personal opinions and preferences on whether and how I want to see search integrated into a desktop OS. I'm arguing that Bing won't go away because the current industry trends require Microsoft to have a reasonably good search engine under its control.


Forgetting the location of a file is one use case. Another is that it's just convenient to type 'som' and have somefile pop up. Or to extract 500 similarly-named files from some program's convoluted directory structure. Frankly I'm surprised that we still store data resources as 'files' in rigid hierarchical databases after all these decades.


I don't find that convenient, I find it creepy.


If that's creepy, grep must be downright sinister.


Because grep really sends my data to an online service, right?


Neither does searching for a local file in the documents folder. I was referring to the "fascination with search in general" which can be invaluable when you have a lot of data shoehorned into directories or other inappropriate structures.

As for local searches commingling with online searches, there are some cases where it makes sense, others where it's a blatant violation of privacy, and many more in a subjective grey area. It's basically a matter of making sure people are informed (really informed, not small-print-in-the-legalese informed) and needing to opt in, not out.


>Neither does searching for a local file in the documents folder.

It does on Ubuntu/Mac OS.

>It's basically a matter of making sure people are informed... and needing to opt in, not out.

Shame nobody actually does this though. Also, does opting out actually stop the data grabbing, or just hide those results?


Search in the OS is killer, now tHe jury is out if that means I get a Wikipedia page, a definition for my search term, abriviated Google results AND the files on my disks that match my search term. For most of those, I'll always use search in a browser and not in my os.

Personally, I think that's just bad ux, it's simplification one step too far. The user might not want these search services to know they are searching for some terms. That's a distinction that I know many users clearly don't care about though.


Search is useful when you have shared folders that lots of people are working with. Unless you have very strict control everyones seperate mental models are mashed together into one big mess.


Hang on, are you saying that an online search engine should be responsible for indexing all a user's information?


I'm not talking about indexing user info -- it's more about responding to various queries during normal workflow. The link in my post above is a good example (even if I'm not sure it's very useful): you are editing some kind of document and you want to get quick, in-place info about certain words, names, concepts. Or another example is universal search in the OS (it is present in OSX, Windows, Ubuntu, ChromeOS): there is one single location where you can search for everything (local files, web stuff, etc.). That needs to be powered by something, and a 3rd party engine represents a HUGE risk if that 3rd party is one of your biggest competitors. Same goes for voice recognition, etc.


>Running a search engine is so profitable...

2005-2013 Microsoft online services, including Bing lost $10.9bn [1] and "continue to report a loss of $1.3bn/year" [2] as of early 2014. I think people are projecting breakeven 2016. Competing with Google is not easy.

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-reorg-earnings-repo... [2] https://www.ventureharbour.com/visualising-size-google-bing-...


At one point, MS were paying people to use Bing. Their loss was probably in a large part due to marketing it aggressively (see: that horrendous "Bing it" product placement in whetever TV show it was), while DuckDuckGo/startpage spread mostly by word of mouth, and Yahoo maintains market share via inertia (and shady third party referral deals that cause malware to often change your search engine to yahoo, but that's another discussion...).


They still are. Sign in with a Microsoft or Facebook account and you accumulate Bing points which can then be redeemed for Amazon gift cards or various other things.

This is actually the main reason I use Bing; if search engines are going to track me I might as well get paid for it. The search results are usually as good or better than Google; YMMV. It's very rare I have to resort to a Google search and when I do it's usually just as bad.


How many dollars of gift-card credit do you receive in a year?


Roughly $60/year. You can do better but I don't go out of my way to do the extra searches (I don't change my workflow for it), and I sometimes throw the points away on relatively useless things like sweepstakes and Skype subscriptions.


I use Bing because they pay me as well. I don't go for the money, I typically use my point on gift-like things. For example, for the holidays I used them on the photos printed on metal or glass, which is worth more than the $5 gift card I could have gotten instead. I also do a lot of sweepstakes entries; I've never won, but meh it's free anyway.


Duck Duck Go is an interesting alternative example.

