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February 19, 2008

Just Give Me a Search Engine That Competes!

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We’ve been talking about Yahoo and its long list of potential suitors for a couple of weeks now. But I have a question. What do people want to see happen? I mean, the preferred outcome for all of this is what exactly?

There are lots of new headlines today regarding what may or may not happen. The New York Times says Microsoft will authorize a proxy fight, Reuters reports that Microsoft will invest heavily in search regardless of what happens with Yahoo (duh?), fellow chick SEO blogger Jordan McCollum writes about how AOL is Yahoo’s Sweetheart of the week, while BigMouthMedia says Yahoo may come ’round to Microsoft’s bid and that the AOL/Yahoo talk is just noise. All great sensational headlines. But which is the outcome that’s going to get people dancing in the streets and excited about search again?

I’ll be honest. I don’t really care what happens. I don’t care if Microsoft buys Yahoo or if Yahoo decides to go it alone or if Yahoo pairs up with AOL to create some sort of mutually beneficially partnership. Susan could buy both Microsoft and Yahoo and merge them together with a superhero mascot for all I care and it wouldn’t bother me. I just want to see more competition and less blatant sucking.

You could argue that a Microsoft/Yahoo merger would actually kill competition since we’re going from three top competitors to just two, but that’s just silly. Everyone knows it’s just a one dog show. As much as I want to hail Ask and talk about how awesome they are, we really don’t have anyone competing with Google on a grand scale. Microsoft may be doing some fun things with adCenter, Yahoo has some neat portals and Ask is kicking Google’s ass in blended search, but there’s no engine that can do all three. Or even two. That’s what we need. No more winning the small battles, we need to groom an engine to win the war. Or at least show up to the war prepared. It’s cute watching Ask try to conquer Google while shooting rubber bands at their ankles, but wouldn’t it be fun to hand them the grenade launcher and see what they can do? I think so.

And that’s really all I want. Some decision or turn of events that will finally set that ball in motion. If Microsoft can buy Yahoo, help them actually use their verticals, and combine Microsoft’s adCenter with Y!SM’s eyeballs, that would be awesome. However, I don’t really think that’s going to happen. I think we’re going to see Microsoft turn this into a hostile takeover situation. And if they do get Yahoo in their clutches, then what? What’s the plan? Because I don’t really have too much faith in Microsoft not to screw this up. They’ll take over Yahoo and then will fail at trying to leverage it. Do you know how messy it’s going to be to merge these two behemoths? Seriously. It’s going to be a nightmare and while they’re trying to get all that worked out and fighting with antitrust regulators, Google is going to be improving itself, and getting better and stronger and taking more of people’s money and privacy.

And this whole Yahoo/AOL deal? [scoffs] Fine. I’d get behind it if I thought Yahoo could actually do something interesting with AOL, but is either company even capable of being "interesting"? I vote no. There as to be another way to get things moving. Can’t Microsoft and Yahoo and Ask work together to be stronger competitors without cannibalizing? Can we just kick out Jerry Yang and get some creative behind the wheels at Yahoo?

What do you want to see happen in the battle of search?

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One response to “Just Give Me a Search Engine That Competes!”

  1. Matt Cutts writes:

    “… wouldn’t it be fun to hand them [Ask] the grenade launcher and see what they can do?”

    Grenade launchers? Grenade launchers? I categorically vote for no grenade launching..



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