August 4, 2009
Finally, a 10-year deal has been struck between Microsoft and Yahoo! Last week it attracted global media coverage, which said it was intended to create a stronger rival to the powerhouse of Google search, but perhaps the counter-offensive with the launch of Chrome OS next year will be the real bullet in the gun?
Media reports on the Battle of the Bing mostly dealt with the facts of the agreement but fell way short of any concrete projections as to what web users will be searching with in the future.
Yahoo!, it seems, with Carol Bartz at the helm, is busy refocusing the company on being a producer of media sites and a marketer of online display advertising. It will also receive 88% of the search-generated ad revenues from its own sites for the
first five years of the deal.
But a hint at the real story came from an unlikely source. This week’s Economist also ran a factual piece titled Bingoo! on the Microsoft-Yahoo! deal, but its cartoon in The World This Week section went somewhat further. It showed an outraged Yahoo!
sitting atop the shoulders of a belligerent Bing, both cudgel-bearing and incensed, standing on the palm of a club-wielding Neanderthal-like titan Microsoft, shouting, “We think it is wrong to have a market dominated by one giant!”, to which the finger-pointing Palaeolithic Google responds, “Do a web search for ‘operating system’…”
Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010 and is open source, which is appealing. It is also a “lightweight” operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. It is said to include “speed, simplicity and security” as the “key aspects of Google Chrome OS”, according to googleblog.blogspot.com. It is reported to run with a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel, which is encouraging also in that Google will involve the open source community to accomplish their vision.
If the OS launch is anything like that of the Google Chrome browser, which has been around for around for some months now with over 30 million people using it, the Google Chrome Operating System may be just what is needed in response to Microsoft’s offensive with Bing. Many are crying out for competition in the web search market but neglect to mention operating systems when doing so.
Early reports on Bing have been very positive, which must be worrying to Google as Microsoft is challenging the supremacy of its heartland, internet search. Having said that, it is far too soon to predict how many users will change from the google verb to that of bing, but there are said to be huge armoured divisions of the faithful ready and willing to take up the cause and drop Google search altogether.
On the whole, search results from Bing are very similar to Google on tests, so it is difficult to differentiate which one is better. On some search terms though, Bing is way off target. In any event, it is unlikely that Google’s 65/30% dominance will be rent asunder by its launch.
Even though no one is quite certain about which search engine delivers the best results, Bing is being subjectively upbraided by its advocates as bringing genuine competition to the world of internet search. This is a good move but, as such, it is unlikely that Bing will revolutionise the web. Chrome OS, however, and over time, just might.
What is more at stake here is the release of Chrome OS. This has the potential to wear down the dominance of Windows if it can successfully bring about an operating system worthy of the new millennium. If so, there will be gnawing competition in the OS marketplace and a possible revolution in the way computers are used in the future.
Google has set out its stall to solve inherent problems associated with Windows, which is said to have too much of an overhead and that it wasn’t designed for web-based computing, while the minimalist Google is well known for its lightweight products and speed.
So, what are the potential advantages of Chrome OS over
- Initially, it will work on netbooks and they are cheap. Also, Chrome OS is based on Linux and could well be free. It is open source, which will help to bring about a superior operating system, unlike the proprietary nature of Windows.
- Chrome OS has been designed to run on low-powered Atom and ARM processors. As Google posted on their blog: “The message is clear – computers need to get better. People want to get to their email instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up.”
- One of the major problems with Windows XP is compatibility and that of its drivers. What Google is saying is that the new operating system can be downloaded on any machine and it “just works”. Users will then be able to use a portable operating system.
- If Google can deliver an operating system that is fast, the roll-out of Chrome OS could be a revolution in the making, and free.
- With the iPhone gaining in use and popularity, Chrome OS would seem to answer users’ needs in its application.
- We may be ushering in an era where the web is the rightful place to store all our files and documents and use a pay-per-use system for accessing and using desktop software, which benefits systems like Chrome OS.
This scenario also puts Yahoo!, as the “leading web portal”, in a vulnerable position. Despite Chief Executive Carol Bartz’s recent shibboleth that the tie-up “comes with boatloads of value”, it is interesting to note that the company’s share price dropped 12% following the company’s announcement.
So, as each side lines up for a dogfight in the Bingle War, it won’t be too long before Google drops its cluster bomb. In the Battle of the Titans, we could well be witnessing a revolution in the making and it is certainly one that should be making Microsoft’s board nervous.
But the real question is, whilst there was a big media fanfare to accompany Microsoft’s deal with Yahoo!, it simply dwarfs itself on the periphery if the revolutionary nature of Chrome OS is to be believed and taken onboard seriously.
John Sylvester is the media director of V9 Design & Build (http://www.v9designbuild.com) and an expert in search engine optimization and web marketing strategies.