I think the expense of developing Bing is as much about the problems of a very successful company with lots of cash developing a new product as it is about the problems of developing a search engine.


Google does not treat quote marks as a mandatory exact match any more, just a hint.

Unless you use the "Verbatim" option. Shame it can't be enabled by default, though.


Even with verbatim mode it still screws with the search a little bit.

Bing, on the other hand... last time I tested it was very strict, where did all these trash result come from, ugh.


How do you use this option ?


Search tools (below search bar) → All Results → Verbatim.


>One would think that Mozilla users would turn off Yahoo search immediately, but apparently some do not.

Mozilla recently reworked their search bar to make it much harder to change the default (coincidentally, at the same time as they changed it to yahoo... imagine that ;) ).

You can get the old one back in about:config:

browser.search.showOneOffButtons = false

Completely agreed on google and matching - it's got too 'smart' for its own good, and when I'm searching for specific words, it often 'helpfully' includes results for the complete opposite too, or for reversed word order that completely changes the meaning (e.g. foo guide for bar users == bar guide for foo users according to google). If I'm looking for anything at all specific or complex, I use DuckDuckGo or even Yahoo. I try to use DuckDuckGo day to day when I can too, of course, for privacy reasons.

The rot started when google stopped supporting boolean operators, +, and "".


In light of this move Mozilla actually did the opposite of what you're saying and changed the interface of the search bar to make it easier to pick or add a new search alternative, along with a prominent link shown to the search settings, allowing one to change the default as well (an action that takes only 2 clicks).

https://blog.mozilla.org/ux/2014/11/find-it-faster/

What are you talking about?


The new search interface is awful. Let's see...

* Extra clicks to use non-default engine, especially for multiple searches in a row.

* Options to add/remove engines or change the default are very well hidden.

* No way to get suggestions from the non-default (or just stop asking the default for suggestions at all, if your default is Google/Yahoo/etc.). Prime example is Wikipedia autocompleting from page names - now not possible unless it's your default.

* Always by default assumes you want the default search engine when you might want to switch back and forth with your active one.

* No indication of what the default search engine even is.

* Looks stupidly messy with 12+ search engines (seriously, do you only use google or something? Once you have Google, DuckDuckGo, Wikipedia, Google Images, various wikis and news sites all added, it's a total mess with the new clusterfuck of a UI).

* Searching through a list of favicons sucks compared to having a dropdown with favicon and name.

* Broken keyboard shortcuts.


In the search bar (in the nightlies) you have a clearly visible "Change search settings" menu-option:

http://imgur.com/7IqYMHD

(Notice also how the current search engine being used is represented with icon and name.)

Clicking "Change search settings" brings you to a dialog which clearly gives you the ability to set the default and remove unwanted search-engines:

http://imgur.com/qSM0BAd

Yes. It's one more click than it used to be. But now it's visually 100% clear what it does and how it does it.

The previous incarnation required one less click, but my guess is that most users didn't even know they had the option to change defaults or remove search-engines since it was not spelled out explicitly.

It may not address all your concerns, like suggestions on non-default engines, but I think overall it's not 100% a degradation either.


Wow, this is by definition hidden. I did not realize that I was using yahoo (bing) search.


98% degradation then, maybe. Still took a nice feature Firefox has that other browsers don't and made it significantly worse.


On one hand I find it kind of useful for Google to figure out what I mean for me. Sometimes I just struggle to put what I'm looking for into words so I'll just give it a few keywords and it generally finds what I want. On the other, sometimes it's just frustrating. I made the switch to DuckDuckGo last month, but I still find myself slapping a "!ge" at the end of a query because DDG isn't cutting it.


I did turn it off, then it turned itself back on. As in one day I noticed my right click over highlighted text suddenly said Yahoo again.

Perhaps each upgrade resets the choice, I cannot confirm as I haven't seen an upgrade since 34.x (I do wish they would have handled the ssl 3 issue with more care, having to use the about page to neuter protection to access many devices is a chore)


> The only reason to search with Yahoo is if you want their in-house content.

Or wish to support Mozilla through their deal with Yahoo!.


