This year's American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report is out, and it has some interesting things to say about Google, and their rivalry with upstart Bing. The ACSI, if you've never heard of it before, is a yearly survey put out by the University of Michigan and sponsored by Foresee Results that takes a look at consumer satisfaction in a variety of industries. One of those is the Internet search industry.
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Since it started being measured in 2002, Google has consistently out-scored all other competitors in this arena. For the last two years in a row it has been awarded 86 points out of 100, making it the second-highest rated company in the entire ACSI survey. During the same period of time, Yahoo has held steady at 77. MSN hasn't budged from 75 in three years. You can check out a full graph of the last 7 years at Search Engine Land.
Search Engine Land also reports that these results, along with a recent comScore study that confirms Google users as the most loyal search users, could mean bad things for Bing this year. Unfortunately, the ACSI for 2009 didn't take Bing into account, due to its extremely new status.
This means that, by the time next year's survey rolls around, we'll have a very solid idea of what sort of staying power Bing has. If it can post steady growth over the next year and poach a substantial amount of business away from Google, we'll have more cause to take it seriously. Bing has already dented Google's numbers a little, and the merger with Yahoo has given them a much larger share of the search market than the 9%-ish they had to work with earlier.
The ACSI does make some mention of Bing, stating that it “seems unlikely” that enough customers will desert Google to give Microsoft the lead. It isn't enough for Bing to be a 'good' search engine, they have to be miles better than Google to actually build up enough inertia to make realistic competitors for the search engine crown. The survey ended on a somewhat ominous note, stating that if anyone dethrones Google, MS and Yahoo will be the ones to do it.
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Whatever the truth, we won't really know for sure until next year's survey hits. Month to month numbers can tell us a lot, but the big trends are all that really matter.