Microsoft Targeting Google, Maybe

    May 12, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Frequent media stories that aim at pushing Microsoft and Google into an all-out battle royale don’t really hit the mark according to Microsoft’s CEO.

Microsoft Targeting Google, Maybe
Is Microsoft Targeting Google Or Online Advertising?

Does Google have five years to live until Google does to it what it did to Novell and Netscape? Is five years not nearly enough time for Microsoft to even start having an impact on Google’s lucrative hold on advertising online? Don’t wait five years to share your opinion at WebProWorld.

If you’re walking down a dark street, and a couple of tough guys step out of the shadows, which CEO would you rather have at your shoulder cracking his knuckles and grinning at the muggers, Steve Ballmer or Eric Schmidt?

I’m taking the ex-Harvard turned Microsoft boss. But despite the frequently combative overtones that have come out of Redmond, Ballmer claimed in comments made at a private event in California that the rivalry isn’t quite as overheated as some would like to see.

“Let’s not focus on Google. The key is, what about the advertising business model? Have we done everything we need to do to drive advertising as a business model?” InfoWorld reported Ballmer as saying at the Churchill Club and Commonwealth Club in Santa Clara, CA, on Thursday.

Ballmer noted that Microsoft was arriving late to the online advertising game; the company was late in recognizing the importance of search, and it seemed the Internet had to be pressed against Bill Gates’ nose before Microsoft really began to embrace the World Wide Web.

“We’d like to be No. 2 and then No. 1 in advertising,” Ballmer said of Microsoft’s goals. That would mean displacing Yahoo from the number 2 spot as quickly as possible. Should that happen, maybe Yahoo CEO Terry Semel will think more of Microsoft’s interest in Yahoo Search.

Ballmer noted Microsoft would pour $1.1 billion into research and development into MSN, and part of that cash would go toward adCenter. He also allowed that getting Microsoft to the dominant place in online advertising could take five years.

Microsoft’s CEO also cited some of the strategic thinking behind adCenter:

“In creating AdCenter, we think of it as an eBay for advertising. How do you bring buyers and sellers of advertising together? How do you do it in a way that creates value for both of those?” Ballmer said. “We think we have a lot of ideas around that topic, but in a sense we’re a Johnny come lately. The guys that came first were Overture, then Google, and we’re late to the game, but we get what’s going on.”

Whether Microsoft has its efforts aimed at the market with Google in mind or not doesn’t matter. By focusing on Internet advertising, Microsoft and Google will start trading elbows in force sooner rather than later.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.