I'd rather pay £5 for firefox (one off, or even yearly...), especially if it stopped them making rash "must copy chrome!" reactionary decisions that just make the browser worse and frustrate users. Mozilla could do a registration/donation scheme in the manner of Vim, where it isn't strictly required, but allows people who do so to vote on new features etc.


>> The only reason to search with Yahoo is if you want their in-house content.

I live in China, and recently switched from Google (blocked) to Yahoo Japan (not blocked, but Google has a majority share in them meaning it uses Google in the back). Yahoo Japan is the only Google way to access Google that is not blocked in China.


Google does not have majority share in Yahoo! JAPAN. There reason Yahoo! JAPAN uses Google instead of Bing (unlike the rest of Yahoo!) is because Yahoo! JAPAN felt that Google offered a better search product in Japan than Bing.


How can yahoo Japan possibly be majority Google owned? It was a joint venture by SoftBank and yahoo inc.



Google is using too much popularity-based machine learning to "correct" what you're searching for.

This is exactly right and something I have been arguing for a while. Google's algos are good for finding what is popular, not necessarily what is right (though these things often overlap).


Considering Microsoft's efforts on Cortana and AI in general, I don't see them closing Bing.


I'm a mobile computer technician in rural north Cornwall, UK. My clients are domestic and small biz (5 or fewer employees).

One of the things that surprised me was the approach to search that my non-technical clients take. Anecdotally, around half use Bing because they like Internet Explorer. Curiously, more than two thirds of these folks also have Chrome installed, so they can use Google; the misconception is that they _need_ Chrome in order to use Google _anything_. Chrome is use for Google, and nothing else.

I don't recall a single person using Yahoo! across 300+ home and small office visits. Firefox is rarely seen, and if it does crop up it's usually because of a years-old recommendation from a trusted family member.


Just like people thought internet was the blue 'e' on their desktop. Program, data, network .. no difference.


the misconception is that they _need_ Chrome in order to use Google _anything_. Chrome is use for Google, and nothing else.

Misconception?


These clients think that Google Chrome is the one tool to use for Google services; that is to say, if you want to access Gmail, Google search, Google whatever, they must use Google Chrome to do it. Internet Explorer isn't to be used for that kind of thing. They consider Chrome to be an app to do purely Google things, and use IT for everything else.


I interpreted rockdoe's comment as:

"A misconception implies it's accidental, but it's partly deliberate: Google wants to leverage their search-engine influence, convincing people they have no choice but to buy into a larger Google-Stuff ecosystem."


I was referring to the fact that many Google sites offer a subpar experience if you're not visiting them with Google's own browser, yes. So it's not a misconception, those people are right that they're better of using Google Chrome for the Google Internet.


The main problem with google is that it's too 'smart' for its own good (smart tool makes stupid users). If I search for something, I don't want it to by default include a massive list of other 'helpful' things up to and including antonyms or different word order that changes the meaning (e.g. how "foo guide for bar users" == "bar guide for foo users" according to google). Google has been getting dumber ever since it stopped supporting + and "".

Similarly, although most search engines (except DuckDuckGo) filter bubble people, it is by far the most pervasive and irritating with google. So far, every single person I have explained filter bubbles to has been weirded out by the idea and thanked me for telling them about it.

Of course, the other reason Google loses ground is privacy - Yahoo is definitely not good on privacy, but at least they fought as hard as they could before their hand was forced where google capitulated immediately. I can't wait until in a year or two DuckDuckGo is as good as google (not as hard as it used to be)...


> The main problem with google is that it's too 'smart' for its own good (smart tool makes stupid users).

I don't think that's true; one, I don't think that Google's smarts are a problem with Google, and two, I don't think that allowing people to direct their intelligence other places than carefully crafting search queries to get useful results in most cases makes stupid users.

> If I search for something, I don't want it to by default include a massive list of other 'helpful' things up to and including antonyms or different word order that changes the meaning (e.g. how "foo guide for bar users" == "bar guide for foo users" according to google).

Altered word order in a query isn't equivalent to Google. I just tested with a bunch of pairs that differed in order, and got different results for each search in the pair.

