Paul Lopez Unwired

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Results tagged “Microsoft”

AndroidTwitter.jpgThere's a lot of commotion lately about Twitter launching its own client applications of what I would call "house apps" for platforms like the iPhone, Blackberry and today the Android. While many developers have outstanding Twitter clients, the better ones come with a price. Now that Twitter has introduced more of its own client apps free of charge, those early third-party apps quickly lose their value proposition. Some believe the trend could hurt companies like Seesmic or Twitterific. Developers will need to come up with ways to structure their applications to offer other benefits besides just connecting APIs. This is no different than what Microsoft did in the early days. Microsoft grew to domination in the desktop market on the backs of third party developers. Old applications like Harvard Graphics, WordStar, VisiCalc and dBASE were the early pioneers before we had MS Office. No one should be surprised with Twitter's actions, it's part of the software growth lifecycle. Developers will adapt and Twitter will do what fuels its own business growth. I see no problem with that.
Googlecloud.jpgGoogle's presentation at the Enterprise 2.0 show in Boston pushed out more sound bites regarding cloud computing. They made the statement that innovation in enterprise applications during the next 10 years will happen on the Internet (in the cloud).  Certainly, company spokespeople like to put forth the vision at these conferences, but I doubt we will see the obsolescence of Microsoft, Oracle, SAP or other on-premise software during that same 10 year period. The capabilities of the cloud have from most analysts viewpoints, caught up with what you can do on the edge. The question is not about technology however, it's about who carries the asset on their books and how it is managed. There are many companies with rather significant investments in "legacy" systems. What may come to a surprise to this generation is much of that legacy business logic drives corporate differentiation and value creation. It can certainly be ported to new technologies (e.g., SOA hype), but why bother when most of these systems are already depreciated and continue to work? There are still those users who want to "see" the systems running on site, especially if they are communication systems or data centers. It's up to the business leaders to make the case for a change from the status quo. Lasting innovation is driven by market forces, not from the innovation itself.

Internet Search - better than Free ...

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Thumbnail image for Microsoft-cashbacklive.jpgJellyfish, an online shopping cash-back service purchased by Microsoft last year forms the foundation of a new search engine advertising model the company is expected to announce at its Advance08 conference this week. The new MS LIVE platform, called "Live Search Cashback," will enable allow users to get cash back from purchases made by participating advertisers on a variety of merchandise. In contrast to Google's virtual monopoly on the pay-per-click model, Microsoft will share part of the fee collected from the advertisers to incent users to move forward with a purchase. Conceptually, this is no different than a manufacturer offering rebates at the retail point-of-sale level through the channel and to the end customer. Microsoft takes the risk of running the ad by changing the model to CPA (cost-per-action) from CPC (cost-per-click, aka PPC, pay-per-click). Microsoft's recent re-engagement with Yahoo, specifically its search business, potentially provides advertisers enough inventory to make this a viable service. Maybe these "stimulus checks" from Microsoft will keep our economy going this year!

Ichan's Odd Man Rush on Yahoo

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icahn-yahoo.jpgCarl Ichan is moving ahead with a Yahoo proxy battle and a new slate of 10 board seats including Mark Cuban.  He's shaken up things at Motorola and Time Warner so he's not the person you'd want to come knocking at your investor relations door. He picked up 50 million shares last week and has said he will buy up more shares ($ billion + shareholder already). All he needs to Gordon Crawford (with Capital Research & Management) and Bill Miller with Legg Mason who owns 80 million Yahoo shares and is the company's second largest shareholder to pull this off. He does not have Microsoft's commitment, but with a new board and willingness to accept the last offer, the deal may go through. Yang will have trouble blocking the Power Play shots on goal as Ballmer, Ichan and Cuban crash the net and head for the onion bag.

