Google Inc.’s dominance of the U.S. Internet search market slipped last month in the biggest drop since 2009 while Yahoo! Inc. posted its largest share gain, as the companies grappled with the fallout of a search deal on Firefox browsers.
Google’s slice of the U.S. search market fell to 75.2 percent in December from 79.3 percent a year ago, while Yahoo jumped to 10.4 percent from 7.4 percent, according to analytics firm StatCounter. That put Google at its smallest share of the U.S. Web search market since at least 2008, when StatCounter first started tracking the numbers, and the highest share for Yahoo since 2009.
The changes were spurred by a deal in November where Yahoo replaced Google as the default search engine on Firefox browsers in the U.S. Google had been the automatic search option for Firefox, which was developed by Mountain View, California-based Mozilla Corp., since 2004.
“The move by Mozilla has had a definite impact on U.S. search,” StatCounter Chief Executive Officer Aodhan Cullen said. “The question now is whether Firefox users switch back to Google.”
Firefox users represented slightly more than 12 percent of U.S. Internet usage in December, according to StatCounter.
Representatives from Yahoo and Google declined to comment.
The share gain is good news for Yahoo as CEO Marissa Mayer pushes for more partnerships to boost the Sunnyvale, California-based company’s traffic and revenue.
Yet it may be the biggest bump the Web portal gets, given that Firefox has been struggling to keep up with rivals, said Danny Sullivan, founding editor of Marketing Land & Search Engine Land. Google also has a Web browser called Chrome.
“I doubt Google needs to worry. For one, that’s probably the high water mark,” Sullivan said in an e-mail. “Unless Firefox suddenly grows share, everyone who likely could get switched has been now. And Google might claw back even the small share gone.”