Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



Bill Gates Meets Auntie Beeb

Perhaps I'm just wired crazy, but when Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) and the BBC on Thursday signed a deal to bring Web 2.0 technologies to the British network's website, all I could think of was Fawlty Towers, the slapstick '70s British sitcom starring John Cleese.

Blame the nicknames: Mr. Softy and Auntie Beeb. I mean, seriously, doesn't that just beg for comedy? Dialogue would be so easy to come by:

Auntie Beeb: "What's that you're carrying, Mr. Softy?"

Mr. Softy: "Why, it's a suite of Web 2.0 software, Auntie Beeb."

Auntie Beeb: "Web 2.0 software! Brilliant!"

Mr. Softy: "Brilliant!"

Yeah, OK, you're right: I've got no future as a sitcom screenwriter, especially if all I've got is a few stolen lines from a Guinness commercial. Still, I love that title.

Many others won't, including RealNetworks (Nasdaq: RNWK  ) . Right now, if you want to listen to the London Symphony on BBC Radio 3, you'll need RealPlayer. How much do you want to bet that Windows Media Player will be an option before long?

Expect Mr. Softy to push for that, as well as broad adoption of its Windows Live online applications, which are the centerpiece of Microsoft's Web 2.0 strategy. Consider Live's Spaces, which initially was built to emulate Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Blogger. Today, Spaces allows community members to create tiny personalized applications a la Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) Widgets for Mac OS X. Think of BBC browsers creating gadget-filled blogs populated by handcrafted links from Auntie Beeb's stories, and you'll have an idea of Mr. Softy's ambitions.

And for good reason: Web traffic researcher Alexa says that the BBC had the 13th most popular English-language site in the world during July, and the 23rd most popular site overall. Think of how many billions of websites there are, then read those last two sentences again.

That remarkable footprint will surely aid global adoption of Web 2.0 technology, which, unlike that of first-generation websites, aggregates content from many sources, includes heavy doses of community, and thrives on network effects. Imagine how much Mr. Softy would benefit if his courting resulted in a monogamous relationship with Auntie Beeb. Virtually overnight, Microsoft (with its already popular and sites -- Nos. 2 and 9, respectively, in the Alexa list) could become the world's leading Web 2.0 platform.

But that's probably wishful thinking. BBC Director General Mark Thompson limited the agency's engagement with Microsoft to a non-exclusive memorandum of understanding, which proves the old Auntie still has it where it counts. What's more, Forbes reports that Thompson's U.S. fact-finding mission will feature several other potential suitors, including IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) , RealNetworks, and Second Life game creator Linden Laboratories.

So, good luck, Mr. Softy. You've taken an important first step. But if you really want to be Auntie Beeb's consort, you'd better bring more than Windows Live. My wife suggests flowers, chocolate, and tea. I'd listen to her.

What's that, Auntie Beeb? Related Foolishness? Brilliant!

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Ask us for an all-access pass to the service and you'll be privy to chief advisor Philip Durell's best picks, which collectively are beating the market by more than 5%. You'll also receive instructive lessons on valuation and company analysis. Give Inside Value a try; it's free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers owns LEAP options in Apple and a new MacBook Pro, which he occasionally uses to run Windows. You can find out what else is in his portfolio by checking Tim's Fool profile. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is upper class.

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 516151, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/28/2016 12:38:17 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 3 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,169.68 -29.65 -0.16%
S&P 500 2,133.04 -6.39 -0.30%
NASD 5,215.97 -34.29 -0.65%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

10/27/2016 4:00 PM
MSFT $60.10 Down -0.53 -0.87%
Microsoft CAPS Rating: ****
AAPL $114.48 Down -1.11 -0.96%
Apple CAPS Rating: ****
GOOGL $817.35 Down -4.75 -0.58%
Alphabet (A shares… CAPS Rating: *****
IBM $153.35 Up +1.54 +1.01%
IBM CAPS Rating: ****
RNWK $4.45 Down -0.07 -1.55%
RealNetworks CAPS Rating: No stars