Tuesday, October 24, 2006

It's All About "Better"

Google's "PayPal killer" buying system, Microsoft's "iPod killer" and Parallels "Boot Camp Killer"

Google is releasing a payments and certification service named GBuy on June 28. Merchants enrolled in the program would receive free payment processing during the beta period after that they will be charged between 1.5% to 2%. In addition, each merchant who drinks the multi-colored KoolAid will be designated by Google (on the search results) as a "trusted GBuy merchant." I'm sure the thought here is that if the average joe search user sees this - they will be more likely to click on the link - and perhaps even buy from that merchant. Although not explicitly stated - don't you think that GBuy-certified merchants will appear higher in the rankings? Nah! After all, Google's motto is "don't be evil"...

Once Google has this setup, and has a boatload of merchants - do you honestly think they won't go after consumer-to-consumer payments? If I were PayPal, I'd start to grease up...

Microsoft's vaporware PR machine has been blowing steam about a new music store and handheld device that will rival Apple's iPod/iTunes combo. Of course the "announcement" was very vague, with no specific features listed, no prices, no timeframe for launch... but hey, those are just annoying minor details. I don't know where Microsoft comes up with all their brilliant ideas. An online music store? A handheld MP3 player that will play the songs you buy and download from an online music store? REVOLUTIONARY!

It's just another lame-ass attempt at the MIcrosoft mantra: "Embrace and extend" - which translated another way is: "Rip off and make proprietary". It's something they're very, very good at. Here's just a few examples:

  • Windows (based on Mac OS)
  • SQL Server (originally licensed from Sybase)
  • Excel (based on VisiCalc)
  • Word (based on WordPerfect)
  • Mobile OS (based on Palm Pilot)
  • Internet Explorer (based on Netscape)
  • X-Box (based on Sony PSP)
  • Visual Basic (based on Basic)
  • C# (based on Java)
  • Vista "eye candy" (based on Mac OS)
  • Vista desktop search (based on Mac OS/Google)
  • MSN advertiser-sponsored search (based on Google)
  • Windows Media Player (based on RealPlayer)

Ummmmm... you get the idea. I think they'll do what they did with the X-Box, and eat most of the cost and offer it for a really reduced price to gain market share. Hey, why not? They've got over $34 billion in cash just sitting around...

Finally, there is one of my new favorite companies - Parallels, Inc. and their virtualization software by the same name. Is it a Boot Camp killer? Yes. Boot Camp is beta software from Apple that lets you set the boot OS (Mac OS or Windows). Once you've booted up in that OS, you have to effectively shut down that OS to start the other one. Yeah, I know it's lame! With Parallels, you can have your Mac OS AND run Windows (see my previous column) at the same time. This is the promise of "Virtual PC" - fulfilled! There are some rumors that the next version of Mac OS (Leopard - due later this year) MIGHT contain that same functionality... but Apple is being mute about features in Leopard until their World Wide Developers Conference in August (the opposite strategy of Microsoft!).

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