MediaFile

Netbook name game

Netbook is a remarkably clear and memorable terrm as far as most computer industry jargon goes. Which is why, as with any hot product category, it’s hard for the computer industry to agree on exactly what it means.

Most people who started using the term over the last two years say it refers to a new class of tiny, low-cost, Web-connected computers.  That’s at least what Intel thought when it adopted netbook last year as a generic term.  

For this simple act of clarity, Intel must be punished. The ghost of Psion, the old handheld digital organizer maker, sued Intel for trademark infringement. It turned out Psion trademarked the term as far back as 1996 and sold a line of computers it called netBooks earlier this decade before discontinuing the line.

Microsoft Corp has never much liked the term, in part because the most succcessful early netbooks relied on Linux software rather than Microsoft’s own products. Microsoft is counting on its upcoming Windows 7 operating system to crush Linux-based models.

Just please don’t call them netbooks. This week, a Microsoft executive at the Computex trade show in Taiwan says it wants to abandon the term. Instead, we should all get used to calling netbooks ”low cost small notebook PCs” — LCSNPC for short — when referring to computers capable of doing more than watching Web sites. So says Steven Guggenheimer, Microsoft’s vice president in charge of relations with PC makers, speaking to DigiTimes.

Obama’s Googler draws fire

Forget about the Supreme Court nomination battle. President Barack Obama’s reported pick for the seemingly uncontroversial job of deputy chief technology officer is drawing fire.******A pair of consumer advocacy groups sent the White House a letter on Wednesday urging the administration not to appoint Google’s Andrew McLaughlin to the post, a move reported to be in works by several media outlets.******McLaughlin is Google’s director of global public policy. That means he has been “responsible for Google’s worldwide lobbying efforts,” said the letter from Consumer Watchdog and Center for Digital Democracy.******Obama has issued an executive order barring anyone who has worked as a lobbyist in the past two years from serving in a federal agency that they lobbied.******McLaughlin was last registered as a lobbyist in 2007, the groups said — that might soon avoid the two year ban on technical grounds, but it violates the intent of the ban. And the groups note that the statement of organization for Google’s political action committee from March 2009 lists McLaughlin as its assistant treasurer and its designated agent.******A Google spokesman said that McLaughlin was mistakenly listed as a lobbyist in 2007 and that Google filed an amended disclosure form in 2008 correcting the filing when the company realized that he did not meet the threshold for lobbyist, which includes spending 20 percent of an individual’s time in direct contact with members of Congress.******Google has proven to be a bit of a feeder to the Obama White House. Katie Stanton, the White House director of citizen participation, is a former Google project manager. Sonal Shah, the erstwhile head of global development at Google.org, now heads White House Office of Social Innovation.******And of course, Google CEO Eric Schmidt serves on Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.******Meanwhile, Google is the subject of various federal inquiries and investigations. The latest involves hiring practices among various Silicon Valley firms. ******There have been reports that some of the noise about Google’s ties to the White House bears the fingerprints of Google competitors, like Microsoft.******Consumer Watchdog and Center for Digital Democracy officials both said they have no affiliation or financing from Microsoft, or any other corporation.******CDD Executive Director Jeffrey Chester said he first learned of the potential McLaughlin appointment after receiving an unsolicited e-mail with a news article on the subject from a Microsoft “political person.” He said he would have seen the article anyway and has had no subsequent communication with the person.******The consumer groups say their beef with McLaughlin has nothing to do with the fact that he is a Googler.******”The problem is that he has been a lobbyist for the biggest digital marketing company in the world, and we believe no special-interest connected person should assume a position of vital important to the country’s future,” reads the letter.******”It would be just as inappropriate for a lobbyist from Microsoft, Yahoo or any other similar technology company to be appointed Deputy Chief Technology Officer.”******(Photo: Reuters)

First Bing ad airs tonight

Microsoft launches the first wave of the publicity campaign for its new search engine Bing tonight, with a prime time ad linking the recent financial chaos with small animals tapping on keyboards. At least that’s what it looks like:

The reasoning is questionable, but Microsoft won’t care as long as it gets people talking about its new product — which is fully available from today at www.bing.com — and ultimately gets them to utter the word ‘bing’ as a verb.

The first spot, made by ad agency JWT, is called ‘Manifesto’ and will hit in the middle of top shows such as CSI:NY tonight.

Bad-a-bing! Microsoft unveils new search engine

The worst-kept secret in tech was finally made public as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer lifted the wraps off the company’s new search engine: Bing.

The revamped engine, intended to take a bite out of Google’s dominance, is being rolled out over the next few days, with a full launch next Wednesday.

