My timing on writing about the new Yahoo home page was either really good or really bad. I sat around speculating and critiquing and wondering and then Microsoft and Yahoo teamed up anyway.
You know, I have been writing about search engines for a loooooong time — over 13 years at this point. I have seen a lot of search engines come and go. Mostly go. I should just shrug and let this partnership go as well, recognizing that Yahoo-the-search is sort of becoming a “skin” for Microsoft’s search technology. But I’m finding that a little hard to do. This announcement is getting on my nerves for several reasons:
THE TECH — Yahoo has been neglecting its core search purpose for a long time, and I’ve been saying that for a long time. But on the other hand there’s plenty of places where it’s still innovating and it’s still doing good things. Yahoo Pipes. SearchMonkey. BOSS. (A post on the Yahoo Developer Network Blog says Pipes is okay but there’s no news on SearchMonkey or BOSS.) This is not a situation where a search engine had run out of innovation or ideas. I don’t want this deal to stop the innovation that Yahoo is doing!
THE TIME — The official press release for this announcement notes that “The transaction will be subject to regulatory review….The companies are hopeful that closing can occur in early 2010.” The press release also states that full implementation of the agreement is “expected to occur within 24 months following regulatory approval.” Say that regulatory approval takes six months. (Which seems to me to be conservative.) Then say that implementation of the agreement takes the full 24 months. That’s two-and-a-half YEARS. Which is what in Internet time? A decade? We could have completely skipped Internet search by then. We could be using Wolfram|Alpha for fact-based search, geolocated sensors for local physical data, and Gwitter for everything else.
THE PLAYERS — The same press release said, “With the addition of Yahoo!’s search volume, Microsoft will achieve the size and scale required to unleash competition and innovation in the market, for consumers as well as advertisers.” It always grinds my nerves when Microsoft plays the underdog. Microsoft has a market cap of 213 BILLION dollars, and none of those dollars have “MAY NOT BE USED FOR INNOVATING IN SEARCH” printed on them. The only time Microsoft will be a genuine underdog is if Martians attack. With nuclear weapons. With this Yahoo agreement Microsoft is getting a great spot on the Web’s search stage. But that won’t mean anything if the two companies don’t stop trying to out-goog GOOG and focus on the underserved areas of search online.
(Yes, there are underserved areas. I swear under my breath at them every day.)
Enough ranting. If you haven’t gotten enough coverage of this story — and it’s only beginning, I expect this deal with be dissected eight ways to Sunday — you can get some good overviews at the following stories: