Google Loses Some of Its Mobile Search Dominance to Apps

Google has long been the search engine advertising king. But the company is losing some momentum on the mobile front. So says a new report from market research firm eMarketer.

First, let's be clear how eMarketer defines mobile search advertising. In its paradigm, the market researcher includes paid ads search engines serve, as well as apps and carrier portals to mobile devices. That last part -- specifically the apps -- may be what's affecting Google.

The research by eMarketer shows users are becoming more sophisticated as smartphone and tablet usage rises. They are also blurring the lines between browsers and apps in their own minds. What's more, the report concludes, mobile search behavior is becoming less and less like desktop and laptop searches. All this is leading to a fragmented mobile search advertising market that's chipping away at Google's dominance.

The Rise of App Searches

"Even though browser-based search is a common behavior among mobile owners, search engines are not necessarily the first place smartphone and tablet users turn," said Cathy Boyle, a senior analyst for mobile at eMarketer. "The explosion of mobile app development and usage means mobile users have more -- and more specialized -- alternatives for finding information."

So let's look at the numbers. According to eMarketer, Google's declining share of mobile search dollars is noteworthy against the market fragmentation backdrop. Google owned 82.8 percent of the $2.24 billion mobile search market in 2012. Despite rising mobile search revenue, other players are pushing harder to become the entry portal for mobile information.

Although Google still reigns supreme with browser-based searches on mobile devices, eMarketer said niche search apps are becoming more common in terms of usage and taking incremental market share away from the tech titan. The result: Google's share has dropped to 68.5 percent in 2013 while the long tail of "other"...

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