Buzz Out Loud 652: Microhoo or Yahsoft?

Steve Ballmer writes a love letter to Yahoo. Is this the biggest merger since Time Warner and AOL?

What to name a company resulting from the merger of Yahoo and Microsoft is probably the least of their concerns right now. First, Yahoo has to accept the bid. If they don't, Microsoft may get pushy. Then they have to merge two very different companies. Who does this benefit? You? We'll discuss that on today's show.

--Tom


Listen now: Download today's podcast

EPISODE 652

TODAY'S LINKS:


TODAY'S VOICE MAIL:
Chris
Torch moment.

Josh from Israel
Cell phones in my country.

Javier from Florida
What's with the clicking?



TODAY'S E-MAIL:
Micro-Hoo: Our take
Hey JaMoTo,

No doubt you've seen this news--here's a link from the NYTimes.

Here are some of our quick thoughts on this huge news.

Complementary ad products (duh)
The merger of the two companies is complementary in obvious ways--for example, MSN gets Yahoo Music, Yahoo gets a stronger international foothold, MSN finally gets a significant piece of the search revenue, Yahoo gets access to the business consumer through Office, etc. There are quite a few overlapping areas across their content areas, which would no doubt be done away with for operational efficiency's sake. It also continues to pays off Ballmer's assurances that Microsoft is transforming into a media company (as did the acquisition of A-Quantive).

Culture clash
From friends within both companies, the cultures couldn't be more different. Yahoo's is a consumer-oriented culture of innovation that's based on collaboration; everything we hear about Microsoft is that it's still a software company at the core, an engineering-oriented culture of innovation based on competition (dare we say "cut-throat-iness").

Is it scary?
1. A significant percentage of the Web population gets their news and info from and through these portals on a daily basis. Consolidation means control of information, which may put too much of that power in one place. This could be like CBS merging with ABC. Potentially a bad thing for consumers, with the loss of news/editorial diversity.

2. A significant percentage of the Web population uses the Hotmail and Yahoo mail. Is this like UPS merging with FedEx or the USPS? As Newman said on Seinfeld, "When you control the mail, you control information!" Again, would there be too much of this control in one place?

3. There's the Google-DoubleClick angle too. Yahoo bought RightMedia--an adserving engine, Microsoft bought A-Quantive who owns DoubleClick's main competitor (Atlas Adserver). So, not only could Micro-Hoo control the information (through the portals and search results), they'd be watching us as we consume it. We may be off the deep end, but it's (again) potentially disadvantageous to the marketplace, consumers, and the free flow of ideas. Not to mention all this consumer and business data would sit with one company--whose servers the government could compel to hand over--sound familiar?

Take cover in the "long tail"
With this Google counterbalance in the increasingly less diverse marketplace, the only solace consumers would have from all this information control is in the long-tail. And thankfully, it's only a click away.

Go Pats!!

The boys from Boston (Mo and Vijay)

Not the only tablet user
I also have a cute story associated for my tablet. The other day I eyed an attractive women while commuting to work on the ACE train. I was kinda shy, and I didn't really have a way to talk to her, so I took out my Nokia N810 and drew the sketch attached. She was ecstatic when she saw it and we struck up a conversation that lasted the rest of the ride. Sad to say I didn't get a chance to take her on a date (uh, she was engaged without a ring), but I made a great friend to talk to on the train!

-Sargun

My own MollyRant!
Tom and Molly (Jason too!);

Firstly, love the show, been listening since late 2005. I have chosen to make Buzztown my sounding board for these two items.

1. Since grammar is the hot topic of late, please stop using the word "insecure" to talk about security topics, the word is "unsecure." I'm pretty sure my Wi-Fi router doesn't need therapy because it feels badly about its easily hackable WEP encryption.

2. HD DVD is not dead--stop perpetuating this misnomer! Technical merits aside, I believe the HD DVD specifications were superior from the start and has not alienated any early adopters like Blu-ray spec 1.1 has and 2.0 will again. A "movie specialist" at Best Buy told me not to buy the HD DVD I had in my hand because, and I quote: "the war was over and HD DVD lost because of Warner went Blu-ray". Warner is not the be-all, end-all of movie studios. Looking back at their releases over the last few months, I see few "must have" releases. At least as many "must have" titles were released from Universal and Paramount (which are HD DVD exclusives) during the same timeframe. Most of the Warner releases have been back catalog titles that I already own on DVD. Looking forward, I see a few new releases from Warner I'll pick up when released. Also, the fact that Warner will not stop producing HD DVD titles until mid-year also seems to elude the media.

