Google Voice

Since I had signed up for a Grand Central account before the company was acquired by Google, I’ve been grandfathered into the beta for the new Google Voice service based on Grand Central.  It’s supposed to provide a unified phone number in the cloud whose behavior you can control.

You set the number to ring at your desk during the day, on your mobile phone while you’re commuting and at your home phone in the evening.  You can set it so only certain incoming calls go through; only family can reach you after 9pm, say.  The idea is to separate the phone number from the device, which takes power away from the phone company and gives it to Google.  I don’t like my phone company much so this is fine with me, but you do have to worry about how much personal information, now phone calls, are flowing through Google.

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Opening up a new front: Yahoo’s independent strategy?

Amidst the continuing Microsoft acquisition saga, Yahoo is making some interesting strategic moves, principally towards more openness and what used to be called the Semantic Web. This is smart, I think, and makes a lot of sense. Will it be valuable? Is their timing right? Not sure; that’s what makes it a business.

They’ve opened up their search engine, via their Open Search Platform initiative and are now extending that to an ‘open search ecosystem‘ that builds on the data web. Details are still emerging, but it looks like Yahoo is going to use lightweight semantics to try to connect data silos, rather than the traditional, now heavyweight, view of the Semantic Web — what the cool kids now call Web 3G.

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A Yahoo smaller

The MS-YHOO deal is keeping the merger arb guys up at night.

Michael Arrington notes that the Yahoo acquisition is getting very expensive, in terms of Microsoft’s market cap; Microsoft has “lost nearly $40 billion in market cap in the eight trading days since they made their offer.” In other words, “Microsoft has shrunk by a Yahoo in the last eight days.”

Henry Blodget has a must-read piece on the logic of the deal; he argues that Microsoft is confusing the ad-driven consumer business with the license-driven corporate business. This makes sense to me; Microsoft needs to defend the Office franchise in the corporate environment, where even Google is getting license revenue ($50/user/year for Google Apps) in lieu of advertising. Enterprises aren’t going to use ad-supported free software, at least not in any future I can see. So why should Microsoft take on the pain that is Yahoo for the consumer side? Blodget writes, “Put differently, the part of Google that threatens Microsoft’s core Windows and Office business is Google Apps, not Google Search.”