Sunday, May 4, 2008

Microsoft is to Yahoo as Apple is to Google?

Microsoft and Yahoo are in talks once again about a possible merger of the two giants into an internet behemoth. The proposed merger brings to mind another intriguing what if: What if Apple and Google were also to join forces?

The Reverend Wright sparked a lot of controversy over the past few weeks. One of his outrageous assertions was that African Americans are naturally more creative (right brained) and visually oriented, and European Americans are more logical and object oriented (left brained). He's half right. Some people are indeed more creative and visual, while others are more analytical. However, given that these differences exist within my own family, I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with skin pigmentation. Further the mode in which the brain operates can vary from time to time within the same person. Some people can switch from creative to analytical mode on the fly as the situation warrants.

What does this have to do with the merger possibilities above? Well, Microsoft is known for dominance in the Office suite of applications. They excel at creating the analytical tools of business. Yahoo is also in this camp. They are perceived as a leader in providing news and financial information. Apple and Google are more "right brained" in their offerings. Apple has long been a favorite among graphic designers and has become the leader in music retail. Google has a vision of organizing the entire world's information and making it accessible to everyone. Google emphasizes ease of use, making its instructions very visually appealing and intuitive. Google and Apple are also going head to head in the further development of mobile software applications.

The two internet mega-entities that would result from the above hypothesis would not necessarily be redundant. They could be the "left brain" and "right brain" facilitators of the world's information database. The technical expertise of a Microsoft/Yahoo could be a great compliment to the creative genius of an Apple/Google. They could even provide access to the same information, but in different venues and styles. The same user might choose one or the other on a particular day or session depending on what they were working on.

In any case the task of harnessing the world's information and providing the tools to access, analyze, reconfigure and represent it is still in its infancy. It will never be "done" because each new configuration of data provides new bits of data to consider. There is definitely room for two powerhouses in the industry at this time and potential for many more. The beauty of the exponential growth of data and information is that the more the database grows, the more individual entities have to go "vertical". That is, focusing on a niche rather than trying to contain it all.

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