Thursday’s grok: Xbox has Microsoft halfway home

Headshots, cheap shots and shooting blanks

About five years ago, in another life, Grok dined with some visiting Microsoft boffins who told us that Bill Gates' vision would see the company generate half its revenues from advertising within 10 years. The suggestion is less remarkable these days, but back then it was crazy talk, and crazy people don’t make for the best lunch partners. Unless they’re picking up the tab, and they weren’t.

As the outfit Grok was working for derived more than half its revenues from advertising, the idea of standing in between Microsoft and its bucket of blood was thoroughly uncomfortable.

Jump forward to yesterday and those of you still labouring through school holidays with a pair of violent little killers at your heels will appreciate Microsoft’s Xbox in a way people without young sons will never understand.

Watching a nine-year-old take down a staff captain in Recon armour with a headshot from a sniper rifle brought that ancient Microsoft boast to mind and prompted Grok’s curiosity.

Luckily we didn’t have to wait long. This piece from Techcrunch goes a good distance to explaining why this matters to those of us in the technology/telco/media/entertainment zaibatsu.

According to the report, “In an effort to transform the television experience, Microsoft has struck deals with nearly 40 entertainment providers to start injecting more media into their gaming platform. The full list of companies that Microsoft has forged alliances with is a veritable Who’s Who of the entertainment industry.”

In Australia, SBS is on board with SBS On Demand, with the BBC in the UK, Media Set in Italy and Canal+ in France and Spain, likewise aligned.

The full list of partners is available here.

And mash it all up with the $US8.5 billion in cold hard bills that Steve Ballmer laid down to buy Skype in May this year and the fog starts to clear. This August story on the Winrumours forum is the most recent chatter that Google (the lazy reporter's best friend ) could identify.

It’s all a very long way from DOS.

Where do the children play? Part one @OpenWorld

In an industry that idolises youth almost as slavishly as the entertainment sector with which it is inevitably merging, it was heartening to see a couple of old salts going at it yesterday, like in glory days of old.

Oracle’s Larry Ellison, currently enjoying a publicity revival due his company’s OpenWorld forum in San Francisco, pulled the pin on a presentation by Salesforce.com Chairman and CEO, Mark Benioff, sending Baby Ben off to Twitter for a bit of his own self aggrandising.

Actually, Oracle “rescheduled” Benioff’s presentation to a time that would have made it impossible for him to present -although as this Computerworld story attests, it didn’t actually stop him. But "rescheduled" sounded so much better than ratf**ked, and gave a fig leaf of cover to Oracle’s long suffering PRs. But you wonder why they bother, as Grok is sure Leisure Suit Larry wouldn’t care.

Apparently there’s bad blood between the two going back years, with ZDNet digging out this old chestnut from Benioff in 2004: “"We made Larry Ellison a lot of money on the IPO, but I haven't really got my thank-you call yet from him.”

Benioff used the bigger platform all that free publicity afforded him to dig it into Ellison a little more, and to declare that the Web is dying. Forrester Research’s George Colony made a similar prediction almost 15 years ago and look at just how right he was.

It probably doesn’t help that Benioff learnt his craft at Larry’s expense during his 13 years at Oracle, where he started his career as rookie of the year before pulling up stumps 13 years later having attained the status of a company vice-president. Yeah, yeah, so everyone’s a vice-president in corporate America, but Benioff was the company’s youngest.

It is just us, or does it all seem a little confected, a bit like one of those celebrity relationships you will soon be able to read about on your Xbox

Where do the children play? Partie duex.

Samsung and Apple are still going at each other like a couple of old Oracle execs. In Europe, Samsung is extending its patent action to try to delay the launch of the iPhone 5minus1S in France and Italy, while in Australia it is (not very subtly) [xref: http://goo.gl/Xl8Gv | pressuring |]] the judge in its local action against Apple by claiming it will simply give up and go home if it can’t get the decision it wants within two weeks.

Not very clever on either front, we’d have thought.

Andrew Birmingham is watching his nine-year-old hack his way through the wafer thin security of an international gaming company, because who wants to earn gaming rewards when you can simply steal them. Kids these days... Console him (get it) on twitter @ag_birmingham.

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