Google Extends Portfolio of Brands. Frommer strategically smart because they were tactically inept. $GOOG $YHOO $MSFT

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Google (Nasdaq:GOOG) is extending its portfolio of brands. Does that mean Google is fresh out of ideas and needs to acquire some external energy source to drive revenues. Yeah probably. Travel is one of the most researched purchases. Even before the internet consumers checked things out very closely.

Travel vendors advertise extensively and traditionally are one of the top three advertisers. The other two being automotive and consumer electronics. So Google is smart to pick up good assets in this category. What  it also means is that Google has no game when it comes to developing compelling applications so they are forced to use enormous cash resources to buy up what they cannot develop internally.

Strategically they also want to capture the properties before Yahoo (Nasdaq:YHOO) and Bing (Nasdaq:MSFT) pick them up and set up viable beach heads.

Strategically smart because they were tactically inept.

George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective.

Microsoft Challenges Apple in Tablets. Is This Real? Grand Strategy vs Product Tactics $AAPL $MSFT $YHOO $GOOG

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) seems to be challenging Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) in the Tablet market space. Apple with its uber cool iPad and seemingly unassailable market dominance does not look like the weak sissy in the school yard that everyone can punch out whenever they want.

So what does Microsoft see that they can take down and create some shareholder wealth. The contrast is more about the strategic battle than any specific shoot out on product features. Apple has its fabled eco-system of developers who feed into the iPad value proposition. Much momentum comes from this without any overt moves from Apple. Others just feed into it. Apple can be expected to constantly release new and improved offerings and thereby maximize revenue over and over and over.

Microsoft on the other hand is supposedly moving closer to Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) and reportedly will take over their search engine and create a mash-up with Bing. (BTW you have to love the pictures on Bing). So with the obvious exception of Google (Nasdaq:GOOG) they will become very strong in search. Apple as cool as the iPad is, does not rely on Safari to the same extent. Search revenues for Apple are low to the point of being strategically non-existent. As we all know it’s all about search revenues. Investors do not really care how slick the iPad is. What we do care about is how many search dollars are generated.

As best can be determined from the rumours about Apple nothing major is coming from Safari. Despite the huge cash position of Apple not much R&D dollar has been allocated to turning Safari into something stronger.

We all glibly talk about the post PC environment where it’s all hand-held and mobile. Microsoft needs to get a large piece of that to maintain a strong hold on devices to make sure they are well entrenched after Google. Microsoft thrived because everyone put their browser in. Now with iPad and Apple in a near monopoly position they need to be throwing some competitive punches.

Will they blow away Apple in the next year or two. No. Can they make Apple change its offering and maybe pull a punch or two, certainly. The strategic battle is about tipping points and leverage. So when you look at the Microsoft product it will not be primarily about customer experience. It will be about what can Microsoft do to make Apple changed.

The battle is in the back room strategy sessions. The noise will be in the consumer market place as we all slavishly expect new offerings.

One day Apples trajectory will bend. Nothing goes in a straight line forever. This could be the beginnings of change.

George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective.

Microsoft $MSFT Bings Baidu $BIDU Is Reg FD a Factor #RegFD

Image representing Baidu as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Baidu (Nasdaq:BIDU) announces English language search will now be Bing(ed) and not Google(d). No comment from Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT). Google just hangs its head in shame. In some ways they are relieved the announcement was made and now it’s over. Terrible having to wait for the other shoe to drop.

Now if it was a really big deal for Google to lose the relationship, it must be a really big deal for Microsoft to pick up this particular set of marbles. Both Baidu and Microsoft trade on Nasdaq and must play be SEC rules. Something called Reg FD comes to mind.

For Microsoft to not announce anything (at the time of writing there was narry a corporate peep) you need to justify that the development is not material. Even for Microsoft with its huge mega cap status a major China announcement is huge. By declining to comment Microsoft is keeping the details in a black box and investors will be guessing and second guessing ramifications.

It is interesting that Baidu took the effort to announce. So who gets the better of the deal? Read revenue sharing. Is this a work in progress. Just so many questions to ask. It will be like watching newly weds. You know, honeymoon then when the children come along how will they turn out. We can have a really great conversation about nature vs nurture. Microsoft DNA intertwined with Baidu DNA.

In the meantime Google (Nasdaq:GOOG) is hiring lobbyists by the dozen as it learns about the FTC and other agencies.

Disclosure: George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective. I hold no positions in stocks mentioned in this post. I have no plans to initiate new positions within the next 72 hours.

Google Alert Suspect

Image representing Google Alerts as depicted i...

Image via CrunchBase

Google (GOOG) has credibility issues with the Google Alerts. Writing this blog I naturally want to keep track of how and where it is resonating. I specifically track both “Financial Skeptic” and “George Gutowski”. Google Alert will dutifully report a post on Blogspot. But somehow it neglects to cover anything covered in Word Press.

 Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain he is not important.

 So if Bing (MSFT) and Yahoo (YHOO) are thinking of ways to compete here is a suggestion. Be thorough. The secret Google Search Algorithm is becoming highly suspect. The do no evil crowd may be backing us into the biggest mind control trap known to mankind.  

In the meantime the service is less than thorough.

Disclosure: No position in stocks mentioned in this post.