What if Yahoo bought Google in 2002?

What if Yahoo bought Google in 2002?

    Hello, this is TheTechBoy with a special article. Today I will be asking a good question. What if Yahoo bought Google in 2002?

Red letters that say Yahoo

In 2002, Yahoo offered Google Three Billion USD to acquire the company. Google said no and held out for Five Billion USD. The deal fell through.

100 dollar bills

As some of you may know, Google is dominant in advertisements, search, mobile, and has led research in sectors such as AI and driverless cars. Meanwhile, Yahoo tried to make a phone with Google's Android and failed. So what if Yahoo bought Google in 2002? Would Yahoo own Android? Would Windows Mobile be king?  Would YouTube be popular? Let's Investigate. 

In 1998, Google wanted to sell the Page Rank system to Yahoo. This was better than the system that Yahoo used at the time. However, Yahoo did not want to send people away from its sites and services. This contrasted with the way Google’s Page Rank sent users to the most relevant website.  In 2002 Yahoo wanted to buy Google but did not want to pay the 5 billion USD asking price. In the period of 1997 to 1999 Yahoo was growing. They acquired many tech companies that would become the basis of their online services. For example, they acquired Rocketmail, which became Yahoo Mail. They also acquired ClassicGames.com and turned it into Yahoo Games. In 1998 Yahoo also launched its instant messaging service, and in 1999 they renamed it Yahoo! Messenger.  In 2000, Yahoo got a deal with Google that would allow them to use the Google engine.  (Source Wikipedia) These deals and acquisitions highlight Yahoo's desire to be the Web’s one-stop shop. This leads us to 2002. In 2002, Yahoo acquired other search engines to make its search engine better. Unfortunately for Yahoo, they could not buy Google. 

Sign that says Google with a blue G red o an yellow o a blue g a green l and a red e

Yahoo kept acquiring or creating Web 2.0 services from 2002 to 2005. This includes Yahoo ! Music, Flickr, and Yahoo! 360. (Source Wikipedia) They also tried to buy YouTube, but Google offered more money. (Source Android Authority)  This leads us to the question, if Yahoo bought Google would it have wanted a mobile operating system? Well, if you look at Google in 2005, Larry Page and Sergey Brin were concerned that Microsoft would dominate the mobile market. However, if you look at Yahoo, they did almost nothing at all with mobile until about 2007. (They had an SMS searchWayback Machine, HowStuffWorks. All the acquisitions listed on Wikipedia have nothing to do with mobile. Had Yahoo acquired Google, and used its Page Rank technology, Yahoo would have become a better search engine, but at the expense of its services. Assuming that Larry Page and Sergey Brin were able to stay on with Yahoo, they could have gotten Yahoo to invest in Android. However given Yahoo’s track record with the deals they made, and their lack of interest in mobile, Android may have not panned out as it did now. Also, the lack of competition from Google would have meant the advances in its technology would not have happened as quickly. For instance, the pressure from Gmail’s 1GB of storage pressured Yahoo to upgrade the storage on their email service. So with the failure of Android, what would have happened?   

With Yahoo using Google's search technology, it would have probably become the dominant search engine of the decade. What would have become of Android, Google Services, and other Mobile OSes? Let's start with Mobile. IOS was launched in 2007, and the iPhone quickly became popular. In 2008 Android launched, however, because Yahoo bought Android the HTC G1 does not exist and it is not a competitor to IOS. Other OSes, such as Blackberry OS are also around and are aimed at the business market. Windows was also using Windows Mobile 6.5 but was about to launch its touch-friendly Windows Mobile 7 in a few years. There was also Symbian but because applications were hard to code it mainly fizzled out around 2010. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on Java/proprietary (non-smart) or smartphones, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, and IOS.  The iPhone was on a very fast rise and other manufacturers were trying to reskin their OSes to be touch friendly. Some manufacturers failed on their first touch attempt, such as Blackberry, and some OS’es failed to attract (as many) developers, such as Windows Mobile 7.

