Google Gets Another Leg Up on Microsoft?
Google executives over the past year or more have talked about how important
mobile computing products and services are to its future. Yesterday, it put
its money -- a lot of money -- where its mouth is.
The company is kicking in $500 million to building a wireless data network.
Also contributing to the project are Sprint, Intel, Time Warner, Clearwire and
Comcast, among others. A spokesman for the group at yesterday's announcement
said the total value of the project is $14.5 billion. Read up on the details
New York Times link from RedmondReport.com.
Google's participation in this project is part of the company's overall push
to encourage and promote greater open access to the Internet, which supposedly
would give business users and consumers more choice and freedom in choosing
services. Now, Google, of course, hopes users will select its services
along with the accompanying ads the company would be pushing out to hundreds
of millions of handheld devices. This move also serves to complement Google's
recent moves to establish free wi-fi access in some key geographic areas --
some of which have failed and some of which have succeeded.
Given the escalation in the war for advertising dollars between Google and
Microsoft (among a couple of other related battles going on between the two
companies), one has to wonder why Microsoft hasn't joined this group or tried
to gather its own collection of business partners to get into this game.
While Redmond has spent over three months fruitlessly trying to acquire Yahoo
(and who knows if it's done yet), to further its online fortunes, Google appears
to be successfully pushing into yet another area that could help its online
strategies enormously. It may now be at the point where Microsoft -- if it hopes
to maintain pace with Google in this area -- needs to acquire its own telecommunications
company and set it up as an arm's-length subsidiary.
Chairman Bill Weighs In on Yahoo
Holding forth in a Tokyo press conference yesterday, Microsoft Chairman Bill
Gates didn't seem at all ruffled by Microsoft's failed attempt to acquire Yahoo.
And he didn't seem all that worked up about immediately jumping back into the
game to acquire another company that might provide at least some of the technology
and market presence Yahoo possesses, either.
Instead, he coolly said that Microsoft is now focused
on developing and evolving its own products and services for the online
world. Microsoft, he said, had spent enough time trying to drag the Yahoo deal
over the goal line, but that the company simply decided the value of the deal
wasn't worth the time it could instead spend pursuing its own home-grown strategy.
The question, of course, is what exactly that strategy is. The company has
a tangle of different pieces that could be put together to formulate something
that could eventually compete against Google (assuming it could come up with
a much better search engine), but how long is that going to take? Too long,
I suspect. The thing about Google is that unlike any other competitor Microsoft
has faced, Google is large and fast-moving -- an elephant with cheetah-like
Microsoft could forge a series of other partnerships or buy several other companies
that could serve to bolster its online efforts, but that could take a year or
two to complete and then integrate seamlessly into its strategic fabric. Gates'
low-energy reaction to the Yahoo deal makes you wonder if he knows something
we don't in terms of Microsoft's next move, or if he's so focused on his foundation
work that he just can't summon up his old passion.
Mac Under Attack
The long-held perception that Windows has been the almost-exclusive OS target
for hackers might be about to change. According to an upcoming book by David
Harley called OS
X Exploits and Defense, Windows will have to share that exclusivity
with Apple's Mac OS X.
Rather surprisingly, according to Harley, Apple in 2007 issued over 100 security
patches for OS X, which may rattle the belief that the operating system is relatively
invulnerable to attacks. Harley references statistics from the National Vulnerability
Database that records a whopping increase of 228 percent in the annual vulnerability
rate for Apple's product. Windows, over the same period of time, racked up a
73 percent increase, also nothing to write home about.
And the bad news for Apple doesn't stop there. Harley writes that with the
explosion in sales of the iPod over the past couple of years, Apple's consumer
products are increasingly in the crosshairs of malware assassins.
As Joe Louis famously said of Billy Conn just before their first title fight
in 1941, "He can run, but he can't hide." It seems users wanting to
run from Windows to escape hackers can't hide in the sanctuary that was the
Mailbag: Zune vs. iPod
As a "recent iPod convert," Lafe asked readers yesterday what their
own preferences are when it comes to media players. Here are some of your responses:
I have both. Content is king, features are secondary. On my Zune for
$15 a month, I get all the music I can handle. My iPod costs money for every
song. Therefore, I use my Zune.
I have been using a Zune 80 since Christmas of 2007. Being Canadian, I
had to jump through a few hoops to get one, but I absolutely HAD to have it.
My Zune rocks! I love the screen size and the storage capacity. I watch movies
on it all the time when I am on the train, and the picture is totally viewable
and it sounds great.
I do have a few minor complaints though. Chief among them is that I have
been unable to access the Zune Marketplace (until yesterday). I couldn't even
create a Zune tag, so I have been unable to download songs, videos or podcasts.
I am hoping to see some decent games and other applications (in particular,
an e-book reader would be really nice) become available for the Zune, now
that Microsoft has released XNA Game Studio 3.0.
I'm a Zuner, and therefore my family is as well. I love the subscription
service, which iPod does NOT have. Microsoft is really doing a pretty good
job at making an enormous number of tunes available just through the subscription,
which is great for us, since we get bored easily and move on to other things.
One improvement that would be excellent and perhaps even move the Zune
into a much larger market share: Make the Zune accessories available at Wal-Mart
stores everywhere. I get mad when I see the glut of iWhatever and basically
nothing for Zune, except for an overpriced casing and the plastic gift cards.
WHO CARES? Give me a dumb little alarm clock that my Zune will sit on, play
through and charge, and I'll feel much more at ease in those aisles. Best
yet, push the iJunk over and give equal shelf frontage to Zune accessories.
Let's see, buy something from a company that innovates and is always
trying to lead the industry, or buy something from a company that at best
can copy the leader. I think I will go with the innovator -- plus, Consumer
Reports just rated Apple at the top for tech support. My wife dropped her
iPod two days before the warranty ran out. A quick e-mail to Apple tech support
and within a week there was a new iPod on our doorstep.
No, I think I will stick with Apple as long as it remembers who brought
it to the dance and keeps up the good tech support and innovation.
I will not buy a Zune (and I have looked at them) until I can play my
large selection of Audible.com books on them.
Actually, I use a Windows Mobile device (HTC something or other). Why
hasn't MSFT pushed it more? My phone has everything the iPod/iPhone have to
offer -- well, minus the really cool I-want-function of the touch screen.
Do I need a touch screen? No. Does it make things easier? Sometimes. But with
this phone, I've carried a large amount of my music, had a phone, contacts,
e-mail (corporate and regular), games and Internet for over six years.
Oh, and movies or TV shows on a 2x3 screen -- please, give me a break.
At home, people are buying the biggest LCD screen they can, and then watching
the show on a 2x3 screen. Why am I the only one that sees something screwy
Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ed Scannell is the editor of Redmond magazine.