Government is Going Through the Motions with Google/Apple Antitrust Inquiry

I can’t quite figure out why the Federal Trade Commission has decided to investigate Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s role on the boards of both Google and Apple.

Is the government truly trying to find a way to bring antitrust charges against Google? It wouldn’t be the first time, would it?

Or, is this simply the FTC "going through the motions" so as to appease those that feel Google’s too dominant, while using a platform–Section 8 of the Clayton Antitrust Act–that’s rarely enforced?

I’m leaning towards the latter, for a number of reasons.

First, Eric Schmidt was recently named to President’s Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Sure, Obama wants to send a message that there are no "free passes" in his administration, but forcing Schmidt off the Apple board is hardly a victory for those against corporate conspiracies.

Apple in Talks with Twitter! Well, Sort of…

So while we don’t look like we play along when the rumor mill gets started there is ‘talk’ that Apple is looking to purchase Twitter. Of twitter-logo1course, it seems like everyone would like to purchase Twitter but there’s the sticky detail of Twitter saying yes that seems to elude most.

TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington sums it up here

Rumors popped up that Apple may be looking to buy Twitter. “Apple is in late stage negotiations to buy Twitter and is hoping to announce it at WWDC in June,” said a normally reliable source this evening, adding that the purchase price would be $700 million in cash. The trouble is we’ve checked with other sources who claim to know nothing about any Apple negotiations. If these discussions are happening, Twitter is keeping them very quiet indeed. We would have passed on reporting this rumor at all, but other press is now picking it up.

Ad Spending Decreases, or Should We Say, Decreased a While Ago

As I looked through the Wall Street Journal this morning I noticed the headline that said “Decline in Ad Spending Quickens Pace at 9.2%” and figured that this latest doom and gloom was not a expiration-datesurprise but certainly not welcomed either. Guess what though? If you read the article itself (how many of you really do that now, be honest) you will see that the headline screams one thing while the data may say another. Not a surprise when it comes to market research and the like. This one though was more troubling.

The article was about a report that TNS Media Intelligence, an ad-tracking firm owned by WPP PLC, released. Ok that’s fine but the data was about the 4th quarter of 2008. Last time I checked my calendar we are approaching the middle of Q2 ’09 so even numbers from Q1 ’09 are starting to look a little stale.

Yahoo Offers Analytics—To Advertisers

Google acquired Urchin and has offered its free analytics software for three and a half years. Microsoft first started promising a challenger back in 2007, but shuttered the beta in February.

But Yahoo has been a little slow on this front. Although they acquired analytics company IndexTools just over a year ago, and rumor has it Yahoo’s version is better than Google’s, they still have yet to offer it to the general public.

But last week, that started to change. Yahoo! Web Analytics will be available to Yahoo advertisers:

If you’re an advertiser in need of some serious analytics, you’ve probably been watching for our Yahoo! Web Analytics enterprise tool—and you’ll be glad to know that it’s now available for free to search and display advertisers supported by a Yahoo! account team.

Gaming Google Trends; So Easy, a Caveman Can Do It!

Poor Google. It seems just about anything it puts together becomes fair game to hackers and manipulators.

While the search engine spends its day keeping spam out of its web index, it’s apparently unable to prevent Google Trends from being gamed. As Andrew Girdwood spotted, a recent "hot" keyword on Google Trends was nothing but one big joke! :-)

Have you spotted any other funny keywords on Google Trends?

Automattic Helps WordPress Be More Social

buddy-pressLate last week the parent company of WordPress, Automattic, unveiled BuddyPress which is designed to build social networks around WordPress sites reports paidcontent.org.

While the idea of being able to build a social network is certainly not new (Ning has found some considerable success here) the ability to do it around existing WordPress sites certainly deserves notice. With millions of blogs and sites using WordPress the impact could be significant.
Matt Mullenweg of Automattic lays it out in his blog saying

“There’s been a dearth of Open Source tools that enable the social web. I don’t think BuddyPress will be something you use instead of your existing social networks… but if you wanted to start something new maybe with more control, friendlier terms of service, or just something customized and tweaked to fit into your existing site, then BuddyPress is a great framework.”

CMO’s Want to Have Their Cake and Eat It Too

AdAge reports the latest Spencer Stuart survey shows 300 CMO’s cake(chief marketing officers) looking to survive the downturn by concentrating on short-term strategies at the expense of mid and long term outlooks. Even with this attitude they are able to say that they can emerge after the clouds break on this recession with the growth they all need. While the article charges these folks as traditionally optimistic this type of thinking appears to be more wishful than anything else.

Another Stuart survey showed that the average tenure of a CMO these days is 28 months so maybe this is why long and mid term growth strategies are more easily shelved. By the time a new CMO in a sizable organization gets their ‘sea legs’ half of that period could well be gone thus not leaving much time to anything but short term survival moves considering the TTL (time to live) these folks have.