Google Buys Microsoft – It'll Happen by 2015

Ian Lurie

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.

Microsoft’s Expertise

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

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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  1. Ian, interesting read.
    Re: Netscape vs IE, I must mention that Firefox is Netscape. Netscape open-sourced their code and formed a non-profit (Mozilla Foundation). When AOL nixed Netscape, key employees moved to Mozilla.
    So if you think FF is in the lead today (to which I agree), I think it’s fair to say Netscape won 🙂

  2. @Josh Hmmm. That’s sort of like saying Germany built the V2 therefore they got to the moon, but I see what you’re saying 🙂

  3. Interesting contention. It brings to mind the following for me:
    1) Search strikes me as an interim technology. Much like hunting. I submit that a metaphorical agricultural revolution is in the offing WRT search. Google is the beneficiary of the current state, but there’s nothing that would guarantee that they’ll be the vector for what replaces search. This would seem to be underscored by the fact that something like 85% of innovations come from new entrants and not incumbent firms.
    2) The proponents of the “democratization” of the communications culture seem to me to be collectively bordering on something of a supreme soviet. Microsoft’s ascension was predicated on a particular and independent vision. The clergy of this new communications liturgy have worked, inside Microsoft even, to undermine that vision. Increasingly MS is compromising their focus on backward compatibility by caving to demands for standards compliance and the like. I think this, much more than their ostensible “ponderousness”, is the reason for the tumult surrounding Vista (and it looks like IE8 will encounter similar difficulties.)
    3) I think the winners in the marketplace (much like the winners in sport or on the battlefield) owe their success in large part to chance. There was really nothing superior about Google’s algorithm in 1998 over, say,’s algorithm–at least not anything that should have been profound enough to be obvious to the vast majority of users. You could point to the mythic archetypes that the name “Google” evokes. The “googol” was popularized (like so many other concepts from math and physics) by Sagan’s Cosmos. Is it a mere coincidence that the same people who as children and teens watched Cosmos went on to become a large part of the audience that made Google popular?
    4) “Any useful statement about futures is necessarily absurd.” – Jim Dator

  4. I’m using Firefox to surf, Google to search, Google and Yahoo for mail, Picasa (Google) for media, and Google for just about everything else. Be prepared for a Google O/S soon… Don’t laugh. Microsoft’s days are numbered.

  5. Nice read, Ian, but your scenario already loses ground with Microsoft’s latest move of acquiring Powerset. Make no mistake: although what you see on Powerset now is just Wikipedia search, there is no way for us to tell what the back end looks like without accessing Powerset from the developer’s positions. Also… I fear you focus on the search aspects too much, forgetting that Microsoft is not about search. Search is merely just a channel and a challenge for them. They focus more on development and on end user products, computer software, hardware etc. As long as John who uses Firefox to surf uses a Windows powered PC I don’t see any danger for Google. Also I don’t see why Google would buy Microsoft either. Microsoft has bad karma all over it. They have customer relations issues as well. Google, despite its “evil” face, still has more happy users than Microsoft. I could ramble forever and tell you that this will never happen. If by 2015 you still have this blog (are you hosted on a Windows server btw?) and your scenario comes to fruition, I’ll be happy to admit I was wrong.

  6. Powerset’s awesome. But I think Microsoft will show why they miss Bill Gates. They’re going to strangle that company, then the owners will go to Google in disgust in a couple years.
    Google will acquire Microsoft for their control of the desktop, sell off the hardware stuff and grab a few employees.
    Sorry, not telling what kind of server I’m on 🙂

  7. I still think Google will take over the users’ desktop through some other strategies. 😉 Besides, if Google wants to grab off a few employees they could already do it now, by offering them a better deal than Microsoft. Nah… it still doesn’t make sense. Why would Google spend so much money on Microsoft anyway. Nope… it will never happen.

  8. Of course it is already happening 🙂
    Bill gates is one such mans that i admire, despite his operational system is a total mess, he can convince people using it, even if they hate it 🙂
    Microsoft always made some smooth moves to keep in touch, but i guess that every empire has an end.
    Google will buy microsoft , probably because of pride. 😉
    Just to say, haha we win!
    And it is already happening !
    The open-source world is leading and gaining ground, day by day…
    One smooth move on google to open-source Android.
    Not even to say google’s browser, and i believe too in an open-source google-os comming out soon.
    Open-Source is stronger the Closed-Source, has anyone convinced of it already ?
    In enterprise world, CEO’S wants to spend less to build comercial softwares, and they are going all open-source.
    That’s not to say, Java and other open-source languages leads the development market.
    Apache is the top one HTTP-Server.
    Not even to say, there’re more unix/linux servers around (and they’re cheaper).
    If Bill-Gates had sticked to MS, i’d say that the fight would be different…some new things would be pooped in the heat of battle…
    But anyway…
    It is reaaly amazing how google grew on internet, and i would not be surprised if in a few years, google would OWN the internet, and made us PAY for them for USING it…
    But i guess they earn much more on adversiting…
    But if we’re predicting future anyway…
    Here are my thoughts…Best regards to all !

  9. 2015 its only 11-10 years away, thats coming faster then you think. Alot happens in then, but underwater part is not for a another thousand. cmon think rational here, Google will not buy MS, they will do what they always do, and make there own system. btw MS has never invented anything (everything they have ever done was copied from other inventions) the PC (apple here first) like the Zune (ipod already made) Search Engine, (Google, Yahoo) MS should just give up and let Google take over everything else… G1 phone, maps (and i mean street viewer is amazing) You Go Google!

  10. All you fools are so blind its not even funny. google IS microsoft. Both suck ass so hard that it would take 100 pages of succinct typing just to introduce the dept of bullshit, lies, misinformation, control, and evil intent for not both but just the ONE company seeing that they are both microsoft.

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