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June 4, 2007

Microsoft buying aQuantive to push Silverlight?

So we're a bit late on posting the news about Microsoft buying aQuantive(Avenue A/Razorfish, Atlas amongst others) however this deal has got me thinking about another side of the story I have yet to see covered by the mainstream press.

Microsoft, is at it's heart a technology company and it thrives on ensuring its technology remains dominant. The technology in this case is Silverlight - Microsoft's answer to Flash, and what some commentators have described as a 'Flash Killer'. My opinion is that any many ways, the purchase of a digital marketing agency like aQuantive is more driven by Microsoft's motivation to cement it's own technology as standard than to directly take on advertising and media agencies.

Consider this,

Microsoft now owns a significant number of pieces for it to play in the online space. It has it's network of content properties (MSN, Hotmail, Messenger etc), media platforms (Xbox, Media Centre, Zune etc) and now a digital marketing company to make it a very dominant force.

When you own that much of the landscape, you can certainly influence the technology standard for the industry. Why wouldn't Microsoft look at this as an opportunity to push it's preferred technology - Sliverlight across the industry? It has the desktop prescence to meet Flash's penetration effectively overnight - just roll out a service pack (either for Windows or IE). With the purchase of aQuantive, MS will also control an an ad-serving company, Atlas, which gives its the necessary system in which to deploy Silverlight as an online advertising format (MS has already started showcasing Silverlight as a technology for online advertising (which to date has been done with Eyeblaster). Put this together with Microsoft's network of content properties such a MSN, Hotmail, Spaces and media platforms such as Xbox, Zune, Media Centre, and you can see just how easily Silverlight could become a dominant format. (not to mention pricing it in such a way that is preferrential towards the use of the Silverlight format).

The only thing that might slow down the uptake of Silverlight, is the lack of agencies and staff trained to use it, nor are we an industry with abundent labor. But then, Microsoft now owns Avenue A/Razorfish "the largest interactive agency in the US" thanks to the aQuantive purchase and additionally the fact that in some markets MSN maintains inhouse production capabilities, such as it's ninepixels unit in Australia where ninemsn is partnership with media company PBL

It's also widely acknowledged that MS has somewhat missed the boat on digital media. It's struggled to get acceptance of its digital music format and Windows Media Player has been pushed aside in favour of Flash Video when it comes to video streaming on the web. So therefore it should come as no suprise then that Silverlight will feature HD quality video format. This time however, Microsoft appear to have learnt the benefits of cross platform

When you put all this together, it certainly makes for a very plausible outcome. Some of you may decry this as a conspiracy theory, I can see it as a definite case of reality in the not to distant future.

Post us your thoughts.




 

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