Tag Archives: yahoo

Don’t Be Evil?

Yesterday Google put an end to the advertisement agreement with Yahoo! that both companies announced in April. Google blamed the government regulators and some advertisers who had concerns on the deal. And who wouldn’t? The two major players in online advertisement were reaching an agreement to cooperate on search advertisement. Anyone smelling monopoly?

Yahoo! and Google deal back in April was meant to stop the Microhoo acquisition. Google was quick to give a hand to Yahoo! to “save” them from being absorbed by evil Microsoft. And it worked. Specially for Google. They avoided a Microhoo that would have been a stronger contender, and they made Yahoo! publicly concede defeat in online ads by agreeing to place Google ads in Yahoo!’s searches.

Now Google ends the agreement, which “surprisingly” raises concerns on regulators, and leaves Yahoo! defeated and weaker after six months of inaction waiting for a deal that is now trashed and has trashed Jerry Yang’s credibility with Yahoo!’s shareholders that have seen the share drop to less than $13 after refusing Microsoft’s $33 bid.

Did Google ever believe that the deal would go through? Google has won anyway. Sounds Machiavellian? Anyone remembers the spectrum auction in April where Google forced Verizon and AT&T to pay more than $4.6 Bn to secure the “openness” of the network? Not to be evil, these guys play tough.

As per Jerry Yang, both Mike Arrington and Om Malik do not write precisely nice words about him and Yahoo!

Still Mr. Yang can not be blamed for the financial crisis that has taken a big chunk of Yahoo!’s market capitalization since the $33 bid. As the graphic above shows, Yahoo! stock is not performing any worse than Apple or Google are in 2008. Jerry Yang’s decisions to reject Microsoft bid and to pursue a devil’s deal with Google have not been well received by shareholders. The good news is Yahoo! users are not going to stop using Yahoo! anytime soon. And for us users, it is better to have Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! than only Google and Microhoo. Competition is what drives innovation, and three is a better number of competitors than two.

Mobile Internet Platforms: Do we need a different Web for Mobile?

Mobile Mondays dedicated its latest event in Madrid to Mobile Internet Platforms, where my good friend Alex Romero from Yahoo! presented their vision of Mobile Internet.

Mobile Internet is finally coming. Unlimited data plans and high speeds (HSDPA, EVDO) are finally enabling it. Although most 3G data traffic is still associated to Wireless Broadband, new devices as iPhone and Android are making the mobile web experience far better than ever before.

So with full browsers in the handsets, is there anything specific about Internet in mobile? For many developers of mobile apps for Android, iPhone, Symbian, Windows Mobile or Blackberry the answer is yes. If usability is important for any application in a computer, in a handset, usability is crucial due to limitations such as a smaller display, or less comfortable inputs (text or navigation). In smaller devices any click saved makes a difference. That is why applications for mobile must be smarter and be context aware (know about location, user profile, friends in social networks, time of the day, weather, personal agenda, you name it), so that clicks can be saved.

Yahoo! oneSearch is an example of a different approach to Search, specific for Mobile: Provide relevant answers instead of web links.  Do the examples in the oneSearch picture above save clicks? Would you use oneSearch on your iPhone, even if you can fully search in its Safari browser?

Microsoft needs to revamp brand

Microsoft keeps losing market share slightly and continuously, in part thanks to Vista.

But let’s admit it, Vista is not that terrible, even if far from perfect. Microsoft  monopolistic habits and greed to milk the licenses cow, make people have a negative feeling (not to say hate) about Microsoft. Steve Ballmer’s arrogance do not help improve Microsoft image, and Gates stepping out did not help either. Bill Gates, still blamed with most of the evils of Microsoft, is a person that can only be admired for what he has done to bring computers to everyone, not to mention his philanthropic actions.

And then we have Apple 2.0. The turn around of Apple after Jobs return is amazing. Driven first by the iPod, then new MacBooks and iMacs, and lately the iPhone, Apple is more than ever the  iconic brand that sets the trend. Microsoft has never raised a fraction of the passion that Apple generates in their users. And with Vista being the excuse of many to switch to Mac, it is no surprise that Mac market share grows.

And if Apple was not enough to threaten Microsoft Status Quo, then we have Google with the same kind of bet for simplicity, user friendliness and its nearly altruist services and software in the on-line world. MSN, Hotmail and Live services inherit the same greedy behavior of Microsoft: did you ever got your Hotmail account reset and lost all your emails because you did not login for 30 days? how slow was Hotmail, partly due to the flashy banners all across the page? how long it took them to match the 1GB capacity of initial Gmail? and what about lack of POP support and removal of MS Outlook support, forcing the user to suffer their ad-intense webmail?

As the browser becomes the OS (by supporting the increasing offering of Software as a Service), Mac and Linux distros become stronger alternatives to Windows. SaaS brings the OS battle on-line, and that explains also the strong interest of Microsoft to become a stronger Internet player acquiring Yahoo.

Windows still enjoys a huge market share above 90%, but its brand is lagging behind Apple’s Mac and Google. That does not have to be a fatal illness, but Microsoft should better look into it before it is too late.

Market Share data source: Hitslink

IMS Vs. Skype

IP Multimedia Subsystem or IMS is an architecture standardized by 3GPP, 3GPP2 and TISPAN, that is the choice of telcos to implement not only VoIP, but also other multimedia services, such as videcalls, presence, instant messaging, push-to-x, videosharing, on-line address book, etc.

As an user, you can envision IMS as a service similar to what Skype offers today but standard-based, with assured quality of service and fully inter-operable among different telcos.

