Lacey's Paper Round

The AOL merger, IBM's Madison project and the question 'when will the other Bill talk about the MS trial?'. It's all in this week's Paper Round.
Written by Eugene Lacey, Contributor

There is only one story this week - the AOL/Netscape deal and its implications. The heavyweights get their teeth into this one with The Economist and Business Week both featuring it on the front page.

Less widely reported, but still a significant development for the Web, was the launch of a Procter and Gamble Web site that will sell direct to the consumer. All this plus virtual courts and pop stars with their own Web-based record labels. Did I miss something? If you see an interesting article in print about computing or the Net send it to me, Eugene Lacey, at ZDNet. I will send you an exclusive, limited edition, ZDNet pen for all contributions published.

AOL/Netscape merger is no grounds to throw at the DoJ case -- The Economist

Microsoft's chief lawyer Willliam Neukom was quick to ask for the DoJ case to be thrown out when news broke of the Netcsapce AOL deal. The Economist is not persuaded by this argument. "If anything, indeed, Netscape's desire to do a deal with AOL simply confirms how ruthlessly successful was Microsoft's strategy to eliminate it as a competitor. Deprived of income from browsers by Microsoft's policy of giving away its rival Internet Explorer and then making it inseparable from the Windows operating system, Netscape has had to create alternative revenue streams." The Economist, November 28, 1998.

Sun needs to loosen its grip on Java -- Business Week

Business Week reports on the new boost to Java provided by the AOL/Netscape/Sun axis. "McNealy now has a chance to play a pivotal role in he development of the entire industry...But first, he needs to lose the isolationism and try a little diplomacy...Sun insists on total control over Java yet is slow to develop crucial technologies to make it a broad alternative to Windows. For instance, while Sun is now part of the International Standards Organisation's industry standards-setting-process, it still insists that licensees hew to its own definition of Java and cede any improvements to Sun itself." Business Week, December 7, 1998.

Hewlett Packard should sell "smaller instruments division" -- Financial Times

In a rare piece of highly specific business advice, the FT's Lex Column suggests that HP should sell its smaller devices division... "HP is in too many competitive markets. It has long been suffering in servers and its smaller instruments division - which should be sold. In PCs and printers, low-cost rivals like Compaq and Dell are changing the business model. And HP needs to beef up its Internet presence." Financial Times, Lex Column, November 27, 1998.

Virtual courts will settle petty online disputes -- Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph's Connected supplement reports on a new European initiative to create an online court system to deal with "minor virtual world disputes". Amongst other things, the virtual courts will provide a speedy online framework to stop the illegal use of spam. "The 'virtual' courts are part of an EU package to encourage cross-border e-commerce. A commission survey found that the expense of studying the different advertising, copyright and contract rules of each country was putting businesses off going online." The Daily Telegraph, Connected, November 26, 1998.

How long can Clinton and Gore stay out of Microsoft Vs DoJ case - Wall Street Journal

The WSJ asks the question how long can Clinton and Gore remain silent on the Microsoft Vs D0J case? "To date, neither Mr. Clinton no Mr. Gore have said a word on the subject....That suits Mr. Gore's political interests just fine. Any position he or the president takes on the Microsoft debate will cause Mr Gore problems. At a time when he is trying to coax support and money from a sceptical business community, he can ill afford to be seen seeking the breakup of the nation's most successful corporation." Wall Street Journal, November 23, 1998.

Procter and Gamble launches site to sell perfume -- Wall Street Journal

Procter and Gamble has launched a Web site to sell Hugo Boss unisex fragrances directly to customers. "Consumers who click on a Web ad can buy products for direct delivery to their home... P&G is reaching out to cyberspace shoppers to sell perfume and cologne directly, despite recent public promises not to sell its more typical products such as soaps and diapers directly to consumers over the World Wide Web." Wall Street Journal, November 26, 1998.

Stars can become "individual record labels" -- Financial Times

The FT's Lex Column is positive about IBM and the music industry's Madison Project. "If the Madison Project takes off, its main victims will be retail chains like HMV, Virgin and Tower Records... In the longer term, there is no reason why successful artists, in their turn, should not use the Internet to bypass the music industry...stars could in effect become individual record labels." Financial Times, Lex Column, November 26, 1998.

Don't forget Wednesday's look at the Madison project, MP3 and how the music industry is bracing itself for tough times.

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