I saw a bunch of links over the weekend that was touting some small minute gain of Microsoft in the US Search market due to Bing. Most of these posts promote the $100 million in advertising Microsoft is spending and the rave reviews Bing receives for usability as a reason for Google to worry. I think these articles are just ways for people to take a shot at Google or folks that really want to cheer for an underdog. BTW - here's a good synopsis of the recent search postings courtesy of MediaPost.
I've worked with Microsoft for about 10 years. I also spent a while at AT&T so I know how big monopolist companies think. Sure would Microsoft like to knock down Google? Of course. Do I think that's their short term target? No. It is Yahoo. Here's why...
- Microsoft tried buying Yahoo and was turned away. That was the classic telcom move from the 90s. Don't spend the money buying share, spend the money buying the competitor right above you. When Yahoo turned them down, now we see what MSN's plan B was.
- Google has way too many intertwined products that all types of users benefit from. Google has free tools for publishers, advertisers, and consumers. Some like Google Docs and Google Reader cut across multiple user types. Basically thinking about wars fought without computers, Google is an entrenched opponent dug in on a giant mountain - it would require too many battle fronts to take them on. However,
- Yahoo has little defenses. Seriously, how many Yahoo products do you use? Sure they still have a dominant web presence, but they don't work together that well. You use Flickr? Is it integrated with their products? Do you advertise with Yahoo? Is their display advertising inseparable from their search? Do they have intertwined products that all types of users want or use? Yahoo with its new CEO is a company in disarray right now and their search share is clearly within MSN's reach.
- Microsoft needs Google to protect them. Huh? Yes protect them from the Federal Government. Let Google be the dominant force in search and let them take any potential heat. MSN would rather play the David to the Google Goliath and stay out of the Federal Government's anti-trust cross hairs.
Yahoo is the search company in deep trouble because of Bing. Yahoo once lost their lead in search to an upstart named Google because of internal struggles and an unwillingness to invest in their search platform. I'm afraid it will happen again. Microsoft clearly has Yahoo in their sight and Bing was the plan B when buying Yahoo fell apart. Steve Ballmer will get his revenge on Yahoo.