Walmart Pulls the Linux Plug, Google Shakes Up Ads

It's been an interesting morning so far today, with a number of developments — both expected and not — so if you'll please take your seats, we'll be happy to begin.

First up, the big story of the day is Google's acquisition of DoubleClick. The move, which has been pending regulatory approval for months received the final greenlight this morning from the European Commission , and Google seems to have jumped as quickly as possible. According to a statement from Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt, released just before 10:00 this morning, the deal has already been finalized, and Google will be taking steps over the next few weeks to integrate DoubleClick into the Googlesphere. Schmidt promised to keep the flow of information coming, and we'll be sure to report it as it happens.

That's the good news out of Google, but as is usually the case, there's bad news too, at least if you advertise with AdWords. Apparently, Big G can't stand being put on hold, so they've updated AdWords to consider page load time in determining an advertiser's Quality Score, meaning slow loading sites will now be penalized for keeping people waiting. What's the penalty, you ask? According to Google, Quality Score determines ad placement, as well as minimum bid for keywords. A low score means more money for lower placement, and nobody wants that — if you're site isn't snappy then it may be time for an upgrade, or a new ad company.

Unfortunately, we have more bad news to relay, as WalMart has decided to stop selling Linux PC's in their retail stores. You may remember that WalMart started offering the Everex gPC in stores last November, and the initial response was an almost over-night sell-out. While we haven't forgotten, Wal-Mart execs appear to have, as they announced yesterday that they're currently sold-out again, but this time they won't be restocking. (They will, however, continue to sell the systems online.) According to WalMart's spokesperson "This really wasn't what our customers were looking for." We'll be nice and keep our thoughts about that to ourselves.

On the brighter side of the newswire, long-awaited online video site Hulu — which has been in private beta since August — will finally open to the public tomorrow, sporting episodes from Buffy to Family Guy and back again. All in all, there are over 250 different series represented, as well as 100 movies, while a licensing deal with the NBA and NHL likely means sports coverage will be coming soon. Content will also be available through AOL, MSN, MySpace, and Yahoo, so we expect we'll begin to see Hulu everywhere we go.

Speaking of AOL, MSN, MySpace, and Yahoo, MySpace-parent News Corp. announced Monday that they have no intention to battle Microsoft for Yahoo, dashing Yahoo's best hope for a hold-out. Big Boss Rupert Murdoch made the announcement personally, telling investors "Microsoft...has a lot more money than us." Time Warner, however, is reported to still be in talks to merge AOL with Yahoo. Meanwhile, the rumors are flowing that Big Evil is interested in playing a game of cat and mouse with Logitech, though Logitech Chairman Guerrino de Luca was quoted in an Italian newspaper saying something to the effect of "nonsense." We think he's got exactly the right line there — it's a bad idea to merge with a company that can't even get its own software to cooperate.

And that's all we have to say about that.

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