Microsoft vs. Google : Live Windows, adCenter & Amazon.com
Before this week, the back and forth rhetoric between Google and Microsoft could have been seen by many in the search industry as quick jabs; jokes about Google leaving Microsoft in the dust, chair throwing incidents, and court cases over staff recruitment and head hunting. Until now, the “search engine war” which Microsoft’s MSN Search and Live Windows entered only recently, was more or less a war of words, anticipation and industry predictions.
Now, both companies are taking the gloves off and the competitive juices being stirred by these two companies is becoming ruthless and neither company is expected to begin pulling their punches in the near future. Furthermore, this week, Microsoft has pulled a very strong partner out underneath Google’s feet and the boys in Palo Alto are beginning to feel the heat from Redmond.
Amazon.com, A9 and Alexa : More Important Than Meets the Eye?
Late Sunday evening users of Alexa and A9 started to notice a change in the search results. No longer were the results powered by Google, which has been a strong Amazon (Amazon.com owns A9 & Alexa) partner for years. Instead, the search engine powering Alexa and A9’s results had changed; from Google to Microsoft’s Live Windows.
You may be thinking to yourself ‘big deal, who uses A9 anyway?‘, I too had the same first thought. A9 is used by a handful of web searchers while the Alexa toolbar is a favorite for searching and site popularity measurement by the webmaster and Internet marketing communities. But, remember, these are owned by Amazon.com.
Google and Amazon’s partnerships go way beyond A9 and Alexa, the two worked together three years ago to develop Amazon Book Search and more importantly Amazon.com is a premier partner of the Google AdWords (and Google AdSense) search engine advertising network.
What was that about Advertising?
After trying some searches on Amazon.com, IMDB, and A9 I noticed that Google’s AdWords are not being served. Now think for a second, what does this mean?
If Microsoft is powering Amazon’s search engine results now with Live Windows Search, what is going to be shown in replacement of Google AdWords on the Amazon.com network?
Is it any coincidence that MSN adCenter is planning to expand their keyword advertising network next month? No, I do not think there is any coincidence at all.
Having Amazon.com as an adCenter partner off the bat of their launch would be a major coup for Microsoft. Furthermore, the Amazon.com partnership is a home run for MSN newcomer Steve Berkowitz, who just left his position as CEO of Ask.com to head the new Microsoft Online Business Group; which includes MSN.com, MSN AdCenter MSNTV and Windows Live.
Let’s not forget, most partnerships go both ways and wouldn’t it be nifty if some of the search technologies and experiments from A9 (such as Block View, A9/Amazon.com’s social search and consumer reviews) made their way over to Live Windows.
Why Would Amazon Split with Google Now?
Sure the timing of the new search and potential adCenter distribution partnership is perfect for Microsoft, but why would Amazon decide to dump Google at the same time MSN looks to expand their search engine reach?
My new buddy Garrett French from MarketSmart Interactive feels that Amazon is seeing Google as more of a threat, day by day:
Could Amazon’s nod to MSN Live be a sampling of the (flaked) goods rather than a true Google dumping prompted by Amazon’s new vision of Google as a threat?
But when Google Base book search enables publishers to circumvent Amazon and sell directly to Google searchers you’ll see Amazon finding new search partners in a hot damn minute.
I wonder what Sun Tzu would have to say about Amazon and Microsoft working together now as a result of Google’s potential tipping of many balances of power?
What does the future hold?
It used to be that most high profile partnerships were battled over by only Yahoo and Google – especially online papers and major portals.
With MSN/Live Windows now entering the mix, expect things to heat up between Google and Microsoft as Yahoo sits back, enjoys its strong search partnerships, and continues to transform its search network into human edited social media, tags and bookmarking.
Besides Yahoo, there is also Jim Lanzone and Ask.com waiting to take some big bites in the search market. I see Ask.com as being in a similar position as Google was in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, when the relevancy and balance of Google’s results were its selling point when forming search result partnerships with companies like Yahoo! at the time. Seriously, wouldn’t you rather see Ask.com results in A9 than MSN?