January 11 – 17, 1998

from the Up-To-Date dept

Back in business, denying any and all rumors of a Department of Justice investigation

The not always serious, 
not always weekly update
on the Hi-Tech Industry
January 11th - January 17th, 1998
Back in business, denying any and all rumors 
of a Department of Justice investigation
Welcome back 
Okay, Up-To-Date is (finally) back in business for the New Year.  Sorry to all of those who subscribed while I was away and wondered what the hell happened.  All is corrected now. 

Lots of news was missed in the off-weeks, so as a quick summary, you get the big headlines: 

Microsoft bought HotMail (no big surprise) for a ridiculous sum.  HotMail,  possibly as a sign to show how they really were meant for Microsoft, had  serious technical difficulties for a day soon after the purchase...  Microsoft and the government continue to have at it...  Netscape  disappointed with its earnings report while Apple surprised everyone with  its earnings (which existed!  Though before you get your hopes up, they  were quite miniscule)...  $800 PCs and the like came roaring in as AMD actually got some orders (though HP's $800 PC will be Intel)... SBC bought SNET continuing the trend of telecommunications convergence... A Japanese  cartoon on TV sends hundreds to the hospital with seizure-like  conditions... E*trade surprised everyone by making money... Seagate lost a ton of money... Yahoo! invested in GeoCities and AudioNet... Lots of folks cut prices on their PCs... Netscape redesigned its front page... Adaptec got hit hard when it missed earnings estimates... IBM ditched COMDEX which made more news than COMDEX itself... 

In local news, subscriptions continue to rise.  Thanks to all those who have supported the effort by passing along copies of Up-To-Date to friends and colleagues.  Also, after complaints from some readers concerning weird characters in their Up-To-Dates, I'm trying a different composition method. Please let me know if anyone is still receiving weird characters instead of quote marks.  Finally, if this Up-To-Date seems less polished than  others, I apologize.  I wrote the whole thing in a day rather than over the course of the week like I usually do. 

Say that again... 
"We're out of the business of predicting profitability, and in the business of delivering profitability." 
- Fred Anderson, Apple CFO 

"We understand that Mac users are different.  Finally, we understand that." 
- Ben Waldman, Microsoft GM of Macintosh Software business unit 

"We need a large technical class that is well trained to do work that is mind-numbingly boring." 
- Eric Roberts, Stanford's associate director of Computer Science in the New York Times, winning lots of recruits, I'm sure. 

"The Internet too often resembles a cocktail conversation rather than a tool for effective health care communication and decision making." 
- Journal of the American Medical Association 

"Bill makes all the important decisions here." 
- Bob Herbold, Microsoft COO, who, apparently is forced with making the "unimportant" decisions. 

Earnings Reports, IPOs and the like 
Motorola misses expectations and (of course) blames Asia... Intel easily beats expectations (though with lower numbers than last year) and Wall Street still isn't happy because, secretly, they really expected "much better"... AMD has smaller losses than expected (and thankfully didn't put any blame on Asia)... Yahoo! beat Wall Street's estimates by a bit, and in response the Street yawns.  Somehow, I get the feeling that investors and analysts still don't know what to make of Yahoo!... Kodak (no big surprise) posts huge losses for the quarter and warned not to expect good things next quarter either... DEC however, posted surprisingly impressive earnings for their second quarter, though down slightly from last year... Sun posted good numbers for its second quarter, beating both last years' and the analysts expectations... Acclaim surprised lots of us by making money this quarter... Quantum just misses expected earnings for the quarter, and is down a bit from last year... 

Rumors, Conspiracies etc. of the week... 
IBM is said to be seriously looking at buying AMD, especially now that National Semi has picked up Cyrix...  Also mentioned is the possibility for IBM to buy Gateway, though I'm not sure why... 

Berating the obvious: (they call this news???) 
Swedish government pissed off when they discovered that IBM/Lotus was giving keys to the US Government to make it easier to break encryption on their versions of Lotus Notes... Faced with lots of bad press, protesting students, and a bit of common sense, the California State University system has decided to postpone handing over its technology services to a group of companies, including Microsoft... Microsoft fails in its attempt at getting  rid of "Special Master" Lawrence Lessig who will help decide in the DOJ case against them.  I wonder if it's dawning on Microsoft that making fun of the judge may not be the best way to garner support... More online sales in 1997 than in 1996 (um... more people online too, yes?)... Can't beat 'em, join 'em, the Microsoft way:  Microsoft announced that it will be making a PalmPilot-like machine called the Palm PC (3Com is not happy about the name) that will run CE and challenge the PalmPilot's dominance in the PDA market... AOL files another lawsuit against spammers... Amazon.com  shuts down for nearly a full day due to "unscheduled maintenance".  To apologize, the following day they offered a discount... As if to welcome me back, Mir this week had two problems as opposed to their usual one/week. First, they reported that an airlock was still losing pressure despite repairs, and then later on, a spacewalk was marred by repeated technical problems (including difficulty in opening the door)... Japan's Fair Trade Commission has decided that it, too, is curious about Microsoft's business practices, and has begun an anti-trust investigation of Microsoft's Japanese unit... The US FTC okays Intel's purchase of Chips and Technologies Inc., but will simply add that to its current investigation of all of Intel's trade practices... Of course, the same week Intel buys 20% of Lockheed-Martin's new spin-off Real 3D Inc. to create graphics chips... Sun chooses Netscape as the browser for Solaris workstations (big surprise there, yes?)... Netscape's layoffs to number around 400... Finally studies show support for what people said a year and a half ago: the "biological" material found on that Mars meteorite just might have come from Earth sometime in the 13,000 years it spent on this planet... Seagate announces massive layoffs (10,000 employees)... Bloomberg to send its TV feed via the net as of next week... More telephone convergence, as AT&T purchases Teleport Communications Group to get a piece of the local telephone market... Sega cuts staff... Sun offering low priced (sub $3,000) workstations to compete with Wintel machines... Flat panels getting cheaper... Another Microsoft IE 4.0 bug and patch this week... Star Trek website does away with the Microsoft IE only policy and lets Netscape users be Trekkies too... 

