RealTime IT News

Red Light, Green Light

AT&T got the green light from DOJ trustbusters on its multibillion-dollar MediaOne merger deal. But under the terms of approval, Ma Bell has to auction off MediaOne's stake in Road Runner by the end of the year.

Okay, we already knew this move was coming and it sounded fair enough. Except for a few details. AT&T is forced to dump the veggies, but gets to keep Road Runner's meat and potatoes. The fat pipe provider's subscriber base and technology will just get rolled into its big brother Excite@Home . That's no skin off AT&T's back, and it leaves Road Runner dead in the water.

Did anyone tell the Justice boys these two ISPs already boast nearly three quarters of the high-speed cable access market? This latest window dressing looks a lot like the tail wagging the dog. I don't pretend to be a fan of the '96 Telecom Act, but if government is serious about collaring consolidation that pumps up prices, roughs up competition, and limits diversity of ownership, they sure don't show it.

Do Not Pass GoTo, Do Not Collect $200

Vegas odds didn't favor GoTo.com knocking Mickey to the canvas, but the underdog put the champ down with a legal TKO early this week over its year-old trademark brouhaha. The pay-for-play search engine slapped Disney with an infringement suit after the media giant's newly unveiled logo looked curiously similar to its own.

Both bore a striking resemblance to the other, fashioned after a green stoplight, with the words GO emblazoned across it. The idealab!-backed start-up scrambled to have Disney's GO.com yank the look-alike for fear of any dilution to its corporate identity. Well, apparently the courts felt in kind, and GoTo.com walked away with a $20 million payday for its troubles.

I've got two observations. First, I thought Disney's original logo was way better than GoTo.com's ever was. But since that's a moot point now, Disney brass needs to spend a little cash to hire a designer to get that ugly interim logo replaced with something respectable. I do believe this is the same company that burned a quarter of a billion dollars last year. Heck, I'll even dust off my pastels over the holiday weekend to lend a hand if they need it.

Who Wants to Be a Net Millionaire?

I'd like to wrap it up ahead of the Memorial Day weekend with this bit of shared humor. Let me see a show of hands for those of you who caught Wednesday's episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? How many of you Web heads have been pondering the possibility of using your lifeline to "phone a friend" that has a broadband Net connection to look up the answer?

Yeah, me too.

Well I guess we all know the answer to that conundrum. Regis sat patiently listening to the contestant's "phone a friend" feverishly pounding away on his keyboard in the background searching for the answer on the Web. The Cheshire grin Regis wore reminded me of the teacher who finds their student cheating on the final exam.

As if that weren't bad enough, a 50/50 lifeline left the "friend" with only two answers to choose from. And, he still picked the wrong one. Ouch.

In response to yesterday's b2bstores' column, Who Left the Seat Up?, one astute reader replied:


As we say out here in ski country, "Don't eat the yellow snow!"

Denver, CO


Any questions or commen