Friday

Friday 28/02/2003It would make a dull video game. Your hero struggles against enormous odds to establish himself in the jungle, overcoming setbacks and initial disaster to refine his tactics, hone his skills and finally make it to the end in a shower of praise -- or alternatively you just press the button marked "Buy Your Way Out Of Trouble" and a bottomless bank account appears as if by magic and flattens the opposition.

Friday 28/02/2003
It would make a dull video game. Your hero struggles against enormous odds to establish himself in the jungle, overcoming setbacks and initial disaster to refine his tactics, hone his skills and finally make it to the end in a shower of praise -- or alternatively you just press the button marked "Buy Your Way Out Of Trouble" and a bottomless bank account appears as if by magic and flattens the opposition. That's not quite what would happen if, as rumoured, Microsoft bought Sega, but it would be a good example of how the company gets bored with not doing that well in a target market and promptly sets about buying the market share it needs. You can't complain about monopolies, as the Xbox hasn't got enough market share yet to trigger any investigations, and purchasing companies is a perfectly valid way to expand your interest in new areas. But you can point to the way other major Microsoft purchases in the past have effectively stifled innovation: the purchased companies dissolve into the Microsoft amoeba and the teams which did the good stuff break up, while the opposition is scared into silence. There are reasons why this might not happen this time, and Sega is only on the market because it's already lost most of its oomph. But a bit of the old excitement will fade if the hedgehog has to hibernate in Seattle. Addendum: many thanks to DJ for http://www.danacountryman.com/coolandstrange/comp.html -- as he says, "How To Make A Tape Recorder" is particularly fine, but lovers of eccentric music will find much to gladden the heart here. To read more of Rupert's diaries, click here.

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