Opinion

The Great Debate

from Stories I’d like to see:

The Oracle Oregon fiasco, crying wolf on an Obamacare tax, and anointing the ‘Politico 50′

1. The Oracle Oregon fiasco:

We all know by now that the dominant story line of the Obamacare website’s failed launch is that the federal government is terrible at doing high-tech projects -- let alone one that involves the e-commerce wizardry that has made Silicon Valley the envy of the world.

But it turns out that one state exchange to sell Obamacare insurance plans has had an even more disastrous launch than the 36-state HealthCare.gov. It’s CoverOregon.com -- the website for the Oregon exchange.

In fact, as this Associated Press story notes, last week state officials cancelled an advertising campaign to get people to sign up at CoverOregon.com because the website still isn’t up and running.

But Oregon didn’t rely on a bunch of bureaucrats to supervise its launch. Far from it. The state farmed the entire project out to … drumroll … Oracle, one of the crown jewels of hi-tech America. The company’s chief executive officer, Larry Ellison, perpetually appears near the top of the Forbes 400 list (he’s number three this year) and was eagerly available to the press when he financed his successful America’s Cup entry last fall, at the same time that the website was supposedly being finished.

Nick Budnick of the Oregonian has been all over this story, but the Oregon/Oracle fiasco has escaped the national attention it deserves. And Budnick has been unable to get Oracle to provide any comment.

Apple and Samsung’s cone of silence

Apple and Samsung, you might have heard, have spent the last many months in a California courtroom haggling over who violated whose patents. At the end of August, Apple was awarded more than a billion dollars in damages by a jury, and the Samsung is now claiming jury misconduct. Just last week a U.S. appeals court threw out the judge’s ban on Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus phone. The whole situation is, really, turning into a bit of a confusing mess.

Also messy: a lesser-known but hugely important struggle among Samsung, Apple, and those members of the press trying to write about the court battle. While otherwise adversaries, the two companies have joined forces to keep some of the evidence in the case off the public record. But how much secrecy in the Apple v. Samsung proceedings is too much for the public to tolerate? It’s a meta legal question, and one that might not have the same billions directly at stake as the main event. But the outcome of the dispute about the transparency of our courts is central to understanding the future of these big tech trials. And there will likely be plenty more of those.

The question at stake is whether the tech firms will be allowed to tie up the courts with their business disputes while engineering it so they don’t face the full scrutiny of a truly public trial.

Sun software is the tail wagging the dog

Eric Auchard– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own —

When Oracle agreed to buy Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion in April, the headlines made much of the software maker’s decision to enter the computer business 30 years late. At less than 10 per cent of sales, Sun’s software business seemed an afterthought.

But Sun’s software is now center stage after European competition regulators said on Thursday that they would withhold approval for the deal until they finish probing the impact of the Oracle-Sun merger on the database software market. The decision means the transaction faces at least a four-month delay, pushing it into early next year.

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