The Reports of Google’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

Bad news from The Googleplex this weekend. Search share is down. Down. Not down by a lot. But down.

Nielsen Online reports that, for December, everyone’s favorite burgeoning monopoly saw 56.3% of all U.S. searches, a slight decrease from its 57.7% share in November.

Google? Down? Whoa.

But before we get all “The sky is falling” and “Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor” and “Knock me over with a feather,” let’s consider the long view of things.

Here are your six-month Nielsen totals:

Who’s up? Google, pretty significantly. I mean, gosh, how do you increase from what was already more than half of market share? (By being ingrained, after only seven years, in people’s behavior patterns, to the point where your company name is a verb and insignificant online writers refer to your office headquarters as “The [company name]-plex.”)

Who else is up? MSN, less significantly. And Ask, if that matters. Who’s down? Yahoo!, very significantly. And AOL, for what it’s worth. (All together, 24-and-unders: “What’s an AOL?”)

To me, the continuing decline of Yahoo! is the biggest news to come out of the most recent data. One of the first Internet megapowers, Yahoo! continues to lead in things like quality of fantasy football user experience and amount of red in their corporate logo but, very clearly, they’re losing significantly elsewhere. (Like, potentially, number of employees?)

A recent New Yorker article very eloquently demonstrated Google’s reasons for success. From CEO Eric Schmidt:

One of the mistakes we’re not going to make is the mistake that non-scientists make. We’re going to make mistakes based on facts and data and analysis. What kills a company is not competition but arrogance.

While Google’s growth has been staggeringly quick, it has also come from unique ideas and serving needs that users didn’t know they had. Google’s growth has been historically quick, but it has also been intelligently quick.

Yahoo!, meanwhile, just grew. And grew. And sometime, sooner than would have been imaginable five years ago, it might just go the way of AltaVista. (“The Most Comprehensive Search Experience on the Web!” – Just ask them.)