Skype threatens instant messaging providers TWX, YHOO, MSFT

Instant messenging and voice-over-IP are converging. AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft and Apple already offer voice-chat capabilities for their instant messengers. But that means that the instant messaging providers face an aggressive new competitor: Skype. Here's a report that Skype just displaced AOL in a major instant messaging deal:

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January 21, 2005 in ticker: MSFT, ticker: TWX, ticker: YHOO | Comments (1)

Firefox adoption rockets in January; good or bad for Google and Yahoo?

Analytics firm WebSideStory reported (story via CRN) that as of January 14th, Firefox has 5% of the Web brower market, a full 1 percentage point higher than in early December. Firefox's adoption rate in the U.S. almost tripled during the last month, and as a result Microsoft's share is now on the cusp of falling through the 90% mark.

Now, it's obvious that the spread of Firefox is negative for Microsoft. But what about Google and Yahoo!? Here's are some points to consider:

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January 20, 2005 in ticker: GOOG, ticker: MSFT, ticker: YHOO | Comments (3)

Yahoo to acquire Six Apart?

Six Apart, the owner of hosted blogging service TypePad and publisher of blogging software Movable Type, just acquired LiveJournal. Within six months Six Apart itself will be acquired by Yahoo!.

Here's why.

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January 17, 2005 in Sector Themes, ticker: GOOG, ticker: MSFT, ticker: YHOO | Comments (16)

Keynote says YHOO and MSN search experience catching up with GOOG. Yawn.

Here's the Keynote press release. Though widely publicized, there seems to be absolutely no incremental news in it. Yahoo! and MSN getting better, Google still has best customer experience, local search still rudimentary... yawn. If you find something that I missed, leave a comment.

With research like this, maybe Keynote should get into the sell-side research business. In fact, it could buy IRG from  :-)

January 13, 2005 in ticker: GOOG, ticker: KEYN, ticker: MSFT, ticker: YHOO | Comments (0)

Business Week article on desktop search underestimates risk to GOOG, YHOO and ASKJ

Following Yahoo!'s release of its desktop search earlier this week, Business Week now asks: Can Desktop Search Find Profits? It's answer: desktop search is a step on the road to the holy grail of search, namely universal search. (Search everything from one place.) But in the short run, there's no money it.


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January 12, 2005 in ticker: ASKJ, ticker: GOOG, ticker: MSFT, ticker: YHOO | Comments (1)

IE security bugs bad for Microsoft, but potentially bad for Google as well

Danish security firm Secunia recently made a widely publicized announcement of a security vulnerability in Internet Explorer which it classified as "Extremely Critical". Secunia suggested changes to IE's settings and a series of patches to download, but still views these as only a "partial fix". Microsoft followed by admitting that the vulnerabilities were "critical", and releasing patches in its monthly security update. However, two other solutions are available:

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January 12, 2005 in ticker: GOOG, ticker: MSFT | Comments (0)

Technology Review highlights fragility of Google's competitive position

The January 2005 edition of the Technology Review contains a detailed article by Charles Ferguson called What's Next For Google? Ferguson argues that Google's competitive position is tenuous. In his words:

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January 7, 2005 in Sub-sector: Search, ticker: GOOG, ticker: MSFT, ticker: YHOO | Comments (1)

Briefs updates on search, with implications

- Robin Good estimates that non-Microsoft browsers now have 30% share of the browser market  (Firefox has 20%), and that by the end of '05 Internet Explorer will no longer be the browser of choice for the majority of Internet users.

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January 3, 2005 in ticker: ASKJ, ticker: FWHT, ticker: GOOG, ticker: LOOK, ticker: MAMA, ticker: MSFT, ticker: YHOO | Comments (2)

Five Internet danger signs to watch for in 2005

The next few weeks will likely see a flurry of predictions for 2005, to the point where you'll be sick of reading them. So instead, I'm providing something which I hope will be more useful for investors in Internet stocks and managers of Internet companies: a checklist of danger signals for Internet investors to look out for next year. For each danger signal, I've specified which stocks will subsequently be at risk:

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December 30, 2004 in Sector Themes, Sub-sector: Content, Sub-sector: E-finance, Sub-sector: E-tailing, Sub-sector: Search, ticker: AMZN, ticker: ASKJ, ticker: BFLY, ticker: CNET, ticker: CTRP, ticker: EBAY, ticker: GOOG, ticker: HOLL, ticker: IACI, ticker: MSFT, ticker: NFLX, ticker: NILE, ticker: OSTK, ticker: PCLN, ticker: RATE, ticker: SHOP, ticker: TSCM, ticker: TZOO, ticker: YHOO | Comments (5)

Firefox downloads good for Google

Newsfactor reports that the free Firefox 1.0 browser has been downloaded over 13 million times since its release in November. That's good for Google, since Firefox has Google as the default search service in a highly usable embedded window in the browser.

I've already argued that Google needs to establish itself in client software before Microsoft embeds MSN search more effectively in Internet Explorer. Investors probably underestimate the risk to Google's search advertising business.

December 28, 2004 in ticker: GOOG, ticker: MSFT | Comments (0)

Why thin clients help Internet companies

The Wall Street Journal has a piece this morning about the return of thin client computing, this time in the form of cheap PCs with limited processing power and storage. It argues that thin clients are once again becoming viable due to:

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December 27, 2004 in Sector Themes, ticker: MSFT | Comments (0)

Web email battle heats up as AOL enters

Newsfactor reports that AOL plans to introduce free web email in 2005. According to the story, an AOL spokesperson has confirmed that it has already started "beta testing the new version of AOL Mail on the Web for a select number of members". But the big news is that in 2005 AOL Mail will be offered to non-AOL subscribers too.

AOL follows Google's entry into the web email market. Google's free Gmail offered 1 GB of storage space and better search and control than previous offerings, leading to some interesting new uses for web email accounts. That in turn prompted Yahoo! and MSN to upgrade their web email services.

Why the rush into web email? Web email is an extremely sticky application (people are resistant to moving email addresses), and Web email offers advertising opportunities. The value of that advertising real estate is rising, particularly since Google started to place contextually relevant ads next to email messages and the auction price of pay-per-click (PPC) ads is rising.

All this means that competition among the Web email providers is heating up. Yahoo! and MSN, the leaders by number of Web email accounts, will likely not lose current subscribers. But the battle for new accounts will be fierce, and will impact the growth of those businesses. So this is a negative development at the margin for GOOG and YHOO.

December 23, 2004 in ticker: GOOG, ticker: MSFT, ticker: TWX, ticker: YHOO | Comments (0)