Microsoft, Google Provide Great Web Joust in 2008
Though always rivals, 2008 was the year Google and Microsoft officially recognized each other as archenemies, firing shot after shot across each other's bows in search, mobile Web and browsers. The arrival of Google Chrome and the Android G1 and the expectations of Microsoft Windows Azure should make for a number of interesting battles in Web services, cloud computing, search engines, and mobile and wireless controls in 2009.The year 2008 may be known as the year Microsoft truly tried to up the ante versus Google in the battle for Internet supremacy. Search engine market share Google, meanwhile, looked to extend its tendrils on the Internet.
Microsoft tried to attack Google on the consumer Internet front, offering to buy Yahoo for $44.6 billion Jan. 31.
The deal would give Microsoft the No. 2 position in search and enable it to challenge Google on the Internet. Google Feb. 3 denounced the deal as anti-competitive, and Yahoo declined the offer Feb. 11, triggering a mass of meetings and a contentious war of words.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer lowered the boom on Yahoo April 5, telling the company that if the two companies couldn't come to a decision regarding Microsoft's $31-per-share purchase offer within three weeks, it would take its offer directly to Yahoo's shareholders. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn got involved, threatening to wage a proxy fight for Yahoo and hounding Yahoo's leadership to step down. Meanwhile, Google was content to extend its sphere of influence on the Internet.
Already the dominant search engine with more than 60 percent share of searches worldwide, Google April 7 introduced Google App Engine, a tool designed to let programmers build Web applications on top of Google's infrastructure. The tool is an alternative to cloud computing infrastructure from Amazon Web Services.
While Microsoft struggled to gain control over Yahoo, Yahoo kept innovating. Yahoo April 24 introduced YOS (Yahoo Open Strategy), the company's plan to make its portal a social network.
Yahoo's plan was let programmers write applications for Yahoo's mail, sports, search, front page and mobile platforms that will jazz up the user experience for the portal's 500 million-plus users. Yahoo would later roll out its SearchMonkey and Yahoo Mail as open platforms, core to the YOS strategy.
A month after App Engine, Google took another step in its ambitious wireless strategy by sinking $500 million into the revitalization of struggling wireless Internet provider Clearwire. Ideally, Clearwire could support phones based on Google's Android mobile operating system, extending Google's influence on the mobile Internet.