Steve Ballmer retires. What does his legacy look like?
News.com reports that Bill Gates believes the promises of the dotcom era will be fulfilled. I tend to agree with the concept on its face. Witness, for example, the recent development in the online grocery business. While WebVan blew up in a multi-billion-dollar disaster, the market is now growing, with traditional grocery chains adding this new feature to their product offering. In New York, it is not uncommon to see FreshDirect trucks make delivery to many buildings. Kozmo, another dotcom disaster, was set-up to rent videos and DVDs. While they did not survive the crash, Netflix did and now has a thriving business doing roughly the same thing. Broadband offerings were much vaunted in the late 90s but little came of them. Now, however, with the rise in broadband connections (either through DSL or cable), we are starting to see some basic services offering things like online broadcast (Real Networks has over one million customers, and is sitting in a niche currently eyed by AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo) and movie downloads cropping up. The key is in the incremental approach taken to developing those services. The first thing is that the larger companies largely sat the initial rush out and…Read More
Over the past few days, I’ve been writing about the Microsoft/AOL deal and why I think that it is a dangerous one to all of us. My core fear about the deal is that it will increase lock-up in the Internet space due to a new concept called Digital Rights Management. When using such a system, content is encrypted based on a number of criteria. My fear is not that the content will be encrypted (after all, it should be OK for vendors to protect their intellectual property if they want to) but the fact that there is no DRM standard that can be shared across the industry as a whole. As a result, we could end up in what I fear will be a lock-up situation. In a recent Security Focus column, Scott Granneman highlights some of the issues surrounding that lock-up situation. Implementing a complete solution means giving more control to one particular software company. In Scott’s example, it is Microsoft. In the case of the Apple music store, that control is in the hands of Apple. Two different solutions, two different ways to handle things. As a result, there will be more fragmentation again, as content that…Read More
Microsoft and America Online settled their browser lawsuit, putting an end to speculations that AOL would dump IE from its leading client. As part of the deal, AOL receives a seven year royalty-free license to include Internet Explorer and will get an early peek at anything new in Redmond. Most interesting to me in the different reports I have read is the following statement from Bill Gates: We have shared ideas on how to handle digital media . What exactly does that mean? I wish someone else elaborated on that point as it isn’t clear. Does it mean that they will collaborate on development of joint services? Does it mean they will collaborate in the development of joint product? Whatever happens is a bit worrisome as we now have the two largest players on the American Internet essentially joining forces. Microsoft has a commanding lead in the desktop OS and the web browser market. AOL hold most of the remainder of the browser market (yes, a few people out there use browsers like Mozilla, myself included), and has a similarly large lead in the IM and access market. The two of them joining forces leave cold beads of sweaty fear…Read More