That may be fiction, but it sure is fascinating.... Thanks for the link, rcjordan.
It seems like M$N is in a no-win situation (errr, well there probably is no such thing in Redmond as a no-win :) just things they'd rather not do) if they want to go head to head with Google and really view them as a competitor. M$N and M$FT in general is about control, domination, and locking in a continuous cash flow from everyone they come in contact with.
The folks a M$FT would ship Mozilla as the browser for M$N before they developed and deployed any kind publicly available search technology that promoted freedom of information, freedom of choice, and did not force any company using the service to give Microsoft a slice of each transaction, click, impression, or listing.
If they thought they could deploy a pseudo Google engine for a couple years, put Google or whoever happened to be king of the hill at the moment out of business and then immediately feed everyone SERPs from "preferred content providers" the moment the other service died, they'd probably do that.
I think google is a friend of MS, if it weren't for the toolbar, my windows machine would have been out the window a long time ago.
They also strengthen the MS proprietary stuff (.doc) by indexing it and offering it to surfers.
We have some here who are very much into white papers and such. If you started matching up resumes of some key google staffers with the types of 'services' outlined in that article, you'll soon decide that the author was wrong ...but only on the DATE.
As for google's monopoly or lack of one, while they haven't been buying up big, name-brand competitors, they have been (IMO) playing a very a sharp game of blocking Overture.
|As for google's monopoly or lack of one, while they haven't been buying up big, name-brand competitors, they have been (IMO) playing a very a sharp game of blocking Overture. |
Would you kindly expand on the phrase 'blocking Overture'? Thank you.
I'm glad someone is blocking overture, for a time they had near-monopoly on the top 3 search results web wide.
What I'm trying to point out is, let's try to be responsible with our words here. First we have abuse the word 'monopoloy'...now 'blocking'?
I suppose we shouldn't be surprised MS would make such statements. Especially when you consider it ended up on the investor relations website.
On the other hand, it didn't come from a lightweight underling:
|Yusuf is the corporate vice president of MSN's Personal Services and Business at Microsoft. He oversees the network programming, business development and worldwide sales and marketing for the MSN network. Prior to this position at Microsoft, he led the introduction and worldwide marketing of Microsoft Internet Explorer versions one through five. |
It appears to me that...
If I operate the best bakery in the city and everybody is lining-up to buy my bread. I'm branded to have monopolized the bakery business in my city, if we follow the logic of this thread .
It also appears that...
If some retailers favors my bread for resale compared to that of the bread of the other bakeries, I would now be also be branded as 'blocking' the bread of my competitors.
First of all, even if I'm the best bakery in town, I don't monopolized the bakery business simply due to the fact that there are other bakeries operating in my city.
Second of all, if other retailers favors my bread for resale that's a business decision that was reach through the retailer own judgement and not because, I coerced or forced the retailer to sell my bread. That's simply has nothing to do with 'blocking'.
Agree 100% on the misuse of "monopoly" and "blocking". Neither applies to Google. It's not their fault they keep getting recognized for being the best at what they do.
Anyway, to get this back to the original issue of M$FT viewing Google as competition, doesn't that probably mean they view Google as a buyout target? Isn't that what M$FT often does - buy out the competition?
pleeker: please let it not happen... M$ buying Google is the stuff of nightmares
Thinking back about Microsoft and competition - I'm not sure they have bought out competitors in the past. In the browser wars they bought an inferior product and then developed it into the Internet Explorer we know today - poor old Netscape just couldn't keep up with the features. I think the Office/Word Processing war was similar in that they just kept on adding mostly usable features until they dominated the market.
That's being kind to M$ - they also were much better at Marketing and used their size and industry domination in a very dodgy way.
So, in the past they would have bought up a competitor (Ink?) and made it into a better product. But I just don't think Microsoft today understand the Search Engine market - and would fail miserably because they view everyone as 'consumers' rather then 'surfers who want information and may buy some stuff'. Even if they bought Google, then as soon as they ruined it with Premium services , people would stampede away to the nearest alternative.
This is why they fail techies, but win with real consumers... If you want a computer that you just plugin and switch on then MS is fine. If you want to get something technical done...
