2008年2月28日 星期四

Google Sites

這我找到Google Sites


Google is adding a new front to its assault on Microsoft’s software applications business.

The Internet search giant on Wednesday is rolling out a rival to Microsoft’s SharePoint, a program used for collaboration among teams of workers. Google’s program, called Google Sites, will become part of the company’s applications suite, which includes e-mail, calendar, word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software. Like other elements of Google Apps, it will be free and require no installation, maintenance or upgrades.

With Google Sites, the company is taking on what Christopher Liddell, Microsoft’s chief financial officer, said has become a $1 billion a year product. That’s a relatively small, but far from insignificant, portion of Microsoft’s business division whose mainstay Office suite is the No. 1 target of Google Apps. Microsoft’s business division brought in $4.8 billion in the most recent quarter.

Google Sites was built on top of technology created by JotSpot, a startup co-founded by Joe Kraus, who also co-founded Excite, the now defunct Internet 1.0 portal. Google acquired JotSpot, which had developed a set of “wiki,” or collaboration, tools in October of 2006.

The Google Sites software allows groups of users to easily create Web documents that include text, images, videos, spreadsheets and other types of documents. Initially, it will be aimed at business users and is being housed in Google’s enterprise group. “It’s our biggest launch since Apps itself launched,” said David Girouard, vice president and general manager of the enterprise group.

Still, pitching Google Sites to businesses may prove a challenge, at least initially. “There is a lot that Google still has to prove in terms of being a viable enterprise vendor,” said Rob Koplowitz, an analyst with Forrester Research. Many businesses remain leery of putting their applications and data on servers they don’t control, for example. Mr. Koplowitz also noted that while Google Sites will include many of the popular content creation and management tools available in SharePoint, it will not have some of the more complex features that allow a large business to manage information across their entire organization. “They are targeting a subset of the SharePoint functionality,” he said.

Then again, Google Sites will be free.

2008年2月27日 星期三

A Highflier Loses Altitude as Google’s Clicks Go Flat

A Highflier Loses Altitude as Google’s Clicks Go Flat
Investors were spooked by a report by the research firm comScore that said clicks on Google ads in the United States were flat in January.

spooked by a highflier loses altitude

2008年2月26日 星期二

Google Outlines The Secret To Its Success

因嗎 天曉得

Google Outlines The Secret To Its Success

Posted by Eric Zeman, Feb 25, 2008 01:03 PM
» E-Mail
» Print
» Write To Editor
» Digg
» Slashdot

Apparently, there's some level of mystery involved in Google (NSDQ: GOOG)'s success. So much so that Google's chief economist Hal Varian put together a bunch of ideas on why Google continually succeeds. Varian has one answer. I have another.

Varian spends the first half of his post explaining some things that can lead to a firm's success: supply side economics, lock-in, and network effects. But he doesn't think Google has any of those going for it. Rather:

The answer, at least in my opinion, is a much older economic concept called "learning by doing" that was first formalized by Nobel Laureate Kenneth Arrow back in 1962. It refers to the widely observed phenomenon that the longer a company has been doing something, the better it gets at doing it.

Google has been searching the web for nearly 10 years, which is far longer than our major competitors. It's not surprising that we've learned a lot about how to do this well. We're constantly experimenting with new algorithms. Those that offer an improvement get rolled into the production version; the others go back to the drawing board for refinement.

So I would argue that Google really does have a better product than the competition -- not because we have more or better ingredients, but because we have better recipes. And we are continuously improving those recipes precisely because we know the competition is only a click away. We can't fall back on economies of scale, or switching costs, or network effects, to isolate us from the competition. The only thing we can do is work as hard as we can to keep our search quality better than that of the other engines.

All very interesting thoughts. I decided to apply some of those to my own life, just for comparison's sake. I started playing guitar about 10 years ago. I took a couple of lessons to get the basics under my belt, but in the end, only one thing makes you better: practice, or, learning by doing.

