Wednesday, September 22, 2004

IT'S FAR FROM OVER: The success - or otherwise - of Yahoo's late entry into the music business with its own planned player and store is, of course, tied up in a much larger package of IT stories.

The gist of which, is, of course, that we could see a three-way struggle for supremacy: Apple v Microsoft v Yahoo. It would seem that Yahoo is in the weakest position - it's coming to market late, Apple has got the iPod and Microsoft the near-monopoly on browsers.

Ah, but let's not forget that Yahoo has a secret weapon up its sleeve - although it's apparently a competitor with Google, it also owns a hefty stake in them, thanks to a recent bit of court business over targetting adverts on searches.

Taken together, Yahoogle owns internet search - of the people finding No Rock through a search engine, 95% come from the one or the other.

And there are clear rumours that Google is about to launch its own browser. At the moment, Microsoft's Internet Explorer dominates the browser landscape, but its constant security flaws are damaging it badly - again, looking at our own stats, it's already plummeted to an 82% share from the 93-ish it's commanded in the past. One of the few things that is keeping it afloat is that the next best option has a funny name and most non-techies haven't any idea who's behind it. If IE had to take on Google and Mozilla, Microsoft's stranglehold on the web would become a thing of the past. And that could be very good news indeed for Yahoo.

It's no wonder Microsoft are now desperately trying to strike a deal to build copy-protection into the next version of Windows - it might be their only chance of having any unfair advantage over their competitors in the music download market in years to come.

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