In much of the world Google is the dominant player, and all the others are losers. In the UK, and in most of Europe, almost 90% of all searches go through Google, according to Hitwise. The search giant's massive advertising revenue means it can respond swiftly to almost any competitive threat in these areas.
In the US, Microsoft and Yahoo! will hold a combined 25% of the search market. By combining forces in their home territory they may be able to claw back market share and give Google a run for its money.
In the fast-growing mobile market, Google's Android operating system is gaining ground on Apple, whereas Microsoft remains a niche player. Mobile search holds little hope for a Microsoft / Yahoo! renaissance, but Google faces a tough fight to attain any kind of dominance there.
Facebook, the fast-growing social networking site, has been touted as a potential successor to Google. The two perform very different functions, but both rely on advertising for their revenue, and both follow a similar pay-per-click model. Facebook is no competitor in search - yet. But it's already eating into Google's advertising revenue.
In short, Google's share of the search market looks pretty impregnable in the short term, and it will remain the main target for marketers. In the longer term, it will have to be careful that fighting a war on multiple fronts does not deplete its resources and produce losses on all of them.
By Bruce Townsend, Online Marketing Expert at Ecommerce & EPOS supplier, Sellerdeck. Originally published on UTalkMarketing.com.