If you're worried that Google is too big and controls too much of the Web, there's no comfort in today's news that Yahoo and Microsoft have teamed up in search. The already slim chance that the U.S. Justice Department will go after Google on antitrust grounds has dwindled to zero now that there is a "credible" rival in the market for search advertising.
I put "credible" in quotes because the 30 percent of the market held by MicroHoo isn't going to change much in the real world. But since it looks good on paper, the trustbusters (such as they are) would have a hard time making a compelling case for any sort of meaningful action.
[ For more Microsoft-Yahoo news on InfoWorld, see "Microsoft, Yahoo deal was a long time in the making" and "Microsoft and Yahoo are said to have reached a deal" ]
Remember, Microsoft's share of the operating system market was a good 90 percent when the DOJ launched its action back in the 1990s, and there was plenty of opposition in Washington to making a move. What's more, even though the case against Microsoft was very strong, it took forever to resolve and ultimately didn't make a huge difference. Since this would-be case is so much weaker, why would Attorney General Holder and his minions bother?
But there is a real effect on us all: With two giant companies (let's call the alliance MicroHoo) now sharing data on consumers, what little online privacy we had is going to be challenged even more. That will also affect IT, since so many organizations use Google's search appliances and software.
Google's management has great political antennae, and the opportunity to operate with little chance of interference will not be lost on it. In short, Google will be unleashed by this deal.
The big cigars (to use Gary Snyder's apt phrase) at MicroHoo know full well that the alliance will raise red-flag warnings about the increasing concentration of private data in corporate hands. Here's how they addressed it in the announcement:
The agreement protects consumer privacy by limiting the data shared between the companies to the minimum necessary to operate and improve the combined search platform, and restricts the use of search data shared between the companies.