Did you know that Sellotape, Velcro and Jet Ski aren’t generic names, but brand names? This phenomenon is the process by which registered, trademarked brand names replace the generic term in a market where they have widespread brand recognition, usually to the point of complete saturation. You don’t buy a hot tub, you buy a Jacuzzi. You don’t use inline skates, you use Rollerblades.
You don’t search the internet for something, you “Google it”.
In the western world, Google enjoys the vast majority of market share when it comes to search engine enquiries. There are some rivals, like Bing, that try to hack away at Google anyway they can, but they cower in the shadow cast by the search giant. And it has been this way for some time, with many casualties along the way (Ask Jeeves anyone?). This success has allowed Google to roll into other markets at or around the top, be it with smartphones, wearable tech, or GPS systems.
Perhaps the biggest gulf in search engine market share between Google and an international rival is in South Korea. There, the homegrown Naver portal is the preferred, go-to option. It used to be powered by Yahoo, but they have since split and developed their own engine. Similar to Google, it is very basic by design, and pretty much impenetrable for anybody who doesn’t speak Korean, but they aren’t trying to appeal to anybody else.
For those wondering, Naver’s market share in South Korea is 49.75%, compared to Google’s 36.9%. Google are closing in, so Naver say never.
The Chinese Google, Baidu has a whopping 70%+ market share in its homeland. Google China was established in 2005 to compete with it, but its market share dropped as low as 1.7% in 2013. And it’s not hard to picture why – Baidu offer a very similar range of services for the Chinese speaking population.
Baidu Maps, Baidu Cloud, Baidu Space (a social media platform) and Baidu Encyclopedia (the Chinese Wikipedia) mean that Chinese users don’t need Google to supplement any of the usual services the American site provides. So it’s hard to imagine Google dislodging them any time soon.
While Google may have less market share in Asia, Europe is a stronghold. But there are some exceptions, chief among which is the Czech Republic. Seznam is a search engine that has been the dominant option for a good long while, staving off Google, despite the American giant gaining ground.
Over the border in Slovakia, Google has overtaken Seznam. It may only be a matter of time before Google takes the lead in the Czech Republic too, but Seznam may be able to hold them off for a while. There are differences (Seznam looks more like a traditional news website/Wikipedia than a clean search engine platform) that could work in Seznam’s favor if the public prefer its text heavy approach, but Google could always adopt a different style more in line with Seznam’s if they ever really wanted to make a push for the No. 1 spot.