AOL/Time Warner sues Microsoft
It had to happen. The US Department of Justice has managed to successfully convince a number of judges that broadly speaking Microsoft is a monopoly. Sure, they're still getting together to bang heads over the fine detail and that will probably drag on for a while yet and undoubtedly both sides will claim victory at the end of it, but Microsoft is a monopoly.
So while the lawyers make money haggling over how to deal with the problem, Netscape parent company AOL/Time Warner has used the decision as the platform for a case against Microsoft.
For those with internet-speed memories here's a quick refresher course.
In the beginning was the internet. It was without shape or form and remained hidden from most users until the browser was born. Early browsers were poor, wan, insipid versions of today's descendants: in other words they managed to fit on a floppy disk while still being able to surf the net. Try that with IE anything.
Then came Netscape with its massive browser market dominance. Everyone used Netscape in the days before Bill Gates re-wrote his book to include the internet. Of course, once Microsoft discovered this whole new world of computing the writing was pretty much on the wall.
In 1995 Microsoft licensed code from a company called Spyglass, which held the master licence for the Mosaic browser (the godfather of browsers) developed at the National Centre for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois. Thus was Internet Explorer born, and with it Microsoft began an aggressive campaign to win the browser war based on giving IE away free.
Netscape is using the rulings from various courts in the DoJ case and really it simply comes down to how much money it will get in damages.
What does this mean for Microsoft? Well this will hardly be the last case to be brought against Bill and co. Even if the newly friendly DoJ settles its case with Microsoft in a relatively pro-MS way the word is out: MS is a monopoly and private cases will continue for some time to come.
Of course, Microsoft has a lot of money and a lot of lawyers, but it's still a distinct indication of where the future lies.
How do you make a small fortune on the internet? That's right you start out with a large one.
Jeff Bezos has certainly got a way with words. He's also got away with murder over the last five years spending $US3 billion of someone else's money to sell books. Finally he's making a return on the investment and has managed to squeeze a $US5 million profit out of the business.
Let's think about this for a moment. He sold $US1.12 billion worth of books in the fourth quarter of the year and made $US5 million. Hardly worth the effort you'd think.
But that fourth quarter revenue figure is a record for the company and the last time it had record sales it managed to lose close to $US500 million, so all told it's at least facing the right direction. Stock jumped by 25% after the news broke. Jeff is apparently going to send every investor three magic beans that he found in his garden to celebrate.
Does this mean a resurgence of the dot-com economy? I seriously hope not. Most of those companies that went to the wall had no business model, probably no business sense either, and very little worth beyond their domain names.
Customers were told of quick, easy, convenient and cheap shopping online but were sold down the river in many instances by a lack of basic commerce capability. If you order a product you'd expect it to arrive, wouldn't you? Apparently eToys hadn't factored that in when it told all its customers to shop online before Christmas. EToys is now happily a thing of the past.
And as for cheaper, very few sites actually delivered the "savings" they were supposed to, certainly in this part of the world. Flying Pig was no cheaper than Whitcoulls or Borders when it came to buying a book and the punters stayed away in droves.
Hopefully the profit at Amazon will encourage investors back into the internet sector, but they will be taking a much more sober look at the market, which can't be a bad thing.
FryUp goes hi tech
The new system is in place and apart from a few teething problems stemming from my inability to read manuals, all seems to be progressing well.
Hopefully you won't have noticed too much change: the content hasn't altered despite the best efforts of all involved and the delivery schedule has at least been looked at once or twice this year.
What we will start to do from next week is deliver the FryUp in two forms. Those of you who are happy with the basic text set-up can continue to receive the FryUp in its non-carcinogenic, hypo-allergenic, decaffeinated state. This is my chosen medium and I'll be sticking with the bare bones bits and bytes.
Those of you with a death wish, however, who love to push the envelope, walk the tightrope of life and laugh heartily in the face of the Blue Screen can opt for the wacky world of HTML and receive the email as a webpage.
Regardless of whether you're a T-type personality or a tea-type you should probably have a close look at your FryUp profile to make sure you've got the right box checked (follow the link at the bottom of the email). If you're not sure whether you can receive HTML properly or not, check the "I'm not sure" button and the machine will work it out for you.
If you decide you want to switch at a later date, go right ahead. Nothing is set in concrete here at the FryUp. Do let me know what you think of it all though.
Best of luck and may the force be with you.