foobar on computers, software and the rest of the world

Is a Yahoo/Google alliance better than Microsoft buying Yahoo?

, posted: 5-Feb-2008 13:05

The proposed $45 billion acquisition of Yahoo by Microsoft has created a tremendous amount of coverage, even in the main-stream media. Clearly, Yahoo as the world's most visited web-site, and Microsoft as the world's most successful and ubiquitous software company are capable of generating massive interest across the board.

Microsoft's offer has been called 'hostile' by a number of commentators now, and so it is not surprising that possible alternatives for troubled Yahoo are being discussed. One of the more surprising ones that has emerged is a possible cooperation or alliance of Yahoo with its arch-rival Google.

This would be a really odd configuration, and I'm not quite sure yet what to think about it. On one hand there are a number of rather bad consequences possible for free and open software, should Microsoft succeed in its bid, as I had pointed out in my previous article about the acquisition proposal. This ranges from reduced funding and support for important open source projects (which Yahoo had provided for a number of reasons) all the way to forcing Microsoft proprietary technologies – such as Silverlight and others – onto the Yahoo-using masses. This article here provides a good summary.

Google has not always been the best open source citizen, but it has been quite steadfast in the use of open source technologies and has also supported a number of them. While more Linux focused than Yahoo (which tends to be more in the FreeBSD camp), it could be expected that such an alliance would allow the Yahoo team to continue to make its own technology decisions and to continue support for open source projects.

On the other hand, as I mentioned before (, Google is getting too big and powerful already as is. It's easy to imagine that any alliance between Google and Yahoo will not come free of charge. Google will demand access to the all important tracking data of users, so that it effect, it can expand its reach across the Internet even further. Yahoo was my independent alternative of choice against the Google 'information kraken', and such a 'data sharing' agreement would definitely put eliminate Yahoo as an effective alternative to Google.

In the end, however, I feel I have to come down on the side of a (more or less) independent Yahoo, even if it is in an alliance with Google. There are still some alternative search engines out there, which I may choose to use. I can also delete cookies, or even start browsing through proxies on the day that paranoia finally gets the better of me. That is something I can personally do. But I cannot personally undo any damage that Microsoft may inflict on free software by lofting its proprietary technology on the users, furthering its platform lock-in.

Other related posts:
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Comment by Rushabh, on 5-Feb-2008 18:08

i do agree wid you. i personally feel that independent yahoo is much better than micro-hoo or alliance of yahoo-google.

Comment by KevDaly, on 5-Feb-2008 19:01

Google buying Yahoo: Monopoly (well, effectively Google has one already)
Google in partnership with Yahoo: Cabal (and let's be honest - Yahoo would have the same relationship to Google that Palau and the Marshall Islands have to the US).
Microsoft buying Yahoo: Not dangerous to anyone except Microsoft shareholders and both companies' workforces (Microsoft/Yahoo has no wedge against Google, and won't unless Google starts seriously annoying its users), but completely pointless. A futile exercise in buying eyeballs for ads that people don't look at anyway (if a recession hits, companies will look more closely at what if anything their advertising spending gets them. I expect to see quite a few business models go down the gurgler about then).
Microsoft also seem to be ignoring the likelihood that a lot of Yahoo users will defect following a Microsoft purchase.

Comment by Ken Bacon, on 6-Feb-2008 02:42

I personally, have never used Yahoo as a search engine. Does this possible "merger" effect people like me? Doubt it.

Comment by Johnby, on 14-Feb-2008 12:16

I don't care what the percentage of market share is at the moment, the only thing that matters is technolgy and Google is far ahead. Its going to dominate contextual search advertising and search itself until someone provides a comparably efficient and effective product.

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foobar's profile

New Zealand

  • Who I am: Software developer and consultant.
  • What I do: System level programming, Linux/Unix. C, C++, Java, Python, and a long time ago even Assembler.
  • What I like: I'm a big fan of free and open source software. I'm Windows-free, running Ubuntu on my laptop. To a somewhat lesser degree, I also follow the SaaS industry.
  • Where I have been: Here and there, all over the place.

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