This thought makes sense when applied to what Google does. Varian's last paragraph leads me to my own conclusion on why Google is successful. He says that Google continually refines how its systems work to stay ahead of the competition. And that's the key. Its systems work.

Google's search yields results that work. There's a reason why "Google it" has become part of our lexicon. People know that Googling something will get you the answers you need or want.

We don't say "Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) it" or "MSN Live Search it" or "Ask.com it". Sure, those three sites provide similar/comparable search results to Google, but people have developed an innate trust in the answers Google provides because (most of the time) it just works.

2008年2月24日 星期日

Google Health Begins Its Preseason at Cleveland Clinic

pre·sea·son (prē''zən) pronunciation Sports.

The period immediately before the start of a new season, in which athletes undergo intensive training and participate in exhibition games.

adv. & adj.

In, of, or relating to the preseason.

線上醫療 Google參一腳

〔編譯陳泓達/綜合外電報導〕美國俄亥俄州的老牌非營利醫學中心「克里夫蘭診所」二十一日透露,正協助網路搜尋引擎巨擘Google測試備受矚目的線上健康紀錄服務Google Health,以和微軟去年推出的類似服務Health Vault一別苗頭。

克里夫蘭診所表示,將徵求一萬名患者參與這項非公開測試計畫,將個人醫療健康紀錄存入Google Health網站。Google Health的宗旨是要讓患者能透過網路,在非公開情況下與各種醫療照護機構及藥商分享其醫療資訊。


Google健康顧問委員會成員的柯茲葛洛夫說,醫師、病人和醫療照護業之間,應該有更便利的合作管道。透過Google Health,患者可安全地將其處方藥、是否過敏、有哪方面的疾病等資訊,與醫療照護者交流。



Google並未明確宣示Google Health將於何時正式運作,之前的說法是今年。

在Google之前,微軟已在去年十月推出類似服務Health Vault,提供儲存並選擇性分享醫療紀錄的軟體與服務。

February 21, 2008, 1:13 am
Google Health Begins Its Preseason at Cleveland Clinic
By Steve Lohr

For 18 months, Google has been working to come up with a product offering and a strategy in the promising field of consumer health information. Until now, the search giant hasn’t had anything to show for its labors other than bumps along the way — delays and a management change.

But on Thursday, Google’s technology for personal health records, which is still in development, is getting a big endorsement from the Cleveland Clinic. The big medical center is beginning a pilot project to link the health information for some of its patients with Google personal health records.

Cleveland Clinic is at the cutting edge of health information technology, and its more than 100,000 patients each has a personal health record. But a sizable portion of those patients are retirees, notes Dr. C. Martin Harris, the clinic’s chief information officer. Many of them, he said, spend about five months elsewhere, typically in Florida or Arizona, and the clinic’s sophisticated electronic health records don’t follow them there.

“It forces the patient to become his or her own medical historian,” Dr. Harris said.

The Google personal health record, he said, is a solution to that problem, among others. A person can approve the transfer of information on, say, medical conditions, allergies, medications and laboratory results from the clinic’s computers to a Google personal health record — a series of secure Web pages.

The pilot project will last six to eight weeks, and involve less than 10,000 patients. The project with Cleveland Clinic is “a milestone” for Google, said Marissa Mayer, a vice president, who took over management of the health team six months ago.

Google’s personal health record is still in development, and it will be introduced publicly and made widely available, after the pilot project is concluded, Ms. Mayer said.

To be sure, Google is only one of several companies trying to make a business from Web-based personal health records. Microsoft, for example, brought out its entry, called HealthVault, last October, and it has commitments from medical centers including New York-Presbyterian Hospital and the Mayo Clinic. WebMD, Revolution Health and others also offer personal health records.

While it’s still not entirely clear what Google’s personal health record will be like, its approach seems to be ambitious and comprehensive. Google has its own user interface, while Microsoft, for example, appears to be focusing on back-end storage. Google is offering automated data links, so the patient does not have to type in personal data, as is required with some personal health records. And Google, along with Microsoft, has the deep pockets and technological knowhow to offer personal health records free to millions.

