Channel Surfing with Kris & Mike – May 20, 2016
KRIS: Every week since I joined The VAR Guy, Michael and I have lamented the stories we didn’t get to write, usually with a heavy dose of end-of-the-week, braindead snark. So we decided to put our Friday afternoon conversations in writing in a new column that Michael has cleverly dubbed Channel Surfing.
MIKE: We’ll be covering everything tech-related in this column, from hirings and firings to the latest juicy gossip about your favorite companies both large and small. So kick back, put your feet up on your desk and let’s run through some of this week’s hot topics!
KRIS: Things got philosophical in the San Francisco federal courthouse on Thursday when Larry Page, the chief executive of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, pontificated on the nature of software code during examination from Oracle’s lawyer.
For those who’ve slept through the saga playing out in California courtrooms, Oracle wants $9 billion from Google for building the operating system for its Android phone line using open source code developed on Java, the programming language Oracle inherited with its 2010 acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Page told the court that, for him, “declaring code is not code,” referring to code that tells the other code what to do.
MIKE: Wasn’t it Shakespeare who said “to code or not to code – that is the question?” Perhaps not – I probably should have paid more attention in English Lit rather than surfing Facebook.
KRIS: This trial is better than Days of Our Lives. The New York Times gave a helpful brief history of the major players this week. Unsurprisingly, Steve Jobs features prominently even though Apple has nothing to do with this trial.
Eric Schmidt, Alphabet’s executive chairman, used to be a Java engineer at Sun. Schmidt also once sat on Apple’s board. The guy who led the Android team, Andy Rubin, also once worked at Apple. Oracle’s co-founder and now executive chairman, Larry Ellison, was once besties with Steve Jobs. Jobs was convinced that Google copied the iPhone for its first Android phones, and in typical Jobs fashion, vowed to fight Google “with his last dying breath.” Talk about Shakespearean.
MIKE: The melodrama doesn’t stop there. Safra Catz, Oracle’s co-chief executive, got Biblical on the stand when she fondly reminisced about engaging in verbal swordplay with Google’s corporate lawyer at a bat mitzvah, saying, “Thou shalt not steal.”
KRIS: Then yelling, “oh, burn!!” before engaging several 12-year-old girls in some epic high-fiving.
MIKE: Wow, Google execs sure are immature.
KRIS: Okay, maybe that last part didn’t happen. In any case, this trial will solve some incredibly complicated legal issues around just how “open” open source really is.
MIKE: Speaking of “borrowing” ideas, Google announced the upcoming launch of its new home management product (simply named Google Home) that is being billed as a way for users to simply ask questions aloud and get instant responses, stream music and manage their calendar. Sound familiar, Kris?
KRIS: I was equal parts frustrated and excited about this announcement. I was literally planning on ordering an Amazon Echo this weekend. Now that Google’s announced it’s debuting the Home this fall, I don’t know what to do. It’s like when someone offers you a choice between your two favorite flavors of ice cream.
MIKE: And you know it's only a matter of time before Apple rolls out their own version, albeit one that costs double the price.
KRIS: And has to be upgraded to a new version every two years.
MIKE: Jeff Bezos must be preparing for war following the Google Home announcement – that is, if he cares about the goings-on of us mere mortals.
KRIS: Maybe, or maybe he’s riding too high on his budding bromance with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who gushed about his and Bezos’s “great meeting of the minds” on Salesforce’s earnings call on Wednesday before coyly alluding to big announcements between the two companies heading into Dreamforce this October.
MIKE: And their mutual admiration seems to be more than just pillow talk. According to Fortune, Amazon uses Salesforce software company-wide, and there’s speculation that Amazon is the “nine figure” deal that Salesforce president Kevin Block said the company recently landed. On the flip side, Salesforce’s new IoT Cloud, pieces of its marketing cloud and its SalesforceIQ sales software all run on Amazon Web Services.
KRIS: Nine figures, eh? That’ sure is a lot of cash. It’s too bad Yahoo can’t get in on a little of that action. The Wall Street Journal today reported that bidders are only expected to offer $2 billion to $3 billion for Yahoo’s core business. That’s down from the range of $4 billion to $8 billion from just last month, which is down from the $10 billion or so Marissa Mayer originally hoped for.
MIKE: Only $2 billion? I’m pretty sure I have that much stashed in my couch cushions.
KRIS: In other, less depressing news, let’s give it up for Cisco, which on Wednesday blew analyst predictions out of the water when it reported fiscal third-quarter results that exceeded expectations and projected sales growth of up to 3 percent this quarter. Take that, Wall Street.
MIKE: It’s nice to see Cisco’s recent executive shakeups haven’t had a lasting impact on the company’s bottom dollar. A lot of us thought the company was in for some permanent hard times following John Chambers’ departure last year, but they seem to have avoided a sophomore slump for the time being.
KRIS: Chuck Robbins’s aggressive push into networking, security and conferencing is paying off, it seems. In light of the dismal performance of once hardware-centric tech giants like IBM, Intel and HP the last couple of months, the news out of Cisco is a breath of fresh air through the channel.
MIKE: It makes me sad to think that hardware isn’t as important to folks anymore. Call me old fashioned, but I think we’re always going to need reliable hardware in some capacity, no matter how good the software may get. Regardless, it’s good to see that Cisco’s recent acquisition of Jasper is doing well for them.
KRIS: Spending money on acquisitions seems to be key to their transition strategy. It’s the corporate giant version of retail therapy, which I’m totally in favor of.
MIKE: Except normal retail therapy is buying a new shirt, not an entire company. Talk about hyperbole.
KRIS: You say tomato, I say…uh…well, tomato. But pronounced weird. Some jokes only work out loud, I guess.
MIKE: All in all, it’s been a pretty interesting couple of days in the world of enterprise tech, but then again, there’s no such thing as a dull moment when you’re dealing with companies like Amazon and Google. Thankfully, the weekend is here for a nice palate cleanser before we dive back into the drama that is the channel next week.
KRIS: As the channel turns.
MIKE: But in the meantime, I need to go outside and remind myself what grass looks like – I’ve been cooped up on the computer for days! My pale skin needs some vitamin D, ASAP!
KRIS: And I hear a bottle of cabernet calling my name. Have a great weekend!