Silicon Valley’s Love Triangle

15 06 2008

Yahoo Logo Could there be a more talked about subject in the technology world than the Yahoo-Microsoft-Google love triangle? Even the launch of the 3G iPhone has been overshadowed!

Everyone and their dog has given their opinion on this, and Mr President thinks its his turn. Most, apparently, seem to believe that Yahoo cut their nose off to spite their face by rebuffing Microsoft’s advances.

Yet some, and Mr President falls into this camp, believe that partnership with Google always made more sense. In fact he agrees with the idea that this was something Yahoo should have done years ago. The fact of the matter is, whether the “purists” like it or not, Google have a search monopoly for a reason. They do it better than anyone else.

Idealists see all monopolies as inherently bad. Yet that needn’t be the case, just as it’s possible to have a benevolent dictatorship, it’s entirely possible to have a monopoly that benefits the consumer. The problems really only arise when the monopoly isn’t based on meritocracy but purely on financial clout. This is really what seperates a Microsoft monopoly from a Google one. One is based on innovation, the other on aggression.

Let’s face it, Microsoft have never been particularly good at producing credible web-based services. Does anybody still use Hotmail/Live mail? It consistently fails to handle spam effectively, both allowing genuine spam to seep through its filters with far too much regularity, and incorrectly marking too many legitimate messages as spam.

One thing Yahoo does do pretty well is email. It’s also something Google do pretty well, albeit the Gmail interface could look a lot better. Personally Mr President spies an opportunity for the two of them to get together on the email front too, but the beauty of this partnership with Google is that it leaves Yahoo free to pursue other options with their email. If they’re able to get a good CEO in place that’s a jewel in their crown.

Although he would admit that he would favour a Google monopoly over a Microsoft one on purely idealistic grounds anyway, Mr President also believes that had Microsoft acquired Yahoo it would have opened a black hole in Microsoft’s pockets. Trying to beat Google at search is a fool’s errand, especially with Microsoft’s abysmal track record.

Such an acquisition could only have been bad for the consumer (although clearly good for shareholders), as the resulting product would not only have failed to provide the competition in the search engine market that Mike Arrington was looking for, but could arguably have been even more inferior than the current Yahoo or Microsoft offerings.

A Google-Yahoo partnership can only lead to improved search, IM and email services.


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