In November, Yahoo and Mozilla entered a partnership that made Yahoo the default search experience on Firefox, replacing Google, which had held the spot for the past decade. The deal showed some great early results for Yahoo in terms of search market share, but the question about whether or not people would switch back to Google remained. So far, it seems that many are choosing to stick with Yahoo.
StatCounter just put out its latest report on the subject, and found that Google is at its lowest share in the US since it's been recording the data.
This is the first time Google has fallen below 75%, the firm says. Yahoo, on the other hand, reached its highest US search share in over five years. They've been tracking these stats since July 2008.
"Some analysts expected Yahoo to fall in January as a result of Firefox users switching back to Google. In fact Yahoo has increased US search share by half a percentage point," said StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen. "It will be fascinating to see if these gains continue."
StatCounter also looked specifically at U.S. search share by Firefox users finding that Yahoo-on-Firefox usage nearly tripled from November to January going from 9.9% to 28.3%. During that timeframe, Google fell from 81.9% to 63.9%.
"When we removed Firefox usage from the US search data, Yahoo's gains and Google's losses were erased," said Cullen. "This highlights the importance of the default search option and the significance of the upcoming Safari search deal for the major players."
And Yahoo is hungry for that Safari deal. Last week, Yahoo reported its Q4 earnings, and CEO Marissa Mayer talked about the Firefox deal and the coveted Safari spot.
"The Safari platform is basically one of the premiere search engines in the world, if not the premiere search engine in the world," she said during a Q&A session. "We are definitely in the search distribution business. I think we stated that really clearly in the past and I think with Mozilla and also in addition we brought Amazon and eBay onboard with smaller distribution partnerships in Q4, we are in search distribution business and anyone who is in that business needs to be interested in the Safari deal."
"The Safari users are among the most engaged and lucrative users in the world and it’s something that we would really like to be able to provide," she added. "We work really closely with Mozilla to ultimately bring to their users an experience that they designed and that they feel really suit those users and we welcome the opportunity with any other partner to do the same, particularly one with Apple’s volume and end user base."
As far as Firefox goes, it's going to be interesting to see the market share changes for this month after more people presumably upgrade to the latest version of the browser. Yahoo is still encouraging users to do so from its homepage. Meanwhile, Google is encouraging Firefox users to switch back.
Google also reported its earnings last week, and vaguely commented on the Yahoo Firefox deal.
CFO Patrick Pichette said:
You’ve all heard the announcements about Mozilla. And so when we don’t comment on the details of any of our partnerships that we have, having said that, we continue to do two things that really matter. One is our users continue to actually go in, if they love Google, they will continue to find Google, whichever platform, whichever browser, and that’s really what we’ve focused on doing.
And then the second piece is the way to win this in the long-term, right? It’s very simple. You just make wonderful products. And when you make wonderful products that are magical people will find them.
And so that’s the strategy that we’re using and we just don’t comment on any of our – we’ve never commented on any of our deals, so we want comment on Mozilla either.
Firefox users generated 14% of US internet usage in January according to StatCounter.
Images via StatCounter