Barney's Rubble

Forget Yahoo! Buy Mac

Yahoo doesn't have anything Microsoft doesn't already have. Apple, on the other hand...

Microsoft has been pursuing Yahoo! for years, and for the life of me I can't figure out why. I hadn't used Yahoo! for quite a while, so I took a look to see what was so special -- just what was worth $44 billion.

I found that everything Yahoo! has Microsoft has as well. Instant messaging? Got it. Search? Check. Looking for a girlfriend? Both can help. Need news? You could argue that Microsoft, with its MSNBC partnership, is far superior.

The only thing Yahoo! has is users, and it's losing these customers faster than a Chinese toy factory.

Yahoo!'s not pushing any envelopes that I can see. It's an old-style Internet company -- yes, there is such a thing.

If Microsoft wants to spend $44 billion, it should spend it on technology, not a bunch of Web eyeballs. $44 billion can fund an awful lot of inventions.

If Microsoft is adamant about buying an existing asset, I've got an idea that I'll give away for free. Buy Apple's Mac business. This may actually cost a tad more than Yahoo!, but it would be well worth it.

Despite what the pundits say, the Internet and cloud computing are not replacing our thick clients. Like my waist, thick clients are getting steadily thicker. Just look at Windows Vista, Mac OS X Leopard and even the GUIs on Linux distributions.

Microsoft should have the best thick-client OS in the world, and that means going with the best kernel that exists today: the same one used in Cupertino. Because they'd be buying that, why not just take the GUI and all the apps at the same time?

My sons, David and Nick, live on their Mac laptops. They spend hours with Garage Band, iTunes, the built-in video tools and others apps that come with the OS. Half the time, they don't even realize when my network is down, because they aren't using the Internet.

Microsoft can still go after the Internet, but that doesn't take $44 billion -- just good ideas. How much did it cost to start Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Wikipedia or craigslist?

Developing a great rich client -- now that takes some dough.

Finally, why does Microsoft's entire strategy have to revolve around Google? Are IBM, HP, Oracle and SAP obsessed with Google? Nope, and they're all doing pretty well. If Microsoft makes the deal while Bush is still in office, anti-trust won't be an issue. If it is, just make Vista open source.

What would you do with Microsoft's $44 billion? Let me know at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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