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In a surprising development, the company synonymous with search is losing ground to the company synonymous with control-alt-delete. In the last month, Microsoft's Bing broke a landmark barrier, powering 30 percent of all U.S. searches according to the Internet data measurement firm Hitwise. Google, meanwhile, lost 3 percent of its share in March, powering 64 percent of all U.S. searches. Though unlikely, if Bing's explosive growth continues apace, it will surpass Google's search traffic by January 2012.

Though some of Bing's growth can be attributed to Microsoft's aggressive advertising campaign, Alex Wilhelm, who first latched onto the Hitwise data, says that an "effective ad spend" can't possibly account for Bing's 5 percent, month-over-month growth.

Mashable's Christina Warren, meanwhile, charts the trajectory of Bing's growth, showing the point in January 2012 at which Bing would overtake Google if search trends continue to hold.

"Of course, this assumes sustained growth and sustained losses on the parts of both search engines. In a volatile market, it is extremely unlikely that we’ll see these exact numbers over the next year," writes Warren. "What isn’t hypothetical is that Bing has real momentum. After years of referring to Google as 'the search giant,' it looks as if there is a serious contender for that title--and we could be heading towards an era dominated by two search superpowers."

Tom Foremskin takes that notion further saying the data is further evidence of Google's decline. "Google definitely seems to have worn out its welcome with many of its constituencies. It has done well for a very long time but these days there is an 'embattled' feel about the search giant." His primary complaint with its search technology is its PageRank algorithm which is "overrun by spam sites" despite recent tweaks.

In any case, it's always good to have more competition in the search space. Microsoft's attempt to win search traffic from Google resulted in its investment into its ticket forecast technology, which is great for buying plane tickets for the right price. That, in turn, spurred on Google's acquisition of ITA Software, a company that provides flight scheduling technology, which will likely bring about an even better airline ticketing service. As Google is forced to compete with Microsoft (and vice versa), consumers win.

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