Is a MicroHooBook in your future?

Sounds like Microsoft is looking at buying just Yahoo’s search business, rather than the whole thing. And John Furrier, ex of Podtech, says that he’s hearing rumours Microsoft may make a two-stage attempt to cure its lack of Web savvy by first acquiring Yahoo’s search business and then bolting on Facebook for $20-billion or so. Scoble says he’s been hearing the same kinds of rumours — and that his fear is Microsoft will try to keep Facebook walled off from the rest of the Internet. I wouldn’t put something like that past the Beast of Redmond, but I think if they do it will ultimately fail.

As Alexander van Elsas points out in his post, people don’t like walled gardens, or at least not for long. If nothing else, America Online proved that. In the early stages of a market the walled garden makes sense, and people are happy to enter into it because it has all kinds of benefits they can’t get elsewhere. Eventually, however, it starts to seem more and more like a Soviet-style “managed economy,” and less like something people might actually want, and they start to move elsewhere.

You can see some of that already happening with the launch of Google’s OpenSocial and Google Connect, and Facebook’s Friend Connect and so on — being open has become a competitive advantage, and even Microsoft has to have realized that by now. In any case, Jason Kaneshiro says there’s an easy response if someone like MicroHooBook tries to keep things walled off: just stop using their products. Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg continues to insist that the site plans to remain independent.

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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