Microsoft and Yahoo’s proposed deal faces a tough antitrust gauntlet. In today’s The Seattle Times, Jonathan Hillel and I have an op-ed in which we argue that trustbusters should let the deal go through:
MICROSOFT and Yahoo want to join forces in Internet search to better compete against Google. But first, they need the blessing of government antitrust enforcers. Senate Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman Herb Kohl, D-Wis., already has threatened “careful scrutiny” of the deal. But trustbusters should not go fishing for problems in the Internet search market. In the relentlessly fast-moving digital economy, government intervention contorts the market and ultimately harms consumers.
Under their proposed decade-long pact, Yahoo searches will be powered by Microsoft’s Bing search engine, which launched this June. The two search firms will maintain separate Web sites, but Microsoft will administer the technical side of both. Microsoft will also gain access to Yahoo’s vast volume of searches and query data. In exchange, Yahoo will receive 88 percent of ad revenues from searches performed on its own site.
Scale may make Microsoft and Yahoo more competitive, but it hardly guarantees them success. Indeed, history tells us that innovation, not scale, is the one true silver bullet in Internet search. Google earned its crown nearly a decade ago by revolutionizing search technology, devising the revolutionary PageRank system for indexing the Web and toppling AltaVista in the process. More recently, Microsoft’s Bing has made inroads by combining a clever cataloging system with alluring design.
Read the rest here.