Category Archives: Yahoo

Wikipedia blackout protest against SOPA

Protests against SOPA (America’s Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (the Protect Intellectual Property Act) have kicked up a gear today.

Google.com (not the UK version of the site, though) has blacked out its logo and provided a link to an anti-SOPA online petition on its front page.

And Wikipedia has gone a step further, bringing down a total blackout on its site today.

Should you visit the font of contributor provided internet wisdom to look up something, you’ll find that’s not possible for the next 24 hours. There’s a stark black holding page presented to you instead.

This is entitled “Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge”, referring to the fact that the SOPA and PIPA legislation will result in curtailed net freedoms.

The site comments underneath: “For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.”

SOPA is being pushed by the music and film industries (and software) as a way of protecting their copyrighted material and maintaining employment levels in said sectors.

However, the legislation is badly organised and proposes some overreaching powers which will have a number of negative effects on the internet globally, and free speech on the web.

With critics arguing that it won’t successfully protect movie and music IP anyway.

SOPA puts the emphasis on website owners policing their own user contributed content and links, at great cost, with blocking measures to be put in place on sites which fail to meet these requirements – including foreign, not just US websites.

Wikipedia notes smaller sites won’t be able to defend themselves and will be driven out of business. Internet start-ups will also be affected, with venture capitalists noting they’d be far less likely to invest, thus web entrepreneurs could become a much rarer breed.

Which obviously won’t help our currently ailing global financial situation, given that the digital economy is very much a big part of our future.

A fact the film industry would do well to realise, and begin positive moves to try and provide more online content – new distribution models and methods – rather than looking backwards and trying to fight a fire which realistically can’t be extinguished anyway.

The Obama administration has actually spoken out against SOPA in its current form, particularly the DNS blocking provision, which has effectively killed that side of the legislation off.

However, Wikipedia notes that the bill is still very much alive and due to be brought back up for debate next month, and even without the DNS measures it’s still a very dangerous and loosely targeted piece of work.

Many other high profile sites such as Twitter and Yahoo have raised their voices against the legislation, but haven’t taken any concrete action today with Google and Wikipedia.

Google renews Firefox search deal

You might recall at the start of the month, we wrote an article about the fact that Firefox’s search deal with Google was up for renewal.

This is the agreement whereby Google is the default search engine in Mozilla’s browser, a privilege which the big G pays handsomely for.

While this is naturally a whole lot of surfers which are directed to Google, it’s a far more important deal to Mozilla, as the money the search engine stumps up represents the majority of Firefox’s income. 85% of it, in fact.

So the theory was put forward by some that if Google wanted to sink Firefox in order to push its Chrome browser higher still, it could turn Mozilla down and devastate Firefox’s income.

This hasn’t happened though, as we guessed it wouldn’t, with the news today that a renewal has been agreed. The deal will run over the next three years, although no specific details were revealed.

There are a number of reasons why Google didn’t exercise the option to try and capsize Firefox in 2012. Firstly, because it makes money from this agreement too, albeit not a critical sum like Mozilla.

Secondly, spurning Firefox could have led to Mozilla striking deals with Bing and Yahoo, strengthening its search rivals over the coming year. Granted, they’re not exactly breathing down Google’s neck (ankle, more like), but even so…

And then there’s the fact that Google’s Chrome is gaining market share rapidly anyway, with Firefox drifting downwards as it is. This situation seems likely to continue – it’s been the story of 2011 – so there’s no real need to force Chrome’s advance anyway.

Mozilla, however, will doubtless be breathing a sigh of relief at having signed up for another three years of cashflow from the Google coffers.

At the close of 2014, the browser world is likely to be very different. Some already see Chrome as the primary challenger to Internet Explorer, with one analyst firm, StatCounter, estimating Chrome now has a bigger market share than Firefox.

Net Applications, however, doesn’t agree and still has Firefox in second place, 4% ahead of Chrome.

Yahoo launching an Android phone in Japan

Yahoo is launching an Android based smartphone in Japan on the country’s third biggest mobile operator, SoftBank.

Yes, as strange as it sounds, Yahoo is launching a phone running Android, an OS made by Yahoo’s biggest competitor in the search engine space. Having said that, Yahoo is a lot more popular in Japan and in fact it is the biggest site in the country.

As for the phone, it will be…

Microsoft + Yahoo?