Altered word order may be something Google things may be relevant to your search, but that's different than the equation you presented.

> So far, every single person I have explained filter bubbles to has been weirded out by the idea and thanked me for telling them about it.

Its possible to explain anything to people in a way that weirds people out, but I don't see why search personalization should. Most people, I think, understand that the same set of words from different people have different most-likely meanings: if you know one person is a cocaine addict and another is, to the best of your knowledge, drug-free but a heavy soda drinker, and each says to you "I need some coke!", you'll probably interpret those statements differently.


One thing I used to do quite a bit was go to a lot of shopping search sites (Amazon, The Find, Shopzilla, Nextag, Shopwiki...) and try some pathological queries to see who was doing stupid search and who was doing smart search. My favorite test queries where [apples to apples], [dress shirt], [shirt dress], and [+++++].


You have to realise you're in a minority there – at least, I think that's the case.

I expect most search engine users (i.e. non-tech-industry users) are interested in 'typing things into the internet to find stuff'. The ability to build a useful search query isn't something a lot of people can do – it's dependent on understanding concepts like verbatim strings, quotes, modifiers… not that complex, but equally not common knowledge. Instead, Google is going to use the vast resources at it's disposal to guess the intent of badly-worded queries, and unfortunately that's not going to benefit people who can word their queries well.

Here's a tip though – I've configured my browser to search using Google's 'verbatim' search mode by default. It's not perfect, but it's much closer to how it used to operate. Unfortunately, as much as I'd like to try using another search engine, they've been much less useful in practice.


>The ability to build a useful search query isn't something a lot of people can do

While true, that doesn't mean you have to neuter your entire search engine. Even if Joe Sixpack never uses +, "", boolean operators, etc (and Aunt Tilly outright asks 'The Google' "Please take me to Yahoo Mail"), it doesn't mean google should remove them.

By all means, have the advanced features mildly hidden so that they don't confuse/scare stupid people, but at least keep them available (in a non-neutered form) for those who do actually need them.


>I can't wait until in a year or two DuckDuckGo is as good as google (not as hard as it used to be)...

I would have to agree, Google is getting worse, while DuckDuckGo is getting better. I don't think that most users would switch though, but as long as I have an alternative I'm happy.


I think them becoming the default on iOS devices will help a lot. I know a lot of people don't know/care the difference between DDG and Google, but those that do will take notice. And maybe a few of them will make that their default on their desktop. What they really need to do is get something going with Mozilla to become the default on Firefox. Philosophically, Mozilla and DuckDuckGo are a match made in heaven, so I'm bummed this hasn't happened yet. I'd imagine it's a money issues because I seem to recall that Google was basically funding Firefox by being the default. Yahoo must have matched or exceeded that to become the default.


Yeah, google didn't renew the contract, so yahoo took over. IIRC, the search deal is something like 90% of Mozilla's funding :(


> I can't wait until in a year or two DuckDuckGo is as good as google (not as hard as it used to be)

It's literally never been harder. The idea that it's getting easier to wade through the crap on the Internet is so disconnected with reality I don't know what to say.


> Yahoo is definitely not good on privacy, but at least they fought as hard as they could before their hand was forced where google capitulated immediately.

Can you share a source for that?



> Of course, it's possible more companies have challenged this secret surveillance, but we just don't know about it yet.

And no other mention of Google in the article. Great that Yahoo fought them but it doesn't support your assertion that Google immediately gave in or cares less for privacy than Yahoo.

Even better, the same source you provided (EFF's Who Has Your Back report: https://www.eff.org/who-has-your-back-2013) gives this as Yahoo's only positive mark while Google is 5/6.


This isn't really much of a surprise, it was virtually guaranteed by the Firefox deal. As the article says, "I doubt Google needs to worry. For one, that’s probably the high water mark".

Low-water mark (in terms of market share for Google) would probably be a better phrase, but the point is that unless Firefox grows a lot (which seems unlikely) the damage to Google is done.


The Mozilla-Yahoo deal could turn out to be mutually beneficial in that regard. Yahoo for example has started to recommend Firefox to its users [1].

