Web search is a fiercely competitive space–as Google points out, “competition is just one click away“. In practice, I take that claim with a grain of salt–but I do think the switching costs are much lower than in most competitive markets. With that in mind, it’s interesting to look at what happens if you search for the name of one of the major search engines on one of its competitor’s sites.
Google returns standard results for such searches:
Bing is generous to a fault, saving you a click if you choose to use one of its leading competitors:
Finally Yahoo, whose CEO claims “we have never been a search company,” seems quite eager to keep searchers from going elsewhere:
It’s easy to dismiss these queries as corner cases, but the logs show that they really happen. And, as browsers increasingly blur the line between an address bar and a search box, it’s not unreasonable to consider that switches between search engines are likely to commence with such queries.