Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Microsoft buying Yahoo may be bad for data portability, I just realized. I was reading through some recent articles when I put two and two together on this topic.

Most people, I suspect, don't know that while Google and Yahoo pretty freely let people import their contacts into social networking sites (and theoretically site's of any kind), Microsoft restricts this simple data portability function and sends cease and desist letters to companies that hack around it. They'll only permit a site to import Hotmail contacts if they make Windows Messenger the exclusive IM client for the site. Otherwise you need to pay 25 cents per user per year for Widows messenger to be one of the IM options.

Yahoo on the other hand has been at the forefront of data portability and OpenID and I can't imagine them winning that battle once they are inside Microsoft. Jerry and David are far more idealistic than Terry, and trapped in a non-idealistic world (let's be helpful and publish our browser bookmarks, oh snap now were a multi billion dollar company). It occurs to me that while there has been a lot of talk about the Yahoo rejecting the deal because of the share price, there must be a lot of huge cultural issues like this that they need to iron out before any price could be attractive to them.