The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend

With the recent discussions surrounding the possible purchase, or hostile takeover, of Yahoo! by Microsoft, I'm left with a fairly simple question.  Will it do any good?

It's no secret that neither Yahoo! nor Microsoft have been able to come close to securing as much of the search market share as Google. In all honesty, Google has absolutely trounced everyone in the business and has been steadily creeping into other markets to do more of the same, because Google's products work.  The vast majority of their products do exactly what they say they're going to do.  Not only that, but Google hasn't been as openly evil about squashing everyone in their path (a lesson Microsoft never quite figured out).

Google is at the very top of its game and expanding rapidly into every other market including outer space!  Both Yahoo! and Microsoft have been trying for years to take Google down a peg or two with no success and it isn't for a lack of trying.  The two companies have even been working together in recent years, but they haven't been able to make a dent in Google's almost monopolistic rule of search.   So what will they be able to accomplish as a single company that they haven't been able to accomplish as partners?

If anything, a merging of numbers 2 and 3 will require a lengthy blending period, stalling their plans for some time.  By all accounts, a merger would be a long, hard road to travel, because each company has its own set of fiercely loyal employees.  Employees whose loyalty may only be outweighed by their sheer hatred of the other company.  That creates a hostile working environment at best.  There's even been reference to open internal sabotage if the companies go through with a merger.  However, even if they embraced each other with loving, open arms (doubtful), would they be more likely to unhinge Google operating as a single company?  I doubt it. 

Google has won its large share of the market by consistently delivering quality results.  Their stuff works.  Period.  Google may not have the communal feel of Yahoo! or the . . . stuffy, business-like image of Microsoft (?), but they do have reliable and relevant search results and that's what we're talking about.  Still, if there is to be a merger, Yahoo! brings with it a dedicated community and an ever growing set of tools.  Microsoft has gobs and gobs of cash, so they bring the bank to the table.  But, Google has gobs and tools of its own.

It's going to be an uphill battle whether they continue to go it alone or if they eventually join forces.  This is a fight Microsoft should be very familiar because they've been on the Goliath end for decades.  The suits know how hard it is to win a fight this monstrous because they've been squashing the little guys for years.   Having the experience of the opposing side alone should send shivers down their collective spines.

Of course, the old saying is true.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  So, Yahoo! and Microsoft have a common interest at stake - survival.  However, I don't think the common goal of survival by defeating Google is strong enough to abandon the most primal instinct of self-preservation.  A partnership built on envy and fueled by mistrust doesn't stand any better chance than if the two companies continue to attack Google on their own.

Written by Brian Easter on February 8, 2008

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Brian Easter
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