From this week’s WinInfo Short Takes
Google Saves Mozilla ... So It Can Screw Microsoft
Remember when Microsoft made a $150 million investment in Apple and promised to keep the Mac market alive by continuing development of Mac Office back in 1997, just months before the Cupertino company dissolved into bankruptcy? Microsoft didn't rescue Apple from certain oblivion out of any goodness in its corporate heart; it did it to keep its only ostensible desktop OS competition alive so that it could prove to antitrust regulators that it wasn't so dominant after all. The strategy didn't work all that well, I guess—Microsoft is still suffering from the after-effects of antitrust regulation over a decade later and of course Apple has rebounded perhaps a little too nicely—but that doesn't mean it wasn't a good strategy. In fact, it's so solid that Google is doing something similar today: This week, it renewed its bizarre search deal with Firefox maker Mozilla, promising to inject an astonishing $1 billion in the struggling browser company over the next three years. (And by "astonishing" I mean, "this is THREE times what it was previously paying, back when Firefox still mattered.") Why would it do this? First, it keeps Mozilla kicking around, even while its browser market share nosedives, thanks largely to Google's own browser, Chrome. And second, it keeps competitors like Microsoft and Yahoo! at bay: By overpaying for the search partnership with Mozilla, Google has prevented Microsoft and Yahoo! from securing a similar deal. So it's even better than Microsoft's bailout of Apple. In fact, it's a win-win!