Posted January 16, 2009 8:14 am by with 19 comments

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Military intelligence. Jumbo shrimp. Business ethics. All classic oxymorons. For those of us in the internet marketing search-logosbiz probably the most obvious one is Microsoft Search.

In light of the changes that have just occurred at Yahoo! there is renewed talked about what will happen to the Yahoo! search business. If there are rumors then there has to be mention of Microsoft. Today’s WSJ has a very in depth story that outlines the history of misses and mistakes that makes up Microsoft’s foray into the search business.

Today, we all can agree that Live Search is not exactly a market leader. They are the red-headed stepchild of the search industry (my apologies to all redheads reading this). In fact, the idea of Live Search still brings up reactions like “Microsoft does search?” to “Microsoft can’t do search.” to “Microsoft should stop trying to do search.” and all stops in between. As the article shows though, it’s not for lack of trying.

If you want the details you should check out the article. I’ll hit the high points for you. First, the opportunities that have been completely whiffed on by Microsoft to enter the search market are huge to say the least. Steve Ballmer has been at the center of all of them for the most part. In 2000 the company shut down its competitive product to the fledgling Google after only two month due to the concern that they would cannibalize other revenue streams. Huh? That one must look pretty stupid this far away in the rear view mirror. Second, there are numerous derailings, misreads and missteps that have occurred that have been well documented. While the past is not pretty the immediate future looks less than rosy as well.

Now admittedly this is a long quote but it says a lot so read on:

Mr. Ballmer is facing many challenges over the next year. A worsening economy is forcing him to consider cutting workers to an unprecedented degree in coming days. There’s no guarantee that a deal for Yahoo’s Web-search business would propel the company to the forefront of a rapidly changing industry, where competitors include “vertical search” engines for specialty areas such as health care. Many industry experts say Google’s present service may ultimately be seen as a primitive precursor to more-advanced services that better handle video or render results in three-dimensions. Microsoft, Yahoo and Google are all investing in such areas (emphasis added).

This is a pretty interesting line to toss in the middle of this history lesson on Microsoft’s search mishaps. If industry experts are right that the current Google model is indeed a primitive precursor what does that mean to internet marketers and maybe more importantly when?

Here’s your chance to be the search industry prognosticator that you know you are. Would it benefit Microsoft to buy a soon to be antiquated model with Yahoo! Search? Is there someone lurking in the shadows to be the next Google or are all efforts futile to unseat the royalty of the search world since Google will define the next generation of search anyway? So many questions and so many opinions.

Looking forward to your thoughts. Have a great weekend and try to stay warm.

  • I would pinch pennies and avoid Yahoo search. They’re not that big in the industry to waste the money on it. Introducing better video search and maybe even including Seeqpod-esque technology into the search engine would be a better approach in my eyes.

    I can’t believe they shut it down at google’s start though. That’s classic.

  • You forgot Dodge Ram 🙂

  • Bahhh, Microsoft Searches, Google Finds

    Guilhem’s last blog post..Entrepreneurview : Jrmy Oinino et Olivier Cahan, de CapAngel

  • Cutting jobs I should imagine will be in operations and not in research for Micro Soft. If they are sitting on cash in a depressed market, it would still make sense to try and take over Yahoo and build on its existing research strengths.

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..MP3 Music

  • MS cutting jobs is likely to be in their operations and not in research. Rather than sit on cash, in a depressed market situation, it would still make sense to acquire Yahoo and build on its research strengths.

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..MP3 Music

  • This would be a catastrophic move. Yahoo has never been promising. Instead, it is losing its market share month by month, year by year. I think that Microsoft would be better off to start fresh with something from their own labs, or a smaller ‘search engine’ with greater potential. If they take Yahoo, they’d know what not to do, but they still wouldn’t know how to turn it into success.

    As for the notion that ‘search’ as we know it is still in primitive form… I doubt it. Yes, things are always changing, but I doubt that we will see dramatic changes anytime soon.

    Shirley’s last blog post..Why Are Bloggers Writing Shorter And Shorter Posts?

  • @ Quilmes Verano – I think we should open this up as well to some creative internet marketing oxymorons. If it’s based on something that to me as seemed to be more hype than real it’s ‘personalized search’. That should set some folks off.

    Frank Reed’s last blog post..What Internet Marketers Can Learn from a Pilot

  • Never thought of it that way but I guess it is an oxymoron.

    Utah SEO Pro’s last blog post..An Interview with Utah SEO Pro (Jordan Kasteler) by Martin Bowling

  • Guilhem, that’s an AWESOME statement lol.

  • PS3

    @R & B Love, don’t you mean Live!, not Yahoo?

  • “They (Microsoft) are the red-headed stepchild of the search industry”. Great line Frank!

  • You’re drinking too much kool-aid.

    Quantcast estimates that more than 100 million people used combined Microsoft search in December. Compete shows almost as high an estimate.

    Only Google, with 137 million or so visitors, still outperforms Microsoft in the search market but Microsoft is growing its audience faster than Google.

    Anyone in the SEO industry who poo-poos Microsoft search is living with yesterday’s metrics and needs to get on track with better data that is now publicly available.

    People search more at Google not to find Web sites but to find information that Google serves up directly from its own content (including but not limited to: addresses, telephone numbers, product prices, videos, news, blog posts, calculations, definitions, and discussion groups). Approximately half of all Google searches are conducted by fewer than 14 million people, according to Quantcast’s estimates.

    It is extremely naive for people in the SEO industry to be talking like Microsoft doesn’t matter, or like Google really dominates Web search. There are no kings of the hill in Web search and there hasn’t been for a long time.

    Microsoft doesn’t need to buy Yahoo!, Yahoo! search, or any other search tools. Microsoft just needs to keep doing what it’s doing because in a contracting Web search industry Microsoft is the only major player actually growing its market share.

    Michael Martinez’s last blog post..Predatory SEO Techniques

  • What Microsoft has had and still has is positioning authority, though. Many people buy a computer, get accustomed to what’s on it, and don’t change. Microsoft bets on that… it’s why they have market share over a superior browser, Firefox, and why their search still generates an oversized piece of the pie. There’s only something better when you decide to look for it!

    Douglas Karr’s last blog post..Who’s Holding Your Oil Can?

  • You’ve got a good point there, Douglas. Technology is still very alien to a large percentage of people and the nature of the beast is such that it tends to use the pre-loaded/bundled applications to do the basics with. The mere fact that people are still buying Office, when OpenOffice is available as a free open source alternative is beyond comprehension, but illustrates your point very well.

  • very good point! Lots of people are clueless when it comes to internet and programs

  • that’s because Live is absolutely terrible… one use… MSN

  • If they’re still intent about buying Yahoo! they must know something about Carol Bartz that the rest of us aren’t aware of yet

  • In my opinion Microsoft search is alot better than Yahoo. However neither of them can even be compared to Google, as the search results quality of Microsoft and Yahoo are so poor. Im surprised people still use Yahoo.

  • I am surprised Steve B has managed to keep his CEO job so long. He was given the role in Jan 2000. Look at what has happened to MS stock prices since (Click on the max button to see the full time series from 1986 through to today);range=my;indicator=volume;charttype=line;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=on;source=undefined

    A fall from $49 dollars to18 dollars today.

    Not a sign of good decision making in my books