Microsoft finally marries

wedding1They’ve flirted for years. Constant advances were spurned and due diligence seemed wasted but Ballmer’s finally got his gal. Well, sort of. This week has seen a sharing of search revenue, not a sale between Microsoft and Yahoo.

Despite her strong words of rebuilding and turning-the-tanker, we all assumed Carol Bartz’s number one play when she parachuted into Yahoo in January was to negotiate the sell. Is this a toe-in-the-water on the way to a full-blown takeover?

Of course, search is where the rubber meets the road on the Internet and as Steve Ballmer said, “This agreement gives us the scale and resources to create the future of search.

Not so long ago Yahoo’s search was ‘Powered by Google.’ If only they’d realised they were creating a seesaw of strength: as Google grew, Yahoo shrank. Fatal error.

It’s a ten year partnering, not an acquisition, but Google must be hoping this is a bit like the dog who chases cars and finally catches one. Can the undisputed also-ran in second place actually do anything different? Will the partnership lead to growth or confusion? What about the raft of other questions this throws up?

And, just in case you missed it, Amazon bought the highly respected Zappos earlier this month for about $937 million. I’m thinking the web just got a bit smaller but a couple of big players have sharpened their teeth further.

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