And Yahoo's market share should not be underestimated. On the list of most popular destinations, according to traffic rankings yahoo.com is number 4, being beaten only by google.com, facebook.com and youtube.com. And somehow Marissa Mayer has been turning the tide and I've seen positive things happening. For example I'm happy that they started developing Flickr again. Perceptions can change overnight and Google can certainly lose some more market share.

I just hope that Yahoo! / Bing will improve their search for non-US users. Sadly for me Google provides the best search results and it's not even a competition. And it makes me sad, because while search engines are easily configurable in Firefox, I would have liked to support Mozilla indirectly with my searches and those of my acquaintances to which I'm recommending Firefox (pennies I know, but they add up).

[1] http://techcrunch.com/2014/12/12/yahoo-starts-prompting-chro...


>unless Firefox grows a lot (which seems unlikely) the damage to Google is done.

Another way mozilla are their worst enemy. Making firefox into a chrome clone just drives away its users, while the masses they are trying to attract are staying on chrome because all they deliver is a compromised experience for the people who want firefox.


More damage could be done if Yahoo worked a deal with Apple to change the default search engine.

At the end of the day tho it's all about money and Google has more of it.


How is it about money?


Google pays Apple to be the default search provider.


Bing is the default Spotlight and Safari search in Yosemite. I can find no way of changing it back to Google for Spotlight, which is incredibly irritating as I find the Bing results useless.


Not entirely what you're looking for, granted, but might help:

http://flashlight.nateparrott.com


The web search feature in Spotlight is equivalent to the search engine of your default browser.


I don't think it is - the search engine option in Safari does not affect Spotlight. Spotlight is hardcoded.


Let's not forget this little metric: mobile. These stats were taken from Statcounter which is not a comprehensive representation of the marketshare.

http://i.imgur.com/aOXsraC.png

According to the same data, Google owns 87% of the mobile market, and I venture to guess that number is actually higher and will continue to climb in 2015 as mobile will continue to dominate the consumer market.


The importance of mobile marketshare is overblown. People aren't searching for things to buy on their mobile phones, the searches themselves being very superficial, the attention span being lower. As a result conversion rates and CPC is much lower on mobile.

I also believe that this post-PC era has been nothing but bullshit. Yes, PC sales have been declining, but that's only because people stopped feeling the need to upgrade. And yes, mobile phones are here to stay, with their numbers rising and their utility growing, but if you take a look at tablets, lo and behold, sales are declining and the ones already bought are probably gathering dust.

Most importantly is that Google's Android does not own 87% of the mobile market. If Apple would switch to an alternative as the default, that would be a big blow to Google. And if this move by Mozilla ends up working out without Firefox losing market share, that might end up encouraging Apple to do so.


Despite the best effort of the manufacturers to force obsolescence, the tablets are not gathering dust. They're very popular as a child distraction technology: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2565061/How-i...

My wife still uses our iPad 1 to watch Amazon Prime on, despite it being years since the last iOS update that would run on it. I'm quite happy with my Asus Transformer which is stuck on Android 4.2.


> They're very popular as a child distraction technology

As the author of the comment you're replying to, I can agree with that. I also own 2 tablets, both of which are used by my 4-year old to play educational games. They are great for that. However, I'm limiting his time spent on these games and overall they are gathering dust.

This is because, while they seemed useful to me at first, they are big and bulky and not good for productive work and all the use-cases I had for them (i.e. reading websites and email, watching videos, playing some games from time to time) have been fulfilled by my smartphone. And here's the problem with a tablet - I always have my smartphone with me, whereas for a tablet I have to make the conscious decision of taking it with me wherever I go. And if I have to make such a decision, I would rather take my 13-inch MacBook.

Of course, one could talk about a convergence of smartphones and tablets. Heck, I just bought a Nexus 6 last week, which is a freakishly big 6-inch phone. And I love it, precisely because it lets me do things that are comfortable to do on a tablet.