Other medical centers are ready to sign up. “This is truly a patient-controlled health record, and that’s a very significant step in the drive toward a more consumer-oriented system of health care,” said Dr. John D. Halamka, chief information officer of the Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Halamka is also chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, which plans to link its electronic patient records with Google personal health pages. He is also a member of
Google’s Health Advisory Council

2008年2月10日 星期日

Microsoft will pay high price for failing to learn history lessons

John Naughton
The Observer,
Sunday February 10 2008

This article appeared in the Observer on Sunday February 10 2008 . It was last updated at 00:26 on February 10 2008.
It's the metaphors and similes that get me. It's a shotgun marriage, declared one commentator, 'with Google holding the gun'. Putting Microsoft and Yahoo together, said another, was like trying to produce an eagle from an alliance of two turkeys.
This is unfair. Microsoft isn't a turkey, but a profitable, boring mastodon that entertains fantasies about being able to fly. Yahoo, for its part, is an ageing hippy who invented hang- gliding but aspired to fly 747s and then discovered that he wasn't very good at it. The mastodon hopes that by employing the hippy it will learn to hang-glide. The hippy's feelings about the whole deal are plain for all to see.
Microsoft's $44.6bn offer of cash plus shares for Yahoo has got everyone in a spin, partly because of its sheer size but mostly because they fondly imagine it heralds an exciting future. At last, they think - something that might stop the inexorable advance of Google toward world domination! If that's what they're hoping for, then this ain't it, alas. This isn't the opening of a new chapter in the history of the computing business, but - as John Markoff observed in the New York Times - 'the final shot of yesterday's war'. And even if the merger does take place in a reasonable timescale - and if it can be made to work - it won't make much of a dent in Google.
Why? Because Google has a stranglehold or a head-start in the three areas that really matter for the near-term future: search-based advertising; 'cloud' ( internet-facilitated) computing; and mobile phones. In the first two areas, Microsoft and Yahoo are also-rans, and although Microsoft does have some penetration in the mobile phone market, it's based on a proprietary-software model that is about to be blown apart by Google's 'Android' alliance - which links handset manufacturers to an open software platform.
As I write, the Yahoo board is meeting to consider what to do about Microsoft's bid. All attempts to find a rival bidder have come to nothing. There is talk of a possible alliance with Google in which Yahoo effectively outsources its search and advertising to its younger rival. This is cloud-cuckoo stuff: apart from the problems it would immediately raise with US and European regulators (who are already twitchy about Google), it would be as suicidal as Marks and Spencer outsourcing clothing and food to Tesco.
There is also the option of Yahoo splitting itself into its constituent operations and selling them off separately. But ultimately the problem is that Microsoft's offer places an absurdly high value on Yahoo, so the board would have to have some very good reasons for turning it down. The best that Yahoo can do, therefore, is to haggle before caving in.
But it will take quite a while to seal the deal - and as the lawyers haggle, Yahoo will effectively bleed to death. Many of its best staff won't want to work for Microsoft - and will find a warm welcome at Google, which is still desperate to find talent from whatever source. Other Yahoo employees will be wondering whether they will have a job in the merged company. And their concerns will be mirrored by their counterparts at Microsoft.
Microsoft's Steve Ballmer has said that he intends to keep the Yahoo brand. What then happens to MSN and Microsoft Live? Will Hotmail and Yahoo Mail both survive in the new set-up? What will happen to Flickr? Microsoft shareholders also seem less than ecstatic: the share price dipped 10 per cent after the original announcement. Many stockholders would prefer to see some of the Microsoft cash mountain returned rather than squandered on buying a declining internet company - and analysts were pointing out that, sooner or later, Microsoft would have to take a charge for the ludicrous premium it is offering Yahoo shareholders.
The joke is that all of this was going on in a week when Time Warner announced that it was looking for ways of divesting itself of AOL, that poster child of an earlier dotcom era. Marx was right about history repeating itself, 'the first time as tragedy, the second as farce'.

