By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 10:09 am
It won’t be a truly done deal until it gets regulatory approval, but Microsoft and Yahoo have finally agreed to a partnership which, among other things, will make Bing the search engine on Yahoo and have Yahoo selling ads on Bing. The two companies’ explanation of why this is a good idea is summed up in the name of the microsite about the deal which they’ve launched: ChoiceValueInnovation.com.
In Microsoft’s press release, CEO Steve Ballmer explains why this is a good idea for everyone concerned:
Through this agreement with Yahoo!, we will create more innovation in search, better value for advertisers and real consumer choice in a market currently dominated by a single company.
Setting aside the question of whether this’ll turn out to be good for consumers–it might–isn’t it bizarre to see the CEO of Microsoft arguing that a market being dominated by one company is bad for consumers?
Back in 2004, Yahoo dumped Google as its search engine in favor of its own homegrown engine–the one it now plans to ditch for Bing. Back then, its press release explained the benefits thusly:
The combination of a world-class engineering team and proprietary search technologies, together with Yahoo!’s global reach, breadth and depth of content and leading network assets, uniquely positions Yahoo! to change the game in search.
That was Yahoo Senior VP Jeff Weiner. Here’s current Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz on the Microsoft deal:
This agreement comes with boatloads of value for Yahoo!, our users, and the industry. And I believe it establishes the foundation for a new era of Internet innovation and development. Users will continue to experience search as a vital part of their Yahoo! experiences and will enjoy increased innovation thanks to the scale and resources this deal provides.
In 2004, being proprietary was supposed to provide the scale and resources that would change search for the better; now it’s outsourcing search to Microsoft that’s supposed to accomplish the same results. Oddly enough, nobody ever issues a press release about a deal quoting an executive explaining why it’s a bad idea…even though many deals turn out to be disappointing. (McCracken’s third law of tech-company press releases: Any news described in any press release will always lead to increased innovation…)