And this is why MSN works. People type in a search query and they get results. Pity they are as useful as the OS they promote...
|So that's really what I mean. Overture actually may be having a fantastic experience. I just know we'd probably screw it up. So it's probably better that we went this way. |
Hahahah.. poor guy he must have been so nervous- he pulls a Dan Quayle too many times to count! Oh well.. a good read, but I wonder how Microsoft *really* feels about Google :)
I'm not discounting that Google is serving up the most relevant SERP's currently, but:
1. Though WebmasterWorld'ers understand the difference between the various SE indexes in comparing relevancy, and value, the "masses" (And they outnumber us by just a bit), DON'T! Every couple of months, I like to get behind someone that is new to the web, and watch them over the shoulder as they navigate around, looking for information. They wouldn't have a clue how layered MSN is.. They just know they got the PC turned on, got connected to the web somehow, and got information returned to them, when they typed a "search phrase".. They don't care if all the results are relevant. If 1 listing get's them what they want, they are happy... </Reality Check>
2. He who controls the GateWay to the Web, controls the search game. AOL & MSN combined, controlled a "staggering" percentage of the dial up access to the web. Both have made "huge" strides into the "broadband" markets. Most consumers don't have a clue, that they don't have to install the new browsers that come with their "welcome package" from their broadband provider, which sets their home page to whomever the broadband provider is partnered with. Both AOL and MSN, are making huge deals with broadband providers across the US. Also, when consumers replace their old box, guess where the homepage of their new box's browser points? :)
We can ramble on and on about relevancy, but it's really about reach. And I mean "controlling" reach, not the trumped up stat's that media rating services throw out to us.
MSN and AOL are in it for keeps. If anybody blew it a few years back it was AT&T. They controlled almost 80% of the domestic voice long distance market. A natural to dominate the Internet Dial Up market 96 through 99. But poor marketing let both MSN and AOL, shut them out.
Google caught on because they were trendy, it had little to do with relevancy. The masses use what's cool, and Google was cool.. Work Place buzz was all about latest and coolest, Google... Then they landed Yahoo.. (Which Microsoft is rumored to possibly be looking at in a buyout)... This is the same way predecessors (Alta Vista, Inktomi) hit the spotlight. It had nothing to do with relevancy, it was about reach....
As a SEM service, It's important to my clients to be where the consumer base is, not where the relevancy is.. And being listed in MSN and AOL (whether it's through Overture, LookSmart, Inktomi or Google), and at the top, is all that is important to them.. Eyeballs, visitors, clicks.... That's the bottom line..
The one thing I do commend Google on is that they have remained a "free" deep crawling engine (Though their spidering system que is terrible, and brings servers to their knees on occasion). They have remained "free' in a time, when everyone else is monetizing their index. What does this mean to the masses? NOTHING. They dont' care, they just want to find information. But Google still gives SEM firms an opportunity to optimize our clients for "zero" cost, driving down the average cost we have in doing business.
The coming months will bring more interesting changes in the SE arena. If/when Yahoo moves away from Google, will Inktomi again control 2 out of the "big" 3? Or will FAST finally get a foot in the door? Time will tell... :)
Searchwise, there are so many ways msn could go to improve their search results:
4) Pure Inktomi
5) They could afford to hire the best and create their own engine. If they want to control the World, what better way to do it? I mean, why not start offering Google employees double to join the Dark Side? Only later will they find out that Bill Gates is their evil father.
MSN can surely afford to start delivering results with little or no advertising, but I don't think they have the 'je ne sais quoi' to do it. They are too focused on making everything profitable, but, in reality, providing quality search results would be a great way to make money because:
1) If the number of searchers increases, the value of on 2 or 3 PPC listings at the top increases.
2) MSN will gain credibility, helping other parts of their site to have increased credibility.
3) As more people search, brand awareness and product association increases.
Good post, redzone. I would take issue with a couple things, though.
|Every couple of months, I like to get behind someone that is new to the web, and watch them over the shoulder as they navigate around, looking for information. They wouldn't have a clue how layered MSN is.. They just know they got the PC turned on, got connected to the web somehow, and got information returned to them, when they typed a "search phrase".. They don't care if all the results are relevant. If 1 listing get's them what they want, they are happy |
I don't argue at all with your point that there are a TON of users out there exactly as you've described. But, the follow-up point to that is this: these people are not the ones who are doing any online shopping. They're either not comfortable enough with it yet, or not smart enough, or whatever. Newbies are not buyers.
My clients would much rather have a prime spot on Google and its audience of more comfortable, veteran online users than on MSN/AOL and its audience of people who, as you say, "got connected to the web somehow." (I don't like such sweeping generalizations, but it's in the name of making a point.)
|2. He who controls the GateWay to the Web, controls the search game. |
Purely in terms of quantity, perhaps. But the quality of traffic that comes from Google is what I'm after for clients.
|As a SEM service, It's important to my clients to be where the consumer base is, not where the relevancy is.. And being listed in MSN and AOL (whether it's through Overture, LookSmart, Inktomi or Google), and at the top, is all that is important to them.. Eyeballs, visitors, clicks.... That's the bottom line.. |
Bottom line for my clients is sales and conversions. We'll take the audience that uses Google any day over the folks that "got the PC turned on." That's not to say we ignore MSN Search and AOL Search. We just prefer the success we have getting actual sales from the Google referrals. They seem to be much more willing, interested, and able to do business online.
