Looking for the hottest wagon to hitch onto? Forget Google. That is so 2.0 minutes ago. IT Business Edge blogger Ann All pointed out this week that the up-to-the-minute social networking site is bound and determined to become a portal with the potential to "devour the whole Internet." Open invitations to third-party developers mean that we may very well see The Next Big Thing on Facebook first, say observers. Take that, Google Apps and Google Gears.
But wait, if you're not Microsoft, you're too late. As usual. Just under a year ago, Microsoft's adCenter scooped up a three-year advertising deal with number-two social networking site Facebook. At the time, the agreement was seen pretty much solely as a perhaps less-than-perfect answer to Google's deal with number-one social networking monster MySpace.com.
Why are we talking about a year-old deal? Because today, Web 2.0 darling Digg.com announced that it was dumping Google as its advertising partner in favor of Microsoft; a three-year deal, Digg founder Kevin Rose said, was important more for the broad technological expertise Redmond would make available to Digg than for the immediate ad provision switchover.
For Microsoft, a Sterling Market Intelligence analyst told CIO Today, the most important benefit of the deal is brand building and street cred in the Web 2.0 world.
That also-ran deal doesn't look so puny now that Facebook is booming, MySpace is slipping, and Steve Ballmer's vision, if you will, of a Microsoft future based on increased participation in Web services and consumer technology may very well be taking root.
Of course, we all know that no deal of this sort could ever be divorced from the Microsoft-Google battle for dominance on the Web as a platform, as many, like Boomtown blogger Kara Swisher, say, even if Digg.com hadn't left Google holding the bag. But it did and, as Fake Steve said this week of the juggernaut that is Microsoft (or, alternately, the Borg), "...They've got a lot of money, and they're very patient and persistent. They keep pushing and pushing and pushing. They study you. They copy you. They wait for you to make a mistake. ... Eventually, they get their hooks into you, and it starts to wear you down. Not in a big way. Just a little tear at first, way out at the edge of your fabric, so slight you almost don't notice it."