Here are a few screenshots to tide you over until then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter vs. Facebook — you make the call

The top brass from Twitter and Facebook have been all over the place in recent days, starting with the Reuters Global Technology Summit. No matter the venue or the executive, the questions are pretty much the same: Are you going to put the company up for sale? If not, when are you going public? And how on earth are you going to make money? And when?

We’ll skip a rehash of yesterday’s news and interviews, but you can find articles just about anywhere you want. Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, BreakingViews, paidContent, Advertising Age, and, well, basically every other media outlet are carrying stories today about one or both of the web darlings.
So instead we’ll ask you a straightforward question. Which one — Facebook or Twitter — would you buy a piece of, if you could?

Keep an eye on:

    The following from TechCrunch: “Sources close to AOL tell us that the board of directors will make a final decision on the AOL spinoff at a board meeting this Thursday, May 28, possibly undoing the $147 billion 2001 merger of the two companies. Sources characterize the decision as ‘a done deal’.” Microsoft goes at Apple — again. The company plans to launch a new version of its Zune portable media player later this year in the United States, incorporating high-definition video, touch screen technology and Wi-Fi connection. (Reuters) BookExpo America isn’t looking so hot this year. In the New York Post, Keith Kelly writes that “the turnout is expected to be way down — about 20 percent less exhibition space was booked this year — and many big publishers like Random House are cutting back while others like Macmillan and Rodale plan to skip the floor show entirely.”

(Photos: Twitter’s Biz Stone (l.), Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (r.); Reuters)

Steve Ballmer’s “awesome” new Ford hybrid

Times are tough for car makers, so Ford’s CEO Alan Mulally is going the extra mile by delivering cars to customers himself.

Unfortunately you have to be CEO of a very large company to qualify. Here’s Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer taking possession of his new Ford Fusion Hybrid at the software company’s Seattle-area campus.

 
“This is awesome!” Ballmer declared, before climbing into the car for a quick seminar on how it works. He didn’t seem too interested in the fuel consumption figures, but said his wife insisted on a hybrid.

Microsoft’s big man on campus

Steve Ballmer knows how to pack a house.

Stanford University’s Memorial Hall was filled to its almost 2,000 capacity on Wednesday, as the voluble Microsoft CEO took the stage.

For the MBAs and engineering students who showed up, the event was a chance to get inspiration from the chief of one of the world’s most powerful corporations (and from someone who dropped out of Stanford Business School to join Microsoft). The press in attendance was mainly interested in comments Ballmer might make about Yahoo.

Indeed, with Microsoft and Yahoo reportedly in talks about a search partnership, speculation has risen in the blogosphere that Ballmer and Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz would have a sit-down during his swing through the Bay Area.

Microsoft glams up MSN home page

Microsoft is trying out a series of new home pages for its MSN web portal in an effort to drum up some new — and likely younger — readers to attract advertisers.

The first experiment, launching today, is an entertainment-themed home page, promising news, gossip and videos on all manner of celebrities, in much the same way that many rivals do.

Microsoft’s money-losing online business is hoping to capitalize on the 84 percent of Internet users it says visit entertainment-related sites, building on the 70 million or so people it says already visit the MSN site for entertainment content.

What does Wall Street think of Yahoo the morning after?

The reaction to Yahoo’s earnings in the stock market this morning was relatively positive. Shares rose 2 percent right off the bat, but we’ll see what happens as the day rolls on. Meanwhile, here are what some Wall Streeters had to say about the quarter in various research reports.

Signal Hill Capital Group: While all of Yahoo’s business segments declined, display was by far the hardest hit.  Display ad sales fell 27% sequentially and 13% YoY to $371 million, as premium inventory is either not selling out, or is selling at very depressed CPM’s.  Yahoo’s search business declined less, but is hardly a bright spot.  Search revenue dropped 9% sequentially, compared with Google’s 4% sequential decline.

Collins Stewart: Given how bad display and search ad trends were during the March quarter, we believe the earning was not bad. CEO Bartz is clearly bringing fresh perspective, sound cost management, and portfolio optimization approach, which we believe will start yielding positive results. We continue to believe that Microsoft-Yahoo search deal is very likely and silence by CEO Bartz during the earnings call suggested to us that something is brewing.

Google still king of search, Microsoft grows faster

Google remains the undisputed leader in U.S. Internet searches, but Microsoft can claim it is the fastest-growing, according to the latest figures from digital tally-keeper comScore.

Google claimed 63.7 percent of “core” U.S. internet searches in March, not counting mapping, directory or video sites like YouTube. That is up 0.4 percent from February.

Meanwhile, Yahoo and Microsoft, which are still umming and ahhing about combining their internet search efforts in some way, traded some gains and losses.