Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Microsoft, Yahoo and Google - The Mammoth Clash !

Much has been reported and discussed about Microsoft's attempts at gobbling up Yahoo! Inc in what could turn to be one of the biggest consolidations of software giants in recent times. There was a time when Oracle Corp. went on a shopping spree ending up with PeopleSoft, Siebel and other biggies in its cart only to come "closer" to the market leader in business software - SAP.Microsoft's motives are similar, but much bigger than we can fathom. I'll not mince my words in saying this - It's a desperate attempt on part of world's leading software company at slowing down the pace of the charging internet mammoth called Google.

The might of Google has not been hidden from Microsoft. With a share of 75% in search advertising, Google has tapped one of the most lucrative online businesses which big daddy (read:Microsoft) totally missed out on. Also, several attempts by Microsoft at improvising its own services (MSN, Live, Hotmail revamped etc.) have not really taken off and it continues to be only the 5th most popular destination on the World Wide Web. Google has also opened the doors to a completely new world of online software. Microsoft's might in desktop software stands challenged today with Google replicating the same features in online softwares such as Google Docs, Google Apps for Enterprises. The next step for Google is rumoured to be the launch of its very own Operating System. It's high penetration into an era of net savvy PC customers will give Google more than an edge in selling their OS (IF the rumours are to be believed!). What options does this leave then for Microsoft? For a company sitting on a pile of cash worth $6111 million, the easiest way out would seem to be to BUY its way to the top. That's probably the thought that struck MS when it made a bid for the ailing Yahoo! Inc. Microsoft can only aim at at being a "reasonable" competitor to Google after its tie-up with Yahoo.

In the war of the worldwide software giant and the search leviathan, we cannot underestimate what has been the most popular online destination for netizens worldwide - Yahoo! Inc. Yahoo's messenger, chat rooms, groups, avataars, games and much more - have been hosts to millions of users across the globe, transcending boundaries of culture and language. I remember typing "" into my browser's address bar the FIRST time I ever used the internet - and so do lacs of others. Yahoo has rarely let down its users by constantly improving its services, giving users what they wanted and doing it BEFORE anyone else did it. But while Yahoo managed to do this for several years, it has recently been accused to failing to keep pace with the advancements in technology. It's profits and share prices have taken a dip, and shareholders' confidence has been at a low.Businesses like Microsoft would term the situation as "Hit the Iron While It's Hot" but the move would undoubtedly invite the ire and anxiety of millions of users worldwide. Microsoft is not very popular among the net-surfers for its online services - Hotmail, MSN Live Messenger, MSN Communities etc., all of which invoke a solitary feeling from users -"Ancient"! Its inability to feel the pulse of the evolving netizen and its needs has pushed Microsoft on the back front in the arena of online services. Microsoft taking over Yahoo could have dual implications for the users. While Microsoft as an organization is known to be a highly innovative software developer and marketeer, it’s knack of bringing technology under the umbrella of proprietorship is also well known. Users might, therefore, end up with better services, should Microsoft manage a seamless integration with Yahoo (as-it-is) or a set of inferior services, led by proprietary technology (and hence little growth), should Microsoft try to have an iron grip on everything.

In the end - the internet has tremendous potential for growth which needs to be managed and captured not by ONE monolithic giant but by several technology leaders each of whom can specialize and innovate in their domains. Microsoft, without doubt, is the company that needs to be credited for making the PC a household name. It is the company that needs to be credited with making operating systems which enable “dummies” to use computers. But the internet is one place that will be better off without a giant such as Microsoft. And should Microsoft manage to successfully complete this deal, let it be known that the fate of the internet and the companies that drive it is determined NOT by the companies or the governments – it is determined by the users of the World Wide Web who have a mind of their own.

Till next time.. Cheers !

Friday, February 1, 2008

A tele-protagonists' dilemma !

Just when I was rid of my end term examinations and was strolling in Andheri with my friends to celebrate the joyous occasion, a huge billboard caught my eye - one of the tele-serial bahus, with the typical tele-serial look (expression, make-up, saree, bindi included) posing a tricky question to the audience of the hoarding - "Saas sasur ki salgirah ya mayke mein pooja - Aap meri jagah hote to kya karte?" (For those not conversant with Hindi - "My in-laws' anniversary party or pooja at parents' house ? What would you have attended if you were in my position?").

Now for those of you who are already rolling on the floor, laughing away to glory, I'd like to emphasize upon the criticality and urgency of this question. Do you people even realize that it was close to a life-and-death situation for this poor female? Lets explore some options...

You say that she could've easily divided her time between the two? HAH ! Fat chance! With all her poor luck (and ours too!), the very muhurat for both the events would match till the last millisecond washing out any multi-tasking plans she might have had.

You say that she could've attended the anniversary party and ditched her parents? Woah ! You inhuman soul! The very same parents who nurtured HER from childhood till adulthood and finally managed to get her married into a nice rich family (where the in-laws throw prompt anniversary parties :P) will now be deprived of her company on such an important occasion? To add to the trouble, the pooja is probably meant for the longer life of her ailing father/ mother/ brother/ sister/ bua/ tai/ tau/ mausa / mausi / kaka/ kaki/ ba/ ba's ba etc and is an absolute must-attend!

You say that she could've attended ghar ki pooja and ditched the party at in-laws' house? Now thats where you cross all lines! How will she ever come back her in-laws' place? Won't they burn her alive? Won't they torture her and ridicule her all her life for not joining in the celebration of their matrimonial union? Won't they get her divorced? Won't they disown her? The poor soul will then have nowhere to go (neither will YOU when you sit there watching episode after episode of tears trickling down the protagonist's eyes!)

I urge all readers of this blog to spare some time and give a serious thought to this poor female's dilemma. Help her out - by helping her out in solving this dilemma, you'll not only help her but also help a large section of the populace by saving them innumerable episodes of long winding discussions, unending tears, unceremonious slapping, shameless lying and bitter verbal retorts! Do tune in to future episodes of "Babul... blah blah.. aangan.. etc etc.." on one of the regular saas-bahu channels (Sony/ Star/ Zee) to know more and advise the protagonist.

Till next time.. Cheers !
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