We can’t keep up with Microsoft’s ever-evolving Internet strategy. We’ve been following it for 14 years now, and every time we think the company might be getting close to sticking with something, it tacks off in another direction again.
(Not that we blame Microsoft. Over those 14 years, Microsoft has remained a distant third in the online wars, despite having every advantage in the world (and one huge disadvantage–a massive core business, to which the Internet efforts will always play second-fiddle). If something isn’t working, you might as well change it. And that’s just what Microsoft always does. Our frustration–and Microsoft’s, undoubtedly–is that no matter what it changes, it never really gets anywhere. In part because the changes are often a return to a previously tried and abandoned strategy. Like this one.)
Six months ago, when Microsoft was tenaciously pursuing Yahoo’s search business, it was also de-emphasising content. One of its many proposals was to buy Yahoo’s search technology but let Yahoo keep its content business–on the theory that what Microsoft did well was technology, not content.
But now that seems to be changing again. Consider:
Microsoft recently rehired Scott Moore, the content guru who left technology-driven Microsoft to go to content-driven Yahoo.
And now Kara Swisher is breathless about Microsoft’s forthcoming (and mind-bogglingly late) entry into the celebrity gossip game, Wonderwall. (We’ve checked it out. It looks slick, as promised. But we think the design team (headed by ex-Yahoo Lloyd Braun) has missed the point. People don’t care about celebrity pictures. They care about celebrity news and stories and dish–told with pictures. We guess we’re supposed to click on the picture of Britney to find out the latest, but if so, it would be more effective to tell us what the latest is.).
We suppose the world might support yet another team scouring the globe for the latest Britney crotch shots, but this move is still a head-scratcher. If Microsoft is suddenly really serious about content again, why doesn’t it just go buy AOL? AOL already has a top celebrity gossip site in TMZ, along with a whole portfolio of other properties. If Microsoft wants to be in that game, it can just write a check and be done.
Perhaps Microsoft likes the snazzy new interface that ex-Yahoo Lloyd Braun has designed for the new site. Perhaps Microsoft likes the fact that Lloyd Braun is an ex-Yahoo. Whatever it is, we look forward to the next briefing on Microsoft’s exciting new Internet strategy.