I'll have to politely disagree with you on this one OWG, though your points are well taken.
Regarding the new competition in the search industry, I personally think that is a good thing. I also don't think it will be a detriment to the rollout of new and better features whatsoever. Instead of the development sector of one dominant player being able to take their good old time coming up with the next "killer" innovation, now they'll be forced to throw development into high gear to make sure theirs gets released and gets all of the press before the others guys do.
These search companies all make plenty of money, guesstimates on Google's yearly income range from $750 million to $1 billion. Yahoo's is higher, but part of that is because of their Portal nature. MS is loaded to begin with...no concern there. So there is no shortage of funding on the near horizon that I can see.
There has however been a shortage of Impetus for a long while now to spur rapid development. I don't blame Google for that one iota either, there was no need for a faster rollout of anything new and exciting since they were the undisputed King for years and years.
Marketshare: The first fight over marketshare will be a huge one, but it won't have a thing to do with each of the Big 3 capturing their own new users. That fight will be expensive for the winner and the loser --if Google in fact loses them-- and very profitable for AOL. I've said it before and I'll say it again, whoever ends up with AOL's millions of users takes the early lead because they then hold a marketshare advantage. And can advertise that fact to the world.
The current Google/AOL contract was signed in May 2002 and the only length information released about it that I've ever seen simply stated that it was a "multi-year" agreement. Does that mean 2 years, as in May 2004? Or 3 years? Is there any out in the agreement for either side? Only the two of them know for sure to my knowledge. However I do admit that the timing of the MSN and Yahink rollouts are a curiosity to me, especially how it fits into the big picture if the contract expires May 2004.
The second part of the marketshare war will be one more focused on creating Customer Loyalty than anything else in my mind. Sure they'll all be trying to get somebody else's customers, but they'll also want to make sure they can keep the ones they already have.
I think Yahoo! currently has the best bet of keeping their user-base. Most of their users are already registered, either directly through Yahoo! itself or because of one of the partnerships Y! has with the various ISP's. So there's already something of an investment from the users perspective. MSN is a little better off than Google currently, but not much.
As regards Longhorn and Microsoft's desire to incorporate search into everything on the OS, you can count on it happening. Initially MS will say that it's a new local computer search technology and is so integrated into the OS that it can't be removed. (Sound familiar?) There will be an anti-trust suit filed, and it will likely end up with MS saying to the other search engines, "Fine, if you want users to be able to use your search capabilities for Internet searches, open your API to us and we'll give user an option of choosing which they want to use."
Which of course still comes with MSN search as the Default search engine used. But which satisfies the courts because the others aren't being locked out.
(Can ya tell I've thought about all of this too much? LOL)
Lastly, I think the competition is a good thing for searchers. I think it's a great
thing for SEO's and Web Marketers. Brings more value to what you do for clients and keeps those who sell on the web from being so dependent on a single source for their livelihood.
Remember the old adage that has always applied to SEO's? Adapt or die?
It's been too long since this applied to Search Engines because there was no competition with deep enough pockets to rival Google and it's wonderful algorithm. Most new kids on the block which had promise were bought out before they could become a threat.
The phrase applies once again to the Search Engines. Adapt, do it better than anybody else, or you lose. Which is only right IMHO.
Edited by Randy, 18 February 2004 - 06:19 PM.