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Survey Questions Google User Loyalty

Nearly two-thirds of Google users are willing to switch to another search engine, according to a new survey.

The poll, taken by InsightExpress for Standard & Poor's Equity Research Services, painted a mixed picture for the search giant. It confirmed that Google is outpacing rivals Yahoo and Microsoft but gave its rivals hope that Google's lead could vanish.

The poll found that nearly half of searchers identify Google as their most-used search engine, followed distantly by Yahoo at 20 percent and MSN at 14 percent. Searchers also claim to be happy with the results they get, with 83 percent saying they are very pleased with their engines and 63 percent saying they have used their main search engine for more than two years.

However, InsightExpress also found that searchers are willing to consider alternatives: 63 percent said they would use a different search engine if it worked better. The findings echo a recent study by market researcher Vividence that concluded other search engines compared well with Google. In that study, Web users found the correct answer to sample searches nearly as often at rival search engines as with Google.

InsightExpress polled 1,000 U.S. adult Internet users in April. The poll has a 3 percent margin of error.

Google rivals Yahoo and Microsoft hope this consumer willingness to switch search loyalties helps them steal search market share. Google has a solid, if not daunting, lead. According to comScore Networks figures from March, Google drew 36 percent of searches to 30 percent for Yahoo and 16 percent for MSN.

In good news for Google, InsightExpress found solid demand for Google's new e-mail service, Gmail. Despite a flurry of reports on privacy concerns surrounding Gmail scanning e-mails for keyword advertising, 23 percent of searchers said they were very likely or somewhat likely to sign up for the service.

In its report on Google, S&P pegged its probable market value at $33 billion to $40 billion.

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