Google Has Little to Fear From Microsoft-Yahoo Deal

Analysts say that Google should easily fend off the combined effort of its rivals.

Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. hope that the consummation of their long-anticipated online search agreement late last month will give them a boost in their frustrating battles with common rival Google Inc. Analysts, though, say the search giant probably has little to fear from the combined effort -- at least in the short term.

The 10-year agreement calls for Microsoft's new Bing search engine to power Yahoo's search sites, and for Yahoo to sell premium search advertising services for both companies. The companies said they expect the deal, which must be reviewed by U.S. and European regulators, to close early next year.

Analysts do say that the Microsoft-Yahoo partnership should provide each company with some much-needed leverage in their ongoing -- and, until now, separate -- battles to loosen Google's longtime stranglehold on the search market, though none expect it to lead to any dramatic changes in that arena.

In terms of search market share, both Yahoo and Microsoft have long lagged far behind Google, which held nearly 80% of the market in June.

"Both Microsoft and Yahoo need this deal if they harbor any hopes of getting back into the lucrative search game," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc.

Separately, "Microsoft and Yahoo have invested billions of dollars in trying to build search and content portals that would be able to command Google-like ad revenues. But both have failed to blunt Google's revenue growth," he said. "With a well-executed plan and solid cooperation, they have a shot [together] of at least giving Google a run for its money."

However, Olds added that Google "has had plenty of time to plan for [a Microsoft-Yahoo partnership]. I would expect [Google] to continue to tend to business."

"It's not like this is going to change the world or turn things upside down," said Karsten Weide, an analyst at research firm IDC. "This is going to make Microsoft and Yahoo more competitive, but it's not going to dethrone Google."

A Google spokesman said that the company is "interested to learn more about the deal."

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