Google-Microsoft-SaaS.jpgBeyond advertising, Software as a Service (Saas) may be the next big opportunity for both companies. A combination of free and fee-based services will ultimately replace software licensing as we know it today. But not very soon. Bob Warfield, with SmoothSpan, has a good quick analysis of why Microsoft would want to go to a SaaS model now that Vista and Office 2007 are released. So far Ray Ozzie's been careful to say, "Software Plus Service."  Microsoft's acquisition of Yahoo can benefit both their advertising push (AdCenter) and SaaS as these intersect in their Online Services Group (MSN and MS Live). The question is what happens when you try to merge them together? You don't want a MSN-Yahoo-Live mashup; there has already been some user confusion between MSN and Live. We are still at an early stage of this evolution. Neither company has a fully mature, corporate-ready application service provider solution on the scale of a Salesforce.com. For an enterprise customer dealing with a multi-vendor, multi-application environment, one size does not fit all with regards to SaaS "in the cloud." What hasn't been addressed very well is the uptime and SLA's that corporate customers need. Just look at some recent outages from "the cloud." We have RIM Blackberry (3 hours, second one this year), Salesforce.com (7 hours in February, no one's immune), MS Hotmail/MS Live (6 hours) and let's not forget the BGP injection that brought YouTube down for 2 hours. If I'm an SMB or an enterprise customer relying on these services for anything mission critical, I've introduced another layer of risk to my business. Are outages going to be the norm? Do you really want to put everything in the cloud?

Got $12 Billion More?

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microhoo.gifYahoo plans to reject Microsoft's offer of $31 per share for the company according to developments over the weekend. Yahoo is seeking something closer to $40/share. Looks like Jerry Yang is going to man-up and take on Steve Ballmer. Even though Steve is a newbie to big takeovers, my money is on Mr. Softee getting this deal done. Yahoo does not have a staggered board meaning that all of its directors are up for re-election at once. They also do not have preferred shares or any other class of supervoting securities to protect them from hostile takeovers.  March 13th is the last day to nominate competing directors at Yahoo. According to Yahoo's by-laws, it is easy to push directors out if they do not get majority shareholder approval. The problem is if Microsoft mounted a proxy fight, that provision doesn't apply because Microsoft will provide more nominees than available director seats. The Wall Street Journal suggests that Yahoo may be betting that Microsoft does not want to go "hostile" since it may cause deep resentment among the rank-and-file engineers it still needs to continue the company's success. I don't see any other option for Yahoo at this point, either way some of the yahoos are going to have to start cleaning out the desks.
yearofrat2.jpgThe Year of the Rat is often associated with "a time of hard work and renewal in many ways," and most would agree that is what we need this year. I believe we will see many positive things over the horizon -but first we have to get through some rough waters. That brings me to technology. I like Tech, but not Tech stocks right now. I know they look real tempting here and after Microsoft's announcement, Cisco's earnings call and disappointment in Google's results - the whole sector is down. Who would have thought you could buy Apple and Google at these prices a couple of months ago? These are not going to lead the momentum in the first half and after the Goldman Sachs tech conference later this month, watch out as all the tech investors (big funds) unload the rest of their positions and get in the early cycle recovery stocks (retail, banks, financial). Last November, Chambers said the next few quarters are going to be 'lumpy' and this week he gave guidance of just 10% growth for the current quarter. The growth in B2B this year will come from applications and services. Hardware-focused suppliers will continue to suffer declining margins and channel issues. Look at Motorola shedding its handset business. Dell is focused on growing their services to compete with HP and IBM. From the consumer perspective, Apple's MacWorld and introduction of their new iPod and iPhone failed to excite and it has fallen significantly over the past month. Content and social networking growth will continue to drive Web 2.0 adoption among consumers and will spill over into the enterprise. CBS and Facebook recently teamed up to offer NCAA March Madness coverage. CBS, like Microsoft, needs to figure out how to monetize these types of deals. They haven't sold any ads tied to this site yet. According to a Wall Street article, they only sold about $10 million last year related to their online digital advertising, TV is still king. This will be a good year for those who are resourceful and well prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that arise. The Rat is a courageous, clever and an adaptable "person" - just don't take the bait.

Microsoft opening the wallet for Yahoo!

