Google Closes on DoubleClick

It's good to be Google right now. Its two ostensible archrivals, Microsoft and Yahoo, are mired in a takeover battle. And now it's official: Google owns the online ad agency DoubleClick.

Earlier this week, Google cleared its final hurdle in the DoubleClick deal when the European Commission unconditionally approved the $3.1 billion purchase. As the ink was drying on the EC's permission slip, Google sealed the deal with DoubleClick. It got approval for the deal from the U.S. antitrust officials toward the end of last year.

Despite protests from online privacy advocates and potential GoogleClick competitors, the EC gave the deal a green light, citing no apparent competitive issues or conflicts. "Google and DoubleClick were not exerting major competitive constraints on each other's activities and could, therefore, not be considered as competitors at the moment," it reported in a statement released along with the announcement. I love the "at the moment" part. Think the EC knows something we don't?

I suppose this approval was inevitable, what with all the other consolidations going on in the online ad industry. Microsoft bought aQuantive, Yahoo bought BlueLithium and AOL bought Tacoda. Now they're all nicely paired.

Here I am once again writing about online companies becoming ad agencies and feeling a little uneasy about the whole thing. How do you feel? Send me your thoughts at llow@redmondmag.com.

EMC Loses and Wins
You win some and you lose some. No one knows that better this week than EMC. It lost one fish, but won another. At least this puts it one fish ahead.

EMC just put up $178 million to scoop up portable storage vendor Iomega. This move would've helped EMC gain a stronger foothold in the SMB and consumer markets. In the end, though, Iomega said thanks, but no thanks. Industry analysts expect EMC to continue pursuing the deal and upping the ante.

Iomega said in a prepared statement that it rejected the deal because it "would not reasonably constitute a superior proposal." By that, it was referring to a transfer of stock deal with ExcelStor Technology, in which ExcelStor shareholders would maintain a 60 percent ownership stake in Iomega.

EMC has been on quite the shopping spree lately. Last year, it bought Berkeley Data Systems, creators of the Mozy Web-based backup service; and Pi Corp., which has an online data management system. Its successful acquisitions continue with yesterday's announcement: EMC has just scooped up privately held Infra Corp., a small Australian firm that develops help desk management software. Since Infra Corp was privately held, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Guess someone at EMC has an itchy trigger finger when it comes to "Add to Cart." And I thought I was bad. What do you think of EMC's strategy? Are you using any of EMC's products, or any from its many partners and acquisitions? Let me know at llow@redmondmag.com.

E-Mail Security Could Be Better
That's the short-answer result of Webroot's latest report, "The State of Internet Security: Protecting Business Email." The report states that e-mail has quickly become the most critical type of business document used today -- no great surprise there. It backs up that assertion by quoting IDC, which predicts that companies worldwide will send 6.62 trillion business e-mails this year.

The report finds that despite stories in the press and repeated warnings about the dangers of anything online, most businesses aren't doing much to protect themselves from e-mail-borne security threats. Experience may have to be a harsher instructor, as companies all over also reported negative impacts from such threats.

Here are some of the report's highlights:

  • 75 percent of the organizations surveyed report that e-mail is essential for customer communication.
  • More than half were attacked by spyware and viruses last year.
  • One in five reported a moderate or major business disruption, or a threat to confidential transactions, due to spam.
  • 65 percent experienced at least one e-mail outage over the last year. One in three estimated the cost of each outage at $1,000 or more per hour.
  • Less than 50 percent of the larger companies surveyed (with more than 100 computers) enforce policies restricting personal employee e-mail. Among smaller companies (those with less than 100 computers), less than one-third enforce such policies.

Check in with Webroot (http://www.webroot.com) if you want to see the full report.

How does your organization handle e-mail security? This can be scary stuff. What's your strategy and how has it been working? I promise I'll safeguard your e-mail when I receive your response at llow@redmondmag.com.

Mailbag: More on the Mac
Here are some more of your thoughts on Mac affordability, and Doug's hypothetical Microsoft-buys-the-Mac-OS scenario:

I just had to chime in on this one. After running every Windows OS since Windows 3.0 and working as an ASP.NET application developer for many years, I just bought my first Mac. Refusing to accept the artificial limitation of a Mac-vs.-Wintel religious war, I had to find out what all the hype was about. I figured that if Microsoft could use the Mac OS as a benchmark for design ideas, I might as well do the same in my Web apps. I was also tired of trying to manage my personal archive of photos, music, videos, etc. on the collage of dysfunctional Windows-based products.

I have found the Mac to be stable and very intuitive to use. Probably due to the fact that Apple owns both the hardware AND the software, it is the first machine that I have ever run where the wireless LAN works as it should -- type in the security password, watch it connect, then forget about it. Add to this the fact that I don't have to decide between the Mac and Windows (I just run Fusion by VMware to run Windows concurrently as a virtual machine within the Mac OS), and I'm hooked. The support in the Apple stores is so incredible, I view it as a disruptive force in the PC world. I get training and my questions answered right in the store. I have been so happy with my purchase that I bought additional support and training from Apple, and I also bought the stock.
-Larry

You know you get what you pay for with a Mac and, according to PC Magazine, Mac OS wins the OS wars.

Finally, to answer your question about whether Microsoft should buy the Mac OS: Only if you want to ruin the best OS forever and leave us with no choice but to go back to IBM typewriters.
-Ken

Want to comment on any of the topics discussed today? Send an e-mail to llow@redmondmag.com, or leave your comment below!

About the Author

Lafe Low is the editorial liaison for ECG Events.

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