But here's the problem that I'm seeing, from personal experience of course - screen size matters a lot when speaking about things you can do with a device and a 6-inch phone is already too big to fit in my jeans pockets. I'm not seeing phones getting any bigger than that, because of portability. I love my Nexus 6, but I'm already wondering about how I'll carry it with me in the summer. But 6 inches is also too small for many use-cases.

This translates in my mind in one thing - phablets like the Nexus 6 or the iPhone 6+ will take over the tablets market-share. But because of their size, PCs and laptops will still rule supreme, these classes of products (smartphones and laptops/PCs) being actually complementary.


Battery life of a tablet, beats the battery life of a phone though. I usually find when I come home from work in the evenings, my phone needs rechanging and the tablet is there.


Is tablet market share really decreasing? For casual users (like my mum) she has bought an iPad and no longer even turns on her PC/laptop, let alone thinks about getting another one.

I thought this was the case with most "casual" PC users who only used it for email and Internet shopping. My wife fits this category, who will never use my laptop, ever. She even does basic spreadsheeting activities on the iPad with Google Sheets.

Are tablets really sat around gathering dust?


Sampling my own experience, both my mom and my dad are using laptops, even though both of them are as technically illiterate as they come, plus they don't even speak English. Both of them tried tablets, but it didn't work out - I don't know why, I wasn't besides them to notice.

Your point is that casual PC users only need a PC for email and Internet shopping and things like that and that they would be better served by a tablet. My point of view is that this assertion isn't necessarily true.


I m monitoring several million MAU websites.. Smart phones are growing at the expense of tablets too. Especially the consensus on larger screen sizes boosted phone usage and cuts into tablet share.


Ah OK thanks. I suppose the division between smart phone and tablet is disappearing a bit after the "phablet" revolution. I still have distinctly different sized devices for phone and tablet; that would explain my confusion. Thanks.


So declining PC sales is not proof that PCs are losing popularity, but declining tablet sales is proof that tablets are losing popularity. How can the same trend mean opposite things in similar markets?

Anyway, any of number of reports and studies say that the percentage of e-commerce visits and purchases from mobile devices is going up, and has been for years. Direct measurements of user activity show the growing importance of mobile.


The issue being phones are horrible to do any actual work on. People search more, yes, but for things like maps, not products or anything else search engines might conceivably make money on advertising on with the main exception being simple stuff like "nearby restaurants". Nobody wants to, for example, buy a new TV on their phone if they can at all help it; they'll do the research on a real computer and the purchase either there or instore.


It's odd that Firefox isn't more popular on mobile, the competition lacks extension support so it should have a bigger edge.


Are extensions really useful for mobile browsers? Most things I use extensions for have their own apps (chromecast, hangouts, email)


Good lord, yes. Have you ever browsed the web on mobile without AdBlock? It's nearly useless. Setting aside the bandwidth you're wasting, nearly every page redirects you to the app store or pops up a dozen shitty ads before you can see the content.

I'm still baffled that ad networks allow advertisers to inject arbitrary javascript into their banner ads. Why on earth are they allowed to deliver anything other than an image?

Anyways, I'll never browse the web without AdBlock again and I'm astounded that so many people are able to do so.


With the current privacy hostile browser defaults, it's pretty much a must if you care about that department at all.

(Of course it may be that nobody privacy conscious uses Android/iOS at all...)


I'm a big fan of Self-Destructing Cookies (on the desktop and on mobile).


Mobile firefox still lacks depth of extensions. If it could have adblock or a similar level of addon, it would probably be a different story.


Firefox for Android does have adblock. Almost all of my desktop addons are available on mobile Firefox.


I am a Firefox user, and the switch encouraged me to explore non-Google search engine alternatives.

For my personal browsing I tried Yahoo for a few days but have since switched to using DuckDuckGo. It's definitely not bad. But for work, and for when I'm not satisfied with the results, I still use Google. In my opinion, it is a superior search engine.


Isn't DuckDuckGo primarily powered by Bing, which also powers Yahoo? Or has this changed?


DDG uses yandex a lot, not bing.


