OK, so we all had a chuckle at Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s quip that the software giant’s $42.3-billion US bid for Yahoo Inc. seemed like it was worth 31 bucks a share. That was after a small show of hands, at a recent tech conference, went up from Yahoo search engine users. There were more hands for Microsoft’s Live search but it was clear that the majority of folks, even die-hard Windows fans, prefer Google. Meanwhile, Google’s shares were still on the rise. You might think that even combined, Yahoo and Live can slow Google down. I think not. Playing catch-up today with hot ideas like the Google and YouTube concept is tough, even if you have deep pockets like Microsoft. The company was slow to take the Internet seriously at first, and is still paying the price. Microsoft shareholders may wonder why their hard-earned money still goes into so many wanabe catch-up efforts. There are some exceptions. A Microsoft product manager at the recent CES show in Vegas characterized his employer as a “dot 2.0” company. For example, take Microsoft’s second generation Zune player, available in Canada soon. Like the successful Xbox, it’s not a “me-too” device , but smartly designed and in tune with the social networking crowd. If Microsoft concentrated earlier, on offering its traditional money-making software business online, instead of trying to re-invent every wheel, and cut its huge marketing budget in half (you don’t need to flog smart product…it sells itself) it would be better off today.
IS THAT MORE MUSCLE IN YOUR POCKET?
Intel’s record first-quarter revenue of $9.7 billion and 25 cent share earning last week re-iterates the point that if you innovate and stick to your “CORE” product, you will do well. Much of the chip-maker’s success is in the efficient and powerful Core chip architecture (you knew that was going somewhere when Apple adopted it for its computers). They can thank their Israeli propeller research heads for that run. But Intel is learning fast. Unlike its pre-Core “build them big at any cost” mentality, the chip-maker is also focusing on making affordable computer chips and adding more processing power for the mobile crowd. At its recent IDF conference in Shanghai China, Intel unveiled Second-Generation Intel-Powered Classmate PC — ‘Netbook’ for Worldwide Education Markets and the new mobile Intel Centrino Atom Processor Technology. Check it out at www.intel.com/pressroom/kits/events/idfspr_2008/index.htm