While the bulk of the new search site's results are still obtained from Yahoo!, this may not last for very long, as Microsoft has unofficially unveiled their new search engine technology, in development on their "sandbox" site sandbox.msn.com. Expected to be ready for full deployment within a year, this new search engine could give the big players like Yahoo! and Google a real run for their money.
According to Jupiter Research senior analyst Gary Stein, "It's way too early to pick a winner, but this is the path they're going down, and they're going down it with a lot of speed."
Microsoft's actions are understandable in light of their current position in the lucrative search market, where they hold an estimated 15% market share, in contrast to the estimated 35% held by Google and the 30% held by Yahoo!
Corporate vice president of MSN Yusuf Mehdi, commented that "With this significant upgrade to MSN Search, we are delighted to now offer what we believe is the best search service available for the 350 million MSN customers."
Google will not likely take the challenge lying down, as insiders watch for the search giant's move from cyberspace to the desktop, among other brand-strengthening moves. Pacific Growth Equities analyst Derek Brown commented that "There are other search technologies in the marketplace that are as good or better than Google's, but Google's got phenomenal mind share, which translates into phenomenal market share."
The jury is still out on whether Google can retain that mind share better than Netscape did in the face of the Microsoft juggernaut.