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Thu, Oct 11, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Most of Web's 1.4 million searches a minute use Google

AP AND AFP , NEW YORKAND SAN FRANCISCO

Around the world, Internet users are conducting about 1.4 million searches every minute -- most of them through Google Inc, a new comScore study estimates.

Yet Baidu.com Inc (百度) is strong enough in China and NHN Corp in South Korea to crack the global top five in comScore Inc's inaugural report on worldwide search patterns.

The report, based on August traffic patterns, was scheduled for release yesterday.

In the past, comScore reported search numbers for only a handful of countries.

The numbers from comScore and rival Nielsen/NetRatings are closely watched by industry analysts, even as the measuring firms use online recruitment techniques dismissed by many traditional pollsters.

According to comScore's qSearch 2.0 service, more than 37 billion searches worldwide went through Google in August. That's about 60 percent of all searches, higher than Google's 50 percent in the US.

Yahoo Inc was second worldwide with 8.5 billion, followed by Baidu at 3.3 billion, Microsoft Corp at 2.2 billion and NHN at 2 billion.

In China, one of the few countries where Google is not dominant, Baidu shows how one regional player "can break into the top five globally by their complete control of a very, very large market," said Bob Ivins, comScore's executive vice president.

Baidu's numbers would likely keep increasing, he said, with China's online population.

Baidu entered the Chinese search market much earlier than Google, while NHN successfully tapped Koreans' preference for human interaction over software in getting search results.

Danny Sullivan, editor in chief of the industry Web site Search Engine Land, said Baidu's strength shows that Google is not invincible and "can be beaten in markets ... but it's still going to be a challenge."

Sullivan said search numbers from comScore and Nielsen offer "an extremely rough guide" to the state of the industry, and a shift in market share -- or lack of it -- could help point to whether a new service or strategy is working.

But many financial analysts say the search numbers aren't as useful as cash flows and ad revenue in gauging a stock's performance -- in Google's case, sailing past US$600 on Monday.

"This is a data set that investors understand has its useful purpose, and predicting quarterly [financial] results is not its useful purpose," said Rob Sanderson, an analyst with American Technology Research.

Jordan Rohan, a Web analyst with RBC Capital Markets, is aware of limitations but considers the numbers "the best I've got."

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