By: Roger Bauer
October 19, 2006-Wow!!! First Google reports another blowout quarter. Earlier the same day, Nielsen publishes search results for September 2006, and Google put the hammer to the competition there also. They garnered 50% search share which equates to 24% growth year over year (YOY). Talk about impressive numbers-the Google train obviously isn't slowing!
How does this impact the major search game? Does this sound the warning siren to Microsoft that maybe they ought to reconsider buying out Yahoo? It makes perfect sense given the fact that Microsoft's search results continue to fall (-12% YOY to a 9.23% share), and Yahoo isn't keeping Google within an eyeshot either although they still maintain a nice share of the search market (23.4%; up 12% YOY). The two of them combined would give Google a little competition, and we, the consumer, would benefit from greater services and advancements in software along with online options as the companies battle it out in the marketplace. If not, Google is going to run off and hide.
Perhaps Yahoo (with a lot of cash to spare) will buy some smaller niche companies to make themselves even more attractive to Microsoft, but I don't believe Microsoft will sit by idly while Yahoo postulates what to do next. It's Microsoft's move to make, and the time to act is now; not a year from now when their collective search share is even lower. Google is a formidable threat to Microsoft, and they aren't going to take a breather just because they've hung up yet another blow out quarter financially and in search. Yahoo has shown they can't keep pace on their own so they're going to need some help if they have any intention of ever catching Google. Google smells blood, and that signals the time to push harder; not back away. YouTube is likely just the beginning of an intriguing acquisition spree for the gang in Mountain View.
Microsoft would be wise to snatch up Yahoo right now after Yahoo posted a rather blah quarter earlier in the week which will shrink their market capitalization a little where Mr. Softy could acquire Yahoo at a "discount." They didn't like the idea of buying Yahoo at $29/share a couple months ago, but they should probably like it at $25.
Yahoo isn't "dead." It's not like they're stinking up the joint (they are still growing albeit much slower), and they do understand the search game which Microsoft hasn't quite yet figured out. It seems to make a logical marriage at this stage of the game.
Bottom line: this is shaping up rather nicely as a good ole fashion duel that may take some time to determine the ultimate winner, but we'll be anxiously monitoring the three "big dogs" as they ponder their next move in this high stakes search engine chess match. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.
Roger Bauer is Founder and CEO of SMB Consulting, Inc., a Louisville, Kentucky based small business consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, web presence, internet marketing, SEO, technology, and business analysis. To learn more, point your browser to smbconsultinginc.com