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MSN Search Growth Lags Far Behind Major Rivals

The number of searches on MSN increased by only 9% in March, compared to the same month a year ago, Nielsen/NetRatings said. Growth on Google and Yahoo, on the other hand, soared by 41% and 47%, respectively.

Microsoft Corp.'s MSN portal lagged far behind rivals Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. in search growth in March, a Web metrics firm said Monday.

The number of searches on MSN increased by only 9 percent in March, compared with the same month a year ago, Nielsen/NetRatings said. Growth on Google and Yahoo, on the other hand, soared by 41 percent and 47 percent, respectively, outpacing the overall search growth rate of 36 percent from a year ago.

In terms of number of searchers, Google incrased to 2.9 billion from 2.1 billion, Yahoo to 1.3 billion from 907.8 million, and MSN to 643.8 million from 592.2 million.

Among the top three vendors, MSN was the only one to lose market share year over year in March, dropping to 11 percent from 14 percent, Nielsen/NetRatings said. Google and Yahoo each increased market share by 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Google had 49 percent of the market, and Yahoo had 22 percent. Michael Lanz, vice president of search industry solutions for the market research firm, said Google and Yahoo gained ground as new features, such as video search, increased user loyalty.

"To compete, other search providers must be equally innovative and build consumer trust in their search results," Lanz said in a statement.

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