Pieces on the chessboard

Fascinating. eBay does a deal with Google for international advertising, plus click-to-call services through Skype. This, only months after eBay announced a broad strategic partnership with Yahoo!, which is still in place.

The leading Web-based companies are developing the co-opetition matrix for the next phase of the Internet economy. No one is a pure-play here. Amazon.com and eBay are primarily e-commerce providers, but they’ve made significant strides into areas such as communications and application infrastructure. Google and Yahoo! are search engines, but they are also purveyors of services, facilitators of communities, and aggregators of content, among other activities. And Microsoft is, of course, much more than a software company.

Sooner or later, these companies will likely hone their focus on a set of core competencies. They will identify that set of functions they do better than anyone else, and provide the platform for their erstwhile competitors in that area. Google is, for example, the dominant platform for connecting advertising and eyeballs, although Yahoo! is a strong competitor. Amazon.com and eBay could do the same thing, but why? They are better off putting their energy into the areas where they dominate. It’s the syndication model I described several years ago in a Harvard Business Review article.

The landscape is still uncertain, however. That’s what makes lif interesting.