Netscape DMOZ Part of Google, MSN, and AOL’s Future?
We all know that AOL is looking at some kind of partnership with the likes of MSN or Google. But many people do not realize how big this deal could potentially be. For one thing, AOL owns Netscape which maintains the rights to the ODP. In this article I look at some of the implications for the ODP in relation to this AOL deal. What happens to the ODP if AOL or Netscape (or both) disappear or are bought by another company?
“Copyright ? 1998-2005 Netscape”. That’s what you see at the bottom of every page of the Open Directory Project website. So what happens if (and likely when) Netscape ceases to be part of the internet landscape either through its own inability to maintain its presence or through it’s sale as part of a larger deal?
We already know that AOL owns Netscape and should (therefore) also own DMOZ. But will AOL maintain it or sell it? And what if AOL and Netscape both disappear? Does that then mean that the ODP, one of the most influential directories in the web, will disappear as well? Just think about that for a second ? A web without the ODP. Many large sites, including Google, count on the ODP for their directory results. In fact, there are hundreds of sites which use the ODP directory data for primary or secondary results.
Personally, I don’t think the ODP will ‘disappear’ per se. But it may change form. It will still be a directory, and it could still be one of the most influential directories on the web, but who owns it may change. If Netscape and the ODP are on the table during the Google and MSN talks, as it is quite likely to be, imagine the implications.
Imagine if Google were to ‘win’ the AOL deal and DMOZ was part of it. Would the human part of the directory ‘the editors’ remain, or would Google build algorithms to replace them?
And what of the directory itself. Would it regain the importance it once had with Google, moving from a ?link to other services? back to the all important homepage link? Now what happens if MSN gets the deal with AOL. Would the Open Directory be a part of that deal? And what of the directory then?
For example, would Google remove it from its own directory? Or would MSN retain it and merge it with it’s algorithmic results?
As a side note, what of all the “Microsoft haters” who happen to use ODP data feeds to help support their website? Would they quit using these feeds because of their dislike of Microsoft?
So many questions, yet so few answers. Perhaps the ODP and Netscape aren’t part of the deal, although I would think they are. After all, Google could use the browser technology found in Netscape. Granted they have the lead Firefox developers working for them, but perhaps they could go after Microsoft’s Internet Explorer on two fronts ? the Firefox one and the Netscape one.
Any way you look at it, whether they only get parts of AOL or the whole thing, a partnership deal would dramatically change the search landscape. Such a deal would place MSN firmly in the second spot in terms of search. Not to mention that Google would lose that search traffic, and Adwords revenue (AOL accounts for about 10% of Google’s Ad revenue).
Conversely, a win by Google would mean it’s #1 spot in search would remain, and would likely improve as AOL became Googlelized. Imagine merged AOL/Gmail accounts, Google Video/AOL Video merged and virtually every other area there is overlap.
Plus, AOL users would have access to the Google products which seem to spring up daily, while Google would have access to the most used web communications tools out there ? AIM.
Imagine Google’s ability to distribute software via Sun’s Java AND AIM. Any way you look at it AOL is in the Catbird Seat because it really does hold all the cards. Both Google and MSN will see either huge gains or potentially huge losses depending on how the deal goes down. And to think that we’d already all but counted AOL out of the search game.
Columnist Rob Sullivan is an SEO Specialist and Internet Marketing Consultant at Text Link Brokers