Another possibility, if Yahoo! backed out of the deal with Microsoft and wasn't allowed to partner with Google, is that they go-it-alone, but partner with someone like Apple, Facebook, or even Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) who might be looking to beef up their search.
The problem with this is that it's still a long, tough road.
Another permutation might have been revealed through today's Facebook-Microsoft announcement. If Yahoo did decide to re-up with Bing in March, perhaps the best approach would be for Microsoft to outsource Bing to Yahoo! and for Yahoo! and Facebook to work closely on search -Yahoo! on the traditional Web side and Facebook on the Graph Search side. Maybe all three parties see this leading to better results than just continuing on with the status quo.
However, there would be a lot of cooks in this search kitchen. They'd all have to come to some sort of agreement on how to work together. That's always tough with multiple parties.One thing is clear after today though: Search makes a lot of money for these big Web companies or it's a critical product moving forward in the mobile space, even for companies like Apple that make money from selling products instead of advertising. Yahoo! is in a unique position as a potential partner to all the big players. In roughly 10 weeks, we should hear about a major strategic decision from Yahoo! about who they will get closer to in the future. This could cause big waves to everyone in the space. At the time of publication the author was long YHOO and AAPL. Follow @ericjackson This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.