My first thought in relation to agriculture is that this proposed merger points out the importance of technology companies becoming vertically integrated.
When the “tech age” started in the 1990s, there were a lot of small “mom and pop” companies writing lots of little software applications and developing different “tools.” As technology has emerged, it has become more important for companies to either merge or build relationships with companies that make “complementary products.” I think we’re seeing the same thing in agriculture.
More and more, it’s important for software, GPS and other precision agriculture companies to have relationships and alliances with each other. In the end, that’s what makes it possible to provide our customers with a “complete system” as opposed to a collection of independent products. From our side, we’ve found it more important to offer a suite of software that does true “farm management” as opposed to, for example, just providing mapping or accounting software. We’ve also found it increasingly important to build relationships with different precision agriculture hardware companies so we can be confident that our software will work with their data.
My other thought is that a part of Google’s success has been in taking on technologies such as Google Earth and their newer mobile applications for trip mapping. There’s no doubt that Microsoft and Yahoo (and others) have to have an eye on this market. As GPS and web-mapping technologies go mainstream, this will have to make it easier for companies to adapt this for agriculture. To take GPS as an example, 10 years ago it would have been impossible to find any GPS for under $1,000. Yet the trip-mapping market has made it possible to get GPS receivers that are adequate for basic farm mapping for well under $200 (we’re offering specials at Louisville for a really good one for $100). As web-mapping technologies become even more mainstream, it will be easier (and cheaper) for precision agriculture management companies to use this technology for precision agriculture.