Mar 4, 2009

Google's Toolbar Push

Back in January - Microsoft announced a deal with Dell - The deal indicated that, in February, Dell would start distributing Live Search on a majority of consumer and small business PCs that it ships globally. Live Search will be the default search engine in the browser, and the PCs will also include our Live Search-powered toolbar. Dell is the #1 PC provider in the U.S. and #2 worldwide. The agreement will give new Dell users, in over 20 countries around the world, the opportunity to experience Live Search over the three-year period of the agreement. I love Microsoft and I'm very happy about this announcement - I've always favored a more aggressive distribution strategy for Live Search, as a means of driving up revenue and global query share. I also use - and have written about Google, on a regular basis.

This morning - I noticed something on the Google home page which I hadn't seen before.

A really huge box, promoting the Google Toolbar. This - on a home page which Google has been very, very careful about keeping clean and uncluttered. Clearly, the goal is to win back all those Dell, HP & Lenovo users who are buying machines with Live Search toolbars & search functionality. Don't get me wrong - I know Google has periodically promoted it's toolbar through the home page, in the past. However, I don't recall the Toolbar download box being so large or so prominently positioned on the Google home page.

The challenge for Live Search is that, it' still not known as a Search Engine - query share sits at below 9% in the U.S, versus over 60% for Google. If I'm a Google user - and I buy a new machine, I'm still going to go to to initiate my search. I'll be greeted by that massive stamp inviting me to download the tool bar. As far as I know, once a user downloads the toolbar, Google becomes the primary search engine on the machine and Live Search looses out.

No doubt, some smart folks have figured out how to address this issue - I'm simply pointing out my observation about how Google is aggressively promoting it's toolbar, even as MSFT aggressively signs distribution deals......

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