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The Definition of Evil: Microsoft's Search Wars Hurt Us All

Illustration for article titled The Definition of Evil: Microsofts Search Wars Hurt Us All

Microsoft may pay Murdoch to delist from Google. If it happens, it sets a bad precedent. Imagine if all the world's content is exclusive to some engines and we have to search them all to find what we want? Hell!


This started when Microsoft and Google paid for access to Twitter's millions of tweets and Bing paid Facebook and Twitter for access to their pages. Think about this perspective, if you ran Fox the WSJ and other major content makers, wouldn't you think that your content is worth more than all those 140 character posts? Right, you would. And if those sites are charging 100s of millions and up, for their content, wouldn't you ask for a lot more? You probably would, and if you're Murdoch, the most powerful man in media, you'd probably get what you want. Pulling out of Google would be just another part of Murdoch setting up his paywall. But it's going to set a nasty precedent for the rest of the short tail of mega media companies to get a lot of Google's cash. Maybe a lot of these companies value Google's help in promoting their stuff, but it never hurts to ask for money, especially when media and publishing are super duper hard up on cash these days, in general. I'm not an investor in big media or any tech companies, so its not a problem to me, in that way. But it is a problem to me as a guy who lives and works through search engines.

Microsoft is just being evil again. Now, this isn't typical Microsoft bashing — someone has to fight Google. And in a way, you have to hand it to Microsoft. They're the underdog here fighting a Google that grows in power every day, and their Facebook content deal won't likely be matched by Google any time soon. But this is so typically Bad Microsoft, because they've cleverly short cut the straightforward fight for marketshare by features and gone for a deal-based solution to the problem. Like the PC and OS fight in the 80s they're competing with business tactics instead of quality. (And Bing is great, so I'm not making a complete 1:1 comparison to Windows.) We're sort of left with—instead of a David and Goliath—a Clash of the Titans situation with pieces of rock and lighting falling from the sky and crushing us. Microsoft fails to see/care that the fragmentation that Microsoft is trying to achieve is not only going to hurt Google — it is going to hurt YOU AND ME.


This is the Microsoft we know from the last century, before great underdog products like Xbox and Zune. This is from a company who's CEO recently told us that sales are more important than critical acclaim, preferring profit over better product. And this is a company that gets in its anticompetitive digs when it can: For example, in Internet Explorer, it's really hard to set Google as your default browser, not being listed in the alternative choices to Bing. Yet, in Google Chrome, it's easy to set Bing as the default search.

Again, imagine that half of the top 500 media companies are delisted from Google. And imagine that Google stoops to this strategy and buys out the other half of that 500. Now imagine you have to search for something and now have to type it in twice because who the fuck is going to remember (no one) which search engine covers which content? *

People, I'm telling you, this is bad news. People talk about net neutrality like it's only about the data's prioritization over the pipes. But what good is equivalence in data speed and prioritization if you can't find it in the first place?

*the fix for all this is that we'll use search engine aggregators, which is just another layer of bullshit to sort through.


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What is more intriguing about this deal than the possible down-side for Joe and Jane Searchy is that this possibly gives a way for journalists to make money on their work. With the death of newspapers it seemed that nearly all kitty-litter paper was destined to disappear - and it probably still is. However, what News Corp is exploring here is a new way to generate revenue for their "journalism" that could ultimately be used by all newspapers. The question is whether this can scale down to small city papers, as well.With every new twist in the road of the internet there are forks that could lead to evil or to heavenly goodness. This is one of those twists, and we could focus on the possible good side of this as well as the bad.