Completing the triangle
It's becoming increasingly clear that the main counter-weight to Google in the web services market is the loose triumvirate of Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo. Microsoft is an investor and minority owner of Facebook, while it's intimately attached to Yahoo through the two company's search partnership.
The final side of the triangle was completed today, with the announcement that Yahoo and Facebook are introducing a much greater level of integration between the two services, such that when you create an update on one service, you can automatically share it with ‘friends' on both networks.
"More and more, people rely on social sites to share and discover information that matters to them, making Yahoo! uniquely positioned to provide people with all of the mainstream methods of content discovery - social, search, communications, and editorial," said Cody Simms, senior director of Social Platforms and Yahoo! Developer Network at Yahoo.
"Starting with Facebook, we are bringing all of these elements together to give people one simple, trusted place to share information and connect. We think this offers great benefit to people across the web, and it's key to helping Yahoo! extend our reach and increase engagement."
Presumably aware of the climate in which it has decided to get chummy with Facebook, Yahoo has also announced a rebrand of its Profiles service, through which users manage their identity and activities across all Yahoo offerings. It's now called Pulse, but the purpose of the rebrand is to bring attention to how much effort Yahoo has put into making it easier to control your privacy settings.
Yahoo has been making a big effort to enlarge and diversify its web services offering, partly through the acquisition of companies like Associated Content, but often through partnerships, which include Twitter and Zynga as well as the ones already detailed.
Meanwhile, Microsoft's cloud efforts remain a thing of massive, but still largely unfulfilled potential. We're getting indications of where it's headed, like the auto syncing of the Kin, Xbox LIVE, WLE, Office 2010, etc, but all this cloud goodness has yet to be packaged an delivered in palatable way.
When it is - and maybe Windows Phone 7 will be the moment - the combination of cloud functionality, web services and social networking strength that this triumvirate offers could be a real differentiator in the battle with Apple and Google for the soul of the technology business.