Internet Hit-and-Miss at Google
By Jonathan Berr
TheStreet.com Senior Writer
Many Google users aren't bothering to check out some of the company's
newest and most-hyped features.
Google Calendar, Google Finance and Google Talk each account for less
than one half of 1% of the traffic to the Google network of Web sites,
according to a review of the top 20 Google domains by the market
research firm Hitwise.
Google Calendar was introduced last month, and Google Finance debuted
in March. The company introduced Google Talk, an instant-messaging
platform, last year. Hitwise did its analysis during the week ending
Not surprisingly, even with all the new Google products out there,
Hitwise found the most popular feature on Google is still search. It
accounts for 80% of the company's traffic. Google has become
synonymous with Internet search, mostly through word of mouth, also
known as viral marketing.
"Google has to realize that viral marketing happens to only a handful
of companies or products and cannot be relied on," says Garrett
Rogers, who writes the Googling Google blog. "Just because Google
search got very lucky with its rapid adoption rate in the past doesn't
mean its other services will."
Nonetheless, the product announcements outside of search show no signs
of letting up. Google says it isn't worried about their slow adoption.
"We've been very happy with how Google Calendar and other products
have been received by users, and we continue to work to make them
better based on the feedback we receive from those users," a Google
In any case, Google is trying to leverage its supremacy in search into
other areas dominated by Microsoft, Yahoo! and other rivals.
This year, Wall Street has been buzzing about the growing competition
faced by the company. Google's shares have dropped 10% -- they fell
$2.02 Friday to $368.97 -- though Yahoo! and Microsoft are both off
more. Of course, Google's stock has more than quadrupled off its
August 2004 initial public offering level.
Google's shares aren't going to move to the $500 level Wall Street
analysts target unless the company can find a way to top itself. The
Hitwise data illustrate that any upside surprise probably isn't going
to come from outside Google's core search business.
Less than 1% of traffic on Google went to Google Maps, the Froogle
shopping site and Google Video Search. Google Base, the free listing
service that some analysts say is a potential threat to eBay
(EBAY:Nasdaq) , didn't make the top 20 list, Hitwise says.
Expectations about the performance of Google Finance may have been
overblown. Hitwise estimates that Yahoo! Finance got the most traffic
of any financial news site during the study period, while Google
Finance ranked 39th.
"It seems like the primary way people are getting there is searching
for stock symbols," says Bill Tancer, Hitwise's general manager of
global research of Google Finance. "It does not have the customizeable
functionality that you have in Yahoo! Finance."
To be sure, plenty of people continue to flock to Google. Unique
visitors to the company's network of sites rose 38% to 105.8 million
in April, according to comScore Networks. Google also continues to
have a stranglehold on the search market that shows no signs of
In fact, Google emphasized its commitment to search during its recent
open house for members of the press and industry analysts. The company
also told the crowd that an internal audit found that its employees
weren't meeting their requirements to devote 70% of their time to
If Google is slacking off in search, its competitors don't seem to be
benefiting. Google once again gained market share in April, while
rivals such as Yahoo! and MSN lost it, according to comScore. However,
Yahoo! has questioned comScore's claims that it is losing market
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