Microsoft + Yahoo?Found this one on Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows. Here is a quick quote from that great post:

On Friday, February 1, 2008, Microsoft unexpectedly announced a massive $44.6 billion offer to purchase ailing online giant Yahoo. Since that time, I’ve been analyzing how this attempted takeover will affect Microsoft and the consumers who use the various online products and services made by both companies. I’ve never been much of a prognosticator, and I’m certainly no business expert. But I’ve been watching Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google for years now, and here’s what I feel are the most important takeaways of this offer, in no particular order.

This is a hostile takeover attempt. Make no mistake: Microsoft’s offer for Yahoo is as hostile as they come, with both implicit and explicit threats to Yahoo’s executive leadership. The deal is structured in such a way that the company’s shareholders would be insane to not accept it immediately, with the $44.6 billion offer representing a 62 percent share price premium. (Yahoo’s stock was trading at just $19 a share when Microsoft presented its offer.) Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sent a letter to Yahoo’s board of directors on Thursday, informing them that it would then publicize the offer, and the letter itself, 24 hours later. Thus, Microsoft forced Yahoo’s hand, providing the executive staff with little time to deliberate. Yahoo is expected to formally respond to the offer quickly. But my guess is that shareholders, stung horribly by the Dot Com bust, are eager to accept Microsoft’s Godfather-like offer.

Google is a new kind of competitor and needs to be addressed differently. While Microsoft’s founders and chief executives have over the years expressed a desire to avoid the fate of becoming the next IBM, it’s pretty clear that today’s Microsoft is indeed the same lumbering beast that IBM was by the early 1980′s. What worked in the past–creating a me-too browser product, Internet Explorer, and “integrating” it into their dominant desktop OS product, Windows, in order to defeat an up-and-coming competitor who “got” the new world order, Netscape–won’t work today. The reasons for this are complicated, but they boil down to two salient points. First, Google is now big enough to benefit from the same network effect that made the PC market such a success story for Microsoft: Its dominant product aren’t great per se, but they’re widely used, and thus generate more online traffic, which becomes more valuable to advertisers; that value is then pushed back into the system on the reverse side because Google’s search results become more relevant because of targeted advertising. Thus, the system feeds itself. (Ironically, or perhaps coincidentally, Microsoft’s attempts to duplicate its network effect successes with Windows in other markets, like video games, cell phones, and digital media, have failed miserably.) Secondly, as Apple knows all too well from its efforts in the PC market, it’s almost impossible to make huge gains against an entrenched competitor with dominant market share, no matter how successful you are and how good your products are. Google’s sheer size simply affords it benefits of scale that Microsoft can’t match or catch up to on its own.

Finally, Microsoft is Getting Aggressive. It’s too early to tell if Microsoft’s surprisingly aggressive bid for Yahoo will be seen as the beginning of a corporate turnaround or the final death knell of a struggling dinosaur, but consider this: While far too many people have criticized Microsoft’s behavior in the past, the truth is that the software giant has a responsibility to shareholders to increase the value of the company. This is done via competition, and by defeating those that would steal your customers, market share, and revenues. When a Microsoft executive says he wants to “cut off the air supply” of a competitor, for example, this isn’t a bad thing unless the subsequent actions of the company are illegal: In fact, it’s arguably what a shareholder would want to hear from a person helping run the company. Business isn’t about morality, it’s about winning legally. That said, Microsoft was clearly humbled by its antitrust troubles around the globe during the past decade, and acted in what I think are bizarre ways, betraying it as a company that was clearly losing its edge.

Consider the following: Why would Microsoft spend five years (so far) dickering over technical documentation that would allow competitors to make products that better interoperate with Microsoft’s workgroup server products but then turn around and quickly agree to every single change that competitors demanded in the buildup to Windows Vista? Think about this for a second. On the one hand, you have competitors seeking to interoperate with a non-dominant product. And on the other, you have competitors seeking to weaken your most dominant product of all. You fight voraciously to prevent the former, but you roll over and play dead on the latter? Really? That’s ridiculous, and if I were a Microsoft shareholder, I’d be outraged. As a Windows user, I am outraged: Vista has been compromised by the desires of Microsoft’s competitors, and will be further compromised by the release of SP1.

This hostile bid for Yahoo suggests that Microsoft is ready to start being more aggressive again. And that’s a good thing, really, for users of its products and the hundreds of millions of people that rely on Microsoft every day.

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