So what's it mean for computer users now that Microsoft and Yahoo today finally are announcing their long-anticipated marriage of Microsoft's Bing search engine and Yahoo's premium search advertising tools? Will this change our lives?
Actually, I think this partnership will mean far more for Microsoft and Yahoo and their corporate balance sheets than it will for those of us who are technology consumers, and here's why.
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1) Will search get better due to the deal between the two companies? Now I don't have a crystal ball, but I tried Bing, I played with Bing, I experienced Bing, but Bing, you're no Google search. Yes, it has some cool features, like bringing up found items in new and useful lists that are highly targeted for users, but there's this little problem that no amount of money and advertising can change: people's habits. And my habit, like the habit of tens of millions of computer users around me, is to call up Google whenever and wherever I have to search, every time. It's like a mother's love -- it's there forever.
2) Will Yahoo go to the dogs now that it's linked itself in a partnership deal with the slow, hard-to-steer, behemoth known as Microsoft? I do think there are more risks for Yahoo here than there are for Microsoft. Remember when the huge cable TV conglomerate Time Warner Inc. merged with the original AOL Internet provider back in 2000, thinking it was the wave of the future and all of humanity would follow in a sea of dollar signs and goodwill? And do you know where they are now? Time Warner is spinning off AOL, which has been struggling for years, as it continues to try to figure out just what to do with it. Before teaming with Time Warner, AOL was the king of the Internet, as we all clamored to have slow, software-laden Internet access at $2.99 an hour like the good consumer lemmings we were in those days. But then cheaper, faster access arrived with DSL, cable, and all-you-can-use plans, but AOL and stodgy Time Warner couldn't react quickly enough. There's a lesson here. Bigger isn't always better. I read that in a fortune cookie. I could have saved Time Warner and AOL a lot of money if I'd have told them that. Hey, Microsoft and Yahoo, are you listening?