Microsoft is a company that Rupert Murdoch understands. When he talks about the technology business or about the internet or Google, which, on at least one occasion, I’ve heard him call Gadget, he invariably reverts to talking about Microsoft, which, on at least one occasion, I’ve heard him call IBM. What is Microsoft going to do? he asks, oddly echoing — indeed anticipating — Jeff Jarvis’ book, What Would Google Do?
Murdoch’s question is, of course, a throwback one. He’s still thinking that Microsoft has all the answers, which it once did, that it can do no wrong because it is so dominant, even though, with regard to the internet, it has struggled, and mostly failed, to buck or control the currents of the business.
Now they might get together, Murdoch and Microsoft. It’s worth pointing out this is not the first time they’ve tried. Murdoch has sought to enlist Microsoft many times when he’s needed his bacon saved, not that long ago, for instance, in a plan that would have combined MySpace — and gotten it off his hands — with a Microsoft-owned Yahoo.
The notion now is that Murdoch will give Bing, the Microsoft search engine, the exclusive right to provide search results for News Corp content.
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Anyway, that is how the notion is being billed. But it is not really that. It is really only News Corp’s newspaper content. (Curiously, that’s all Murdoch speaks for these days. He spends all his time on the papers. The rest of the company — the significantly more profitable television and movies — tends to go its own way.)
And, with respect to the lion’s share of Bing’s users — those in the US — we are only relevantly talking about his American newspapers. Except not the Wall Street Journal, whose content you can’t fully access through a search engine because of its paywall. So what this deal and all these headlines about an exclusive alliance — this potentially game-changing alliance — involve is solely the New York Post.
Microsoft and Murdoch will strike a great blow against the hegemony of Google because Bing has got the New York Post. The mighty New York Post.
This is a Murdoch tactic: to impress Wall Street and to scare competitors he implies that epochal and tectonic deals and alliances are about to be done. (My favorite was a $5 billion game-changing alliance to control both satellite television delivery and, as it happened, search on the internet between News Corp and MCI, which never quite happened.)
He’s jawboning. What he wants to do is to scare Google into coughing up some cash for newspapers. Now, while Google would surely not be scared by a Bing-Post lock-up, it is, on the other hand, not immune to the myth of the inevitability of Rupert Murdoch.
Even though Bing and the Post might be laughable, the Google boys don’t laugh at my Uncle Rupert. They’re afraid of him, like everybody else.
That’s what he’s betting on, to use his fearsomeness before it is gone. He’s got to hurry, I believe he knows.
This article originally appeared on Newser.