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Consumer Satisfaction Doesn't Equal Market Share

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Earlier this week J.D. Power and Associates released the findings of its "2006 Residential Online Service Customer Satisfaction Study." The study, based on a survey of more than 10,000 U.S. residential Internet users, found that Yahoo Messenger ranked the highest among IM clients and that – and this is something of a surprise – InfoSpace's Dogpile had the highest rankings among search engines.

Here are the rankings of IM clients in terms of customer satisfaction:

1. Yahoo! Messenger
2. MSN Messenger
3. Windows Messenger
4. Instant Message Average
5. Google Talk
6. Trillian
7. AIM/AOL Instant Messenger

Compare that to U.S. IM market share (per Nielsen//Netratings):

1. AOL
2. MSN
3. Yahoo
4. Google

The J.D. Power report also said that U.S. residential IM usage was flat vs. 2005, at 36%. Yet the survey found that "among customers who report using IM on a regular or occasional basis, nearly 70 percent report that to some degree, instant messaging has replaced the use of traditional telephones." There are implications here for traditional telephony that are striking and worth further exploration.

Probably more interesting to readers of this blog are the search-engine findings. The survey reported that 75% of residential Internet subscribers used multiple search engines.

Here's the market-share breakdown that J.D. Power found:

1. Google: 51% (up 8 points from 2005)
2. Yahoo: 17% (down 4 points)
3. AOL: 9% (down 1 point)

The release doesn't report on the respective shares of Ask or MSN/Windows Live. Presumably they constitute the remaining 23% of usage or something approaching that.

Compare comScore August search market share data:

1. Google Sites: 44%
2. Yahoo: 28.7%
3. MSN: 12.5%
4. AOL: 5.6%
5. Ask: 5.5%

Here are the J.D. Power survey's customer satisfaction findings. Little used Dogpile was ranked number one:

1. Dogpile
2. Ask.com
3. Google
4. Yahoo! Search
5. AOL Search
6. MSN Search
7. Internet Explorer (treated as a search engine in the survey)

I don't have any insight into the survey methodology so we have to take the results at face value. But 10,000+ respondents is a very large sample. A disconnect is the difference between search engine market share and the satisfaction ratings. Based on these findings one would think that if Ask and (especially) Dogpile could gain broader awareness and visibility they might be able to gain some share.


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