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Microsoft to outflank Google

by Hugh Bicheno on 26 May 2008, 15:59

Tags: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

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Content creation not king for MS

Microsoft (MS) is ending its book-scanning operations this week. The company will close its Live Search Books and Live Search Academic websites, and gift the scanning equipment to its library and digitisation partners. Existing scans will still be available on the general Live Search site.

MS has scanned 750,000 books and 80 million journal articles. Its library partners included the University of California, the University of Toronto and the British Library. Publisher partners included McGraw-Hill, Simon & Schuster and Yale University Press.

“Based on our experience,” blogged Satya Nadella, senior VP of search, portal and advertising, “we foresee that the best way for a search engine to make book content available will be by crawling content repositories created by book publishers and libraries.”

Nadella explicitly linked the decision to founder Bill Gates’s statement at last week’s Advance 08 advertising conference with reference to Cashback, the MS initiative to pay customers for buying online from Live. “We believe the next generation of search is about the development of an underlying, sustainable business model for the search engine, consumer and content partner.”

Following MS’s withdrawal of its offer for Yahoo, the closing down of what was a direct competitor for Google’s book digitising operation seems to dispel strategic doubts. It appears MS has made a policy decision to abandon frontal assault, and will try to outflank the search giant instead.

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