For the FT’s New Technology Policy Forum, University of Chicago professor Richard Epstein considers the European Commission’s recent fining of Intel for anticompetitive behaviour:
On May 13, 2009, the European Commission fined Intel just over €1bn for its supposed abuse of its dominant market position in violation of Article 82 of the EC Treaty. That decision marks yet another effort by commissioner Neelie Kroes to ratchet up the enforcement of EC competition policy, all in the name of preventing consumer harm. Yet the devil lies in this one detail. The aggrieved “consumer” of Intel is its long-time junior rival, AMD, which filed three separate complaints against Intel between 2000 and 2006.
Microsoft is taking aim at Google’s core business with Bing, its new search engine.
Initial reviews around the web are positive. CNET said, “in search presentation, Bing wins.” Geekword said it was not just renamed Live Search, but rather “a significant upgrade that contains new features and a new interface and is considered as a decision engine.” But Search Engine Land made it clear that, “no, Bing is not a ‘Google Killer.’”
FT reporter Joe Menn attended Bing’s unveiling at the D7 conference, and filed this report:
Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer gave an impressive demonstration of the company’s improved search engine, rebranded as “Bing,” at a technology conference in Carlsbad California.
The FT’s editorial board argues that social networks are a challenge to undemocratic societies:
Web 2.0 – user-created content – has created further outlets for subversion, by making it easier to argue online and organise web-based movements. In many countries, political discourse, seared offline, is sprouting on the internet.
From the FT’s Comment page, Irwin Stelzer, director of economic policy studies at the Hudson Institute, says the US is finally catching up to the EU and getting tough on high-tech anti-competitive behaviour:
For once, America is running at top speed to catch up with the European Union. In levying a record fine against Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, the EU competition authorities have let it be known that a dominant company’s efforts to crush rivals by threatening customers or rigging a price schedule will not be tolerated.
Joseph Menn, San Francisco-based technology correspondent, reports from AllThingsD, the annual tech conference put on by News Corp in Carlsbad, California:
Yahoo’s Carol Bartz, who took over as CEO in January, impressed a tough crowd, getting more sustained applause after her onstage interview than the two young men who run yesterday’s New New Thing, Twitter.
Bartz came across as sensible and plain spoken, the logical sort of manager to straighten out an inherited organisation chart that appeared made of spaghetti. Read more
New York media correspondent Kenneth Li reports:
Not all subscribers are born equal.
Imagine my surprise when I, a faithful subscriber to The New Yorker on Amazon’s Kindle, was denied full access to the NewYorker.com.
That’s what happened yesterday after I tried to pull up a copy of the much-discussed Carlos Slim profile in the latest edition of The New Yorker from its website, but was denied access. It is restricted to print subscribers.
Like other periodicals eyeing a bleak print advertising future, The New Yorker has begun restricting full website access to those who pay for the print copy or pay specifically for the right to access the site. Read more
Today’s $200m investment in Facebook by Digital Sky Technologies values the companies preferred stock at $10bn. That’s just two-thirds of what Microsoft valued Facebook at in late 2007, when it invested $240m. The FT’s Lex column examines the difficulty inherant in valuing a private company:
Privacy is a wonderful thing. With a straight face one can say that a company is worth several billion dollars having not produced a single fact to back it up. Similarly the debate about Facebook’s valuation is somewhat futile. There are simply not enough numbers to construct a meaningful picture of the social network’s finances.
New York media correspondent Kenneth Li reports:
So persuasive a deal maker was Joanna Shields, who talked Time Warner’s AOL into paying close to $1bn to buy out the UK-based social network, AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher once joked that Ms Shields could sell Obama’s stimulus package to the Republicans.
But the astronomical figure for a web property perceived to be hot among British teenagers, although lagging behind Facebook and MySpace in the US drew enough criticism internally that even Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner chief executive, admitted last year it may have overpaid. Read more
John Gapper, the FT’s chief business commentator, says that Wolfram Alpha’s structured database poses long-term questions about the usefulness of internet search:
If all the data on the internet are simply too messy to be analysed and structured, Google will be unable to produce a service rivalling Wolfram Alpha in clarity and reliability. Read more
The FT’s Lex column says that it was high time Lenovo’s optimistic investors were brought back to earth, and that fixing the PC company’s struggling international operations will not be easy:
Founder Liu Chuanzhi, who returned as chairman in February, started by axing 2,500 overseas jobs in a bid to shave about 15 per cent from annual operating costs. But that’s the easy bit.
As traditional publishers falter, print-on-demand has been one of the few bright spots in the otherwise slumping book industry, writes Joe Menn:
The first serious bid for a print-on-demand bestseller began publishing on Wednesday, as Rick Smolan launched The Obama Time Capsule, as a customisable book which will be printed only after it is ordered. Read more
The FT’s editorial page turns its eye towards internet law and finds that “just as the law should be no looser or tighter on the internet, the enforcement of the law should be no less transparent, open and accountable.”
The world wide web is not the world’s wild west. Internet law is incomplete and faces practical hurdles which it will take time and thought to overcome. Lord Mandelson, the UK business secretary, was right to be wary this week about clumsy government proposals to impose age ratings on websites. But jurists must not give up on the rule of law on the internet.
For the FT’s Business Life page, David Gelles looks at the opportunities and challenges for foreign-born entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.
Today, Silicon Valley – perhaps more than any other region in America – is a magnet for educated immigrants. With its intellectual capital, high-tech resources and rich coffers, the region is uniquely suited to produce important, profitable companies. “Silicon Valley is an environment that allows people to act on their entrepreneurial instincts with much more success than other parts of the world,” says AnnaLee Saxenian, dean of UC Berkeley’s School of Information and the author of Silicon Valley’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs. “There is a whole infrastructure for entrepreneurship.”