Is Google …Even Very Slightly Losing it?

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In a market where we are entirely used to seeing Google as the clear 75% monopoly leader any slight slip in the iron glove grip enjoyed by Google is worthy of comment. In recent days not only did Google miss their Wall Street target number by a hair they saw their first slip below 75% of desktops in the US. does this represent a sea change in public attitude to the big G? Although the pundits have rushed to panic about the growth yahoo has shown reports of Google’s death have been greatly exaggerated.  The key to this slight dip in market share is the deal yahoo did to replace Google as the default search on the fairly terrible browser Firefox browser. Despite Google’s fairly vigorous campaign to show users how to set their browsers back to them as the default that switch did pull Google down and yahoo up a little. It’s not clear yet if that expensive deal will pay off long time.

In the bigger picture if you add in mobile traffic the Google number gets comfortably back closer to 80% and in all other metrics they remain the thousand pound Gorilla in the cage. What is giving the market makers pause for thought is the continued decline (driven by cheaper mobile search click growth) of the average click price and what appears to be a scatter-shot approach to planning. Google has launched and or shut down any number of big ideas in recent years. As the ad revenue continued to pay all the bills and make it the behemoth it has become Google has been vigorously investigating major revenue opportunities in any and all areas not search related.  This has significantly increased their costs (both one time and ongoing). Most of these initiatives have minimal or no near time revenue impact. As long as clear market metrics like ability to hit numbers and grow market share were unimpeachable the casual observer was likely to dismiss concerns as gold fish nibbling on a whale. Now some of those more obvious metrics don’t look quite as sunny it’s likely Google will come under even closer scrutiny.

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