Yahoo’s Peanut Butter and Microsoft’s Ketchup

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Ever since Yahoo’s peanut butter manifesto became public last week, I’ve been harboring a theory that all the challenges faced by competitors to the ever-ascendant Google can perhaps be analyzed in light of their identification with a food spread or condiment. If Yahoo is peanut butter — cheap, easily digestible and spread a little too thin — then of course Microsoft is ketchup, perennially imitating the online innovators. Ask.com must be Grey Poupon, I think, in deference to the retired butler. eBay is, what, pepper? Grainy and zingy, yet common. FIM is probably maple syrup, favored by the young ‘uns. If you want to get international, Chinese portal and Google nemesis Baidu would be soy sauce and Japan’s NTT DoCoMo wireless carrier/portal, wasabe. But perhaps that’s insensitive. It’s so hard to be sure in this day and age.

I’m not sure about AOL though. A colleague suggests Aioli, the garlic mayonnaise popular in Valencia and Catalonia, since it’s spelled and pronounced in a similar fashion. And, well yes, if you strip out the haute cuisine part, AOL is mayo all the way. Please leave your own suggestions in the comments.

So if I’m right, all the jabbering speculation about whom should acquire or join forces with whom in the online turf wars with Google can be reduced to the simple question of which spreads and sauces go best together. Mayo and mustard? Ketchup and Mayo? Soy sauce and maple syrup? I just hope all these players remember about the meat (or preferred meat substitute).

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