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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Google, Yahoo, Apple: Three Inflection Points

The technology world has seen three important developments last week, writes Robert X.Cringley. Excerpts with edits and commens from a very insightful article:
An inflection point seems to have been reached in the personal computer, video game, and electronic entertainment businesses and these business will never be the same involving Apple,Google,Microsft & Yahoo.
- Microsoft : Bill Gates recent remarks are clear - that xBox 360 will perform many functions that currently require a home computer. xBox 360 shall play video games, besides music and movies, surf the web and probably even offer a non-PC platform for voice-over-IP. The message that Microsoft is sending to Dell, HP, Gateway, and others is clear. Bob thinks that a Microsoft PC is about to get rolled out putting it in direct competition with its own customers.
- Google : WPA of starband satellite broadband used to fetch any web page over the geosynchronous satellite connection by anticipating the user's next page request and delivering that in advance in a compressed form. For every satellite broadband service user, there is a proxy session at the satellite downlink location utilizing more computing power than the user probably has on the desktop being served. Google wants to offer this to all internet users. With efficient caching to provide this service, Google needs more power than Google's present 200,000+ servers offer. Talks of Google trying to buy dark fiber makes sense here – as they are definitely needed. The technology required is so breathtaking and audacious that even a Microsoft or IBM wouldn't dare to try it and certainly Yahoo won't. This co-opts every ISP and web page owner. The Google Web Accelerator effectively turns every user into a thin client. If Google adds power to its part of the Accelerator, user’s don't have to add power at their end, meaning the old PC can last longer. At some point, Google might even offer its own hardware device, optimized for the Accelerator. At that point, one will buy PC from Google, use Google as the ISP, surf an Internet that is really the Google cache, be fed ads and sold content from Google servers. Its a GoogleWorld that requires no AOL, no Microsoft, no Intel, no HP or Dell - only Google, cable companies, telephone companies, users, and of course advertisers and web page producers.
- Yahoo : It is finally becoming clear just how it is about to remake the music and movie businesses. Yahoo with $6.99/month music subscription service is trying to do three things at once.
- It is trying to kill the iTunes pay-per-title pricing model, replacing it with the subscription model that has emerged as preferred by the record companies.
- The second thing Yahoo is trying to do is to take out Rhapsody and Napster.
- Finally, Yahoo is trying to position itself as the premier media company for the 21st century. If it works for music, movies, TV, and video games will follow and Yahoo will have turned its huge user base into a retail channel.

- Apple: A Slashdot poster said that Apple would be fudging somewhat its definition of High Definition video to save bandwidth and required processing power, starting instead of 720p-24 with half-HD and anamorphic 720-by 486. Someone from Apple camp commented that adding video capabilities to iTunes was a trivial thing and incredibly easy. Apple may do a video equivalent of its AirPort Express WiFi repeater that has audio output to link iTunes to the stereo system. This AirPort extension is the last piece needed for Apple's video service and answers a lot of questions. The Mini becomes a storage and downloading device and H.264 decoding is handled in the AirPort gizmo using one of the H.264 hardware decoder chips coming on the market for around $20. So in Bob Cringley’s view, - Apple takes over video and movies while Yahoo threatens with a low-priced music subscription service and Google threatens to take control of, well, everything. The oinly missing piece here is what would be the outcome of the competition between these three - Google, Yahoo and Apple - particularly between Yahoo and Apple. There are predictions like the one we covered talking about Yahoo's new business model for competing with Apple to capture the music entertainment industry. May be it is also trivial to cover videos as well with powerful compression technology .Do not miss cringley's original article available here.

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