February 8-14, 1998

from the Up-To-Date dept

With no plans to raise prices or to lay off anyone…

The not always serious,
not always weekly update
on the Hi-Tech Industry
February 8th - February 14th, 1998
With no plans to raise prices or to lay off anyone...
Say that again...
"'Community' today is what 'content' was on the Web last year: smoke and mirrors for companies that have not figured out how to provide useful services to their customers."
- Seth Goldstein, Managing Director of CKS SiteSpecific in Forbes

"We're not seeing the volumes that we had prayed for. But I think that over time it will be overcome."
- Dan Lynch, chairman of Cybercash on ZDnet. Reminding us once again that business models probably should not be based on prayers...

"The good news is we're trying to get people to use us more. We want them to embed us in their lives."
- Bob Pittman, President and COO of AOL. What does economics tell us happens when you raise the price of your product? Oh yes, people use it less. Somebody send Bob an economics textbook.

"Many people are expecting the big-brand advertisers like Coca-Cola and McDonald's to pile in, but we find that this is not a great medium for
brand advertisers."
- An analyst with Forrester Research showing classic Internet myopia. Of course it's not a great medium when it's used poorly.

"I can't comment on rumors, no matter how accurate or silly they will be."
- Scott McNealy, Sun CEO on Netscape buyout rumors, in News.com

"There's a commitment on behalf of AOL to content. The company is
organizing itself to leverage its resources, rather than create redundancies."
- Anne Bentley, AOL spokesperson explaining their recent layoffs, in the LA Times. Why don't they just 'fess up and admit that no one liked
Entertainment Asylum?

"If we can prove that a Web publication like this can be self-supporting--and this sounds pompous, then it's a service to democracy."
- Michael Kinsley, on his rationale for moving Slate to a subscription
model, in Business Week. Why yes, it does sound pompous.

Diversifying or Selling Out?
Seems like a popular time to sell your stake in high tech companies. This
week it was revealed that higher ups at Intel, Netscape, and Yahoo! all
dumped or are looking to dump shares of their company's stock. Craig
Barret, Intel President, is looking to sell 100,000 shares. Frank Gill,
head of Intel's small business group is looking to dump nearly half a
million shares... Jerry Yang and David Filo, Yahoo!'s founders both sold
off significant portions of their stock... Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale and
Chairman Jim Clark both are in the process of selling huge chunks of their Netscape stock...

Earnings Reports, IPOs and the like
AOL's stock price shot up this week following the announcement of an
internal reorganization, an increase in prices, and slightly better than
expected earnings... 3Dlabs missed earnings expectations by a bit, and
decided to sue Texas Instruments to divert attention away from such
matters... CDNow went public at exactly the right time for a high tech
company, and just kind of hovered... Informix shocked everyone by making money this last quarter... Netscape cut their options prices for their employees to reflect the fact that the stock has tanked. Doesn't that go against the very *point* of options?... OnSale had record sales this
quarter, but is still losing money... NASD has delayed the start date for
implementing new rules allowing brokers and clients to communicate online via email...

Rumors, Conspiracies etc. of the week...
Steve Case is looking to get out of AOL, and the current favorite to
replace him is Bob Pittman, rather than Ted Leonsis... Computer Sciences Corp. is trying to get IBM to make an offer for them to avoid a Computer Associates take over... Lots of speculation on Intel's screwing up with StrongARM, for which it took over development from DEC. Apparently most of the development team split for Cadence, and companies that were looking to StrongARM are now looking elsewhere... Apple has delayed its annual shareholders meeting, as some are speculating that they want to announce a CEO at the meeting...

