January 25 – 31, 1998

from the Up-To-Date dept

Sponsored by the Larry Ellison School of “If it sounds good, say it.”

The not always serious, 
not always weekly update
on the Hi-Tech Industry
January 25th - January 31st, 1998
Sponsored by the Larry Ellison School of 
"If it sounds good, say it."
Say that again... 
"Growing the market is clearly in the interest of us technology bozos. Customers can't work with us unless it's easy." 
- Jim Long, CEO of Starlight Networks on the deal linking his streaming product to Microsoft, in News.com 

"We haven't made any announcements yet but watch this space." 
- Michael Cowpland, CEO of Corel, hinting at things to come?  In the NYTimes 

"It turns out that euphoria is not a business strategy." 
- Louis Rosstto, Wired Ventures founder and general nuisance, in the New Yorker 

"We're not a push company. We never have been in the push market and never will be." 
- Dave Cope, VP of Marimba, showing the skill with which he can distance his company from hackneyed buzzwords. 

"Meanwhile, if you're wondering what this means for you, use this simple 
mnemonic for the company's roadmap: Microsoft will own the software, Intel will own the processor, Compaq will own the hardware platform, and they will all own yo ass." 
- Danny O'Brien, techie extraordinaire, in NTKnow 

And then there were... 
Compaq eats DEC: a very impressive deal.  To those of you who felt the need to point out that this was not in last week's report, I remind you that Up-To-Date came out 6 hours before the deal was announced.  Also, please note, that I mentioned the possibility of such a deal way back in the first week of November.  That being said, I still wished I'd mentioned something about it...  So, the points: lots of money, Compaq becomes quite strong, and fills out its product line (and service offerings).  The companies in the "top tier", then, are IBM, Sun, HP, and Compaq.  The talk is that Compaq is targeted at IBM (of course).  Apparently, they feel that they're already better than HP, and don't care too much about Sun (but I imagine that will change soon).  Also this deal suddenly pushes Dell into the "Well, whatta they gonna do now?" circle (see the rumors section).  Of course, the Street apparently feels bullish on Dell as the stock rose over 5% since the deal was announced (whereas Compaq fell 5%)... 

Pet Peeve o' the Week 
In the wake of the Compaq-DEC deal, a DEC spokesman said that the deal would have no effect on the Intel-DEC Alpha deal from a few months ago, because the deals were "mutually exclusive"... Sorry to have the stats guy in me come out, but if the two deals were "mutually exclusive" then if one happened, the other *could not* happen.  What he meant to say was that they were "independent".  Grrr... 

Earnings Reports, IPOs and the like 
AT&T beat earnings estimates, but they're still nearly one-fifth lower than last year... Boeing lost $498 million this quarter, mostly due to the McDonnell Douglas takeover... Disney, however, walloped earnings estimates as well as last year's numbers... Netscape officially reported the awful numbers we expected this week.  A loss of $0.92 per share, bringing their full year EPS to be a loss of $1.23... S3 surprised me by making money, though it's a lot closer to a loss than last year... 3Dfx nearly doubles earnings estimates... MCI loses a ton (more than it made this quarter last year)... RealNetworks had revenue increase by 80%, but that doesn't mean they have any profits... Western Digital made money in the last quarter (surprising the analysts), but still way (way) down from last year... Sapient reported some excellent quarter earnings reminding us all that, yes, they are still in business... Intergraph reported a net loss, which they blame on their current lawsuit with Intel... 

Rumors, Conspiracies etc. of the week... 
After the Compaq-DEC deal finalizes, DEC CEO Robert Palmer goes off to run Apple where he will cut and chop until it, too, is acquired... DEC, this week, will announce a 1 GHz Alpha... The Dept. of Justice is looking at a new antitrust suit against Microsoft concerning Windows 98 (are they just now realizing that Windows 95 doesn't much matter anymore?)... Dell is in secret talks with Unisys to do *something* to counter the Compaq-DEC deal... As if Microsoft doesn't have enough problems with the US government, now a Senate panel is apparently looking into antitrust violations... According to OEMs who wish not to be named, demand for Intel's Pentium II is low.  Very low... 