Not only is the war not over, but in fact, HD DVD could win this war easily if they only did one thing. Yes, I said it, checkmate in one move. It's so simple, I'm surprised they did not go this route from day one. Here it is: HD DVD Combo format is the only format the remaining two exclusive studios release content on. Here is the important part, the media must sell for the same price as the DVD- only version it is replacing. No more DVD-only version, so when Joe Customer goes to Wal-Mart to buy BeoWolf or American Gangster, it's only available in HD DVD Combo format. Joe Customer takes home his combo format movie, it plays in his regular DVD player (The title would also work in HD DVD or Blu-Ray---DVD format only). Fast-forward a year and now Joe Customer has 15 or 20 HD DVD combo discs in his house and he goes to the store to purchase one of those new fangled HD players--which one is he going to purchase? "Hmmm, I have to repurchase all my movies in HD if I want that Blu-ray player or my existing collection of movies already is HD on the HD DVD player." Game over!

Just my .02, hope you read it. :D
AJ

ISP profits from music downloads
Seriously?? In episode 650, you were incredulous that one might argue about an ISP profiting directly from providing high-speed music downloads. Has it really been that long since we last heard "...with Earthlink high-speed, you'd be able to download about 120 songs in the same amount of time, so there's your first 90 reasons to try Earthlink today!"

Otherwise, I agree that the ISPs should only be "shamed" into propping up the music industry as much as the airlines should be shamed into resurrecting Amtrak.

And just like everyone else says, "love the show."

Jonathan D.

File sharing
Greetings Buzztown,

The problem with filtering content at the ISP level is it won't stop anything. The pirates will simply use encrypted VPN and TOR servers.

An example is JungleDisk reviewed on Security Now #123. It uses encryption to store data using Amazon's S3 service. Even Amazon won't know what you are storing there.

Love the show.
Molly, love the new hairdo.

Henry C.
Southfield Michigan

ISP filtering
I believe I know why the ISPs say they will not filter traffic for copyrighted material. It is probably because it can't be easily done. Now I could be wrong, as I have never done any filtering myself at my job. But as far as I know routers block by IPs or protocol, not by file types. Even if the RIAA and MPAA gave ISP hashes of their files, a file hash is based on the whole file. They would have to have a hash of every possible packet containing part of a song or movie. On top of that, not all packets for a transmission would travel through the same router. Then you have the fact that if a user makes a slight change to the file, say an encoding change, then the file's hash changes. The only way I can think of an ISP filtering copyrighted material is if they downloaded it first, looked at it, and if it was OK, send it your way. If ISPs started doing that, we might as well go back to dial-up. For now I believe we are safe from the demands of U2, the RIAA, and MPAA.

Nick
Network admin
Mesa, Arizona

Friggin' Valentines Day
Bah-humbug!

What has gotten into this show lately?

Alex (from Miami) is having babies and talking about how sexy other callers sound.

Then we have 10 other people say that Netflix/Mac Girl sounded sexy.

Then we also have someone the other day saying some guy sounded sexy.

(Not to mention that all of this 'you sound sexy" stuff started with Remy--or possibly it has its origins in the life-affirming "Molly had a baby" factoid).

Now we've got the Zune hook-up story, followed by the Tablet hook-up story.

All this romance and flirtatiousness and sexiness and intrigue--Buzztown is either going to need a singles bar or is going to be made the subject of an reality show or something.

Bah, humbug. I liked it better before all this kissy-face nonsense entered into the equation. When we'd just sit around and wait for tech things to happen then talk about them. Now everyone is holding hands and skipping off to the old Buzz-tree to carve their serial numbers into it. Hopefully by the 15th all this will be behind us, and we can just go on with the serious business of zombie stories and Lost spoilers.

Bah. Humbug.

Frank J. M. Lattuca, Esq.

 

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