A Windows phone showing multi colored tiles
Yes, I know it's not Windows Phone 7 Photo by JÉSHOOTS from Pexels

However, with Android not being a competitor, one of the OS’es has to take its spot. Blackberry was too niche of a device, and its BB10 redesign may have been too late. Windows Mobile 7 was launched in 2010, and it supported full-touch devices. The OS could also run on other devices, unlike Blackberry. The OS also had the backing of Microsoft with its own suite of services such as maps, Bing, and Office. Microsoft had 8% of the market in 2010 but, it could have taken a higher percentage if Android was not there. (Source ResearchGate). In 2010, Blackberry had 43% of mobile but by 2013 its usage would fall to single-digit numbers. On the other hand, Windows Mobile was one of the fastest growing OS’es. It was already related to Windows Mobile 8 two years later. Java-based (flip phone) OS’es were growing out of style with the rise of social media applications. Windows Mobile phones had some budget options, unlike IOS, and Blackberry. This could convince flip phone users to upgrade to a smartphone. So in conclusion, if Yahoo bought Google and they also bought Android, they probably would have failed. (Don't worry we will come back to mobile/ChromeOS later) But what about Software and Services?

A person looking at a chart and bar graph on a computer.
Photo by cottonbro studio from Pexels

Google has many software and services. They have Google Maps, YouTube, Google Docs, Gmail, Keep, etc. Yahoo was also interested in buying web services as well. Assuming they buy Google, Google then cannot buy YouTube. Yahoo, the dominant search provider acquires YouTube, and replaces its video site with YouTube. People start uploading to Yahoo and using Yahoo Email. People can create Yahoo accounts to manage their digital life, but a late entry into mobile phases Yahoo out. No move for cloud office software is made, and Yahoo messes up the ads on YouTube like they did in search. However, they keep supporting YouTube, because it keeps users on Yahoo's site. They do not acquire mapping software or word processing software though. Other than a partnership with Apple, Yahoo’s entry into mobile is too little too late and Yahoo starts to lose search, email, and video ground to Microsoft. Yahoo offers cloud storage but it fails partially because it has no mobile client and lacks storage space. Other online document creation services come about, and a couple of years later, Microsoft creates Office Online to compete with them. 

On the browser/desktop side Google’s Chromium is never created and from that ChromeOS is never created. Microsoft creates lightweight computers, but tablets running mobile OSes, particularly iPads, win in the education sector. Microsoft’s browser, Internet Explorer is the default on all Windows PCs. Users who do not want to use it use Firefox. Firefox creates a deal with Yahoo to become the default search engine on Firefox, while IE uses Bing. Other browsers are created with different rendering engines, but they are more niche products and they cannot compete with Safari, IE, and Firefox. Yahoo attempts to create a Yahoo browser, but it is an epic fail and millions of dollars are lost.

A black phone on a red book. It is showing the circular Chrome Logo with a blue circle in the middle and three pieces that make up the rest of the circular logo. The pieces are red, green, and blue.
Photo by Deepanker Verma from Pexels


What if Yahoo never bought Android?

In the hypothetical scenario that Yahoo buys Google but none of the employees come over Larry Page and Sergey Brin, use their newfound wealth to start a new technology company. Meanwhile, Android is sold to another handset manufacturer well below its asking price. The phones created by the company are moderately successful, but it is no match for Windows Mobile and IOS, and Android dies the slow painful death of WebOS. (It ends up as a Smart TV OS)   (The company tries to make the OS open source as the phones are failing, but it does not work out.) Larry Page and Sergey Brin could create a phone manufacturer, and use Android as the base of the project. However, instead of Google integration, they strike a partnership with Yahoo to get its outdated-looking mobile applications on its phone. The official browser of the phones is Firefox until they can create Chromium. The phone is moderately successful, but it is not as coherent as Windows Mobile, or as prestigious as the iPhone and it becomes a third player in the mobile market. It may or may not die out like Windows Mobile.     

Well, there you have it. If Yahoo acquired Google, Windows Mobile would (probably be the dominant smartphone OS) Bing would be used on mobile, and some Chromium browsers we have today would probably not exist. Yahoo would fumble its lead and great search capabilities, by not developing for mobile, and would stand by watching Microsoft become a tech juggernaut. Android would not be that great of an operating system, and we would use Here Maps or MapQuest. Tell me what you think in the comments. 

Tech Talk To You Later!!! 

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