Microsoft's Bing search engine picked up more steam in January, but can the company keep it up?
According to Web analytics firm comScore (NASDAQ: SCOR), Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Bing broke through to 11 percent of U.S. searches last month.
The tracking firm is set to release its January figures Wednesday, however, one of the firm's clients provided the basic numbers to InternetNews.com on Tuesday afternoon.
This is the eighth consecutive month that Microsoft Bing has gained ground since its launch in early June, by comScore's methodology. In January, Bing hit 11.3 percent -- up from 10.7 percent in December.
Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO), in contrast, had its 12th straight decline, slipping 0.3 percent since December to 17 percent of U.S. searches.
Meanwhile, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) also lost a little of its dominant market share. In January, Google dropped from 65.7 percent in December to 65.4 percent, also a loss of 0.3 percent.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has said that, after lackluster attempts to become a major player in search in the past, this time he intends for his company to be successful vis-à-vis Google, although he has not specified what that means.
Ballmer did say last year that he is willing to spend as much as 5 to 10 percent of Microsoft's operating income for the next five years to achieve success in search.
The Microsoft Yahoo hook-up
Ballmer even went so far as to make a deal with Yahoo to provide Bing's search infrastructure to the other firm's Web sites in return for part of those sites' advertising revenues. That deal was finally signed in December. It still awaits regulatory approval in the U.S. and the European Union.
While the Microsoft and Yahoo deal will not yield a single combined competitor to go against Google, the two companies' combined market share, as measured in January, would make them a strong number two competitor with a total of 28.3 percent market share between them.