A ghoulish week for Amazon while Leaping Larry throws a fit

Summary:Does making money matter? You bet your bippy! Just ask Jeff Bezos -- or the charming chairman of Oracle.

With typical overstatement, Microsoft is billing Asheron's Call as its answer to Ultima Online. Beyond the hype, however, this online role-playing game could actually double the number of people that get on to the MSN Gaming Zone at any one time (now an estimated 40,000.) Big money in a still undeveloped market. …

Neil Young's Bridge School benefit concert will be broadcast over the Web for the first time, raising money to educate children with severe speech and physical impairments. One in a growing series of Webcasts, this one has interesting implications for the future of concerts, if not the larger music industry. …

Every locality with a cable company is going to closely watch what happens in Portland, Ore., where an appeals court will hear arguments in the endless Internet access debate. AT&T is appealing an earlier decision that awarded Portland the right to require companies to open their pipes to Internet rivals. …

On Sunday, the government's Y2K bunker becomes operational. Of course, if Uncle Sam is forced into another shutdown, all bets are off. …

The last time ICANN -- the nonprofit manager for the Internet's domain name addressing system -- convened in Santiago, Chile, the venue was too remote for the nut jobs to show up and shout. This time it will be in Los Angeles -- already over the limit on that count -- so Esther Dyson might want to keep a can of pepper spray at the ready. …

Another week came and went without a finding of fact from the Hanging Judge in the Microsoft antitrust trial who was out trick or treating on Friday.

The week that was
Money talks and lots of money shouts. So it is that we have the spectacle of Larry Ellison having a public spit fit because he can't get his way with the city of San Jose. Leaping Larry is bent out of shape because local airport regulations prohibit him from landing his Gulfstream G-5 between 11:30 p.m and 6:30 a.m. Now he's being quoted as saying he's willing to sue to overturn the law. And I used to think Bill Gates was the industry's premier prima donna.

Bludgeoned by Blodget? Henry Blodget, the sharp as a tack Internet analyst at Merrill Lynch cut his rating on Amazon.com after the company again dashed investors' hopes that it might turn a profit some day soon. The rest of the penguins followed his lead as the market predictably overreacted to the news. But read Blodget carefully: Once management caps expenses by stopping investments in new businesses, he believes the red ink will turn black. Absolutely right: USA Today didn't make money for its first five years. It's still a land grab on the Internet and Amazon's long-term strategy remains the right one.

Beyond cranking bigger volumes of faster, smaller processors, Intel's quietly turning into the premier "dotcom" company in the valley. Chips are chips but the latest initiatives -- server farms, set-top boxes, data routing architecture -- indicate management's doing something quite sophisticated to secure the company's future.

Oracle, which was a couple of years early with the NC, may be onto something this time around. What with the emergence of Linux and more computer makers ready to butt heads with Microsoft -- no doubt emboldened by the Justice Department's pursuit of Bill Gates -- the day is near when the idea of Window-less computing devices for the Net has a realistic shot at become a reality.

The White House says it's holding out for a better deal that has global jurisdiction and thus won't sign a cybersquatting bill when it's sent over from Capitol Hill. Cyber advocacy groups are with the administration on this one, suggesting that big corporations will receive preferential treatment to average Joe Shmoes. But I think the Clintonites are making the wrong decision. The blunderbus registration of URLs is a scam which abuses the First Amendment for private profit. The better move is to take what's offered by Congress now and work on an international accord later.

Anyone notice the continuing exodus from Microsoft? The latest execs to cut the cord include Brad Silverberg, the one-time right-hand man to His Billness and the Redmondian most responsible for bringing Windows 95 as well as Internet Explorer to market. Also, MSN marketing czar Rob Bennett decided to look for greener pastures elsewhere. Who's going to be next?

Encyclopedia Britannica's tardy entry into cyberspace won't go down in the company's annals as one of its more glorious moments. The for free site's been down since it launched -- a prodigious feat that corporate spinmeisters immediately sought to turn to their advantage. "We were expecting millions of hits," said a senior veep. "We weren't expecting tens of millions of hits."

AMD cuts Athlon prices by up to 18 percent
Intel developing new integrated chip
Supermodels return in new live Webcast
Dell jumps to No. 1 in Q3
Brittanica.com: Take two
House passes cybersquatting bill
Ellison: Linux-powered Net PC coming
Open Source: Who are these guys?
Report: Online biz growing at 68 percent clip
Amazon slips on earnings report

Topics: Amazon, AT&T, Dell, Government, Hardware, Intel, Legal, Linux, Microsoft, Oracle

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