2008年2月8日 星期五




Top100.cn现在是以每首1元人民币的价格提供下载的。谷歌这项服务启动后,收入将靠广告来做到。中国的盗版问题始终难以解决。国际音响协会IFPI称,中国市场上提供的音乐产品,99%是侵犯版权的。德新社说,百度现在是跟Musik-Labels Songs合作,提供网上“试听”,“是不能下载或拷贝到电脑上的。”然而,据德国“商报”报导,本周一(似乎与谷歌配合着的。反正很巧),“好几家唱片公司已经向北京法院递交了对百度的起诉书。”“音乐工业界认为,大多数链接在百度上的音乐,是侵犯版权的。”




2008年2月5日 星期二

Google 與Microsoft 的下一戰場

轉載 作者等資訊見文後
The real battle between Microsoft and Google - now in conflict over Microsoft's $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo - ultimately isn't over search. Search is the source of Google's revenue and its growth. But it's pouring that money into things that scare Microsoft even more.

The Android cell phone operating system is one of those. It represents a threat to Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system. But a bigger threat is Google's push toward "cloud computing," which could dislodge Microsoft's position on the desktop computer.

Cloud computing is computation done not in the desktop but in the Internet-connected "cloud," or the heavy-duty computers known as servers in a big company's data center. Also referred to as the "cloud operating system," it has been talked about for years and is often dismissed as a minor sideshow. But it is a very real possibility today, and Microsoft should worry about a cloud OS in the hands of Google.

A primitive version of cloud computing already exists through Xcerion, a Swedish company that has created what it calls a "cloud OS." After six years of stealth design, it put its beta version out in September. Xcerion has done exactly what Google has reportedly been thinking about doing to undermine the Microsoft Windows monopoly.

The Xcerion OS is based on the XML software standard and runs in a browser. To call it an OS is debatable. To call it "cloud-based" is also up for discussion. When you install the OS, it runs in a hybrid mode. First, the OS has only about 1.5 megabytes of code that downloads to your computer in four seconds. It sits on top of an operating system, like an application, but it extends the OS and creates a platform for running XML-based applications. Hence, it can run on top of a Linux, Macintosh or Windows computer.

The screen looks very Windows-like. And when Xcerion finishes the final version of the OS in the latter part of the year, there will be 20 or more applications on it that duplicate the functions of Windows and applications such as Microsoft Office. It has applications such as notepad, calendar, e-mail, presentation and others ready to go. The good thing is that the XML code takes very little time to program, said Daniel Arthursson, chief executive of Xcerion, who has been thinking about the product since 1996. He has made some applications in as little as 45 minutes, a lot less time than it takes to make a Linux application.

The OS is free to use, like Linux, though the code itself belongs to the company. Xcerion's business model is to take a 10 percent cut of advertising or subscription fees generated with its OS.
The cloud OS can execute on the desktop computer without making any round trips to the server. That means you can work on your files without an Internet connection. Since the data storage is cloud-based, you also can log off and then pick up where you left off on any other computer that is connected to the Internet.

Xcerion has just 30 employees and has raised $12 million. It is looking for partners and has talked to Google, Arthursson said. If you think it's just little companies interested in cloud computing, IBM launched a major cloud-computing initiative with Google in November.
This whole cloud-computer effort makes sense for Google to pursue, if it hasn't already grown its own cloud OS in secret. Google already has server-based versions of Google Docs, which duplicate the functions of Microsoft's Office software. But the Google Apps aren't always as full-featured or heavy-duty as Microsoft's software.

Asked about this issue, Microsoft officials have said you always need processing power and client software on the desktop computer, especially for computation-intensive programs such as 3-D graphics interfaces or games. You can't wait for the computing to happen in the cloud, they say. But Xcerion has shown there are some advantages to exploiting the cloud.

