Last updated: February 14, 2011 - 9:35am
[Commentary] Google continues to generate the lion's share of its sales—over 96 percent—in search.
Yes, the company has shown glimmers of financial diversity in mobility (Android), video advertising (YouTube), and browser software (Chrome). Each platform could help reduce the company's outsized dependence on search advertising. But search pays for everything Google does: Most of the company's offerings are free, such as YouTube and Chrome, and few generate ad sales. Pretty much nothing Google does other than search, AdWords, and AdSense turns a profit. For now, Google looks well-defended. Microsoft's Bing remains a distant second. Still, only 18 months ago Bing didn't exist. In December, Google served 69.4 percent of U.S. search results while Bing served 24.4 percent. The bigger question, then, is how long "horizontal" search -- search that "sees" a vast swath of the Web's 182 million sites -- can remain an attractive business model.
The real threat is not from such Goliaths as Microsoft, but from a myriad of Davids -- specialized search engines tailored to conduct "vertical" search tasks.
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