I’ve stayed out of the Microsoft attempted merger of Yahoo so far. But EVERYONE seems to be talking about it from all sorts of angles.
Me? I take the user’s point of view and that’s one I haven’t seen discussed much yet.
Will Yahoo moving to Microsoft be a good thing for users? Let’s take a tour.
Yahoo Messenger users and MSN Messenger users. Wash to bad things for Yahoo’s messenger. They already work together and I doubt that having two huge teams with two huge user bases of hundreds of millions of people trying to work together will bring much new. At worst case the Yahoo team will leave and so Yahoo’s Messenger will stop seeing new features.
Yahoo Mail and Hotmail users. Wash to bad things for Yahoo’s Mail. Same as with the messenger side of things. Eventually I can see Yahoo’s Mail get frozen and so bugs and things won’t get fixed on Yahoo’s side and I can see pressure (advertising, etc) to pull people off of Yahoo and put them on Hotmail or whatever they are calling it now (Microsoft Windows Live Mail).
Flickr. The users of Flickr are very scared of what a Microsoft purchase might mean. But here Microsoft has no significant player, so they’ll probably try to keep the development team intact. Plus, there are a lot of smart people at Microsoft who are into photography (Ansel Adams’ son Michael was at Microsoft Researcher Curtis Wong’s wedding, for instance) So, good things could happen here for Flickr’s users.
Delicious? No real Microsoft competitor and tons of Microsofties love Delicious, so good things ahead, just like Flickr.
Yahoo Maps and Live Maps? I like Microsoft’s Maps better, but there’s some tricks that Yahoo does better. So, if these teams get along we’d probably see an improved version of both services, although I doubt they’d remain separate code bases.
Yahoo Search and Microsoft Live Search? Microsoft is already gaining on relevancy, so that tells me there are still a few smart people at Microsoft working on search. They just don’t have a brand name worth s**t. So, Yahoo’s brand name on top of Microsoft’s search will help Microsoft out a lot. I doubt that we’ll see a Google killer out of the joining of these two companies, though. The sales teams will be joined and will prove profitable for Microsoft. For users, though? I doubt we’ll see anything for years in terms of dramatically better search.
Developer tools and such? Microsoft isn’t threatened by anything Yahoo is doing, although the Pipes and Fire Eagle and other Yahoo teams will probably love working at Microsoft. For users? Join those tools into Ray Ozzie’s new Mesh and we could see some cool new stuff.
Portals? Yahoo’s has more users, more respect, and more features. I don’t see anything major for users either way there.
Finance and Personals sites? I doubt users will see much change there.
So, for users, there’s some negatives, and some positives.
How do you see the Yahoo/Microsoft merger affecting users?
As to Microsoft employee morale? That’ll end up a positive in this deal. After all, Microsoft employees will see their stock go up, not down. That drives morale more than anything.
For board members? Marc Andreessen covers that.