Bonum Certa Men Certa

Who's Bugging Google and Apple? (Updatedx2)

"Our friends up north spend over five billion dollars on research and development and all they seem to do is copy Google and Apple."

--Steve Jobs, 2006



GROKLAW HAS just presented two harassment-by-proxy candidates. The victims are too familiar (no, it's not about Linux and SCO this time around). It's particularly curious because Google and Apple may have already been sued via Microsoft proxies [1, 2, 3], of which they are several that are very relevant to this Web site.



All that a so-called 'proxy' requires is a common/mutual business interest, incentive, or inter-personal relationship. Companies are, after all, just sets of people. They are nor insular robots, so to speak.

It the case of Google, Microsoft's role was more transparent to see than in Apple's. One of the goals here is for Microsoft and its supporters to be able to say that Apple and Google are "just as evil as Microsoft," which therefore provides defensive 'ammunition'. Both stories are being covered extensively in the media at the moment, so let's take a quick look.



Apple



About a month ago, Bloomberg foolishly posted an obituary of Steve Jobs, having already had the chance to learn from unsubstantiated and very damaging rumours circulating about pancreatic cancer. Apple's rebirth under Jobs' wing [1, 2] makes his presence there considerably significant. Some people seem to be taking advantage if this.

A day or so ago, not only have more rumours been spread about Jobs' health; there were false claims of a heart attack too. The SEC, having said very recently that it would take spreading of erroneous rumours seriously by regulating the Internet press (Heh! Good luck with that), is already looking into this latest incident, from which short-sellers could reap a fortune.

SEC Examining False Report on Apple Chief Job



[...]

Concern about Jobs's health weighed on the shares this year, contributing to a 51 percent drop. The stock swing caused by today's erroneous report drew renewed calls for Apple, which has said only that Jobs's health is a ``private matter,'' to be more forthcoming, said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean at Yale University's School of Management.


Decentralisation of the media has opened the door to a surrogate of pump-n-dump schemes, whereby disinformation is using used to over- or under-evaluate a stock, at least temporarily. However, there may be more to this story, opines PJ from Groklaw. She wrote: "Just an off the wall suggestion: look into how Psystar folks are paying their lawyers to harass Apple? No? Too simple? I only raise it because Jobs has said that Apple is being shorted; and if that's true, any negative news would be useful to anyone wanting the stock to go down, I would assume, and any litigation is negative news."

“The lawsuit above, while probably justified for Apple's ruthless control 'freakiness' with hardware, DRM, NDAs and so forth, does raise a lot of questions.”Whether you are an Apple supporter or not, false predictions of a person's death are nasty, if not outright illegal in this particular sort of circumstances. The lawsuit above, while probably justified for Apple's ruthless control 'freakiness' with hardware, DRM, NDAs and so forth, does raise a lot of questions.

Psystar seems to have begged for trouble, but more importantly, where does this company of almost-teenage boys find the money for litigation? Shades of SCO and those cash infusions truly return [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]; Groklaw now reports that Norris filed something in Florida, stating that he was inactive in 2007. Things just don't add up as more contradictions are being found and assembled.

Going back to Apple, Roughly Drafted recently wrote about the smear campaigns against this rapidly-rising Microsoft competitor.

An author who has devoted his career to deriding Steve Jobs’ Apple as being “irredeemably evil” and portraying its users as a “cult” has scribbled up a new missive for Wired that attempts to hijack the company’s upcoming iPod event and replace any discussion of new technology with a tasteless personal attack of the company’s CEO.


The same site also wrote about a particular "Apple scandal" some time ago. This relates to Microsoft's control of the media, and especially in its relation to Apple.

MediaNews did buy the Mercury News with a loan from Bill Gates' foundation, and is in the process of paying back that loan by publishing information without much journalistic or technical integrity.

Specifically, I wrote “One might think that the San Jose Mercury News, being located in Apple's backyard, would tend to trumpet the company's success. One would be wrong... Apple's corporate proximity to San Jose is trumped by the Mercury News’ need to publish low cost, highly sensational news to make enough money to pay back Bill Gates for the favor of his humanitarian loan.”


Google



As reiterated before, Microsoft's fight against Google is a lot more visible. There are some other possible proxy fights against Google and Yahoo that we mentioned in the past and even alluded to just days ago. IBM may be another good example, but it just happens to be less relevant to this one post which grows longer than it ought to be.

Anyway, here is a new report confirming that Microsoft has delayed the Google/Yahoo deal just as it previously did with DoubleClick. The company is obsessed with every small move that Google is making and this feeling is not reciprocal.

