Business & Finance
Commentary
11/17/2006
03:40 PM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary
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IT Confidential: 10 Things The Tech Industry Should (But Probably Won't) Be Thankful For

Gratitude has never been a hallmark of the technology industry--ask Scott McNealy--but a thoughtful reverie about recent events is probably in order around the holiday season, no matter how embarrassing.

Thanksgiving is the time for turkey, football, and, you know, giving thanks. Gratitude has never been a hallmark of the technology industry, but given the season, it might be appropriate to reflect on some of the positive developments over the last several months.

That's why I've decided to put together a list of things the technology industry should be thankful for this season. That and the fact that I take every opportunity to put my thoughts into the form of a list, which, for some reason--most likely related in some way to adult ADD--is very popular on our Web site and in the blogosphere (page counts, click throughs, ad revenue ... you know). So, here are my 10 Things The Tech Industry Should Be Thankful For This Thanksgiving (2006):

10) Microsoft entered the market for handheld entertainment devices. Just because the Apple iPod seems to have filled the need of every media junkie on earth for an expensive electronic indulgence, that doesn't mean there isn't room for a heavier, less-intuitive, battery-limited alternative. And Zune is a cooler name.

9) NTP demonstrated what the patent system was really intended for: brinkmanship. Only months after squeezing $612 million out of Research In Motion and putting the fear of God into BlackBerry addicts, NTP sued the other wireless e-mail vendor, Palm--at the same time the Patent Office is reviewing whether NTP's patents are actually valid. If you look in the dictionary under the word "chutzpah," you'll find a picture of NTP; also under "troll."

8) Oracle is involved in Linux development. Just what the open source community was looking for: a hypercompetitive contributor with deep pockets and proprietary interests. Oracle's involvement, of course, has forced Microsoft to insert itself into Linux, which can mean only good things for users of the open source operating system.

7) The attack ads that ran during the midterm elections make the tech industry's use of skewed research results, veiled threats, inflated expectations, unfounded innuendo, and damning rivals with faint praise look positively uplifting.

6) Apple is working on a cell phone. As any adolescent will tell you, there can never be too many cell phones (see No. 10). And Steve Jobs will bring his considerable influence to bear on improving cell phone service, not just on fancy design ideas.

5) Hewlett-Packard finally found the board member who was leaking insider info to the press. Otherwise, Patricia Dunn was going to start pretexting the phone records of every person in the technology industry.

4) Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion. That deal makes every other half-thought-out, pie-in-the-sky merger idea look brilliant by comparison. And somewhere, P.T. Barnum is smiling.

3) The SEC has finally begun to address the issue of backdating stock options. The technology industry values its squeaky-clean image and looks forward to working closely with SEC investigators.

2) The tech bubble is back. Just in time to reverse the slide in housing prices in Silicon Valley.

1) Vista! Nobody throws a software party like Microsoft, and this one is going to be a beauty. So they missed Christmas, so what? Here's to the Windows gravy train flowing again. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

And Happy Thanksgiving, from our family to yours. If you have anything you're particularly thankful for this season (sport scores don't count), or you have an industry tip, send it to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326.


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page.

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