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microsoft_yahoo_070504_ms.jpgYahoo cannot survive on its own. Microsoft needs a search technology boost. The companies have been talking for over a year. Last February, the deal could have been $60 billion vs. $41 billion on Friday.  Yang is calling in the big guns by reaching out to Google to see if they can "work together." Google could try to cloud this deal by crying anti-trust foul. Ballmer today in their analyst call said that Microsoft acquiring Yahoo would do more for competition than some arrangement with Google & Yahoo. This makes sense for Microsoft and I would expect this to go through this year. Microsoft could use this as a platform for MS Live, think getting more business eyeballs using Microsoft software as a service technology. Yahoo has some good relationships from a content provider to major carriers and is a top destination site - much more than MSN.  It would be important to get the Yahoo software team on board because many new graduates choose to work for a Google or eBay rather than a mainline software company such as Microsoft. This could add some pizzazz to Microsoft's offerings. The only problem I see is that Microsoft will most likely drop the brand altogether within 2 years.
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Microsoft beat out Google for a stake in the growing social networking company. The investment represents a $15 billion valuation which Greenspan would certainly think exemplifies "irrational exuberance."  With more advertising spend moving to the web, this opportunity represents a way to specifically target users based on their hobbies, favorite music, location, age and gender - just to name a few. According to eMarketing, the U.S. advertising market for social networking sites is forecasted to exceed $900 million this year. The deal for Microsoft is access to international expansion by Facebook where they will be able to influence more of how the model develops. According to ComScore Media Metrix, Facebook experienced over 129% growth in unique visitors year over year compared with only 23% on MySpace. Microsoft has struggled with their online investments over the last four years and this represents a way to energize that group. Here's where the social networking sites have changed the traditional (if we can call it traditional now) online advertising model. Typically, users are presented banner and rich media ads depending on what they are doing on a web page or results from a search query.

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Google adwords have led the charge and this is a very profitable business model today. Customers search for things, ads are presented, click-through happens and the online cash register rings. On social networking sites the user's purchase decision has nothing to do with search. It has to do with what their affinity group is doing, what their friends are recommending and other online discussion about the goods and services being consumed by their social network. Both Google and Microsoft are at a strategic disadvantage here. I will analyze this more thoroughly later. This investment is also overshadowed by a competitive war between Google and Microsoft. Google has stepped up its investment and expansion in office productivity applications offered as a service and Microsoft has stepped up their online advertising business. Ballmer was asked about this at the Gartner conference. They are going after each other's core business. The companies in the middle, like Facebook, will not be collateral damage - they will change the way marketers think about online advertising.

nwlogo-06.gifThis is a good write up on long relationship between NEC and Microsoft. In 1979 NEC introduced the NEC 8001 microcomputer based on the 8-bit z80 microprocessor. It ran Bill's BASIC interpreter. This was also the same year that Microsoft moved from New Mexico to Bellevue, Washington.

read more | digg story
Thumbnail image for gibson2.jpgSAN FRANCISCO - Microsoft held their coming out party for the much anticipated Office Communications Server 2007. Gibson Guitar was one of their beta customers and they were prominently featured in a video - and with a live musician to kick off the show at the Bill Graham Civic Center today. The folks at Gibson even screen painted a custom guitar for the show complete with the Microsoft logo and UC branding - wonder who gets that guitar? Bill talked about the megatrends he sees: performance of hardware, digitization of the economy, broadband/mobility and of course software breakthroughs. He showed a chart with the first computer that caused him to drop out of school - the Altair computer kit. That was in 1977. There were about 1500 people in attendance and many of the sponsors were part of the "ecosystem." The press coming out in the news today claims the death of the PBX and communications as we know it. Bill and Jeff Raikes want the partners to come into the Microsoft fold and leave their worries behind. Thumbnail image for Bill-Jeff.jpgBill was careful not to totally dismiss or make irrelevant these important communication partners. There is much to consider when looking at a total software solution for communications.There is still networking and quality of service considerations, after all OCS is still VOIP and real-time voice communications needs to be tuned for a network. Just like a twelve string guitar - voice + data. You have to have them perfectly in tune otherwise, you're not going to like what you hear.

read more | digg story

Gartner talked about Apple and Google

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Tom Austin from Gartner gave his presentation, "Google vs. Microsoft: Consumerization and Web 2.0." He started with a premise of what happens when you have a product that took a company 20 years to perfect and costs hundreds of millions of dollars to develop duplicated by a 4-man team in one year that is available free at the click of a mouse? He was referring to writely.com which was acquired by Google. I'd have to admit I've not considered any web-based office applications, particularly because they are not available when you are offline. What's interesting is Microsoft appears to be taking a shot at Google's coveted advertising revenue while Google is attacking them with SaaS office applications. There were a small group of IT users who were asking questions about Google's GAPE offering (Google Apps Premier Edition). The cost model looks like $50/year with 25GB of storage. You would have to take a serious look at it especially if you are paying high licensing fees to Microsoft. Maybe not everyone in the enterprise needsthe full suite of applications. I personally could not live without Office 2007 and now with more integration with Sharepoint 2007 and .Net for development, it still has compelling value. Apple faired quite high at the conference with lots of buzz about IT support. We now need new support models so that the IT community does not have suffer chaos from "rogue" users. There was good contrast between the iPhone and RIM Blackberry, especially in the area of security. The big point made was that now software developers have a reference design from which to design good mobile software - Apple. I also heard some substantiation of my analysis of the iPhone battery life. Gartner estimates the WiFi radio in the iPod devices cut battery life by 60%, higher than I estimated. Also we got a good data point on 3G, it turns out it reduces battery life by 30%. For browsing, you need 3G or better.