Google has the cash cow in search that can fund a venture that could do a lot of harm to Microsoft's desktop monopoly. Microsoft, in turn, is using that desktop monopoly to fund its acquisition of Yahoo.

Does Yahoo have a plan for a cloud OS? I don't know. But if Google skewers Microsoft's desktop monopoly, then the Yahoo properties would position Microsoft well for the cloud world. It's a kind of nice backup plan.

I'm not sure what is holding back Google. It should get on with the ground war. Xcerion has shown Google the path.
Contact Dean Takahashi at dtakahashi@mercurynews .com or (408) 920-5739. See his previous columns and blog at www.mercurynews.com/deantakahashi

2008年2月4日 星期一

Google ,Yahoo , and Microsoft


Google Offers to Help Yahoo Fight Off Microsoft


Google Inc. Chief Executive Eric Schmidt called Yahoo Inc. CEO Jerry Yang to offer his company's help in any effort to thwart Microsoft Corp.'s unsolicited $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo, say people familiar with the matter.

The approach Friday from Google -- Microsoft's chief rival on the Internet -- came as Yahoo is assessing its options for responding to Microsoft's aggressive "bear hug" bid, which has sent aftershocks through the media and technology industries since its announcement three days ago. People familiar with the matter say Yahoo's board, which conferred by telephone Friday, hasn't taken a position so far and no rival bids have emerged yet, though it remains possible some will.

It is considered unlikely that Google would itself bid for Yahoo because of regulatory concerns related to their large shares of the search and online advertising markets. But the people familiar with the matter say Google could play a role in attempts by others to outbid Microsoft, or by Yahoo to remain independent. Google could potentially offer money, or guaranteed revenue in return for a Yahoo advertising outsourcing pact, under that scenario, say people familiar with the matter. Even such involvement by Google would likely attract antitrust scrutiny because of concerns that competition between the two Silicon Valley Internet companies could be reduced.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on any interest in Yahoo or contact between the two companies. Google in a blog post yesterday said Microsoft's pursuit of Yahoo "raises troubling questions" about whether it would give Microsoft too much power that could be abused. Microsoft responded by saying the deal would "create a more competitive marketplace by establishing a compelling No. 2 competitor for Internet search and online advertising."

One person familiar with the matter said that a number of technology, media and financial companies have since Friday discussed with Yahoo and its advisers their possible interest in participating in a bid for the company. But so far no serious rival bids have emerged from that, said people familiar with the matter.

AT&T Inc., News Corp. (owner of Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal) and Time Warner Inc. -- all considered candidates to do such a deal -- aren't preparing rival bids for Yahoo, according to people familiar with the matter. It remains possible, though unlikely, that could change, the people say.

Yahoo has said its directors would weigh the Microsoft offer and any alternatives, including keeping Yahoo independent, "and pursue the best course of action to maximize long-term value for shareholders." In a statement on its Web site, the company said "a review process like this is fluid, and it can take quite a bit of time."

Yahoo already had been in negotiations in recent weeks to outsource its Web-search advertising in Europe to Google, say people familiar with the matter. Since last year, investors have called for Yahoo to abandon its own search advertising system, which generates significantly less ad revenue for each consumer search, and use ads from Google in return for a majority share of the revenue.

The discussions with Google, which could potentially be a first step to a broader search-ad outsourcing deal, are expected to continue despite Microsoft's approach, says one of the people familiar with the matter. Another person said the two sides recently hit a disagreement on the revenue split between them.

Citigroup Global Markets analyst Mark Mahaney in a Friday research note estimated that Yahoo could boost its cash flow more than 25% annually by outsourcing all its search advertising to Google. Yahoo executives had considered such a maneuver as part of a strategic review last year, according to people familiar with the matter, but Mr. Yang in October had signaled that it had decided against it.

