Google's excellent adventure

More good news for Google. The same day the search engine giant's stock price managed to reach and hold above $300, the company learned that its lead has grown. Google's market share in the United States, as defined by the percentage of search traffic it sends to other Web sites, has reached 52 percent, more than double its closest competitor, Yahoo, which has 25 percent, according to WebSideStory. The company tracks what Web sites send traffic to sites owned by more than 700 business customers. MSN was a distant third with 10 percent. Google's market share outside the U.S. was even higher, with 91 percent in Germany, 80.7 percent in Australia and 73.6 percent in the United Kingdom, WebSideStory said. Google's market share has grown from 12 percent in 2001 and 32.5 percent in 2002. It surpassed Yahoo in 2003 and has maintained the lead since, according to the figures.

Meanwhile, Google's stock price surged to a high of $309 before easing off to close at $302. The company's market capitalization is now $83.9 billion, making it the most valuable media company around, despite its denials that it is a media company. With a market capitalization of $76 billion, it beats Yahoo, at $50 billion, and Time Warner, which includes AOL, at $79.5 billion. It has been a meteoric rise for the company, whose stock was $85 when it went public 10 months ago. The news prompted The Motley Fool Web site to suggest Google consider a stock split. However, the article says that move isn't likely--"it's not as if the company has ever been in a hurry to drive its stock down to more conventional tech stock pricing."

Also today, Google said it had tweaked its personalized search service to make it more automated. The company also launched a new 3-D mapping service.

Google's windfall is bringing back memories of the heady days of the dot-com boom. The difference is that companies now have proven business models and online advertising is booming. And Google is in a sweet spot as the No. 1 search site at a time when people are more and more reliant on the Web to find everything from where to buy the cheapest camera phone to where to find the nearest cab.

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