Certainly the search game is still in its infancy. Only a fraction of the content available online is actually searchable. For instance, even subscribers can't search current and archived issues of the Wall Street Journal or most other publications with a search engine; you have to go to the publication's site. This suggests that the search engine that can get the world to list premium content on its platform will have a leg up on the competition. Microsoft has plenty of money to buy the rights to such content; it also owns powerful digital-rights-management software, which helps copyright holders control who uses their products and how often. Those should be advantages in negotiations with companies worried about losing control of copyrighted text, music, and video on the Net.That is so wrong. (a) Google Desktop already searches your cache, whereupon all the web-based content to which you subscribe (and have surfed) may be found.
B) Most importantly, take one look at the hoops that MS, Sony and Apple have had to contort themselves into to make the content cartel happy. For what? Strategic positioning, and in Apple's case, first mover advantage.
But the idea that yet another successful hi-tech company should kow-tow to content owners to maintain a competitive edge is completely wrong. Google has and maintains it's edge through bona-fide innovation. As Cory says, when's the last time you saw an innovative DVD player?
I'm incoherent right now, but this is not funny.