Move over Bing, there's a new fourth-biggest search engine on the Internet - Yandex, the Moscow-based web crawler that specialises in recognising the Cyrillic alphabet and Russian-language inflection in search queries.
Yandex users generated 9.46 billion search queries in November and December, according to newly released data on global search engine market share from comScore. That pushed the Russian site past Microsoft, which processed 8.96 billion search queries on its sites over the same period.
As noted by SearchEngineWatch, the latest comScore numbers actually look worse for Bing as a standalone property because the research firm measures queries on several more Microsoft sites, including MSN and Windows Live, in assessing its monthly totals. Bing accounts for about 92 per cent of Microsoft site search queries, so the flagship search engine's two-month tally for November and December was closer to around 8.24 billion search queries, or 1.22 billion off the pace set by Yandex.
The rest of comScore's list was predictable. Google retained its global market share lead with 228.9 billion search queries in the final two months of 2012, Baidu sites were a distant second with 29.1 billion, and Yahoo sites came in third with 17.2 billion. The overall global search market cracked 350 billion queries for the first time ever in a two-month period, according to the research firm.
Microsoft sites held the fourth spot in global search engine market share for several months last year before fast-growing Yandex leapfrogged Microsoft. Bing and other Microsoft sites, which logged 4.58 billion searches last July to Yandex's 3.51 billion, started trending downwards in terms of search queries in the second half of 2012. Yandex, meanwhile, enjoyed solid growth on a monthly basis from July through December.
When Microsoft launched Bing in 2009 after a failed attempt to acquire Yahoo, the task was clear - challenge market leader Google on its turf with an house-developed product. The software giant has thrown a lot of money at doing just that, but insofar as Bing has made modest gains on Google, it's faced new challenges from rapidly growing properties like Yandex and China's Baidu, which cater to non-English speaking Internet users.
The not-so-pretty picture for Microsoft is that Bing now appears to be treading water with regards to the overall global search market. Though to be fair, Bing now powers Yahoo search, so adding the latter company's search query tally to Microsoft's might offer a less distorted picture of where it really stands in the search game.
If you go by unique searches, another stat comScore breaks out, Microsoft search starts looking a whole lot better. Users of Microsoft sites generated 554.8 million unique searches in November and December - pretty far off the pace set by Google, which processed 3.04 billion during that period, but within 30 million or so of the numbers put up by Yahoo and Baidu. Yandex's unique searches for November and December came in at just 147.1 million, according to comScore.
Yandex, meanwhile, recently released an app - dubbed Wonder - that essentially marries Google with social networks and spit out data like what news your friends were following or restaurants they'd recently visited. But Yandex eventually pulled the app after Facebook blocked access to its data, making Wonder much less useful.