Good old Google is looking for love all over the place. If it isn’t grabbing some Dell real estate or coming up with nifty Firefox tools, it’s complaining over unfair defaults like a jilted lover. Today the company is hooking up with Adobe in a “multi-year agreement” (whatever that actually means) to distribute the IE version of the Google Toolbar with every download of Adobe Shockwave Player for Windows, with more Adobe products supposedly to be included in the agreement later on.
As far as I can tell, it’s a very pure bundling deal with no new toolbar features, Adobe-related or not. In fact, a search for Adobe-related toolbar icons reveals zero results, so there is not even a preexisting feature to pimp. But Adobe is getting paid, and Google has other plans.
For Google, the name of the game is bringing in more search traffic. Every bundling deal and every spiffy new feature is just a vehicle for giving users temptingly easy access to Google search anywhere, anytime. The next step in converting a nonbeliever into a Google revenue driver is to have them sign up for a Google account so the tracking can begin. After that, the convert is ready for whatever grandiose or nefarious plans Google has for the future.
Adobe officials say that they “expect the agreement to represent significant revenue to Adobe over a period of years,” so Google is probably paying cash for the placement. It’s a move designed to grab ahold of the kind of users who just click through EULAs and other installation screens without reading them, or who never heard of the toolbar before and like to install new, shiny things out of curiosity.
Google and Adobe remain mum on the price of the transaction, and there’s no word on whether it’s a fixed amount or a per-download, per-installation, or some other variable deal. That makes it tough to evaluate whether the influx of search traffic is worth the expense, but it’s hard to imagine that it’s all that costly. After all, the toolbar is attached to a free download, not some expensive premium software package (though that may come later). I’d say something about Google finally spending its massive cash hoard, but this deal is probably just play money. Still waiting for something massive to happen in Mountain View, CA. I guess the perfect partner just hasn’t shown up yet…