As questions whirl about the bid from Microsoft to acquire Yahoo!, I’m still astounded at how the focus of the media is on Search and what such a merger of traditional technology and internet behemoths will mean for Yahoo’s share of search relative to Google. The fact is, Google’s core technology and search science means that they will continue to accelerate, widening the gap between Google and other web search engines, not because of brand strength or loyalty but by way of their user experience which continuously delivers better results.
Google’s underlying platform can aggregate content and analyze user behavior much more quickly allowing Google to aggregate more content, acquire more users, optimize the experience, and repeat. Without a file system (such as Google’s GFS or Kosmix open-source KFS) and a database that allows web companies to own thousand-node clusters (Google’s Bigtable), search engines and other data driven companies will never scale, never catch up.
Hypertable was published Tuesday bringing an open-source, high performance, scalable database to everyone (not just search engines and web companies but ANYONE in need of highly scalable databases). Why is this important? Scale is critical to this, the online advertising, business; we talk about online volume in terms of billions of impressions as thousands or hundreds of eyeballs (numbers we might get in the real world), don’t pay the bills. That traffic comes with massive amounts of user, behavior, and log data, invaluable data that pays dividends.
With these open-source developments, my opinion of Yahoo! never being able to catch Google in search is out of context; catching Google is impossible without those underlying technologies that allow data driven businesses (like Yahoo, like Facebook…) to also not just grow but accelerate.
So what does this have to do with being astounded with the focus on Search? Obviously, I’ve taken you on a tremendous tangent in sharing my opinion of the Microsoft/Yahoo news. Microsoft owns your PC. Yahoo! is still the largest destination on the internet, the most trafficked homepage, and a tremendous entertainment, communications, and content portal. Yahoo! need not catch up with Google in search as their business is not search though search is the source of higher eCPMs for these businesses. Consider that though the products you use on your desktop are quickly moving online, you still use, love (or hate), and depend on Microsoft Office, Outlook, and Internet Explorer. Microsoft still owns and will continue to own, for the foreseeable future, your experience through a digital device. Yahoo! owns the majority of people’s lives online, MSN has struggle to keep pace with them but there is no denying, if you argue web search is a one horse race, Yahoo! is the internet brand that owns everything else. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly other competitors to Yahoo’s pie and they don’t dominate every piece of that pie but more people use Yahoo to do more things than is the case with Google. Yahoo! puts Microsoft online (not that MSN failed to accomplish that but you get the idea) and brings them hundreds of millions of users while Microsoft puts Yahoo’s leading email, Sports, news, etc. networks in front of everyone with a PC. I overheard someone say they heard Google’s response to the Microsoft bid was that Microsoft will destroy the internet… I think we saw Google blink.