After a bang and a boom, Bing bounced down the search-market charts in September. Bing's monthly market share in the U.S. and globally has fallen for the first time since its launch, according to an analysis by Web analytics firm StatCounter.
StatCounter Global Stats, the firm's research arm, revealed that Bing's share of the U.S. search market in September fell more than one percentage point in September, to 8.51 percent from 9.64 percent in August.
And for all the hype about a powerhouse combination of Bing and Yahoo search, Yahoo didn't pick up the slack. Yahoo also lost ground in September, dropping from 10.5 percent to 9.4 percent.
"The trend has been downward for Bing since mid-August," commented StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen. "The wheels haven't fallen off, but the underlying trend must be a little worrying for Microsoft."
Google Gains, IE Loses
The beneficiary of Bing and Yahoo's market woes? Google. After losing some ground to Bing during its initial launch phase, Google made up for any losses in September. Google gained more than two percentage points, rising from 77.83 percent in August to 80.08 percent in September, according to StatCounter.
Bing didn't just lose favor with U.S. searchers. Globally, Bing also declined slightly to 3.25 percent from 3.58 percent. Yahoo mirrored the trend, falling to 4.37 percent from 4.84 percent. Google looks healthy through the global lens, breaching the 90 percent mark to 90.54 percent. This achievement puts it in a similar position to its global market share a year ago, which was 90.53.
Microsoft may also have another concern -- on the Web browser front. Internet Explorer dipped from 58.69 percent market share in August to 58.37 percent in September, according to StatCounter. NetApplications has more severe numbers. It reports Internet Explorer dropped from 66.97 percent to 65.71 percent.
Meanwhile, Firefox's global market share sits at 23.57 percent, NetApplications reports, while Google's Chrome has reached 3.17 percent and Apple Safari enjoys 4.24 percent of the market.
What Does this Mean for Bing?
Just like growth figures, onlookers need to be cautious about generalizing from a limited amount of data showing that Bing is stalling, according to Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence.
"With search you need to look at multiple metrics and trend data over time. However, it would obviously be a significant disappointment to Microsoft to see Bing's growth flatten or decline," Sterling said.
Assuming its approved, the Yahoo deal changes the game somewhat from Microsoft's Live Search days because it more than doubles Bing's reach for its advertisers even if its consumer market doesn't continue to grow, Sterling noted.
"It's still too early to pronounce some sort of judgment on Bing, however. Microsoft is still making changes and rolling out features, pushing into mobile and still going to spend on advertising to stimulate demand and usage," Sterling said. "But if these numbers are proven out by other firms, it's obviously a concern."