Reading Between the Lines

Opinion: Gates' predictions fall short; Dell dips its toes into the channel.


"Its only words, and words are all I have to steal your heart away," sang the Baron of Babble, Barry Gibb-like, when a pal told him that Bill Gates, during Microsofts Strategic Account Summit, predicted that reading would go completely online within the next five years. "Yeah, Bill also predicted in 2004 that spam would be a thing of the past within two years, and yet there are still so many messages in my in-box from foreign teens who want to meet me," groused the Grimalkin.

The Kitty then ranted that before the dot-com bubble burst, everybody claimed brick-and-mortar retail would disappear, and now, in the midst of Web 2.0, a BusinessWeek article advised Michael Dell—who is looking to embrace the channel—to buy RadioShack as an outlet to push his products. "Whatever Dells future, its history will be preserved," noted the Puss pal. The Smithsonian National Museum of American History has recently added items from the computer maker to its collection, including a 1985 PCs Limited computer and Michael Dells old employee badge.

As Spence regained his composure, the pal also said that during the Microsoft summit, Gates noted that hed checked out the real estate estimate of his house on Zillow, the online real estate evaluator founded by former Microsoft execs. In an inadvertent acknowledgment of critics of Zillows valuations, Gates also added that if potential buyers were to bid the Zillow Zestimate amount for his manse, "I wouldnt sell it to you."

Spence cracked open two cold Narragansett Lagers and asked his Microsoft-watching pal what else the Redmondians were up to. "Well, certainly nothing is rotten in Denmark by Microsoft standards," laughed the pal. The Furry Ones friend said that just last week, Microsoft bigwig Steve Ballmer visited the country to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Microsofts acquisition of Navision and to demonstrate his companys commitment to the Microsoft Development Center in Copenhagen.

Suddenly, the KattPhones new ring tone, "Jive Talkin," by the Bee Gees, interrupted the Kittys conversation. The caller was a crony who claimed the rumor mill was awhirl with whispers that Oracle may be looking to acquire BEA Systems. "Yeah, and a couple of weeks ago Cisco was the rumored suitor for the company," scoffed Spence. Bidding the caller adieu and taking leave of his Microsoft-watching pal, Spence skatted off to meet some former co-workers who were covering the Bio International Convention in Boston.

The big news at the show was Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patricks $1.25 billion pledge to fund stem cell research in the Bay State over the next 10 years. The Furry One and his friends soon settled in at the Silvertone Bar & Grill and talked shop over a couple of bottles of wine. One of the Katts cronies noted that eBay seemed ready to scoop up StumbleUpon, a Web service that matches users with Web sites that suit their interests, for about $75 million. "Gee, isnt there a site that does that now—called Google?!" cackled the Kitty.

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Spencer F. Katt

Spencer F. Katt

Spencer F. Katt, the Whiskered Wonder, has been the mascot and tipster extraordinaire for eWEEK and its predecessor print publication PC Week since 1984. The Gadabout Gatto makes the rounds of...