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On Bumouts: Axis of Competition


Jay Schroeder is a regular contributor to Trumbull, and had things to say about Google in his last go-round. Funny enough, The New York Times is leading its technology page with a story on the Google phone. If you want to argue with him, he can be contacted by e-mail and Twitter.

Throughout history, some of the strongest alliances have been forged by those with little in common but a common enemy. Do you think Hitler was down with the Japanese? I doubt it. But he worked with them. Do you think the owners in baseball all get along? Nope. But none of them liked Barry Bonds, once he broke the record, and he sat. And so it is with alliances in the Valley.

Google has been making some new enemies for itself lately, with expansions into things beyond the Internet search. Google Chrome (the browser) and Google Chrome OS (coming this year for netbooks) put a lot of pressure on the Mozilla people, who make the Firefox browser. And with the new Android OS, Google isn’t making any friends with Apple, Microsoft, or Palm. (But Palm won’t matter soon, they’ll be bankrupt.) And of course, Google has its enemies in the search world, mostly Yahoo. I’m going to focus on Yahoo and Mozilla, and suggest how they might be able to succeed against the formidable offerings of Google.

Yahoo is struggling. It has a new CEO who is talking a big game. She’s been in control for just long enough for people to still believe her, but soon they will need to see results. Yahoo’s engine is pretty much defeated by Google’s search algorithms and results. But Yahoo can compete on the strength of its bundled offerings, like Yahoo Mail, its finance section, itsĀ fantasy traffic, and the rest of the original content that keeps it competing as the world’s biggest Web “portal.” But Yahoo need a partner for this.

Enter Firefox. Not long ago, Firefox and Google were walking arm in arm, touting open-source technologies and peace and love. Mozilla makes money off the Google ads people click via the Mozilla toolbar. This helps Mozilla fund projects, and it would be foolish to just throw this away. Unless Mozilla had a strong, well-financed partner, like Yahoo. Sounds like a match made on the battlefield, and here is the good news: Since both Android and Chrome OS are completely open-source, Mozilla and Yahoo could get together, look over the blueprints, and create their own branded browser/netbook or cellphone experience.

We haven’t seen much from the Mozilla mobile team so far. Hopefully they have some progress to show soon. But the final product could be a netbook, which could enter the market with a Yahoo/Firefox branding, just like a Google Chrome netbook. At Google’s announcement of Chrome OS, the speaker even said such branding was possible.

What would I be doing right now if I was running Yahoo? Calling Mozilla HQ every morning to try and set up a meeting. What would I be doing if I was the dude on the other end at Mozilla? Bringing coffee and donuts to the meeting. If the two don’t get together, Yahoo will continue to let Google innovate and take over on the strength of their Web progress. Yahoo will continue to lose share of the Web, as people switch from Yahoo mail to Gmail, and leave Yahoo’s finance other content areas to Google. It will be a slow painful death. Yahoo’s board of directors will suffer and feel the pinch, employees will suffer through inevitable waves of layoffs, and shareholders will suffer as their money goes bye-bye.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Yahoo and Firefox can work together, and can do what Italy and Germany did in World War II. Who knows, there may even be a Japan out there, to come in and complete the Web’s 2010 Axis. The Axis will need a hardware manufacturer, so how about Sony? It could be any manufacturer, really, since the software will make or break the experience. So long as the hardware was up to reasonable standards, things would be fine.

Oh, and before I sign off, here’s a little bumout for all of you still doing the laundry over the Google phone Nexus One. Got a tip from someone at Google. You want to use your Nexus One on AT&T network? Sure you can do that. But don’t expect 3G. That’s right, It will only work on 3G for T-Mobile, and it will be EDGE only on AT&T. And like I said in my first column, Verizon and Sprint, you are S.O.L. Game changer?