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Monday, May 01, 2006

The Rabble Rousing Google

Google's lobbying of the Justice Department on Microsoft’s alleged antitrustworthy moves with IE7 makes interesting reading. Google complains that IE7 includes a search box in its toolbar pointing to MSN search engine. Google thinks that this bestows Microsoft an unfair advantage in attracting Web traffic and potentially ad revenue. The article quotes Marissa Mayer as saying,"The market favors open choice for search, and companies should compete for users based on the quality of their search services and google does not think it's right for Microsoft to just set the default to MSN. We believe users should choose." A little investigation shows that the real thing here is the fact that users can exert choice – one can make Google the default search engine quite easily. Google expects users should be allowed to compulsorily force opt their preference for search when the browser gets fired the first time. Its interesting as Mac users see that Google is offered as the default search engine offered in the Firefox and Safari browsers. Microsoft counters that the choice of the search box belongs to the user. A refreshingly good post from the Microsoft camp shows that MSN is not really the default, it contends that the browser just picks up whatever preference the user had set in the previous version -IE6's AutoSearch options.
It is indeed interesting that MSN which has seen its marketshare decline despite massive support that included several sandbox/beta/real launches should bother Google – the only search engine that has steadily increased its marketshare for several years in a row –its after all concerned about losing adsense revenue – an area where Microsoft has made public noises that it would be going after. Its strange that Google should feel that its brand loyalty could be so susceptible. Seen from another perspective the world needs to be concerned if a lot of intercoupling happens with Vista - say the explorer/OS , OS/Messaging(like that seen in XP), which no doubt provides Microsft with an incumbent OS edge to its other desktop tools. In this case browser to public domain linkages are not so important to worry about - particularly if this is changeable - but Google has a point here. The user centric ommunity would insist that forcing choice may be a better option - as i see it, it may be desirable but not mandatory. Its another matter if Google thinks that search and adsense are getting so commoditized – that it needs to be cautious – if that’s the case so be it – commoditized offerings can’t and should not offer huge revenue streams and support massive marketcap.

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