April 10, 2008
Yahoo! and Microsoft -- The Beat Goes On
There seems to be some life in Yahoo! after all, although the jury's out as to what end. Microsoft gave the company a three week deadline to accept its buyout offer otherwise face a proxy fight and a lower offer. That was to scare the shareholders into pressuring Yahoo!. Microsoft is tired of dancing and wants to get to the altar, especially on its terms. Yahoo! tried to get other partners such as News Corp. and AOL involved, but the intrigue never went anywhere to create a viable alternative to the Microsoft offer.
Now Yahoo! announced a test where Google will supply some 3% of ads on Yahoo! properties as part of a short-term test to see whether Yahoo! can get a combination of lower costs and higher shared revenue with their rival. Microsoft is not pleased. For its part, MS offered to work with News Corp. to trade MySpace for parts of Yahoo! in a joint management of Internet properties. Financial analysts suggest that this may be a way to bring more financing to raise the bid, if necessary. Yahoo! on the other hand is renewing talks with Warner Communications for some type of combination with AOL. Warner would be thrilled to get rid of AOL as most consider the combination of Warner and AOL to be a failure. AOL is not particularly a company on the upswing. Whether the stockholders go for this combination is open question. If nothing else, it is a way for Yahoo! to force Microsoft to raise its bid. Incentive is everything in these things.
Then, there are the average everyday users. No one has asked them if they will still blindly use Yahoo! if it were part of Microsoft. You have to wonder if some people use Yahoo! because it's not Microsoft (or Google, or AOL, etc.) and would they re-evaluate their patronage if the site were under new management. I mean, if Hotmail is that great, why aren't more people using it?
Most analysts expect Microsoft to get their way, but at a higher price. Someone (including me) is going to be smirking if Google is making money from ads supplied to a Microsoft owned Yahoo!. The nerve of Yahoo!, acting as if it were an independent company making independent business decisions.
April 9, 2008
Yawn, Adobe Releases AMP to the Public
Adobe released its Adobe Media Player (AMP) to the public today. It plays local and streaming flash, H.264 videos, and not much more. No DVDs, no other standard formats, and no audio. The interface is nice, with a clean black on black look. There are any number of channels organized by genres, containing ad supported content from various providers. One can find episodes of Star Trek, the Twilight Zone, and a lot of stuff from the B-list of of cable channels. There are also "classic" movies, such as The Last Man on Earth. That title is presented in such a small presentation that viewing it in full screen is like watching a black and white impressionist painting that moved. Better to find the film on one of those cheap DVDs floating around bargain bins in electronic stores than to see it here. That's not to say that all available items suffered the same problem. More modern content appears quite nicely in standard and full screen view. Jumping from point to point in a video is accomplished by moving a slider in the progress bar that appears below the video. The videos I watched over a standard DSL connection came through without any degradation of the picture and audio.
Take a look at the options before running the program. It defaults to tracking user habits, albeit without personally identifiable information. That, as well as other options can be changed. Beyond that, there's not much here to get one particularly enthused. Like any application, it's just starting out and may improve to be something more than what it is. Until then, AMP is interesting but not particularly compelling. Does this mean Flash format will be a standard download and save format within other applications?
Get AMP here. Or don't.
April 7, 2008
Yahoo! and Microsoft Continue their "Talks"
Yahoo! and Microsoft are getting closer but the sniping continues. Yahoo! seems reconciled to the idea of becoming a Microsoft property as long as the price is right. So far, the Yahoo! board seems to think it's not. Microsoft offered a combination of cash and stock for Yahoo! and with the fluctuations in Microsoft stock (down) the value drops. Yahoo!, for its money, hasn't exactly burned up Wall Street on its own either. Microsoft is getting impatient and has basically said it would initiate a proxy fight, likely at a lower price to take control of the company.
Yahoo! also complains that Microsoft mischaracterizes the meetings held, including two attended by Steve Ballmer. Ballmer is quoted in his letter as saying "there has been no meaningful negotiation to conclude an agreement." Maybe Ballmer's perspective is anything other than when Redmond officially takes over is not "meaningful." It's always a problem when there's too much time to think about the design of the new logos and such. From Yahoo!'s perspective it's going to be how much they can get from MS before they give up. Stay tuned for the eventual agreement, the shareholder lawsuits, and the regulatory dances from U.S., European, and now, Chinese antitrust authorities, among others. It's that latter part that drives Microsoft to doing the deal sooner than later. A new administration no matter who is elected may take its time on approving mergers.
Somehow, I keep thinking that Jerry Yang is going to go to the Yahoo! public address system sometime soon and say something like this:
Attention! This is Lando Calrissian. The Empire has taken control of the city. I advise everyone to leave before more Imperial troops arrive.