Now the Techmeme dust has settled. Time is right for serious discussion to start, on how Microsoft and Yahoo transaction impacts future technology trends. Tim Oreilly, in another brilliant post, is making a great point that Microsoft needs to redefine competition by owning the competitive agenda itself. In order to mount a successful attack on Google, they need to bet somewhere between search and social. That’s where millions of email accounts and user data comes in. Millions of Hotmail and Yahoo Mail accounts along with Zimbra/Exchange installs can throw a wide net around next generation social network and social search. Conceptually this makes for a great story, execution is an entirely different ball game. Tim’s point is worth noticing –
Email hasn’t changed significantly in years. As I’ve written previously, there’s a huge opportunity in building a next generation address book. (Doc Searls calls this Vendor Relationship Management. I prefer the term Personal Relationship Management.) I want tools that augment my ability to remember, manage, and communicate with all the people I deal with every day, in both personal and business contexts.
If Microsoft does consummate this merger (and I understand from the scuttlebutt that Yahoo! does consider it a hostile takeover), the surest way NOT to profit from it is by focusing on the areas where Google is already the strongest. Microsoft needs to invest in the future of applications where Microsoft and Yahoo! are strongest, and where there is significant opportunity for innovation. Email and other messaging platforms meet these criteria.
Email is a simple tool which everybody understands. Big companies go for volume play in whatever initiatives they undertake. That’s another reason why smart money will stay away from concept-of-the-week (read Google Social Graph API – I am keeping it next to Google Base API, Search API and Open Social API!) and focus more on volume play based on real adoption. When it comes to volume play, email is still the king!