Berating the obvious: (they call this news???) 
Netscape drops Java VM development... American Astronaut Andy Thomas almost has to come back home after only one day on Mir as his "emergency" space suit is too tight... Of course, even though this situation was remedied, Mir lost 3 cubic meters of air when docking with the space shuttle Endeavor didn't work exactly as planned... In the streaming media soap opera this week, Microsoft released NetShow 3.0, while RealNetworks (of whom Microsoft owns a stake) made a funky little deal to provide streaming media for Sun, the anti-Microsoft (stay tuned next week!  Will Microsoft stamp RealNetworks out of existence?  Same streaming time, same streaming URL.)... Microsoft stock to split (and more Microsofties to become millionaires)... HotMail sues spammers... AOL sues porn spammers... Intel rolls out another, faster, Pentium II (333MHz)...  The Supreme Court to review FCC rules that attempted to open up the local telephone market to competition... Microsoft claims that (really, seriously) Windows 98 will remain as such and not need to be renamed Windows 99... Windows 95 securityfeatures questioned by security expert.  Claims Win95 users shouldn't surf the web at all... Apple cuts Claris of its name and 300 workers (brilliant news sources claim: "Steve Jobs behind the cut")... Microsoft to increase  R&D expenditure by "about 20%" according to Bill Gates (which should scare down the stock on a few competitors)... Reuters this week legally added more data from Disclosure, and was caught illegally adding data from Bloomberg... Microsoft has charged a dozen companies with selling unlicensed software... CBS finally goes online, even though they vowed they wouldn't (apparently they weren't expecting much traffic because I certainly can't access the site)... Oracle's stock shot up this week as Larry Ellison put forth some extremely positive predictions, which he later admitted he had no real basis for... Intel has decided to make a cache-less PentiumII for the sub $1k market... Yahoo! adds info from National Geographic to its travel site, making it even more complete... Money Online decides to follow the lead of Fox and add real time stock quotes... US West promises (really!) to have ADSL in 40 cities by mid-year... AOL might be laying of some CompuServe workers (predicted aeons ago, but denied vigorously at the time)... The Clinton administration released their paper on the domain naming system, which includes a lot of scary talk about how they really ought to have a bit more control over the whole thing... Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, the European Union has decided that they, most definitely, need to spy on what people are doing online... Power Computing gives up entirely, and liquidates what little they had left... 

HP in Greece gets bombed by a group of "revolutionaries" in support of Ted Kaczynski... Microsoft apologizes for "regrettable" actions taken against Novell's NDS... Sun and Motorola announce a *huge* licensing deal for Java... Egghead to shut down all of its stores, and only sell via the web... IBM takes the big leap and becomes the first ISP to drop the flat-rate pricing that has become so popular... Compaq, fresh off the DEC acquisition, hits IBM head on by winning Radio Shack shelf space... Not content just to take away sales from IBM, Compaq also took a deal away from Apple in Japan... HP surprised everyone by easily beating Sun in workstations shipped in 1997... Sybase's stock went up (a lot), even after they announced horrible earnings... Airtouch Communications will merge with US West... Best Buy will no longer sell Macs as they "waste valuable shelf space" (poor CompUSA is still stuck with those damn Apple mini-stores)... The SEC has okayed Internet Capital Corp. to put up its site for direct to retail stock offerings (watch out Wit Capital)... In the "shut up, Ted Turner" category, Bill Gates says he'll give a billion (possibly more) to the UN, too.  Bill also wowed audiences by singing lullabies on 20/20 for Barbara Walters... Netscape has made a deal with France's Jet Multimedia for a million Navigator licenses... Microsoft, which had convinced some web sites to be IE only, seem to be losing their grip, as Entertainment Tonight's site has gone back to being browser independent... Microsoft to make COM cross-platform... 

(Mis)Uses of Technology: 
Intel shows an "interactive" TV commercial during the Super Bowl, and not many people care... Reel.com to stream movie previews... World Championship Wrestling will broadcast a wrestling match only on the internet for $7.95 (and how pissed off will those viewers who continually "can't connect" be?)... Online groundhog: two words that don't belong together. (www.state.pa.us/visit/groundhogday/ )... A wonderful report out of the UK warns of the "dangers" of buying and selling *sperm* online... ADSmart is working on creating "advertising sponsored applications" to mix commercial messages with content on the web... The White House got a wee bit ticked off this week when ads on Excite linked President Clinton to lingerie products... Netscape apparently doesn't have their virus checkers in full working order, as they passed along a Word virus to all their UK resellers this week... John Grisham will use his web site to promote his new book which, surprisingly, is about a lawyer... Problems with Zip drives, called "the click of death" destroying Zip disks... Salvation Army to accept contributions via terminals placed on street corners (but will they dress them up in Santa suits and give them bells to ring?)... 

According to Cowles/Simba research, Internet advertising hit $597.1 million in 1997, 152.6% higher than 1996... Cahners Business Confidence Index has conducted a survey of manufacturing executives that shows almost half think their Internet advertising budget will be the largest increase in their marketing budgets this year... The world's PC market grew by 15% last year, according to IDC.  Dataquest chimes in with a 15.8% number (did anyone notice the declining trend over the past few years?)... The Better Business Bureau has conducted a survey showing that 83% of people worry about payment security online, but 59% still made purchases... About 20% of adults in the US now use the Internet according to Cyber Dialogue.  In the same survey, they find that 16 million people have tried and given up on the Internet, and another 24 million people are interested in "trying it out"... Georgia Institute of Technology has released a study that shows that people feel the most pressing issue to internet users is protecting personal privacy... 20% more venture capital money went out in 1997 than in 1996... 

Compaq will obviously cut a lot of redundant DEC staff from the payroll, but I think they may also find it a little harder than planned to integrate the two companies... Despite IBM's decision to drop flat-rate pricing, flat-rate pricing will remain... AOL's Digital City NY will go through a major revamp by the end of the year, if it even lasts that long... 

Memes o' the week: 
Weird benefits of new technologies.  Reports this week praised the wonderful features of DVD that allowed the "lost" ending to Little Shop of Horrors be re-appended to the movie in this new format... 

Too much free time: 
What would you create if you could build a major advertising firm's online "Digital Test Domain"?  Here's one impressive attempt: 

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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