Opinion: Dancing portal partnership polka

Microsoft's bid for Yahoo makes a mockery of Australasian portal strategies

Things are only just beginning to settle down after the last year's round of portal partnership polka, which saw Telecom dump its alignment with MSN in favour of Yahoo and MSN then strike a deal with magazine publisher ACP, among others.

Microsoft's $56 billion bid for Yahoo throws those not-so-carefully conceived strategies into disarray again and it's anyone's guess what the result might be.

The same pretty much applies across the ditch, with Yahoo aligned with Kerry Stokes' Seven Network and Microsoft's MSN with Nine.

As a result, for media players and wannabe media players alike the value of partnerships with such global brands is open to question. Local arrangements with Telecom and ACP and Nine and Seven simply don't rate consideration when a deal like this goes down. The locals are left scrambling for reassurances and planning the next phase of development: how to cut each other out of the realignment.

After early attempts to actually create content, neither local portal seems interested in that burden any more. It's far to expensive and difficult. It's wall-to-wall NZPA on Yahoo!Xtra while, as my colleague Chris Keall points out, MSN is a link farm.

The last realignment, in February last year, forced the players to put up this page to help regular users find a new home. Try clicking a link.

No doubt we'll be hearing reassuring noises from Telecom and ACP in coming days and weeks as this story unfolds. Telecom will be kissing and making up to Microsoft. It has to. Yahoo's likely new owner will have control over Xtra's email service delivery.

"We didn't really mean it," they'll say. "We can still be friends, huh? Big fella? Come on, give us a smile. Big fella?"

For ACP locally, the MSN deal is arguably a lot less important than the ongoing development of its Trader sites, such as autotrader.co.nz and farmtrader.co.nz among others. It could even be a distraction.

That's where the online meat is.

But in the end this deal is about Microsoft and Google and regional partners will just have to lump the consequences, whatever they may be - and whatever lip-service was paid to the importance of such alliances just one year ago.

Computerworld is published by Fairfax, owner of Trade Me.

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Tags MicrosoftYahootelecomacp media

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