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Big Blue Opens the Patent Vault
Reuters spelled out more on what's in it for IBM (of course, nothing in life is really free): "As the leading provider of computer services, IBM also stands to benefit from helping other companies make use of new technology developed under the open licensing program. The policy change for IBM, which over the past decade has stood out as a leader among global companies seeking to reap greater profits from its patent portfolio, allows the company to continue to receive royalties from thousands of patents it holds on everything from microchips to supercomputers."
Reuters via washingtonpost.com: IBM To Give Away 500 Patents (Registration required)
IBM has company in the push to provide more resources to the open-source movement: "The move follows that of Linux seller Red Hat, a comparatively small company that objects to software patents but allows unfettered use of its own smaller portfolio in open-source software. And Novell, the second-largest Linux seller, has vowed to use its own patent portfolio to deter and counter legal attacks against open-source software," CNET's News.com reported.
CNET's News.com: IBM Offers 500 Patents For Open Source Use
The VoIP Rush
Will Internet telephone service become a major cash cow for cable firms? The Wall Street Journal was out of the gates early yesterday with news of Comcast's voice-over-Internet-protocol (longhand for VoIP) play and followed up today with an analytical piece on what it all means for the industry: "The leap of cable companies into the phone business, highlighted by the aggressive rollout plans announced by Comcast Corp., is part of a growing free-for-all in the telecommunications industry that has punished cable stocks. While shares of Comcast and other cable companies have improved from their lows of last summer, they continue to be hamstrung by investor concerns about intensifying price competition from telephone and satellite companies. Many are even questioning whether the cable industry should still be valued as a growth sector," the paper said. "But a contrarian bullish view of cable operators also is emerging. Some investors and analysts believe that the push by Comcast and companies like Time Warner Inc. and Cablevision Systems Corp. into phone service that uses a new Internet technology could substantially boost cash flow and margins. If it does, cable companies may be poised to emerge from the telecom fray with stronger growth prospects and stocks that trade above today's multiples."
The Wall Street Journal: Comcast Aims To Dial Up Profit And Growth (Subscription required)
The Washington Post said "the move could be the most significant challenge yet to traditional local phone companies such as Verizon Communications Inc., analysts said. Comcast has a well-established brand, and it can use its cable TV network to deliver telephone service, bypassing the established phone network altogether. The company said it hopes to sign up 8 million customers for the $39.95-a-month phone service within five years by luring away customers from the regional phone companies." Comcast's VoiP announcement was "a public shot across the bow of the regional Bell operating companies signaling that Comcast intends to aggressively pursue the voice business," Alan Bezoza, a Friedman Billings Ramsey analyst told the Los Angeles Times., "and it has the opportunity to be very profitable at it."
The Washington Post: New Hat In Phone Ring (Registration required)
The Los Angeles Times: Comcast To Use VOIP To Offer Phone Service (Registration required)
Desktop Search: The Yahoo Installment
Following closely on the tails of Google and Microsoft, Yahoo is out with its own desktop search software -- desktop.yahoo.com. Hey, all the cool kids are into desktop search: Here's one take: "Everybody's doing it, so everyone has to do it. Otherwise they risk losing users," Chris Sherman, an editor at Web site SearchDay, told CNET's News.com.
CNET's News.com: Yahoo Joins Desktop Search Fray
IDG News Service offers up some details on what Yahoo's software will do for PC users: "Based on technology Yahoo licensed from desktop search specialist X1 Technologies, the Yahoo Desktop Search application can index over 200 different types of files, including those created by Microsoft's Word, Excel and PowerPoint and Adobe Systems' PDF and PhotoShop. The tool can also index the content of Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express e-mail messages and their attachments. Yahoo Desktop Search lets users preview the content of the files it finds, so that they don't necessarily have to launch the files in their native applications in order to view them. The tool even plays audio and video files without the need to launch them in a separate media player. It also lets users sort, delete, print, and share files it finds right from its interface."
IDG News Service via InfoWorld: Yahoo To Launch Desktop Search Product
A Note to Readers
It's January, a time for resolutions and new directions. Filter, which I have penned since its inception, will be ending its two-and-a-half-year run later this month -- the last column will be published on Friday, Jan. 21.