TCI did actually go with Microsoft's Windows CE in their set top boxes. However, it wasn't as good a deal as MS had hoped.  While they didn't have to shell out the $1 billion number thrown around, they did have to accept the fact that TCI will be using Sun's PersonalJava as a development environment... Borders Books has delayed its web presence a "little longer"... United Casino Corp, which opened an online casino in the South Pacific's Cook Islands reported $4 million in revenues in the first 3 days of operation... On the same day Compaq announces that it is phasing out its PC-TV business as an "educational" failure, Intel and Hitachi announce plans to make a PC that lets the user watch TV... AT&T sending spam???... Yahoo! teams up with MCI to take on AOL even more directly... 

(Mis)Uses of Technology: 
Sharp to create "paper-thin" computers with new LCD technology... A Navy sailor gets tossed from the Navy after they discover in his AOL profile that he says he is "gay" and then gets tossed from AOL for "spamming" other gay members for help.  The part that upsets most people is that the sailor's full name wasn't in his profile.  The Navy apparently called up AOL to find out who he was, and AOL gladly gave out the info (though they claim they won't give out personal info)... Intel offers web publishers co-op-advertising money only if they put ads online that only work on Intel's highest end processors, making it a pain for everyone else... Building on the "virtual pet" craze is the "virtual lover".  Yes, that's right, if you correctly court your virtual pet you will be rewarded with a "virtual kiss" or (if you're good) a "virtual marriage"... Excite has offered free email for all students in Great Britain, though the plans to have "child appropriate" advertising go with it has some people "slightly concerned"... U.S. Space Probe to hunt for water on the moon... The city of Los Angeles has approved a plan to implant cats and dogs with a microchip so that they can more easily find lost pets (where are the privacy activists screaming that the government has no right to know where their dog is????)... File your taxes online in California... 

According to Information Week, a survey indicated that nearly two-thirds of information technology managers are planning on raising their information technology budgets this year by an average of 18%... However, at the same time, a new study from Deloitte suggests that the internet is losing its charm to many top corporate executives.  Nearly the same percentage as the other study, 69%, say that internet costs are a "significant concern". What does this mean?  Probably that these surveys don't tell us much... Relevant Knowledge Inc. has released a new study showing that 20% of households went on the web last month, and that the top three sites for women were: barnesandnoble.com, warnerbros.com, and switchboard.com, while men liked: espnsportszone.com, dejanews.com, and flashnet.com... In the same report, we learned what we already expected: the most visited sites  in December remained Yahoo!, Netscape, Microsoft, AOL, and Excite...  According to speakers at an automotive conference, up to 20% of people  buying a new car today use the internet to look for good deals... Cyber  Dialogue has done a study that 11% of online users do stock trades online.  Nearly half of those who do are women under the age of 30... E-commerce is  set to take off, as nearly $1 billion was sold last quarter according to  Forrester Research... A study by Positive Support Review shows that there are more Microsoft Explorer users (63.5%) than Netscape Navigator users (35.6%).  This study nearly flip-flops previous reports, so I'll wait until I see confirming reports before I believe it... 

Slate, once again, is trying a subscription-based model for their online magazine, and (once again) it will fail... 

Memes o' the week: 
Treating internet usage as a disease.  The LifeStream Behavior Center in Florida now offers treatment to people who use the internet too much and "create a false cyberworld to inhabit" (welcome to my world)... "Pull Casting".  The industry struggles for a new buzz-word to bring them closer to a model they understand (broadcasting) now that "push" has gone out of vogue... It's only news when Microsoft gets shafted.  While the story of burglars breaking into a Microsoft factory in Scotland and making off with lots of software and authenticity certificates made news all over the place, I could only find the follow-up in an obscure British journal. Apparently most of the goods have been recovered and six people have been arrested... 

Too much free time: 
Fortune cookies from someone who is, let's say, "less optimistic"... 

Up To Date is written by Mike Masnick from whatever news he hears from whatever sources they happen to come from.  It is not intended for any uses other than as one of many possible ways to follow what's going on in the hi-tech industry.  I certainly wouldn't rely on it as your only source of info.  And, of course, my comments may not accurately reflect reality.  

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