No, they still use Bing (assuming their site is accurate)

https://duck.co/help/results/sources

"DuckDuckGo gets its results from over one hundred sources, including DuckDuckBot (our own crawler), crowd-sourced sites (like Wikipedia, which are stored in our own index), Yahoo! (through BOSS), Yandex, Yelp, and Bing."


Search has imho become too much of both a privacy intrusion, and at the same time too much of a market determinant. I think the following has to happen.

(Just thinking out loud).

- Search has to be made into a replaceable service, or a commodity. This means that one could easily switch search providers without any other noticeable difference (to the user) than a difference in search results.

- This means that search engines should be stripped of their user-interface.

- Search engines should "be" simply APIs that browsers can hook into. An advantage of this, is that search engines could be denied the use of scripting, which disables the possibility of user tracking through "device fingerprinting".

- Of course, if desired, the user could enable personalization. Personalization could be handled like it is now (through user tracking). But we could invent an API that reveals only a user's interests to a search agent. For example, you could reveal that you are researcher or a programmer, interested in technology, and certain programming languages, and you could list a set of webpages that you use regularly.

- Of course, different profiles could be used for different searches.

I imagine that the privacy-aware engines like DDG could start with the development and implementation of these protocols, and cooperate with e.g. mozilla for a base client implementation.


There's actually a very simple answer for this. When you go to Yahoo.com on an iOS device it asks you if you want Yahoo to be the default search engine. Since Yahoo is a popular portal (I go to Yahoo news atleast a few times a day on my iOS device) people can inadvertently switch to Yahoo. This has happened to me numerous times and I couldn't figure out why. Then I figured out that Yahoo puts up a popup which I promptly clicked "ok" to get it out of the way, then wondered time and time again why my iPhone was always ignoring my default search preferences which was Google.


What a clickbait title :)

> Google’s slice of the U.S. search market fell to 75.2 percent in December from 79.3 percent a year ago, while Yahoo jumped to 10.4 percent from 7.4 percent

I was expecting a landslide :)


Well, for Yahoo, 10.4% from 7.4% is 40% increase.


Google search is heavily SEO gamed, and that makes their algorithm heavily weighted toward punishing page quality manipulation. If they could concentrate more on rewarding page quality instead, they could deliver better results (see the end of http://goo.gl/y0AXWO )


Google scaled buys (e.g. toolbars/default searches) back massively while Yahoo bought up that traffic.


Losing monopoly might actually be good for them.


Not in the US. That's been settled already and Google spends too much money on lobbying for anyone to take a go at it (they also have a close relationship with the Obama administration).


It's not the legalities that's the real problem, it's the complacency that results from being the only game in town, and the ensuing attraction of employees who want a cushy gig with no real competition and exodus of employees who want to be challenged and pushed forwards.


I don't think that's the point though – more that a decline in market share for Google may result in improvements. Nothing government or regulatory about it.


How would Google prevent a competing search engine from taking their market share via lobbyist spending or any connections they have to the Obama Administration?


By suppressing the "shouldn't we stop Google's monopoly" suggestions in senate or whatever other ways USA uses for governing itself.


Yeah, maybe we can have a government subsidised search engine, powered by the same people that did healthcare.gov right?

I don't think there's any monopoly to be broken in search, it's just that the competitors aren't up to that level.

(In other areas I might agree)


That headline is probably the only way to make a 4% decline in search share sound like a lot. Bait.


f we assume a modest 1:4 US to world ratio and a difference of 4.1% as explained by the firefox switch, then the entire US firefox userbase is about 1% of the world. Google won't be sweating.


Firefox only switched to Yahoo in the US so far. And Yandex in Russia, and Baidu in China. It's using Google everywhere else, for now.


And Yahoo is Powered by Bing, right?


Yahoo used to be powered by Google around 2004 and was still loosing market share to Google. Blind tests with just the logo replaced (same web results) had users still prefer Google. It was crazy. Disclaimer: I worked on Yahoo search.


Genius move. Partner with Firefox, compete with Chrome. Move the search fight to the browser, something that can be won unlike trying to force people to move away from typing google.com vs yahoo.com




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