There's a lot of jockeying for position among the big Internet and media companies these days. David Berlind suggests there are two main camps developing: Microsoft/Yahoo/Real vs. Google/Sun/AOL/Comcast, with Apple the aloof cool kid doing its own thing (the Internet's version of The Fonz). John Battelle thinks that IM and VOIP are "critical applications" in these bigco discussions, together with search traffic and "good content traffic". Also the traditional measures of success, such as quantity of users a company has, continues to be very important.
AOL seems to be the most prized acquisition target for Microsoft and Google, the two main players in all of this. The Web 2.0 world has forced AOL to open up their infamous walled garden of Internet content, but the millions of users and huge collection of media content it compiled during the Web 1.0 era has turned out to be a trump card in this new era of the Web. Old-school Web measures obviously still hold a lot of value.
What are the Web 2.0 implications of these power plays? The main one is that these companies are competing to be the biggest Web and media platforms. Google is the biggest Web platform company currently, but Microsoft has deep pockets and is flirting with AOL. Yahoo! is building a next-generation media content platform, so I don't think they need to buy old-school Web media plays (except to stop one of the others buying it).
Of course the A-List media companies will muscle in on the action too. They're big on consolidation, so expect a lot more web company acquisitions by big media along the lines of Newscorp buying myspace. PRWeek noted this in their 10 media trends to watch article: "Conglomerates like Gannett, Clear Channel, and Time Warner hold a large stake in many forms of communication that Americans use on a daily basis" and this shows "no signs of slowing down."
I don't know how this will shake out, but the big Internet and Media companies are going to put on a great show over the next few months. None of them will end up owning or controlling the new Web, because open standards and Web formats have too strong a foothold now - 10+ years into the Web's life. But the Googles and Newscorps of this world will end up with a lot of leverage in the Web 2.0 world, after they finish jostling with each other.