Marissa Mayer Enlists Oracle To Trick You Into Using Yahoo Search

If you don't pay close attention, you may end up switching your default search engine without realizing it. That's the whole idea, really. During Yahoo's annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, company boss Marissa Mayer talked about how search was in Yahoo's DNA and always will be. More importantly, she announced a three-year partnership with Oracle aimed at getting more users to try Yahoo's search engine.

As part of the partnership, Yahoo will be the default search provider for Oracle's Java software. What this means is when you install or update Java, the software will ask permission to change your browser's default search engine and homepage to Yahoo. The option to change both will be selected by default, so if you're accustomed to hurrying through the installation menus, you'll end up with a Yahoo-centric web experience.

Marissa Mayer

This is the same trick that free software often uses to bundle other programs as a way of staying free. For example, you might download a free utility for your PC, but if you don't pay attention, you could end up installing a screensaver and other software included in the installer package. It's a bit sneaky, but also effective, as many users just mash the "Next" button assuming that they're simply skipping over boring legalese and default installation directories that they don't plan to change.

Yahoo's partnership has the potential to significantly boost its share of the search market. As Mayer pointed out to shareholders, Java is installed on nearly nine out of 10 PCs (89 percent) in the U.S. The distribution rate is stellar, and it means that Yahoo only needs a small fraction of users to leave the default settings alone when installing or updating Java in order to make a dent in the search market.

According to data from Net Market Share, Yahoo's share of the global search market sits at 9.26 percent, just shy of Bing at 9.86 percent and way below Google at 68.54 percent. If narrowing our focus to the U.S., comScore pegs Yahoo's share of the search market at 12.7 percent, compared to Microsoft at 20.1 percent and Google at 64.4 percent.