"Ask anyone in Silicon Valley what the hottest application on
the Internet is today and you can bet their answer will be search.
The dealmaking has been nothing short of torrid. Only a year ago
there were at least half a dozen major players. Now there are just
three: Yahoo, which last month bought search giant Overture in a
$1.6 billion deal; Google, the undisputed king of search; and
Microsoft, which is busy building a search platform of its own.
They're all fighting to dominate the huge and ballooning market,
already worth $2 billion and expected to generate between $6
billion and $8 billion in revenues by 2007.
"Search is a game of intellectual property, innovation, and
market position. The three combatants all keep jealous watch over
their patents (Yahoo, for one, has more than 60), engineering
talent (hundreds of Ph.D. holders work at Google), and market
advantages (Microsoft -- need we say more?). Indeed, search is such
a complicated and expensive undertaking that analysts have pegged
the cost of market entry at well over $100 million.
"All that could change this fall, when a new player strides onto