Why Live Search Cashback Is No Threat to Google

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-05-23 Print this article Print


I've had a couple days to mull this over and I've concluded that Live Search Cashback is a first-class ticket to nowhere but lost money for Microsoft.

Speaking as one of the most cynical shoppers you'll find, I don't think it will work in the long run. A reader who responded to my story on eWEEK.com yesterday said he would indeed switch to Live.com if it would save him $60 on that $2,000 laptop he was eyeing at Circuit City.

He called it free money. Fair enough. There are several interesting viewpoints in the comments section, pro and con, but I'm more of a glass half-empty man myself. 

When I shop for sales, I like immediate savings. That's why I like BJ's, or Sam's Club here in the East. I can buy that family pack of pretzels and save $2 to $3 on what Stop & Shop would sell it to me for.

Microsoft's new service is the equivalent of a rebate. If it were Sears, the pitch would be buy now, mail in your rebate coupon and receive your $20 rebate on the new lawnmower via check. With Microsoft, it's buy now and save money ... in two months.

I guess if you're going to do all of your shopping at Microsoft, if you're going to make Microsoft your Wal-Mart, it would behoove you to use Cashback. After a year, it would be akin to interest accrued in your back account.

No, thanks. What Microsoft is doing is applying old-school brick and mortar tactics to the Web. If it was going to have a chance to work at all, Microsoft would have had to start this five or more years ago.

It would have not only challenged Google in search ads, but it would have leveled the playing field with Amazon.com versus the rest of the e-commerce sector.

Live Search Cashback, while a good deal for some, will not faze most of the Internet users, who would rather save money at BJ's than sacrifice the speed, efficiency and comfort level Google has come to provide. According to Danny Sullivan, Cashback is neither speedy nor efficient.

Sorry, Microsoft. The search percentage is still Google 60 percent, Microsoft 10 percent. I'm also sorry because I don't think any deal you do with Yahoo -- total acquisition or solely search -- will make a bit of difference other than triple your share. Is 60-30 enough to get you where you want to go?

How many times can you go back to the drawing board? With your resources and brainpower, I suspect many. In the end, yours will be a slow, agonizing death at the hands of a Web moving too fast for your day-late, dollar-short practices.

But in the meantime, Microsoft Watch colleague Joe Wilcox has some suggestions for ways Microsoft could go for Google's jugular going into the Memorial Day break.

My favorite is the time machine. Doesn't everyone wish they had one at one point or another? Ironically, the thing that Microsoft needs most is the one that can't possibly happen.

Have a great holiday!

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