Berating the obvious: (they call this news???)
DEC gave an Alpha license to Samsung allowing them access to all Alpha intellectual property (something Intel might not appreciate)... Meanwhile, sensing where all this was heading, Mitsubishi has suspended its joint development agreement on the Alpha... SGI revealed some details on their NT boxes, which are due in the second half of 1998... CompuServe has stopped working on its web service (didn't AOL claim this wouldn't happen? Oh well.)... Boston University is suing eight companies that sell term papers over the Internet... Disney bills people twice for Daily Blast... Wouldn't you know it? Three bugs found in Microsoft's FrontPage 98... W3C recommends XML 1.0... In the Government Behaving Badly department, two Senators have proposed that school's that don't filter Internet content will not receive federal money from the government's net wiring... Maybe multiplayer games over the internet don't work, according to some games developers... Compaq releases "intranet-in-a-box"... Too many stories on Slot 2, as Intel did a wonderful PR job trying to place it as a "technological improvement" rather than a "monopoly enforcer"... Sprint (as was predicted last week) picked up some of EarthLink an ISP (who, apparently, has been growing faster than AOL)... Not only that, but on the heels of AOL's increased price, Earthlink has established a "Get Out of AOL Free" program... Seth Warshavsky proposed this week that a new top level domain be created for "adult" material. Using the tag .adult it would be easy to block out porn sites (what a simple solution, which is exactly why
it will never fly)... A former student was found guilty of hate-crimes for
threatening 60 students via email (apparently his "it was a stupid prank"
defense didn't cut it)... IBM buys CommQuest... Quicktime as the basis of MPEG-4... Hillary Clinton suddenly decides that the net needs to be watched (gee, I wonder why?)... Symantec and CyberMedia bicker over who stole whose code for which products... Intel releases its i740 3D graphics chip, and 3D graphics chips makers get a bit worried. However, note that the i740 will really be useful for Windows 98 (which won't be out for some time), and the chip companies have some time to maneuver. Of course, I doubt that will save them... As per usual, lots of box makers cut prices... Compaq is apparently catching up to Sun in web servers, while HP has stated that they are going to take advantage of Compaq trying to integrate DEC to steal away some server market share... Microsoft claims that 50% of Quicken users want to switch to Money 98. Intuit is not pleased... Microsoft's Expedia expands through co-branding agreements with a number of partners... Microsoft's Encarta is going to use content from Colliers... The U.S. has formally recommended to the WTO that commerce on the Internet remain duty
free... Motorola has joined the DSL consortium of tech heavyweights... AOL lays off over 100 of its own content people from Entertainment Asylum... Nomai has permission to sell its Zip compatible disks in the U.S., as Iomega is still struggling with its "click of death" fiasco (but they also lowered prices on the 1 Gig Jaz and released the 2 Gig version)... Cox and @Home to work together on high speed internet access rollout... Wired, this week, reported the shocking news that the First Amendment doesn't cover you on the job (um... note to Wired reporter: it never has)... Motorola claims that Iridium will be ready by September, even though there have been numerous launch delays... Scoop Inc. is going out of business... AOL plans to set up a cable modem connection... "WebTV will soon be obsolete" suggests WorldGate's CEO. Note, of course, that WorldGate competes with WebTV... Compaq and SCO plan 64-Bit Unix for Merced. Other Unix vendors
laugh... Microsoft IE 5.0 in alpha testing - has not corrected the bugs
from 4.0 yet... Microsoft will probably delay the release of SQL Server 7.0 again...

AOL made the bold move to raise their "unlimited access" price $2 to $22 a month. Other ISPs claim they won't follow suit, and in a News.com survey, 80% of respondents stated they didn't feel AOL was "worth" the extra $2 (as if it was worth the original $20?)... Don't complain to us. Solid Oak, a company that makes Internet filtering software email-bombed a woman who complained about their product saying "she deserved it"... OS stuff: A startup called Cache Computing is working on a new operating system for the Mac, while Apple tries to figure out a way to sue them (friendly, yes? Think lawsuit. Think lawyer's fees. Think harassment. Think bankruptcy. Think Different). Meanwhile, Be is set to introduce BeOS for Intel architecture... Lots of fuss over Computer Associates' unsolicited bid for Computer Sciences Corp... U.S. District Court Judge Joe Kendall gave a temporary stay of his own ruling saying that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 unfairly restricts regional Bells from getting into the long distance business, as SBC has filed for permission to offer long distance service in Oklahoma... Senator Orrin Hatch invited Bill Gates, Scott McNealy and Jim Barksdale to speak at a hearing on government policy in the digital age. Apparently, they plan to go... A new ruling by a judge in Utah on Caldera's anti-trust claims against Microsoft extends the claim to Windows 95. Apparently, now Caldera can claim that by bundling DOS with Win95, MS unfairly drove their DR-DOS product out of the market (sound familiar?)...

