Monday, February 07, 2005

The search war and the browser war

Looking at MSN's revenue numbers, Joe Wilcox at Microsoft Monitor argues that the search war is deeply intertwined with the browser war:
    I don't believe the browser as giveaway technology holds true anymore. Paid search creates real revenue opportunity around the browser.

    MSN Search ... is ... Internet Explorer's default search engine. I would consider any dip in IE browser market share as a threat to MSN Search -- and one Microsoft shouldn't ignore.
It's a good point. By default, anyone powering up a new computer will use IE. Their web search will be MSN Search. The first web page they see every day will be This guarantees MSN a large customer base. If some computers come with another browser installed or enough people are motivated to install a new browser themselves, then that is a threat to MSN's revenue stream.

But I think Joe understates the importance to Microsoft of the continued dominance of IE. IE was created because Netscape was a threat to the Windows desktop. Networked applications running through a browser reduce the importance of the OS and desktop applications. Loss of IE market share threatens not just MSN but all of Microsoft.

No comments: