Google Buys Microsoft – It’ll Happen by 2015
Ian Lurie Jun 23 2008
Google will buy Microsoft in the next 7 years.
Don’t believe me? Read why I think it’ll happen by 2015:
Anti-trust Won’t Be An Issue
By then, no one will worry about a Googleopoly. Google will face major competition in the growing mobile search space. The Powers That Be will have already forced Google to give up pre-installing Android as the only option on cell phones in exchange for the giant’s purchase of Yahoo! Mobile.
Their smaller market share in the two fastest-growing economies (China and India) will make them look (gasp) vulnerable to foreign competition. And the ongoing EU boycott will continue to eat away at Google’s share in Europe.
Plus, someone else will create a better semantically-intelligent search tool. Maybe Google will buy ’em. Maybe they won’t be able to. 7 years is a long time, and they’re going to face more competition by then.
If the SEC really gets on Google’s case, they can spin off the XBOX and Office divisions and throw ’em a bone.
Microsoft Still Won’t Get It
So far, Microsoft’s answering salvo in the search wars is bribing visitors with half-baked discount schemes.
If they can’t match the algorithm and the advertising model, they’re doomed to being, at best, a distant second in North American search.
At the same time, by 2015 their share of the desktop and applications markets will be whittled to a fraction of the present. Apple keeps nibbling here and there; open-source alternatives to the increasingly bloated Office suite are getting better and better; Vista repels enterprise customers.
Lack of Visionaries
Bill Gates isn’t there any more. Remember how he totally righted the ship when Netscape looked like they were going to dominate the browser market?
Who here even remembers what Netscape looked like?
Not me. It doesn’t even matter that the first Internet Explorer versions were crap. Netscape couldn’t keep up with the rate at which Microsoft improved IE. Whine if you want, but IE was the best PC browser for quite a while (in my opinion, Firefox now owns that title).
Ballmer can throw all the chairs he wants. He still can’t do what Bill Gates could: Formulate a winning technology and strategy. Most of the leaders who could do that are gone.
Financial Resources, and How They Use Them
Google has a bad day when their stock falls below $540. They have big, sticky gobs of capital at their disposal, and they’re using it to research and innovate.
Microsoft uses their capital to rearrange the Office Toolbar and create coffee table computers. Didn’t anyone tell them computers are supposed to get smaller?
Intellectual Resources, and How They Use Them
Google can’t remain the workers’ paradise forever. But they continue to promote and encourage innovation by employees. Given their size, they have a relatively lean management structure and employees have flexibility (I’m focusing on the search division here – no comment on the others).
Microsoft can’t help but stifle innovation. Their organization is so ponderous that I can’t even find someone below the Manager position any more. Why do you think Yahoo! ran screaming from the buyout offer? Not over $5/share, that’s for sure. They knew they’d have no chance of creating cool new stuff once they became one with the mighty M.
No one knows more about getting a piece of software (Windows) to work and play with the thousands of crappy pieces of hardware that manufacturers throw out there than Microsoft.
A lot of Windows’ bad rap comes from the fact that the PC hardware environment is so open. If Jake’s Graphics Card and Floppy Emporium releases a new piece of garage-built hardware, some idiot will buy it, pop it in their PC and then write ranting blog post when Windows screams and dies.
You have to give props to Microsoft on this: They have done an amazing job handling more pieces of hardware and software. That’s what they can offer someone like Google. And Google will run head-on into this problem when they make their first serious play for your desktop. And they will.
It’ll Just Make Sense
Microsoft’s continuing work on database systems and e-commerce-driven search (assuming they keep it up) will make a nice addition to Google’s stable, which by then will likely also include the Pentagon and Haliburton.
Don’t Blame Google
Before you start hand-wringing and saying how evil Google is, think about this: Everyone. Else. Sucks.
Yahoo is the only half-servicable search engine out there besides the big GOOG, and they’re too busy fighting off takeover attempts from sweaty CEOs.
I sweat like a pig, so I feel your pain, Steve. But can I suggest wearing an undershirt or something?
Don’t ask Google to change. Ask their competitors to get their poop together.
So bookmark this post and check on it in 2015, assuming we’re all here and not under 10 feet of water. Betcha I’m right.
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More