Well, it’s a done deal. Microsoft and Yahoo have come to a 10 year partnership agreement with regards to search. Microsoft’s new Bing search engine will be powering Yahoo search and handling the back end, while Yahoo will essentially be the sales team. While there was no up front payment from Microsoft to Yahoo, the potential revenue that can be generated from this deal for Yahoo is nothing to sneer at.
The major question that everyone will be wondering about is will this partnership allow Microsoft to compete with Google and perhaps become the number search engine? Personally, I don’t think it will and I think Microsoft knows it too (at least in the back of their mind). While they may not admit it (ever) Microsoft may actually settle for being a solid number 2 (good alternative) to Google. Microsoft and Yahoo know taking on Google in search is a monuments task and that’s why this search deal is important.
Microsoft will be creating a lot of artificial market share (they will have approximately 25% market share once they convert Yahoo search to Bing). But will that market share actually mean anything? Only time will tell for sure. After all, Google powered Yahoo search from 2000 to 2004 and look at them now. One of the major problems facing Microsoft and Yahoo is Google’s influence on what people deem relevant or not. If you took a screen shot of search results from various search engines without any branding and made them all look exactly the same, stuck a Google logo on one of the pages (even if it wasn’t Google’s) chances are that would be the preferred set of results. And there is a reason for that, which I’ve discussed in the past in my article on why people use Google.
The partnership will certainly bring a lot of innovation to search over the next 10 years. Everyone (including Google) will be looking to stay up with the latest and have the best features, functionality, and relevancy. It’s going to be an exciting 10 years for search.