Do you Microhoo?

Rory Geraghty

“Just Google it.”

“I don’t use Gmail. I like my Yahoo Mail.”

“Do you have an MSN or AIM screen name?”

We’ve all heard similar phrases. For better or worse, it is clear that the culture of the Internet has invaded our lives, and it is here to stay. Last week, a potentially significant shift in power may have occurred.

Last Friday, Microsoft made an unsolicited offer of $44.6 billion to purchase Yahoo. The offer was made in a letter from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to Yahoo’s board.

For those who follow the ebb and flow of the power companies on the Internet, the offer is not completely surprising. In a statement, Ballmer said “we have great respect for Yahoo, and together, we can offer an increasingly exciting set of solutions for consumers, publishers and advertisers while becoming better positioned to compete in the online-services market.”

Blah, blah, blah.

What does it mean for us, the users?

According to Ballmer, we can look forward to an “exciting set of solutions.”


Until I’m convinced otherwise, this potential deal is simply the effect of Google’s dominance trickling down into the market of Internet consumption. In the current landscape, it would be a historic upset if Google were to lose ground in the Internet search engine business due to the potential Yahoo buyout. Crazier things have happened.

On second thought, I don’t think crazier things have happened – at least, not in terms of the world of Internet business.

Google is dominating the search engine market to such a degree that in order for Microsoft to have even a palatable place in the pecking order, they decided to try to purchase the most-visited Web site in the world. Yes, Google is the second-most visited site. Windows Live comes in fourth place on the list. Microsoft clearly is not struggling, but in the competitive marketplace on online business, Google is setting the pace.

Because Google essentially dictates search traffic on the Web, their ad revenue is staggering. Naturally, Microsoft wants to get a piece of that pie. Yahoo may be the most heavily visited site in the world, but it is mainly due to their most popular properties – Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Answers.

This raises a few interesting issues.

If the buyout does occur, will Microsoft be innovative enough to use their newfound might to overtake Google, even though Web searching is not necessarily the strong suit of Windows Live or Yahoo? Will MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger combine to create a super instant messaging program? Will Microsoft’s Hotmail service team up with Yahoo Mail to trump the recent success of Google’s Gmail?

Many interesting issues arise when such a groundbreaking deal is imminent. When details about the AOL Time Warner merger leaked early in the year 2000, the online world was in a frenzy. It seems as if the reaction is a bit calmer this time around, most likely due to the lack of success of the AOL Time Warner deal.

Most pundits are anticipating a Yahoo approval of the deal, as it represents more than a 60 percent increase in their stock price. When the deal is signed, it will signal a change in the world of Internet business. It will also make it very clear that Google is still winning the race.

As consumers, we can only hope that the deal brings a new form of competition to the equation. The idea of Microsoft buying another mega-company is definitely intriguing. Let’s hope that it brings even more forward thinking from the Internet industry.

Rory Geraghty is a senior electronic media production major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].