IMS software clients will run on different devices including handsets, PC/laptops and IPTV Set-top-boxes.

AT&T U-verse Voice is already based in this kind of technology.

But, if Skype is already free, why do we need IMS?

1) To avoid ending in a monoploy situation with Skype. As telcos adopt IMS, users will be able to choose their favorite service provider, and that will not impact what buddies you can talk to. E.g., you can not access Yahoo IM or GTalk users from Skype. Once Verizon, AT&T and Sprint have all IMS, you will choose your preferred operator, say AT&T, and still reach your buddies at Verizon and Sprint.

2) Quality of Service. IMS provides for guaranteed bandwidth. This will enable Hi-Def (1080) video calls, that best-effort Internet can not sustain.

3) Carrier grade service, including Emergency Services, not available from Skype.

4) Access from multiple devices and network access. Coupled with IPTV and Femto cells, as an example, you will be able to receive SMS, IM or calls on your TV screen or on your PC, even if you have been called on you cellular. With Femto cells, your presence info could be automatically updated when you reach home. Other services bundled with IPTV would include video conference from the TV, or having a voice, video or chat session open with friends on TV while watching the Super Bowl.

5) Open architecture, including a SDE (Service Development Environment) for developers to add Applications blended with your IMS Service. Applications such as those available in Facebook, could be made available on the IMS Service, bringing to power of Social Networks and Web 2.0 together with IMS.

Skype is a great service, but the potential is bigger with IMS, mainly because of the competition it would generate among telcos, that would drive more innovative applications and a better service at the end of the day.

Microhoo: Why people love weddings?

A wedding is the most common of the happy endings in movies, theater plays and also in the stock market.

A wedding of Microsoft and Yahoo would make very happy to Yahoo investors (specially those who bought in the last months), trading banks and stock brokers that will cash nice fees.

But what about the end-users? Why should we be happy with one option less for webmail, for instant messaging, for on-line video, for on-line pictures, and specially for on-line advertisement?

As a user, I always prefer to have three options than two. It is called competition, and it is what drives innovation, better service and better value. Oligopolies are not good for customers.

Stock market and investors love mergers and acquisitions. They make the market more active with bigger transaction (and fee) volumes. And above all it pleases investors, because a player in a market with two players is more valuable than a player in a market of four. In other words, business owners love oligopolies. Microsoft is the living evidence that a near-monopoly in the PC OS market brings huge returns.

Beware, because a Microsoft-Yahoo wedding will be a happy ending only for a few investors and bankers, but not at all for the majority of us.

Can Yahoo walk alone? The Market will decide

After Microsoft pulled off the $33 a share bid, the stock market is the judge to approve Yahoo board’s decision, by keeping the share price up, or to disapprove by sending its price below $20.

This morning Yahoo share took a 20% hit, opening at $23.02, after Friday’s close at $28.67. This is still well above the $19 price before Microsoft bid, so the hit has not been so deep as many would have expect, including Mr. Steve Ballmer. How do we interpret this?

1) Many investors think that Microsoft will come back to the table with a new lower bid, but still close to $30. Therefore it is not a bad deal to buy today at $23.

2) The market still values Yahoo as an independent company, with a share price well above the one before Microsoft offer. Yahoo first quarter results did beat analysts expectations, and Jerry Yang has launched many initiatives lately around a new strategy to turn around Yahoo. So the Market could be backing Yahoo’s board.

While I tend to believe that the rational of the Market is more aligned with the first interpretation, I do also believe that Yahoo still has incredible assets. As the successful entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky writes today in his blog, “Yahoo has half a billion unique users per month and outstanding products and services: Yahoo mail has more mail users than Gmail, Yahoo Messenger has more members than Google Talk, My Yahoo is the number one start up page in the world, Flickr is the best photo service […]”. Martin suggests that rather than Yahoo being sold what it needs is a new management team able to recover the great image Yahoo used to enjoy. He even proposes some names such as Chad Hurley of Youtube and Niklas Zennstrom of Skype. I would propose Martin’s name too.

Microsoft and Yahoo deal is over. Who wins and who loses?

Microsoft and Yahoo deal is over. Microsoft has withdrawn its bid as Yahoo did not accept the offer of $33 per share.

TechCrunch was the first to report the break in negotiations – I wonder how Mike can know so fast… or do they edit the posting time? Just kidding… -. Mike’s post was updated to include the letter of Steve Ballmer to Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang. TechCrunch also publishes the email of Steve Ballmer to his employees.

There is already plenty of analysis from the blogsphere, including suggestions of what to do with the $50 billion that Microsoft hasn’t spent in the deal. One interesting reading comes from GigaOM. In his view Steve Ballmer has played a Machiavellian move that leaves Yahoo is a worst situation than before the bid.  Not only Yahoo lost credit by looking for other merging partners and by agreeing to place Google ads, shareholders will also be angry to see shares fall after Microsoft withdrawal.

So, who wins? Mainly Yahoo and Flickr users, many of which are anti-Microsoft co-religionaries.

Who loses? Yahoo investors. They are the collateral damage of this story, specially those who took positions considering the bid would succeed. Yahoo management will feel more than ever the pressure of shareholders to demonstrate that Yahoo by its own is worth more than the $33 per share offered by Microsoft.

As for Microsoft, now that the story is over, they’d better focus their investment in delivering – Vista among others – and improving marketing and image, rather that acquire new companies. As read in a wise comment: “[…] how many people know what URL to enter for Microsoft Search? I don’t even know if it’s called Microsoft Search, Live Search or MSN Search…”