Google and Yahoo have agreed to a “brief” delay in the planned start of their search advertising partnership to give the Justice Department additional time to investigate the antitrust implications of the deal, the companies said Friday.

“The companies have agreed to a brief delay in implementing this agreement to continue our ongoing discussions with the Department of Justice,” Yahoo said in a statement. “We have had discussions with regulators and look forward to responding to their questions about this agreement.”


The Justice Department, as we showed before, is influenced a great deal by Microsoft, especially after possible 'stacking' in the late 90s. Now, watch the reasoning behind this very latest decision:

"Recognizing the nascent and fast-changing nature of this marketplace, we encourage the department to continue to monitor the state of competition in this industry, whatever the outcome of its current investigation," Kohl wrote in his letter. "If, over time, you determine that Google is gaining a dominant market position as a result of the Google-Yahoo agreement, then we would encourage the Justice Department to intervene to protect competition. Even should you conclude at present that this deal is not contrary to antitrust law, the department must be sure that this deal never in the future crosses the line into an unacceptable, anti-competitive collaboration among competitors which will harm consumers and advertisers."


In Groklaw, PJ writes: "Never in the future? What is the guy asking for, permanent government oversight of two private companies just in case someday the deal might not work out even though it isn't an antitrust problem currently? This is an extraordinary request. Is that how capitalism works normally? Anyone know who donates money to this individual? Man, Microsoft sure is a sore loser."

The main question to ask though is not necessarily who pays this man; it's also a matter of influence. Microsoft, for example, is repeating dirty tricks from one decade ago as it hires AstroTurfers to pressure politicians. It's using that against Google

Add this utterly appalling factor to Microsoft's political muscle and remember how US politics are run.

“Did you know that there are more than 34,750 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C., for just 435 representatives and 100 senators? That's 64 lobbyists for each congressperson.”

--CIO.com



Let's find out about Hherb Kohl's history when it comes to Microsoft. Since he is the one pushing to intercept Yahoo/Google cooperation, it's worth stressing that he also handled the Microsoft antitrust case many years ago. He even wrote this letter.

As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Business Rights, and Competition of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, I have studied the proposed settlement of the government's antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft very closely, and I write to express my concern about whether the settlement is in fact "in the public interest." 15 U.S.C. ۤ 16(e). Accordingly, I respectfully ask that you address the issues raised in this letter when you file with the district court your mandatory "response" to these comments. See 15 U.S.C. ۤ 16(d).

[...]

HERB KOHL


Here is another old article: Microsoft order leaves Kohl with `misgivings

Sen. Herb Kohl said Friday that he had "misgivings" about the ordered breakup of Microsoft Corp., but he said Congress shouldn't intervene.

He also blamed the software giant for failing to settle the case out of court.

"Their lawyer, in my opinion, should have recognized their vulnerabilities and got it settled," said Kohl, who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee.

In that role, Kohl chided Microsoft founder Bill Gates at a highly publicized Senate hearing two years ago


More recently, as it turns out, Kohl also opposed a Yahoo/Microsoft merger, so it might be too early to jump to any reasonable conclusion. Here are some articles that can be easily found:

1. Yahooglesoft Lawyers Speak!

Titled “The Google-Yahoo Agreement and the Future of Internet Advertising,” the hearings were called by the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights and chaired by Sen. Herb Kohl (D., Wis.).


2. Murdoch may team up with Microsoft in bid for Yahoo

In Washington, Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, also warned about the potential anti-competitive implications. "We will be following closely the results of the short-term test alliance between Yahoo and Google," he said in a statement. Kohl had previously raised concerns about a Microsoft-Yahoo combination.


3. Higher antitrust bar for Yahoo-Google than Microsoft

Sen. Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat and chair of a Senate antitrust panel, said he was watching the Google test.

"Should there be moves to make this agreement permanent, we will examine it closely in the antitrust subcommittee to ensure that it does not harm competition," Kohl said in a statement.

Kohl expressed concern about the rapid consolidation of formerly independent players in the Web advertising market.


What to make of it all? We leave it for readers to decide and we shall return to this in the future.

Update (05/10/2008): this report about Steve Ballmer echoing Psystar's accusations may suggest that a Microsoft-Pystar connection is possible. It comes just at the right time, but it could be a coincidence.

Update #2 (05/10/2008): we have just been informed that the writer who caused Apple (APPL) to collapse used to write for a Microsoft-owned site (Slate). Says our source: "The author in question used to write for Slate and was heavily involved in stock market inflation in the tech bubble."

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