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Technology CompaniesAppleWhat is Microsoft's worst nightmare?

What is Microsoft’s worst nightmare?

Kara Swisher puts her nightmare-vision glasses on and predicts that a series of Google acquisitions would be a terrible thing for Microsoft. She suggests that if Google were to acquire “Digg, moves onto, say, Spot Runner and others (Meebo, FriendFeed, iLike and even Slide?), focused especially in the online ad, messaging, online apps and mobile spaces” it would be a terrible thing for Microsoft.

I don’t buy the premise at all. Digg is no YouTube. Facebook isn’t even YouTube material if you ask me. So if Google wants to buy up all these companies, fine by me. It’s kind of like a major TV network buying up the top shows and moving them to their network to better leverage advertising. But like all good TV shows or restaurants, eventually they become the same old same old and fall out of favor. Digg is already on that downward spiral. Outside of the student market, Facebook is shows signs up banging its head against the wall too. Even eBay is looking mighty tired–outside of being a stained virtual-brick built online mall for small businesses.

I don’t think it would be a big deal if Google purchased all of these companies. Now it might help Microsoft short term I guess if Microsoft were the acquirer. But my guess is for whatever it would cost for Microsoft to buy them it wouldn’t be worth it.

To me, a much worse nightmare would be the trifecta of Apple, Adobe, and Yahoo joining forces. These three companies merged into one would rival Microsoft and Google.

First, it would solidify Yahoo’s foothold as #2 in search and very well might push it up to Google levels at least on the stock side as Disney comes into the mix. Yahoo wouldn’t just become mail.yahoo.com and a so-so content platform, it would bring in online content–much from Disney–like few others could deliver. Tied in with Apple’s platforms, you could imagine some rich experiences that few could leverage. Apple TV and Apple WiFi phones and Apple Chat and on and on could explode in popularity in a relatively short time.

Second, on the developer side, Adobe’s current developer strategy which is doing pretty well with Flash, Flex, and Air, but combined with Apple’s well-tuned platforms, it could become an even more compelling story. Just compare Google’s Android-home-run-aspirations or Microsoft’s psuedo-crossplatform efforts with .NET and Silverlight to this three way merger. Mix in Flickr APIs and similar possible online efforts in Yahoo and I think you have what could be a standing eight count for Microsoft and a couple years upset stomach for Google.

And third, an Apple-Adobe-Yahoo merger would help to solidify Apple not just as a consumer force to be reckoned with, but would help propel enterprise sales, in part because of possible tie ins with Adobe’s PDF/Acrobat strong holds. If Adobe can continue to leverage Flash and keep pushing Flex and Air in the enterprise and Apple’s hardware sales can go along for the ride, this could really challenge any of the Dell or HP packages at least in the US.

So yes, Kara, one could argue that Microsoft should try to swallow up every company it can before Google does so–and yeah, this might not be a bad thing short term–but this is by no means the worst nightmare for Microsoft. Of course, an Apple-Adobe-Yahoo merger is highly unlikely given all of the personalities. Kara’s prediction is more likely. But since we’re talking about nightmares….

Loren Heiny (1961 - 2010) was a software developer and author of several computer language textbooks. He graduated from Arizona State University in computer science. His first love was robotics.

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