MediaFile

Barry Diller’s take on Microsoft, Yahoo and more

Few in the media business know dealmaking better than Barry Diller.

So it comes as little surprise that the head of IAC/Interactive was asked about both the Microsoft-Yahoo deal and the AOL separation during an earnings conference call today. He sounded upbeat on both situations.

Here are some excepts:

Microsoft-Yahoo:

One significant thing that happened is we’re not going have to talk about whether or not it’s going to happen anymore [Ed -Amen to that!]. Look, Microsoft will be able to report a greater share in terms of search and get — at least in some minds of the talkers — into being up there in competing terms with Google. And Yahoo doesn’t have to spend anymore money on search. As far as being able to execute, that is very complicated.

For us, I think that the significance is we want, need, must have at least two competitive forces, big competitive forces… I want to have two players out there wanting to get our incremental business, which is, of course, of real value to the companies.

So, I think it’s good for all parties.

AOL:

On AOL, I have a lot of confidence in Tim Armstrong. I think he’s coming there as a great whoosh of energy and real change, I think, for the first time, in my god, in I don’t know how long.

I have high expectations for what he’s going to be able to do.

As far as strategies with the spinoff company or the company’s configurations in the future, we’re talking with them about ideas about commercial relationships and both in the local area and search area. We’ll see what happens.

Bartz shuns f-bomb, hearts Bing

By now, reporters and analysts who cover Yahoo have come to expect (and dare I say, delight in) CEO Carol Bartz’s colorful figures of speech and the occasional f-bomb drop during conference calls.

So Bartz’s tame delivery of Yahoo’s second-quarter earnings on Tuesday was a bit of a surprise. We know the 60-year-old is recovering from knee surgery, but was this even the same Bartz? The one who threatened to “dropkick to f–king Mars” employees who leak information to reporters? Or the one who asked the press to give Yahoo some “friggin’ breathing room” as the company figured out its next move? (Here’s a list of Bartz’s greatest hits).

By comparison, Tuesday afternoon was a bore, as Bartz stuck to a straight script. What’s more, she actually went so far as to compliment Bing, Microsoft’s new search engine that’s been pulling market share from competitors.

With Apple, Microsoft ahead, this is no time for vacation

Get ready for another big week of earnings, with Apple, Microsoft and Yahoo the highlights (at least in our world).

Interestingly, talk about both Microsoft and Apple has been pretty positive ahead of their quarterly results, despite the rancid economy. When it comes to Apple, whose stock has been among the best performers in tech this year, the chatter is about the new iPhone, which it launched in June to big fanfare.

“I think the key is that core consumer demand is there,” Hudson Square Research analyst Daniel Ernst said in a recent Reuters story. “There are lines for $400 phones. Clearly they’re well positioned, and when the PC market comes back, we believe they’re going to take significant share.”

from Commentaries:

I am thinking of rebranding myself as Zing

Some tech links to start the week:

I am seriously considering changing my byline to Zing, what with all the media attention a certain search engine is getting.

Bing search for Eric Auchard

The New York Times looks at the ups and downs of turning brands into verbs. The jumping off point is Bing, Microsoft's effort at verbal one-upsmanship over Google, Twitter and over generic daily activities. The software giant must alter deeply ingrained computer habits to succeed. In the meantime, my original questions about Bing remain.

The more substantial news this week would be if Microsoft finally inks a search and advertising partnership with Yahoo Inc. It's not easy to overcome deal speculation fatigue -- it's been a year-and-a-half since Microsoft sought to acquire Yahoo outright, and a year since it dropped back to Plan B and sought out a more limited partnership deal. Boomtown reported Friday that Microsoft is down to a few short strokes away from signing.  Henry Blodget makes the point that Microsoft may have to pay up far more than the $1 billion it was offering a year back for such a deal.  Closing a deal now suggests renewed desperation on Microsoft's part after the paltry gain it received from Bing in June market share statistics for U.S. web search.

Time to determine how the media biz is faring

Media companies report their quarterly results during the next few weeks, time that should help us determine the state of advertising. Has it stabilized? Is it growing? Or is spending still trending down?

Google, which kicked off earings yesterday, probably isn’t a great bellwether. After all, it was held up better than almost any other media company during the recession. Still, the largest U.S. Internet search engine hasn’t been completely immune. Revenue was up in the second quarter, but only by 3 percent.

Google executives told analysts and investors on a conference call that they believed their business had begun to stabilize, but were unwilling to predict when a broader economic recovery would prevail.

Yahoo and Google spice up ad offerings

The battle to build the best Internet search engine gets plenty of press.

But with the economy in the doldrums, the Internet giants are also engaged in a heated race to improve their advertising offerings.

Yahoo and Google, the top two search sites in the US, are rolling out new features and services designed to grab a bigger slice of the advertising dollars that businesses spend to hawk their wares.

On Monday, Yahoo unveiled a self-serve display advertising service which allows companies to create their own online ads.

So long analog TV; it was great knowing you

Isn’t today the big big day for the transition to digital television? You can be forgiven for forgetting — in fact that’s just how the Obama administration wants it.

Ill-prepared back in February, when the U.S. was supposed to go all-digital all the time, the government decided to push back the switchover date by four months. Experts tell the Los Angeles Times that the delay should help avoid major problems, although about 2.8 million people could be left out in the cold when they try to turn on the tube.

The smart folks over at RPA, the advertising agency based in Los Angeles, put together of list of the markets that are best prepared — and those that aren’t. It cited data from The Nielsen Co, which has been studying preparations for the transition.

Yahoo: stick around, we have widgets

Yahoo might not invent the next killer Web product. But the company wants surfers to be able to use  online applications, or “widgets,” without leaving the Yahoo kingdom.

In a blog post on Friday, Yahoo introduced a variety of new widgets from third-party Web developers that can be fused directly into Yahoo products.

The average person in the United States visits 85 sites a month, said Tapan Bhat, Yahoo’s senior vice president of integrated consumer experience in a blog post. “That just sounds exhausting. So we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we can ease the pain of site-hopping to help you do more things at once,” he wrote.

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.