Cisco Systems has always been a highly aggressive acquisition machine, and today's announcement that the company has acquired Jabber makes sense in light of the push toward enterprise collaboration that started with the acquisition of WebEx.
While Cisco made no mention of the fact that Jabber was largely open source, I would assume that's because open source is "accepted" at Cisco. A number of products contain open-source components, and despite some GPL issues in the past, Cisco has contributed to open-source projects.
So, is Cisco the company to consolidate open source, or to just consolidate software in general? I would be willing to wager yes, provided it can generate even slightly more revenue from the assets it acquires.
Typically, Cisco looks for acquisitions that would bring in $300 million or more of revenue and open-source companies are nowhere near that. However, with Cisco's massive brand power and ability to put pretty much anything into a box, they could easily monetize all kinds of open-source projects.
Several of the leading open-source companies fit right into the Cisco business: Hyperic , Funambol and don't forget the world of SOA and system infrastructure, including XML acceleration.
Minus a few product like databases and CRM there are few open-source products that Cisco couldn't make money from. At the moment there isn't much appetite for open-source acquisitions at the obvious places . Maybe Cisco will jump ahead of the traditional software players and consolidate the open-source ecosystem.
J.K. Rowling recently won the right to be even richer when a US federal judge ruled against a Harry Potter fan's right to publish The Harry Potter Lexicon . In so doing, Ms. Rowling demonstrated two things:No matter how "right" it may seem to use someone else's copyrighted works, you can't simply assume that right, and Just because you're copying out of love and devotion doesn't make it right.
I'm sure that the defendant in the Harry Potter decision, Steven Vander Ark, must have felt hard done by to see his paean to Rowling's genius stomped on by her. A wide range of Potter fans seem to share this view . As I'll describe below, this isn't wildly different from open-source "fans" who piggyback on the works of others .
But their misplaced feelings and his intentions are somewhat irrelevant here. He copied liberally from Rowling's work to create "his" lexicon, which is the primary problem, as Groklaw points out :
The fact is, Rowling led the defendant on with praise of his work, there was talk of him being the editor of the official encyclopedia, then changed her mind about having him or anyone as editor and decided to do it herself. Her prior praise of his fan site weighed against her. But she did tell him eventually he had no role, and he went ahead anyway, with some marketing that the judge found misleading. So the question was, is it fair use? It certainly could have been, since a copyright owner can't control transformative derivative works totally, but where the defendant failed was in the how of it, how he went about it.
The impression I get from the Order is that if he'd been less of a fan and copied less and written more of his own words instead, it would have worked out better for him.
Bingo. If we were talking about a phone book , the bar for copyright infringement would have been set higher. Arguably, if applied to software law, which has a range of "facts" about common programming techniques, etc., the bar would also be higher, though not quite as high as a phone book.
There are limits to fandom, in books as well as software. In open-source circles there has been hand-wringing about whether it was OK to piggyback on others' trademarks to provide training for JBoss and other open-source projects . It is, but it's all in how you do it. Yes, it's trademark versus copyright, but the underlying principle is the same:
Intellectual property must be respected, even if your desired infringement is born of love and respect and not a desire to pilfer.
Personally, I think Rowling would be better off encouraging fan fiction and derivatives in the same way that Stephanie Meyer has done with her novels . But that's the author's decision, not the fan's. It's a tough requirement, but ultimately it's necessary to protect control of one's creations.
While Google remained the top Web search engine in the U.S. in June, Microsoft's share rose nearly 3 percent from the previous month as a result of a Microsoft program that offers rewards to people for using the Live Search site.
Microsoft's search share rose from 10.3 percent in May to 13.2 percent in June, according to the latest figures from ComScore , released on Monday. Microsoft's Live Search Club, which awards points to participants that can be redeemed for T-shirts, software and other items, was launched in late May. The company began testing the program earlier in the year, calling it MSN Search and Win .
Apparently, the program is paying off. The number of queries on Microsoft's search site rose 36 percent in June because of Live Search Club, ComScore said.
Microsoft was the only one of the top five search sites to register a month-over-month share gain. Ask.com stayed the same at 5 percent. Google's share dropped 1.2 percent to 49.5 percent, from 50.7 percent. Yahoo's share fell 1.3 percent to 25.1 percent, and Time Warner's AOL was down 0.4 percent.
Most Live Search users get there from another Microsoft service and use other search engines as well. The company's strategy isn't so much to attract new users but to increase the loyalty of existing users, says Brad Goldberg, general manager of Live Search.
Microsoft plans to update its core search engine by the end of the year, improving on image, mobile and local search, as well as relevance and performance, Goldberg says.
Social network MySpace has signed a promotional deal to bring free Wi-Fi to its users...but only in the U.K., and only to access MySpace-owned pages.
It's partnered with The Cloud , a European wireless provider that powers broadband access in establishments like hotels, fast-food joints, and airports. MySpace users will now be able to access the social network, which is owned by News Corp., on The Cloud's paid-subscription hotspots. The access company runs about 7,000 of them in the U.K.