(Mis)Uses of Technology:
E*Trade via WebTV... RealNetworks has created a special version of its Daily Briefing to be downloaded and replayed on Audible's portable
MobilePlayer (and this, apparently, is for those folks who are extremely
familiar with new internet technologies, but have yet to master the complexities of a WalkMan)... Always wanted to go to Harvard Law? Take a course on line (it's free): http://cyber.harvard.edu/metaschool/ ... Or, if you've always wanted to be a CPA, Kaplan has now put its CPA review course online... Lots of reporting this week on the work of some scientists at Cambridge who developed a technology that would allow folks in vans to drive around and tell if computer users inside buildings were using illegally pirated copies of software. Not to worry, claim the creators, they've also created a package to block such a thing. Meanwhile, Microsoft, whom they were developing the technology for has turned them down... Okay, so I was joking last week about computerized Lego's, but I thank everyone who called, emailed or smoke signaled to me that this product already existed... TCI is going ahead with a project to broadcast different commercials depending on where you lived. They hope to get this down to a per house level, but don't expect that to be feasible for some time... A fully automatic robotic gas pump is being tested for a US rollout next year... Apparently, last year a toy was introduced in the Philippines known as the "Letter Bomb" which was promoted with the tag-line: "have fun and become a terrorist"... The dog breeder who sold President Clinton his new puppy is offering Buddy's siblings for sale online (http://www.btlarkin.com/buddy/siblings.htm )... Linux for the PalmPilot (while the concept may seem cool, think about the problems of a pen based Unix system. I cringe at the thought of editing in a pen based vi, but maybe that's just me - screenshot at: http://ryeham.ee.ryerson.ca/uClinux/peng-pilot-sc.gif )... Virtual coupons
available for new members of GeoCities... Priceline.com lets travelers name a price they want to pay for a flight, and the airlines decide whether or not to give it to them... Indian tribe launches a web based "U.S. Lottery" while some government officials look for ways to shut them down... Lots of stories this week about the new thin plastic TV screens that Cambridge Display Technologies is getting set to unveil (sounds like a cool concept, but I'd like to see one before I pass final judgment)...

Dataquest this week lowered its forecast on the market for semiconductors in 1998 to $160 billion from $175 billion... According to a Price Waterhouse study, nearly 80% of CEOs from companies around the world believe that electronic commerce will significantly change the way they do business... Nearly $827 million worth of travel bookings were done online last year, about 3 times as many as the year before, according to the Travel Industry Association of America... Computer Reseller News has a new study showing that Internet companies spent a lot more on R&D in the past year (for which they, of course, blame their lack of profits)... RelevantKnowledge, the company that tracks the important websites, has found in its latest study that Amazon and Pathfinder have fallen out of the top 25... Media Matrix has found Microsoft's Expedia to be the fastest growing travel site on the web... Middleburg and Associates has released a study showing that journalists rely on the web to get info when they can't reach a source directly... About 75% of adults on the web used it for investment information in the fourth quarter of 1997 according to Cyber Dialogue... A rather interesting study from Ernst & Young shows that 64% of consumers with internet access, research products online and then buy them through regular channels. This was something I've believed for a while, so
it's nice that someone backed me up.... Dun & Bradstreet has found that
nearly 10 times as many small businesses find the Internet to be an
important tool this year as opposed to last... Market researcher In-Stat
predicts that xDSL sales are going to take off, reaching nearly $700
million by the year 2000... A new Yankee Group survey, however, says that xDSL won't take off until prices get lower. While people like high speed access, they certainly don't like paying for it...

I think it's about time for some serious Internet backlash. I've heard the
rumblings of a few people, but with Hillary Clinton starting the attack
this week, as well as other government members chiming in, I can see a full out PR blitz on the horrors of the Internet coming along...

Memes o' the week:
What you *need*. I keep seeing reports saying you need IP multicasting or you need xDSL. You don't need any of that. It might be nice, but the only one who needs something is the company trying to sell you the products, and the reporters trying to sell you on the story... The wonders of the Internet in covering things such as the Olympics. Way too many stories about all of these Olympic web sites. Yes, I realize that the Olympics are on the other side of the world, and it's tough for TV coverage to work well with the time difference. Most people realize this as well. Why do we need six million stories telling us this?...

Too much free time:
Dumb things you can do with Shockwave (of course requires the Shockwave plug in): http://www.dreamingamerica.com/snow/

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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