We’ve speculated previously that Microsoft would retain the Yahoo brand, but until now its been a well educated guess. In a BusinessWeek article, Steve Ballmer now confirms it, saying simply that “Yahoo, the brand, will live.”
It’s a decision that will come at a cost, because it leaves Microsoft with three brands where it should only really have one, but can at least sustain two (MSN and Live being their current brands). MSN is the obvious candidate to join the Deadpool.
As TechCrunch readers pointed out last time, the appeal of Yahoo’s brand is not universal. Yahoo has all but completely failed in much of Western Europe, so there may be grounds to retain the MSN brand there, but it’s unlikely. Yahoo leads where it counts, in the United States and Asia. In China and Japan the local Yahoo portals are separate companies that are not majority owned by Yahoo, so unless there’s a contract in place that would allow Microsoft/ Yahoo to regain control of the Yahoo naming rights in those countries (unlikely, but not impossible), Yahoo will continue to live on there. Yahoo remains the strong brand in countries where Yahoo majority owns the brand in much of the rest of Asia, and this is key growth territory going forward, unlike Western Europe where internet user growth is low.
Live is the newer brand of the three, but given its strong tie-in to Windows I can’t see Microsoft dropping it, although as the logo I’ve added to this post suggests, Yahoo Live Search does have possibilities, even if it means Yahoo Live (the newly launched live streaming service) might then become Yahoo Live Live.