Next Stop: Microhoo!

Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) will get hitched in 2008.

It's not official, so don't go tracking down a wedding-reception caterer or an invitation calligraphist just yet. I'm just sharing my initial reaction after hearing that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) continues to gain market share. Over the past two months, Google has grown more dominant at the expense of a fading Yahoo!, according to market researcher Nielsen Online. See for yourself.

September Share of Searches

November Share of Searches

Google

54.0%

57.7%

Yahoo!

19.5%

17.9%

MSN/Live

12.0%

12.0%

AOL

6.0%

4.5%

Ask.com

2.2%

2.7%

If Mr. Softy isn't bent on hooking up with Yahoo!, then Microsoft executive Kevin Johnson's comments during last month's UBS analyst conference -- that Microsoft wants to be able to claim 30% of online search queries over the next three to five years -- becomes practically laughable.

And if Microsoft does make its move, it may want to act soon, before Google gobbles up more than 70% of the market. The longer Microsoft waits, the more irrelevant Yahoo! and MSN's Live.com become. Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) AOL is also slipping into obscurity, but that's already a Google-vested partner.

What's more, Microsoft and Yahoo! keep falling behind, while Ask.com continues moving up the charts. IAC/InterActiveCorp's (Nasdaq: IACI  ) search engine is nipping at the competitors' ankles, while Yahoo! and Microsoft are settling to dog-paddle against a stiff current.

I'm not sure whether a united Yahoo! and Microsoft could slow Google down, but at the very least, it would mandate sponsor attention.

The two companies can kid themselves and pick at the bones of fading second-tier players such as MIVA (Nasdaq: MIVA  ) or LookSmart (Nasdaq: LOOK  ) , but to do so would only delay the inevitable.

There were 4.3 billion searches conducted on Google last month, according to Nielsen Online. I trust that none of those were conducted by Microsoft or Yahoo! in pursuit of something that they know that they will find only in one another.

Search-worthy Foolishness:


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