Tuesday, February 5, 2008

What will Google do against Microsoft and Yahoo ?

Microsoft really threw a major push when it announced an offer for Yahoo. For some time now, Microsoft has been smarting at being beaten by Google fair and square in the world of online search and advertising. This was a field that was essentially (not completely true, but approximately) invented by Google, and they have a commanding lead over both Microsoft and Google. Google has essentially been a seach / advertising company that is now trying to do other things, while Microsoft has been a major desktop company that is struggling to replicate its success in the online world (through a spate of new technologies and purchases), while Yahoo has tried to be a massive directory (and seeing the success of Google, tried to also focus on the advertising world). Google has had the benefit of some focused approach on the advertising world, and has reaped the benefits.
Yahoo has been seen as a company on the downward path, and all its efforts have not been able to push it up; it has been seen as having been outplayed by Google, and recently suffered the fate of having to layoff people (not a good sign for a company trying to be the best). It makes tremendous sense for Microsoft to suddenly gain a massive catch up by getting all of Yahoo's business.

According to a Reuters report, Yahoo said it would consider joining forces with Google in order to prevent Microsoft from acquiring it. What sort of partnership could it strike with Google that would hold Microsoft at bay while not triggering antitrust issues? Oh, and Yahoo says $31 per share isn't good enough.
Yahoo's managers have a lot of thinking to do. Microsoft's offer of $44.6 billion was not exactly a low-ball first bid. That represented a 61% premium over Yahoo's stock price on Thursday (Yahoo's stock has since gone up). Yahoo feels that the $31 per share offered undervalues the company. It didn't say that it had requested a higher number from Microsoft, which has indicated it will use cash and loans to buy Yahoo. Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Jeffrey Lindsay suggested that Yahoo's real worth is closer to $39-$45 a share.

The fact remains that the final decision rests with shareholders, who may feel that unless a white knight comes into the picture (who can afford to pay more than $50 billion), Microsoft represents the best bet in terms of growing the business and taking on Google.
Google is not likely to take this lying down. A good first bet would be to appeal to Yahoo's management who would be apprehensive (or rather sure) about their diminished status in a Microsoft pecking line; in addition, there is the entire history of Microsoft's uncompetitive behavior to be thrown up, another good approach is to talk about the obvious problems of pairing the market leaders in online email and messenger. Microsoft would have likely prepared for all this, and one can be sure that there will be a lot more focus on making the Yahoo shareholder see this as a good step forward.

Apples doubles capacity of iPhone and iPod Touch for $100

The iPhone and iPod Touch (and earlier the iPod) have done wonders for Apple, given the massive customer demand and the can't get enough of iPhone need of customers. I was watching a couple of iPhone users give a demo of the phone to friends who did not have the iPhone, and you literally see these people (admittedly geeks) were positively in love with the gadget; you really don't see that happen to people having other phones and gadgets.
Now Apple has decided to try and squeeze more money from people. Given that a lot of the buying of the iPhone used to happen for the higher-capacity 8 GB phone, it was natural for Apple to add more storage, and in the process, charge an additional $100. After all, why not make money when people are willing to give.

Apple doubled the capacity of the iPhone and the iPod Touch on Tuesday for an additional $100. The iPhone once again comes in two capacities: 8GB for $399 and now 16GB for $499. Apple sold 8GB and 4GB varieties on iPhone Day, but it discontinued the 4GB model after it cut the price of the 8GB model to $399. Something like 90 percent of all early iPhone buyers opted for the 8GB version.
And the iPod Touch can also store more music and videos now, with 32GB of capacity for $499. That device is now available in three versions, with Apple also selling a 16GB model for $399 and an 8GB model for $299.

There was a slight reduction in the sales figures for the previous quarter, something that should scare Apple to some degree. So the announcement of these new models should be a good answer to industry analysts, since there will be a number of users who will buy the highest capacity device, netting Apple an extra $100 in the process. The question however remains as to when Apple will overcome some of the shortcomings in the device, such as addressing 3G connectivity, and providing an inbuilt GPS solution.