No doubt, it takes awhile for newbies to turn into "comfortable" shoppers. But they do evolve, and many stay with MSN or AOL..
You are contradicting yourself a bit, mentioning that you would prefer a Google click through over an MSN/AOL Click through. As AOL is now serving up Google results? If your theory holds true, then there went your conversion ratio's...
I have not seen where Google converts any better than Overture, or MSN, for that matter. The "BIG" difference is I don't pay for Google traffic.. I give up 70% of my billable CPC rate to Inktomi to appear beneath MSN's directory listings, LookSmart, and ODP.. :)
We have some large agency clients such as Centrum, Caltrate, Robitussin, who are purely interested in "branding".. You would be surprised how many companies aren't even selling anything, they just want the "eyeballs"... :) But you are correct for the advertisers that are concentrating on conversions. AV has the most mature "tech savvy" user base out of any of the SE's, so if what you are saying is true, their conversion ratio should be the best?
>No doubt, it takes awhile for newbies to turn into "comfortable" shoppers. But they do evolve, and many stay with MSN or AOL..
.. and learn how the internet works.
I've seen a total newbie trying to search from my address bar and wondering why it didn't work. But she has since bought her own computer and less than two months later she's using google and starting to be able to differentiate between useful information and plain marketing. And she just brought her first online product (a birthday present for me actually ;)).
In my opinion this is where Google's clean look and careful differentiation of paid advertising gives them an advantage. Firstly, just being pretty is an edge with people who don't understand the results they get. Google looks classy, this is important.
Also they are effectively showing up the compitition. After seeing the paid sections so clearly defined on Google I realised how unclear it is in other search engines. And I don't think it takes a huge deal of intelligence to start noticing the bias in search results from places like MSN eventually, again especially when compared to Google. All those convenient M$Ft products appearing in the top results no matter what I search on do give it away a little.
Which is why I think that M$FT can try but they won't ever be the sucess that Google is in this area. Google's benefits are just too obvious.
Lastly, I think Google needs to push the toolbar more somehow. If I had had it installed at the time then the newbie I mentioned would have searched from there and been using Google without even realising. If it was installed in IE as a default then I can imagine lots of people would use it not even realising it's associated with a website exactly, it looks so much like an integral part of the browser.
As much as I agree with most of this discussion, I disagree with the statements that Google has a more relevant SERP than MSN. For example, type in the phrase "online shopping" on MSN and on Google. On MSN, under the directory sites you get Amazon, ebay, CDnow, Barnes & Noble, Outpost and eToys, all sites that I'd feel comfortable shopping at. On Google, you get Amazon, Frank Fiore's online shopping guide, and then a bunch of sites that no one has ever heard of but that are good at fooling Google into displaying their results.
webman, yep but on that one case you present it is hard to generalize to say that MSN's SERPS are as good or better than google's!
I cant think of any reason why a consumer would type in "on line shopping" in a search engine. Webmasters, and SEO's maybe, but not the "user". It is far too broad.
Try a few popular phrases that a consumer may type in and I am sure you will see the difference
> I cant think of any reason why a consumer would type in "on line shopping" in a search engine.
We've found that the people who do are not mostly the rightful user of the credit card. We stripped phrases like shop online and online shopping some time ago, and the fraudsters tailed off.
If google wanted to play like M$, they could just stop indexing .asp. I'm sure the .NET strategy would be dead in 5 minutes.
I can sum up my online experience like so...
"When I need to find something in the Microsoft Knowledge Base I go to Google.com"
...and IMHO the other point about Google is not how cool it looks, but how CLEAN it is.
You can SEE the results, there is no Rubbish, it is not confusing!
It works for the more mature searcher, who has tried to search for "cats" and discovered that what they REALLY want is "tinned cat food".
From a Seattle newspaper comes an olive branch in the form of a Counter Opinion [seattletimes.nwsource.com].
Nice post RedZone. I wonder if there really are any new users these days. I certainly don't think there are in any numbers to be concerned about. Hasn't been hardly all year. I wouldn't be surprised if at this point in time, the internet is contracting in both hours spent online, and in total users that connect once a week.
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