Yahoo Joins the Party for Stake in AOL

Yahoo has reportedly jumped in the ring with Google, Comcast and Microsoft to get a shot at buying part of Time Warner Inc.'s America Online division.

Yahoo Inc. has reportedly joined the party of technology companies looking to get a piece of Time Warner Inc.s America Online division, according to published reports today.

In case youve been living in a cave this past week, reports have widely circulated the Web that Time Warner is in talks with Google Inc. and Comcast Corp., and separately with Microsoft Corp., over selling a stake of AOL.

"What next, well see AOL up on eBay?" quipped Ian Campbell, president and CEO of Nucleus Research, in Wellesley, Mass.

"Yahoo would gain the same benefits as Microsoft or Google. Theres a lot of people using AOL," said Campbell. "I guess the question is do they have the deep pockets."

Others saw it as mainly a defensive move against Google.

"For Yahoo, its more of a block," said Rob Enderle, principal for The Enderle Group, in San Jose, Calif. "Theyd rather take it than have Google get it."

The move follows Yahoo and Microsofts announcement earlier this week of plans to link up their IM networks.

Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger users will be able to, starting in the second quarter of 2006, exchange instant messages and eventually make PC-to-PC voice calls between the services, said officials for both companies this week.

/zimages/1/28571.gifYahoo, MSN to form worlds largest IM community. Click here to read more.

Public IM interoperability has long been a request from users, but some said that without AOL and others in the game, users will still face many of the same pains.

"It is a step in the right direction, but additional partnerships, such as with AOL, are required to reach the masses," said Joe Gimigliano, systems director for IT security at Purdue Pharma LP, based in Stamford, Conn.

Neither Yahoo or Microsoft would comment on whether it plans to team up with AOL to make their services interoperable, but of course that could all be about to change.

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