"We believe having a principal position in both search and display advertising is critical to creating...long-term shareholder value," Mr. Yang told analysts during Yahoo's earnings conference call in October. Yahoo's recent poor performance, including a sinking share price prior to Microsoft's bid and a tepid 2008 revenue outlook announced Tuesday, heightened calls for bolder moves by Mr. Yang, possibly spurring the change of heart toward Google.

Rival bids, including any with Google's support, could be crucial to efforts by Yahoo to at least secure a higher price for the company. Some investors believe Microsoft's offer of $31 a share -- a 62% premium to Yahoo's Thursday 4 p.m. trading on the Nasdaq -- is low, given that Yahoo shares traded at $33.63 as recently as Oct. 26.

In addition, they contend that the premium Microsoft is offering is insufficient because Yahoo holds cash and shares in publicly traded companies, including Yahoo Japan Corp. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., with a total market value of more than $12 per Yahoo share.

"We've got a very fair offer in front of the Yahoo shareholders," said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive, in an interview yesterday.

Microsoft's determination to do the deal, and its deep pocketbook, could well deter rival acquirers. Another factor in whether a bidder emerges could be the prospects for regulatory review of a Microsoft purchase of Yahoo, says one person familiar with the matter.

Google and Microsoft exchanged barbs yesterday related to that issue. Google Senior Vice President David Drummond in a blog post asked whether Microsoft could "now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC."

Mr. Drummond accused Microsoft, which has been targeted by antitrust regulators in the U.S. and Europe for years, of "frequently [seeking] to establish proprietary monopolies -- and then [leveraging] its dominance into new, adjacent markets." (Read the full blog post.)

Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith responded in a statement that "The combination of Microsoft and Yahoo will create a more competitive marketplace by establishing a compelling No. 2 competitor for Internet search and online advertising." Mr. Smith added that "the alternative scenarios only lead to less competition on the Internet."

Google identified instant messaging and Web email accounts as areas where a Microsoft-Yahoo combination would have "an overwhelming" market share. In the blog post, Google also questioned whether Microsoft could use its "PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors' email, [instant messaging] and Web-based services."

Microsoft had clearly identified competition from Google as a key reason behind its bid for Yahoo. In a letter to Yahoo's board making the offer on Thursday, Mr. Ballmer said the online advertising market is "increasingly dominated by one player," a reference to Google. "Together, Microsoft and Yahoo can offer competitive choice while better fulfilling the needs of customers and partners," he added. The two have been largely unsuccessful in their intensive efforts to narrow the gap with Google in Web-search market share and to challenge its growing lead in Internet ad sales.

While Google and Yahoo are intense rivals in those areas, they share deep roots in Silicon Valley, whereas Microsoft is a plane ride away in Redmond, Wash. Mr. Yang, a Yahoo cofounder, has been opposed to a sale to Microsoft in the past, and some at Google believe it should try to help, say people familiar with the matter.

Google also has a potential interest in trying to thwart Microsoft, or at least make it pay more for Yahoo, given that the two compete in a growing number of areas ranging from search and online ads to consumer email, word processing and spreadsheet offerings. Google's Mr. Schmidt and some other top executives are veterans of competitive battles with Microsoft, both while at Google, and from previous posts at Sun Microsystems Inc. and Netscape Communications Corp., later purchased by Time Warner's AOL.

--Robert A. Guth, Jessica E. Vascellaro and Merissa Marr contributed to this article.

Google, Microsoft Trade Shots Over Yahoo Bid

| | |
Google Inc. (GOOG) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) traded accusations about the threat the other poses to the health of competition on the Internet.

The exchange was started by search giant Google, in a blog post Sunday that said Microsoft's unsolicited $44.6 billion offer for Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) 'raises troubling questions.'

(This story and related background material will be available on The Wall Street Journal Web site, WSJ.com.)

