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In January 2002, Web.de dropped FAST/Alltheweb to switch to Google. The reason then was that Google was clearly cheaper than FAST.
For me this definitely has to do with the ever-growing marketshare (and therefor power) of Google, especially in Germany.
Not sure I get your reasoning here FL. Do you think Web.de feels Google is too big?
When Web.de is saying that they want to be flexible, it seems to me that they are not very happy about Google's development in the last two years. With News Search and now Froogle, Google is becoming more and more like a portal. And I'm sure they will follow this way with their IPO dollars.
So Web.de is stuck between a rock and a hard place: They are very keen on the AdWords money, but are afraid that Google is getting more and more of their traffic. On the other hand now they buy search data from their well established portal competitor Yahoo ...
Just a side note:
I remember talking with the Web.de managing director two years ago right after their switch from FAST to Google. Then it was mainly because Google's offer was far better than that of FAST.