IPv6 ... Index for the world

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Microsoft sees strategic value in IPv6 because, among other things, it eases the process of setting up peer-to-peer (P2P) gaming programs and migrates customers to IPv6 as IPv4 addresses get used up. On the down side, however, IPv6 can also double Vista's attack surface. Several leading security analysts are recommending you disable Vista's IPv6 capability by turning off Teredo tunneling through the network.

Teredo/Miredo is available for the most popular operating systems allowing you to penetrate popular NATs and Firewalls. It can likely allow you bypass any blocking or censorship policies on your network. It even works from China, so you can use it to read your favorite blocked sites. Improper use can be dangerous to network managers.

Lockeed Martin is one major company rolling out IPv6, "eating their own dog food." However most enterprises realize making IPv6 do every single thing that IPv4 can do is no easy task.  Many switches (which don't need to support IPv6 to transport IPv6 packets) only support management over IPv4. Firewalls and load balancers lack functionality, and although a lot of software already supports the new protocol, there is also a great deal of software that doesn't. Not to mention people having trouble getting network-attached printers to work. Unless it's possible to make the modifications in-house or get a vendor to make them promptly, supporting IPv6 often requires workarounds in the form of reverse proxies. For the time being, most companies are still waiting to see how this develops. Google is an LIR (Local Internet Registry) and has snapped up a huge block of IPv6 addresses. They own about 79 billion billion billion addresses (that's 2 to the 96th power). IPv6 will allow Google to index every device on the planet (think M2M).

As RIM continues to grow, most well capitalized companies lose their chance to acquire it. You begin to only have Cisco, Microsoft, IBM and maybe Motorola or Nokia with the financial ability to do so. Ostensibly, Microsoft buying RIM makes sense. One reason: RIM is growing; Microsoft is not. With RIM's licensing model they aim to be the Microsoft of the wireless messaging world and have made remarkable inroads over the years. RIM creates the dominant platform in wireless messaging and a stable technology stack that other vendors can build and sell hardware and software. (Sound like somebody you know?).

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RIM's email technology is built for the server and should be part of an operating system. Why would you want to handle messaging with the dependencies on the medium in which those messages travel? That's what RIM does when they install the server software in enterprises and in telecom carrier data centers. By integrating RIM messaging software in the OS, the solution becomes more economical and easier for IT to manage.

Developers writing software for the PC market are riding an anemic market in terms of growth. Not so with messaging and unwired devices. There is more innovative development of wireless applications as the number of installed devices reaches prodigious proportions.  The only challenge I've heard from developers is writing code for RIM is burdensome compared with writing on Microsoft platforms. Assuming Microsoft keeps the RIM operating system around (another blog topic indeed), they would need to include a robust RIM SDK and developer plug-in to their much-acclaimed Visual Studio.

The naysayers claim that Microsoft would have never let a real acquisition target get to $40B before taking it out. Also the incompatibilities between the two operating systems make it like mixing oil and water.

With $61B in cash, Bill and Steve have a fat wallet but that doesn't mean the money is burning a hole in their pocket. Could this a pairing off? Can Microsoft with RIM compete with Apple and Google in the long run?  I'm not sure buying RIM is enough. Google appears to be getting into the phone business as well. Think Gmail messaging on a Google platform funded by the Google ecosystem.

Cisco Microsoft - Sweet Sassafrassy

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This week Chambers and Ballmer sat down before a group of journalist and tried to convey a sense of how the companies will work together.

Thumbnail image for SteveBallmer.jpgThumbnail image for JohnChambers.jpgAs noted in the media, this is an unusual PR stunt. Presumably giving in to pressure from key customers about working both companies on real business issues the very next day it was business as usual. Seems like the customers will be the ones left confused. As world collide, the customers become the last child, just a punk in the streets.    

About Paul Lopez

Paul Lopez Paul Lopez is a 20+ year technology veteran whose career has spanned multiple disciplines such as product management, software development, engineering, marketing, business development and operations... read more

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