Excellent post from Emergic's Rajesh Jain:
Apparently, Google has scored Dell as a big distributor of the information vendor's software and services. Or so says several news sites this afternoon, including Wall Street Journal. The Microsoft doomsayers claiming fierce Google competition will have yet another sign to demonstrate that the sky really is falling (Has anyone at Microsoft ever heard of a character called Chicken Little?).
I don't doubt the situation stated by the Journal: "People familiar with Google's thinking have said the deal with Dell wasn't designed exclusively to strike back at Microsoft, but rather to increase use of Google's services." Google has more to gain by making its own business objectives the priority than making deals against Microsoft. The sky isn't falling, and Google isn't looking to get Microsoft.
By contrast, Microsoft's bigger business objective would appear to be about getting Google. Some friendly advice: Rather than launch zillions of new Windows Live products and services, Microsoft would be better off making the stuff it already sells much better and getting upgrades, like Windows Vista, out the door on time. I swear, too many Microsoft Chicken Littles grew up playing Risk when they should have learned Chess. Windows is a huge position of strength, but one which needs some fortification. No offense, but Microsoft is fighting a war with a fantom and weakening its position by not protecting its prized asset (Windows) and extending its strength.
While terms of the deal haven't been released--and may never be--it's a reasonable to assume that Google agreed to pay Dell a bunch of money for the PC bundling. Microsoft used to, ah, stipulate in its contract against subletting its property (Windows), but the Housing Authority (US Department of Justice) insists renters must be allowed to sublet. It's fairly common practice for software developers and/or service providers to pay a bounty for prime Windows desktop placement. Given recent quarterly results, Dell was a good prospect for subletting space on its consumer, SMB and (some) enterprise PCs.
Of course, the deal is good for Google. The company gets prime desktop and Web search, toolbar and other software placement from the world's largest PC manufacturer. JupiterResearch surveys show that more than 80 percent of US online consumers regularly use Web search. Google benefits in all kinds of ways--keywords and contextual advertising, for starters--and directly adheres more of its products, services and brand to consumers.
Last week, I tried to rationalize why Microsoft made yet another search announcement--and one oddly timed. Today's deal, assuming the news reports are right, creates context. Deals like Google on Dell ("Dude, you're getting a Google") don't occur in a vacuum. It's sure that Microsoft was privy to negotiates and may even have counter offered. It wouldn't shocked me--and, yes, I'm totally speculating--if Microsoft's most-recent future search announcement without products was pre-emptive.
By the way, deals like this would have been nearly impossible before Microsoft's US antitrust case. The landlord (Microsoft) covets his property (Windows). He doesn't like redecoration (changes to the desktop) or subletters (the likes of Google software or services bundled instead of Microsoft stuff).