Google, Yahoo and the Search Engine Catfight

Following up on my previous post on Yahoo, clearly there is a search engine cat-fight in the works. Kevin Fox of Google warns, “the game is a long one.” For instance Google added financial quotes as a feature to its offerings with much of a fuss, indicating that its going to take a shot at Yahoo’s content plays. Perhaps, but there are couple of things I would like to note – adding all that stuff at the top of the page, is antithesis of what Google once stood for – elegant simplicity. It is getting cluttered. And I speak purely as a consumer, someone who marveled at company’s unfettered devotion to minimalism – function over form. Keeping the home page clutter free is one thing, but its the results page which is beginning to feel like downtown Bombay during rush hour.

“We began as a technology company and have evolved into a software, technology, Internet, advertising and media company all rolled into one,” Google said in its SEC filing. Another personal observation – Yahoo is a content company that also does search. Google is a search company trying to do content. So far, it has not worked well. Unlike it being the must use search engine, it doesn’t feel like a must go to content destination. I think the differences between the two companies’ ideologies are reflected in a recent statement by Yahoo COO Dan Rosensweigin Business Week.

We’re really in the business of aggregating large, really valuable audiences who find enormous and increasing value in Yahoo. Content is obviously one of our key pillars. Within the content spectrum, there is everything from user-generated content to if we were to create our own. We think the next big move in content is user-generated content, community-based content. In terms of the kind of content you’re envisioning, I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to work with major content creators to enhance their brands, create their brands, or reinvigorate or extend brands.

Yahoo gets content, Google doesn’t. Its as simple as that.

Still, these guys are going to be butting heads with each other, and with Microsoft, who I think will once again benefit from the bickering between these two. Nevertheless, this is good news for all the venture capitalists, who are funding companies like crazy. There are three times as many buyers. Washington Post reports that Google will be spending almost $500 million to stay competitive with Yahoo and MSN. The buyouts have begun. And so has the catfight. Who needs baseball… this is more fun!


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