Dell: Google's Secret Weapon Against Microsoft?

By Ben Charny  |  Posted 2006-05-31 Print this article Print

Recent comments by Google execs make it clear that Google views Dell Computer as its secret weapon against chief nemesis Microsoft.

In fact, there's lots of evidence pointing to an important nexus between Google's recently rebuffed antitrust allegations about a new Microsoft Web browser and the three-year-long deal Google recently reached with Dell.

The connection here is one of cause and effect, action and reaction. To put it more specifically, Google's entered into the new relationship with Dell to help neutralize the advantages Microsoft derives from its powerfully popular Internet Explorer browser.

Google executives say the Dell deal was born of a need to satisfy users, not in response to Microsoft deciding to use an upcoming version of its No. 1-ranked Web browser to promote its own rival search engine.

But that public position is hard to square with comments made June 1 by CEO Eric Schmidt, and the events of the last few months.

Consider how, in early May, it was learned that Google had expressed grave concerns about how Microsoft planned to make MSN Search the default search engine in a future release of its Internet Explorer Web browser.

In this set-up, Microsoft stands a much better chance of people using its search engine over anybody else's, studies have shown. Google quietly complained, sources say, about the supposedly unfair practice to antitrust investigators in the United States and Europe.

A lot of people defended Microsoft, pointing out it merely was reaping all the benefits of building and supporting its own Web browser, which happens to be the most popular in the world.

Critics said if Google really wanted the same kind of inherent advantages, it should go out and build a browser itself.

Google appears to have done something arguably more significant when, last week, it announced that tens of millions of Dell computers will soon come preloaded with two of Google's more popular Internet features.

Also, a Web browser that comes with the Dell computers will have a default home page created by Google and Dell.

In a way, Google's got the advantage over Microsoft, when comparing Google's presence on Dell's computers and the spotlight given Microsoft in its new browser.

Google's search features will be among the first things that a large number of Dell computer users will see when they first fire up their computers. That arguably trumps any of the benefits Microsoft has engineered for itself via its new browser.

And the Dell deal builds upon a relationship Google has with Mozilla, makers of the Firefox browser. There's a version of the browser that promotes use of an embedded Google search tool.

So when Schmidt rebuffed suggestions of a Google browser in the making during a June 1 conference call with financial analysts, it helped to further point out the significance of the Dell/Google deal.

"People have some good browser choices already," Schmidt offered. "We will not build a browser for the fun of building a browser."

He went on to say that Google's "ecstatic" about the benefits so far from partnering with Dell.

"We've seen increases in the number of both traditional users, and also saw new users. It's a win-win. That's why I mentioned we were so happy." |

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