Cool idea. It would've been an interesting extension of credential portability if social-network logins could be used to access Wi-Fi hot spots that would otherwise require subscriptions. But with access limited to MySpace , this deal's usefulness is really limited, along the lines of having Starbucks' free wireless access limited to the iTunes Store.
But it's sort of a nifty promotion for the U.K., where Bebo and now Facebook dominate the social-network scene. The test runs until October, and will be cross-promoted on both The Cloud and MySpace.
AT&T's stock took a hit Tuesday after the company's CEO told investors that a weak economy is hurting the company's landline and broadband business.
Randall Stephenson, AT&T's CEO, said Tuesday during a Citigroup investor conference that the company was forced to cut off some of its broadband and landline customers in the consumer segment in the fourth quarter because they were not able to pay their bills. The news shook investors, and the stock dipped $1.87, or 4.5 percent, to $39.16 per share at the closing bell.
Stephenson was responding to a question posed by an analyst who asked whether the weak economy had affected AT&T's business. And essentially Stephenson, said yes it had.
"We're really experiencing some softness on the consumer side of the house from the economy," Stephenson said, according to a transcript of the event.
While he acknowledged that all consumer services are being affected, Stephenson said that wireless hasn't been affected as much.
"As the economy gets soft, wireless starts to become the last thing" that consumers let go off, he said. "And traditional access lines become one of the first...."
This trend suggests a shift in how people view their cell phones. In the past during financial hard times, people would do all they could to keep their landline phone. But now it appears that people are more dependent on their wireless phones. As a result, they may cut their landline phone at home to save money.
Stephenson's news, which some fear is another sign that the U.S. economy is heading toward a recession, was enough to also hurt some of the other major phone companies too.
Verizon Communications, the second largest phone company after AT&T, fell 2.73 percent to close at $41.75. Qwest Communications International saw its shares dip 5.82 percent to $6.15. And shares in wireless operator Sprint Nextel fell 3.24 percent to $12.53.
There appears to be relief ahead for at least some small Webcasters that balked at a new requirement to pay higher royalty rates to musicians and record labels.
SoundExchange, the nonprofit record industry spin-off charged with collecting the mandatory royalty payments, said in a Tuesday press release 24 "small" Internet radio outfits have signed agreements guaranteeing they will owe through 2010 the same rates they have paid since 1998. Others are in the process of signing on, SoundExchange said. It was not immediately clear which radio stations had already reached agreements.
Under the deal first offered in May , that means Webcasters that earn $1.25 million or less in annual revenues would be required to pay 10 percent of all gross revenue up to $250,000 and 12 percent for all gross revenue above that amount. SoundExchange says those are "below-market" rates.
"It's a sacrifice our members are willing to make at the request of members of Congress and in order to give the smallest Webcasters below-market rates for an additional limited time," John Simson, SoundExchange's executive director, said in a statement.
The announcement arrives a few weeks after SoundExchange and the Digital Media Association, which represents large Webcasters like Pandora, Live365, Yahoo and AOL, said they had reached an agreement on a few thorny aspects of the royalty payments required of those companies. They're still attempting to reach an accord on the level of the royalty rates themselves, which opponents say can raise the costs of large Net radio operators by up to 300 percent and smaller ones by up to 1,200 percent.
The rates established under the agreements outlined Tuesday are essentially the same as those that resulted from a 2002 law called the Small Webcaster Settlement Act.
But some smaller Webcasters remain unimpressed by the royalty collectors' proposal. SoundExchange said some opted not to sign the agreements, which the organization began sending out in late August, because "their business models benefit more from the regular commercial rates." Others didn't sign on because they operate via Webcast "aggregators" who take care of the payments on their behalf, SoundExchange said.
David Oxenford, an attorney for a group of small Webcasters including Accuradio, Radio Paradise, Radioio, Digitally Imported Radio, and 3wk Radio, was quick to say his clients have not reached a deal with SoundExchange and continue to oppose the terms of the agreements in Tuesday's announcement.
"If the only deal that SoundExchange offers to small Webcasters is that which was just signed by the 24...they will do away with the independent Webcaster who is serious about growing a business, but to whom a per-performance royalty creates real issues," he said in an e-mail.
Because of the agreement's dependence on annual revenue levels, he went on, "you'll be left with an industry with essentially hobbyists and big companies that subsidize their Webcasting with other lines of business--essentially crushing the hopes of those who saw the Internet as a way to build an independent radio business."
Microsoft is hosting a day-long meeting with bloggers Wednesday, aiming to get their thoughts on where web development is headed.
The event culminates this evening with a meeting with Bill Gates. Among those that headed to Redmond for the event are Chris Pirillo, Blogger founder Evan Williams and Yahoo's Jeremy Zawodny.
The goal of the gathering, the softies say, is to get ideas and feedback as the company plans for its second Mix conference , which takes place April 30-May 2 in Las Vegas.During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried has changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley. These days, most of her attention is focused on Microsoft. E-mail Ina .