You Can’t Buy Design

Microsoft buys Fast for search, as Google rolls swiftly on
from the ValleyWag article:

Microsoft is buying Fast Search & Transfer, a Norwegian company, for $1.2 billion. Ostensibly, this is meant to bolster the search function within Microsoft’s Office business. But I read it as an admission that Microsoft’s multibillion-dollar annual R&D budget can’t buy it a fighting chance against Google. Microsoft keeps spending more on “improving” its search technology, and yet consumers are indifferent; they continue to switch to Google in droves.

Owen Thomas brings up a great point wth the technology world. As companies grow, sooner or later they’re going to end up acquiring other companies – usually smaller, more agile companies that are introducing innovative products or services. BUTThese acquisitions don’t guarantee success in that new business/technology sector.
The success of any acquisition lies in the correct integration of said acquisition into the buyer’s company. If the buyer is smart, strategic and knows how to Design (capital D) a good acquisition, then magic happens. If the buyer is just buying to keep up with the competition without really thinking through how this purchase with fit into their company (and company culture), it spells disaster – or the employees of the purchased company quitting.
Below are 2 examples of successful acquisitions:
Google’s Acquisition of Writely
Prior to being acquired by Google, Writely was an online word processing program (Think Microsoft Word without all the extra crap you never use).
Now it’s still an online word processing application, but one that is integrated within the family of Google applications and services and it’s called Google Docs. Google understands that it is stronger than the sum of its parts. Search, maps, docs, email…. all working together in harmony.
Apple’s Acquisition of CoverFlow
Before Apple bought CoverFlow, it was a standalone Flash application. It’s interesting to see how Apple has integrated CoverFlow into their other products – you can find it in iTunes, the Finder in Leopard, iPods and iPhones. That’s what you call integration and Design. Whether you love CoverFlow or find it extremely annoying – Apple handled their acquisition the right way.