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Money Can't Buy You Love, Redux

Two weeks ago I quoted the Beatles that money can't buy love, doubting the long-term effectiveness of Microsoft's JellyFish/Live CashBack strategy. Now Microsoft has launched the next salvo in its attack, cutting a deal with HP to make Live the default browser on new HP machines. From MSFT press release yesterday:
"Microsoft Live Search Toolbar to Be Distributed on 2009 HP Consumer PCs" REDMOND, Wash. — June 2, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that it has won a key distribution deal with HP, the world’s largest PC manufacturer, to install a Live Search-enabled toolbar on all HP consumer PCs planned to ship in the United States and Canada, beginning in January 2009. As part of this deal, the default search engine setting in the browser on all HP consumer PCs will also be set to Microsoft Live Search.
Same day, different press release. From ComputerWorld:
Firefox on track to crack 20% share in July June 2, 2008 (Computerworld) Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox browser is on pace to hit the 20% market-share mark next month, a Web metrics company said today. Firefox boosted its share by 0.6% in May, accounting for 18.4% of the browsers used during the month and putting it within shouting distance of a major milestone, according to Net Applications Inc. "Firefox is trending to hit 20% market share sometime in July," said Vince Vizzaccaro, the company's executive vice president of marketing, in an e-mail.
Interesting. Right off the bat, 1 in 5 of Microsoft's pricey HP Live users are back to Google. Dunno. Still think this game all shakes down to search quality. Or, to be more precise, to perceived search quality. Which Mountain View has locked up.
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