相关报道：Some love stories are eternal. Romeo and Juliet. Heloise and Abelard. And Microsoft and Yahoo.
At a media conference in New York on Thursday, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said he expects to see fewer acquisitions until companies get used to selling at lower prices. 'Nobody quite knows what asset values should be until the economy re-sets,' Ballmer is quoted as saying in a Dow Jones Newswires article.
But who needs a deal? Ballmer also set off a whole new round of Yahoo speculation, saying he would be open to discussing a search partnership with Yahoo's new chief, Carol Bartz.
Sure, Ballmer's statement isn't really anything new; he has been panting after Yahoo's search capabilities for months, and he reiterated at the software giant's strategy update in late February that he preferred a search deal with Yahoo but no outright acquisition. And make no mistake: the only things that have changed since Ballmer last made eyes at Yahoo is the passage of time and the fact that the Sunnyvale, Calif., company has a new chief executive.
A new CEO may be more receptive, but time is a double-edge sword. Sure, while Microsoft has stalked the Web search and advertising company, Yahoo's market value has declined - which would make any deal cheaper - and antitrust concerns over the market dominance of rival Google have picked up.
But on the flip side, both Microsoft and Yahoo still are losing market share in Internet search, and Standard & Poor's analyst Jim Yin expects that Microsoft 'will continue to lose marketshare in Internet search engine,' according to a March 11 research note. That decline has been visible over the past two years at both Microsoft and Yahoo, and there is little reason to expect that to ease or reverse itself.
Microsoft wants a search partnership with Yahoo in order to get bigger in the search business. The companies may really need each other to achieve the kind of scale that could challenge Google. But the advantage of size may not be enough if the two companies don't prove that together their market share will rise. A bigger stone only drops harder.