In this post of Andy Beal, Yahoo is being accused of dirty tactics to switch the default search provider when people install a new version of Yahoo Messenger. I totally agree that Yahoo is not behaving very well here, but hey… all the big search engines do exactly the same! So why would we point the finger at Yahoo?
Don’t get me wrong here, I absolute hate the software installers that are messing up my preferences in their own advantage (it should be forbidden). But ever looked at the installer of MSN messenger? It tries to modify your default homepage, seachprovider etc. And Google Desktop? Exactly the same. A recent version of the Java Runtime Environment even comes accompanied with the Google Toolbar.
I think that we can conclude that the big battle has started. It’s commenly known that most internet-users are not very loyal to a brand or product. When something better shows up, the switch is easily made. That’s exactly why the big players are now trying to be present in your every-day-live (since that’s something you won’t put away that easy). Messengers, Desktop search, toolbars and free email accounts are perfect examples. I think that most people don’t even realise that the above is happening, which is good.
There is however only one place where the big money is made: on the resultpage of the search engines. If you are a search engine, you want as much people as possible searching with you. In my opinion, there is only one good way to achieve this: just be the best and become even better. People will continue searching with the search engine that made them find what they were looking for. The big three (Google, Yahoo and Microsoft) however think that it is necessary to push people in the ‘right direction’ by changing some of their preferences. Wrong. If I did not explicitly asked Google, Yahoo or Microsoft to be my default search engine, then I don’t want them to suddenly show up when I perform my next search. And if they do, I get annoyed. You know what happens when I get annoyed about a particular product? I throw it away a get another one.
Keeping the above in mind, Google and Microsoft must be absolutely delighted about the rumor that the Yahoo installer caused. It made Yahoo look unreliable. I’m not really feeling sorry for Yahoo but I don’t think it’s fare to only point our fingers at them. It’s a good development that people are made aware of the tactics that these companies use, hopefully the next Google installer will cause an evenly amount of discussion.