Fox and Microsoft are up to Something

"Peter, hold my ears so I can euuuuuuglabalacagh..."

It was interesting last night to notice the Microsoft product placement in Family Guy. For those of you who didn’t see it, the show entered its first commercial break with a Mac OS X-esque spinning beach ball – followed by Peter Griffin leading into a Vist- ahem. Excuse me. A Windows 7 commercial where he endorsed the product’s ease-of use. (For those of you who don’t know, Win 7 is re-packaged Vista. And you doubted the power of marketing!).

My first thought was immediately of the network’s political leaning’s. They are known neither for their populism, nor for their subtlety. Then this morning, I read that FT is reporting of a Murdoch-Microsoft deal in the works. Despite it being Family Guy, it had the smack of Microsoft’s always-contrived advertising humor.

Animators, animators, animators...
Animators, animators, animators...

I immediately laughed because the PHP community has a long tradition of using the characters and storyline of Family Guy when illustrating examples of programming concepts.

My next thought was of the way this is going to hurt News Corp. If this is accurate, there is going to be an even larger divide between the segments of the English speaking world vis-a-vis their attitude towards News Corp publications. If Murdoch pulls all his sites from Google, it may lose what little credibility it still has; insofar as the fox can blend in with the hounds as long as it doesn’t leave the pack.

Now see here, I own 30% of this network!
Now see here, I own 30% of this network!

But once they leave the universe of Google indexing, and enter the unholy alliance with Microsoft, people will no longer be confused that what they are reading from News Corp via Google is actually news.

Net effect on Microsoft? Not sure about this one. They are paying News Corp to do this, so there’s that. But other than it being a waste of money, I’m not sure how is really going to make Bing much more of a competitor than it is now. Especially if Google keeps acting like a benevolent public utility co-op that makes money for everyone.

Another question — albeit one of lesser significance — is that of the weird vertical relationships of MySpace and Facebook. Myspace is a property of Fox Interactive Media and Facebook (incidentally a PHP-based site) had a large infusion of cash from Microsoft back in its earlier days (mostly a symbolic one).

No one is talking merger or anything, but it is interesting to see how ever-changing technology is driving the marketplace now more than ever.

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