The blog post, attributed to Google Senior Vice President David Drummond, asks whether Microsoft could 'now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC.' It accuses Microsoft, which has been targeted by antitrust regulators in the U.S. and Europe for years, of 'frequently [seeking] to establish proprietary monopolies - and then [leveraging] its dominance into new, adjacent markets.'

Not long afterward, Microsoft responded with a statement rebutting Google's contentions.

'The combination of Microsoft and Yahoo! will create a more competitive marketplace by establishing a compelling number two competitor for Internet search and online advertising,' said Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, in a statement emailed to reporters. 'The alternative scenarios only lead to less competition on the Internet.'

Google identified instant messaging and Web email accounts as areas where a Microsoft/Yahoo combination would have 'an overwhelming' market share. In the blog post, Google also questioned whether Microsoft could use its 'PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors' email, [instant messaging] and Web-based services.'

One person close to Google said it was concerned that there would be nothing to stop Microsoft, for example, from making Microsoft/Yahoo instant messaging services the first thing consumers saw when they booted up their computers running Microsoft's Windows operating system or its Office productivity software.

Microsoft had clearly identified competition from Google as a key reason behind its bid for Yahoo. In a letter to Yahoo's board making the offer on Thursday, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said the online advertising market is 'increasingly dominated by one player,' a reference to Google.

'Together, Microsoft and Yahoo can offer competitive choice while better fulfilling the needs of customers and partners,' he added. The two have been largely unsuccessful in their intensive efforts to narrow the gap with Google in Web search market share, and challenge its growing lead in Internet ad sales.

Yahoo has said its board of directors would weigh the Microsoft offer and any alternatives, including keeping Yahoo independent, 'and pursue the best course of action to maximize long-term value for shareholders.' In a statement on its Web site, the company said, 'a review process like this is fluid, and it can take quite a bit of time.'

'We believe that the interests of Internet users come first-and should come first-as the merits of this proposed acquisition are examined and alternatives explored,' said Google in its blog post.

Microsoft's Mr. Smith suggested it was Google whose influence on the Internet was troubling.

'Today, Google is the dominant search engine and advertising company on the Web. Google has amassed about 75% of paid search revenues worldwide and its share continues to grow,' he said in the email. 'According to published reports, Google currently has more than 65 percent search query share in the U.S. and more than 85 percent in Europe. Microsoft and Yahoo! on the other hand have roughly 30% combined in the U.S. and approximately 10% combined in Europe.'

Mr. Smith concluded: 'Microsoft is committed to openness, innovation, and the protection of privacy on the Internet. We believe that the combination of Microsoft and Yahoo! will advance these goals.' -By Kevin J. Delaney and Don Clark, The Wall Street Journal

Kevin J. Delaney and Don Clark

2008年2月2日 星期六

Strategy Shift for Microsoft (Yahoo Offer)

Yahoo Offer Is Strategy Shift for Microsoft

Published: February 2, 2008

Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft and a global philanthropist, called upon fellow business leaders at the World Economic Forum last week to pursue a kinder form of capitalism.

But on Friday, the brand of capitalism practiced by his company’s chief executive, Steven A. Ballmer, came with a decidedly hard edge.

Microsoft’s $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo, pushed by Mr. Ballmer, was hostile. And during a conference call Friday with analysts and in a subsequent interview, he never once uttered the word “Google,” referring to the Internet search giant that has humbled Microsoft only as “the leader” in the online world.

Mr. Ballmer, 51, is a famously fierce competitor. To him, failure is never an option. “If we don’t get it right at first, we’ll just keep coming and coming and coming and coming,” he said in an earlier interview.

Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo is thus a tacit, and difficult, admission that the company did not get its online business right. The bid also represents a sharp departure from Microsoft’s well-thumbed playbook of building new businesses on its own. In the past, when Microsoft moved beyond its stronghold in desktop computer software — and into areas like video games and data-center software — it has done so mainly with in-house investment, patience and tenacity.

