Microsoft Tipped As Most Likely Ask.com Buyer

Yahoo acquisition attempt set precedent

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Since IAC/InterActiveCorp CEO Barry Diller indicated on Tuesday that he’s willing to sell Ask.com, the question on many people’s minds has been, "Who might buy it?"  And at this point, the most likely answer seems to be "Microsoft."

Let’s run down the possibilities within the search industry.  There would be little point in Google buying Ask.  After all, Google’s market share dwarfs the 2 to 3 percent Ask currently controls, and the two companies already have an advertising deal in place.

Yahoo might get more out of buying Ask, since doing so would augment its search share by a noticeable amount and toss a monkey wrench at Google, but with the Microsoft search partnership sort of looming overhead, such a move would also seem a little pointless.

Finally, AOL, for its part, is about to lose access to Time Warner’s checkbook.

Which leaves Microsoft, a favorite of analysts to whom Yinka Adegoke spoke.  Microsoft’s already demonstrated a willingness to buy search companies, and since the Yahoo acquisition failed, may have some money intended expressly for that purpose sitting around.

Then, you have to consider that a market share of 2 or 3 percent must look pretty respectable to a company that itself only has a share of 10 or 11 percent.

This speculation doesn’t amount to an offer on Steve Ballmer’s part, of course.  It just looks like his company might be able to find a use for Ask if the price is right.

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Microsoft Tipped As Most Likely Ask.com Buyer
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