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Home > Search engine barometer > 05/05/2005   

MSN Search: Much ado about nothing?

This survey focused on the market reception of Microsoft's new search engine, MSN Search.
(Survey carried out from 01/09/04 to 23/03/05 on a sample of professional websites audited by XiTi, out of an average of 650 millions hits / month)
Let’s sum up the situation: Microsoft launched the beta version of MSN Search in 26 countries on 11th September 2004. Microsoft’s portal said goodbye to Yahoo on 1st February 2005 and finally offered its own much-heralded search engine, developed in-house at an estimated cost of 100 million dollars. The search engine was launched in 24 countries and in 10 languages. At the time it indexed 5 thousand million pages and was intended to compete head-to-head with Yahoo and Google. By mid-March Microsoft launched a new initiative onto the market when it started testing its range of sponsored links in France and Singapore.

So that’s the recent history on the Microsoft side. So what can we see on the other side of the search engine, in other words on all the sites that are fighting tooth and nail for visibility and listing?


A XiTiMonitor survey, carried out on a sample of professional French sites audited by XiTi, from 01/09/04 to 23/03/05 out of an average of 650 million visits / month, shows stagnation or, even worse, a drop in the share of traffic referred by the MSN search engine out of the total number of visits generated by the various search engines. After a reasonable enough autumn, when the launch of the beta led to a very brief peak (a 5.4% market share on 21st September), the search engine started to fall away consistently until the very beginning of 2005, by which time it accounted for no more than 3.5% of all search engine traffic. After a relative recovery had got underway up until the end of January (4.4%), it has been stagnating at around 4.2% ever since. It should also be noted that MSN Search tends to fall away at weekends, which obviously means that Microsoft’s search engine is mainly popular with professional users.

Conclusion: what effect has the launch of MSN Search - with all its media fanfare - had on the search engine hierarchy? So far it has been imperceptible. Google looks to have a very bright future ahead of it.

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