Microsoft stuck to that formula for years with its Internet search and advertising — without success. It did buy an online ad agency, aQuantive, last May for $6 billion, a sizable move given Microsoft’s tradition of making small, niche-filling acquisitions.

The losses, however, continue to mount in Microsoft’s online business, while Google makes billions in profit.

The Google challenge to Microsoft extends beyond online search and advertising. Google is at the forefront of companies offering software as online services, including Web-based alternatives to Microsoft’s lucrative desktop products like word processing, spreadsheets and presentation programs.

Mr. Gates, Microsoft’s largest shareholder, has said that Google is the company that most reminds him of Microsoft in terms of its broad ambitions and demanding corporate culture. Mr. Gates, who is spending more time on philanthropy these days, blessed the Yahoo bid, but it is Mr. Ballmer’s brainchild.

And Mr. Ballmer clearly views the Yahoo bid, and the Google threat, in broad terms. A Yahoo deal, he said, would represent “the next major milestone in Microsoft’s transformation.”

Microsoft, too, is moving to offer more software features as Web-based services, though it sees a future that revolves around both personal computer software and online services.

Microsoft has been forced to adopt a new strategy for a different kind of threat than it has confronted, and usually dispatched, in the past.

“This shows just how worried Microsoft is by Google,” said David B. Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School. “Microsoft has faced competitive threats before, but none with the size, strength, profitability and momentum of Google.”

In the conference call, Mr. Ballmer conceded that Microsoft needed a big move to try to catch up in the online business. “The market continues to grow, and the leader continues to consolidate position,” he said.

Microsoft, analysts say, finds itself in a battle where improving its search algorithms and online ad software is not going to be enough. Google has impressive technology, to be sure, but it also enjoys the torrid growth that falls to the leader in highly networked businesses like Internet search and ads.

Google’s edge in search traffic then attracts more advertisers and Web publishers, so there are more ads in Google’s auctions, which makes them more efficient. Each advantage reinforces the other, in what economists call “network effects.”

One measure of the network advantage, analysts estimate, is that Google collects 40 percent to 100 percent more revenue per search than either Yahoo or Microsoft.

Microsoft, of course, is no stranger to the power of network effects. It was the master of that strategy in the personal computer era. Its early lead in PC operating systems, and its efforts to encourage independent software developers to write applications for Windows, paved the way for Microsoft’s dominance.

More programs ran on Windows than on any other operating system, so more users bought PCs running Windows. Apple, by contrast, never built up the developer network as Microsoft did.

In the Internet era, network effects are working against Microsoft as it battles Google.

With the Yahoo bid, analysts say, Microsoft is trying to buy a big enough share of the market to be a credible alternative to Google with online advertisers.

In the most recent quarter, Microsoft had online revenue of $863 million, compared with $4.8 billion at Google. Yahoo and Microsoft together had more than $2.6 billion in revenue, still trailing well behind Google but in a far stronger competitive position.

But the trends in online advertising are working to Google’s advantage as it continues to gain share. The more Google’s momentum accelerates, the more difficult it will be for Microsoft to catch up, no matter how much it might improve its search technology.

While $44.6 billion is a hefty price tag, many analysts say it will be worth it if Microsoft can close the gap with Google. On Wall Street, Microsoft suffers from the perception that it is several steps behind in the march toward the Internet future.

Microsoft, analysts note, has grown solidly for years, but investors give it little credit. Its stock price has long been stagnant, despite the company’s extremely profitable businesses. The Office division alone had quarterly revenue of $4.8 billion — equal to Google — and an astronomical $3.2 billion in operating profits. The Windows unit is even more profitable.

“Microsoft needs to show that it is going to make the online business work, and this is about shaking things up that needed shaking up,” said Charles di Bona, an analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein & Company.

Asked whether the move amounted to an admission of failure of the company’s earlier strategy, Mr. Ballmer replied that some people might take that view.

“But I made the judgment that for the long-term health of this company, and for the long-term interests of our shareholders, that acquiring Yahoo is a good thing,” he said.