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Yahoo! And Google Meet A Fork In The Road

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With all the literature generated regarding the great battle between Yahoo! and Google, it is easy (and misleading) to assume the two search giants are heading in the same direction. But in light of recent events, 2005 seems to be where the road forks. One path is a virtual on-ramp, while the other is the expressway to everywhere-if everywhere is where you’d like to go.

Yahoo! and Google Meet A Fork In The Road
Yahoo! and Google Run Into a Problem

Editors Note: Search engine business activity has made speculation sky high about the future of the Internet and where we’re all going. Do you have any predictions about the road ahead? Consult your crystal ball and tell us what you see in WebProWorld.


I’ll amend, slightly, what I said earlier about Google becoming a portal. Google will become a point of entry, as omnipresent as power lines, your way to get to wherever it is you’re going, equaling or surpassing the ubiquity of Microsoft, a Google logo appearing in large comforting letters on the side of all things tech.

Yahoo!, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to share that brand of grandiosity. It has its own brand, or brands, as it aims to become the corner pub, the meeting place, the movie theater, the record store, the stadium, the call center, City Hall, the restaurant at the end of the universe. In short, Yahoo! becomes the next Visa, its everywhere you want to be, and its trying to keep you there.

America Online serves as a better parallel. Google, with 40-minute average visits, is the cab dropping you off at the pub (read, in the future, Yahoo!). AOL, now the stepchild of Time Warner, sets itself up like a Vegas casino, a virtual maze that keeps customers inside for upwards of 6 hours at a time. It’s that type of stickiness that Yahoo! seems to be searching for-a way to get you inside and interested long enough for you to see their sponsored content-a mall with some really awesome findable (not searchable) content.

In fact, Yahoo! is in great position to become the premiere media network, as so many of the latest business moves would indicate. Online programming, if you listen closely as a fly on the wall, is going to swallow television. And Yahoo! will be the leader at the forefront of this transition, with MSN and AOL, and probably Fox, close (but not too close) behind.

John McHugh at Wired Magazine provides us with a titillating account of Yahoo!’s foray into the media world, and suddenly, it is quite clear.

“Watching whatever you want (or didn’t even know you wanted) wherever you are whenever you feel like it has been a fantasy since the early days of the Internet. Now it’s a reality that [Bradley] Horowitz refers to as a high-class problem.’ He and his charges at Yahoo! are trying to figure out how to solve that problem. When they do, it’s good-bye network TV, hello networked TV.”

Here’s a quick review of what Yahoo! has been up to recently (not a timeline):

Yahoo strikes a multi year advertising deal with media giant Viacom to provide search services and paid search advertising to online Viacom properties including CBSNews.com, MTV.com and BET.com.

Bradley Horowitz is reported to be tinkering with a self-publishing protocol called Media RSS (MRSS), which will allow niche content creators to syndicate their video and audio content.

Yahoo! Media Group sets up camp in Santa Monica on a lot where MGM used to live, surrounded by big-time media players HBO, MTV, and Universal.

“The growing consumer demand for compelling content on the Internet and the proliferation of broadband is an exciting opportunity. We need to enhance our presence in the entertainment capital of the world,” said Yahoo! COO Dan Rosensweig.

Yahoo! inks deals with Verizon and SBC Commuications to provide high-speed internet access. Verizon announces intentions to be a broadband television provider.

Yahoo! hires ABC’s Lloyd Braun, Fox’s Ira Kurgan, NBC’s Shawn Hardin, and CBS’s David Katz.

Yahoo! has its hands in every area of media there is, soon making it what McHugh called “the super network,” indeed, mining the new media frontier in much the same way the major networks constructed television programming in the 1940′s. Add that to the persistent whittling down of all things macro to micro levels with Yahoo! local services, and the focus on user-generated content, and you have a really cool online hangout.

Google and Yahoo! aren’t battling for the same ends, but are searching for a symbiotic relationship, and may rule the online world together. MSN and AOL? They’ll be there, probably always, either as competitors, or as burrowers of their own niches, much in the way that NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox, exist together on the airwaves.

Yahoo! And Google Meet A Fork In The Road
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