Microsoft’s Search: Up, Up, And Kaboom?

    August 13, 2007

When I think of the word “trajectory,” I think of an object arching through the air.  More specifically, I think of some sort of grenade or missile that explodes on impact.  So I had to raise an eyebrow when Microsoft’s Kevin Johnson said the company’s search business is “on a positive trajectory.”

But, hey, at least it’s on the upward part of the journey.  And in some circumstances, “exploding” is a desirable result – a person’s popularity can explode, for example, and so, presumably, can a search engine’s.  I’ve got to figure that’s the sort of thing Johnson meant, as opposed to the idea that Microsoft would become a fiery bringer of death.

The nonviolent interpretation also meshes well with the rest of Johnson’s comment to Reuters.  “Over the next 12 months, we’ve got a very aggressive engineering plan with multiple releases of search coming forward,” he said.  Well, the “aggressive . . . multiple releases” bit doesn’t really take us that far from the idea of rockets, but I’m still not prepared to think of Microsoft or Johnson in a military sense.

Johnson, by the way, serves as president of Microsoft’s Platforms & Services Division, and, according to the Redmond machine, “has overall responsibility for product development, marketing.”  Furthermore, he’s been given oversight of Microsoft’s new Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group (“oversight” in the sense that Brian McAndrews, CEO of aQuantive and head of the group, will report to him).

But by any interpretation of the “upward trajectory” comment, Microsoft’s search business will bear watching in the months to come.  If you hear a whistling noise, just remember to duck.