October 12, 2006

Memo to Yahoo! and Microsoft: You're Not Google

As the reverberations of Google's massive acquisition of YouTube take hold, much of the media's interest has turned to the other big Web giants out there to see their take. It turns out that Yahoo! itself was "this close" to acquiring YouTube, but the company simply moved too slowly, brought down by bureaucracy, while Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer, doesn't know if YouTube's hype is sustainable, and the company wasn't part of the chase.

With Google garnering the elephant's share of positive press mentions over the last few years, Yahoo! and Microsoft have turned into also-rans in the search race, and are more frequently looking like technology copycats rather than innovators. While Yahoo! has matched Google pound for pound in acquisitions (such as Flickr), Microsoft has bandied about in 3rd place, or worse, by most rankings, most known for hyped mediocrity on the level of Zune and LiveSpaces, with the company's races to rebrand from MSN to Live being the most recent shakeup - which in the long run probably won't benefit end users - instead being the Web's version of microwaved left-overs.

Yahoo! rose to prominence in the 1990s by developing a unique, familiar, personable directory. Microsoft rose to prominence through developing an operating system that ran on commodity hardware, and strategic partnering. Google rose to prominence through the world's best search engine. Google, though making noise about office productivity, isn't getting in the operating system battle, and hasn't yet opened up a directory service. Yahoo! isn't making desktop applications. So why the need to copy Google over and over and over? Is there just not enough market cap and revenue to go around for three mega-companies? I think each company has their place, and should forge forward to make their services better for customers.

Related Links:

BusinessWeek: The Web According to Ballmer
eWeek: Ballmer: Windows Live is Top Microsoft Priority
New York Times: Yahoo's Growth Being Eroded by New Rivals