If the rumours turn out to be true, Microsoft’s interest in a full acquisition of the social networking site is bound to provoke a huge reaction, with commentators queuing up to paint the deal as another example of the evil Redmond monolith swallowing up another helpless little start-up [est value: $15bn!]. I kind of sympathise with that viewpoint, but reckon this takeover could turn out to be very good news for the digital industry in the end. If the people driving Microsoft’s AdCenter network were able to add Facebook’s 70 million user pages to their inventory, suddenly Ballmer’s advertising network would not seem quite the also-ran so many people seem to think it is. They’d be delivering brand messages to one of the most sought-after audiences there is and that alone could be enough to stave off Google’s virtual monopoly of the sector – which could do with a little competition to keep prices low and service quality high. Like it or not, I wouldn’t expect Microsoft to give up on their pursuit of the web giants. With the use of hosted online applications becoming increasingly common in the consumer market, the desktop software on which the company was founded is under threat, and that gives them no choice but to evolve. Some might imagine that they’d like to see the Seattle outfit crumble, but if the business that Bill built isn’t there to challenge Google, who else will?
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