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Killing the Messenger

Jim Seymour:

In response to your column

At AOL, Shooting the Instant Messenger, I'm glad you woke up and smelled the coffee.

America Online


has been anti-Web, anti-Internet, anti-TCP/IP since Day One.

As an AOL user, you are using their proxy server and it sends you the result over their network to their software. The instant messenger fiasco is just more evidence. In my opinion, AOL speaks with a forked tongue.


John Baycich

(received 7/26)

Jim Seymour:

About your column on

AOL's instant messenger, my initial reaction was to agree with your assessment of the situation. After further thought, I realized that each of the companies involved is in the profit-making business and is trying to protect its assets while at the same time attacking others, all in the name of providing better service to the consumer.

I can see very clearly where


(MSFT) - Get Report

is looking for this to be open so it can win by bundling its messenger with the operating system and winning a distribution battle. So if I'm America Online, I'd block access until Microsoft agreed to provide equal positioning via operating-system distribution. This is a win for Microsoft in that it gets access to the community. It's a win for the consumer in that is gets to chose between two messengers which will be constantly improved to remain competitive. And its a win for America Online in that it gets distribution via the Microsoft operating system and then competes on brand and innovation rather than lock-in, which will erode its image with the Web community.

I don't know if Microsoft and America Online will try to develop a win-win-win scenario. But I do know that they don't want to create a "you win, I lose" scenario, which is the way it's set up now. But regardless of whether this is figured out, I will not be calling anyone anti-Web. They are just hard core capitalists who want users to pay for information. Which, by the way, violates one of the other basics of the Web: Info is free.


Ralph Rivera

(received 7/26)

Conference Call Comment

James Cramer:

About your column

Cramer's Rewrite of His 'Some Companies Answer the Call' Piece, face it, 99% of the people who get to the CEO/CFO level are smooth, well spoken and could talk a dog off a meat wagon! Now they have to look good on


, too. Most calls are so scripted they should just fax them and save some time.

Any management team that has been out on the investment conference circuit or has spent any time talking to the Street already knows all the questions that will come up during the call. They've answered them a hundred times over rubber chicken at the Plaza.

Sure, some guys are unprepared, but then the company probably has fundamental problems anyway.


Christopher Laudani

(received 7/26)

New Money Blues

Susan C. Schena:

In response to your column

Spreading the Wealth, as a 37-year-old guy who just recently started to make more than $30,000 a year, I take great offense to your view that "any real change must come from the haves."

I have struggled for over 20 years to become what you refer to as the "haves," and if I ever get there, I certainly don't want people with views like yours telling me I have to give up my equity to people that aren't motivated to make it on their own. This is America! Anyone can do it, but it is very difficult.

Perhaps you are living in the past and think that wealth is old money. Not true. Those who have it now have worked 24/7 to get it. They didn't inherit it; they worked to get where they are.

As far as "spreading the wealth," that is already in full force by taxing the wealthy at a much higher rate than everyone else. They are paying out a huge portion of their income to cure "social ills." The bottom line is that all people are not motivated equally, so why should everyone have near equal finances or income?

Surely you don't expect the highly motivated to give more than they already do? If I ever make it, I will pay more than my fair share in taxes and give generously to charity. What more do you want from me?


Greg Ray

(received 7/24)

The Choice Is Clear

Jim Seymour:

In response to your article

e.Digital, the Speculator's Choice in Downloadable Digital Music, it provided some good perspective on the company. I own quite a few shares of



, and I'm surprised that Fred Falk didn't think that one format would survive as the industry standard.

It seemed to me that the purpose of the partners on this project was to produce a player that was secure and played back the highest-quality sound. This looked to be something that the record companies wanted with their SDMI compliance, and they might be looking for a packaged technology platform to use.

From reading all articles about this player that have been out, I always had the impression that this was



project and that it came to e.Digital solely to license the operating system and have e.Digital coordinate the manufacturing. I don't think Lucent would waste its time on substandard technology. I also don't see Lucent producing a product that won't be highly desired by other companies to put their names on it.


Jeff Patterson

(received 7/23)

Download for the Road

Eric Moskowitz:

In response to your column

Digital Music Unplugged: The Play Stations, I really don't get the hoopla behind downloaded music.

Is there a survey out that mentions what is the place where Americans most listen to music? I would bet answer would be in the car. Until you have easy way of playing this downloaded music in your car radio, I don't see how this industry of downloaded music can take off.


Subodh Nijsure

(received 7/22)

Amazon's Accountability

James Cramer:

In response to your column

Does Amazon Have Cooties?, this constantly evolving business model that

Jeffrey Bezos

has put forth simply isn't a business model. I think that he is going to bite off more than he can chew, if he hasn't already.


(AMZN) - Get Report

couldn't handle the order flow last Christmas when it was simply selling books -- what is going to happen this Christmas?

Also, at some point, there has to be an accountability for earnings. There has to be a day where he delivers. He is going to kill his own stock and drag those of us who believed in Amazon with him.

-- Nita Goggins

(received 7/22)

James Cramer:

About your column on

AOL and Amazon, I think you've completely missed the ball on this one.

Amazon did not ruin anything for



. AOL did this on its own. Subscriber counts fell quite a bit below estimates, period!

The Internet growth seems to have reached a plateau, and the numbers for the past few months seem to say the same.

Amazon has many problems going forward, but please don't tell me that it's AOL's fault. That's like criminal athletes blaming the media. It's just dead wrong.

-- Eric Roth

(received 7/23)

James Cramer:

Your comment about

Jeffrey Bezos made me think of this.

Just as someone should tell


(NOK) - Get Report

management how to manage analysts' expectations, someone should show Jeffrey Bezos how to talk about his endless investments to grow share. This guy commits suicide on Amazon with every quarter's results!

I don't have an ax to grind on Amazon. I was out at 150. Amazon is a great site for the consumer. Too bad not for the stockholders!

-- Art Micallef

(received 7/22)

The Digital Revolution

Spencer Ante:

In response to the series

Digital Music Unplugged: Investing in the New Music Revolution, while I have already made lots of money on


(RNWK) - Get Report

stock and expect to make more, I think the more interesting revolution will come when the movie business is hit the same way as the music business is now.

Soon I will be uploading the movies I made with my digital camera, edited on my computer, to my Web site, and people will watch it using RealNetworks or the equivalent software using ADSL or cable modems or DirecTV dishes.

The movie

Blair Witch Project

signals the end of the major studio lock on the movie business, in the same way as


signals the of the music business as we know it.

-- Jan Stubbs

(received 7/22)

Knowing Nokia

James Cramer:

In response to your column

For Nokia, Analyst Mismanagement Will Cost Dearly, if the stock is going down because it missed some misguided estimates, yet the business is really smoking, it sounds like a buying opportunity to me, at least for the longer term. It's a classic example of Mr. Market overreacting to an artificial market construct while he should be paying attention to the underlying business.

By the way, I'm not long


(NOK) - Get Report

... yet.

-- Todd Kenyon

(received 7/22)

James Cramer:

Oh, so the Finns

blew the issue. They understand their technology, but they don't understand the Wall Street dance yet. Of course, they are too close to the former Soviet Union and thus somewhat confused by all the signals. But what a product!

-- Patrick Vale

(received 7/22)

James Cramer:

TST Recommends


Finns! And your insistence that Nokia play your silly short-term games is ridiculous. In effect, you are saying that analysts are not needed and companies should control the market for their shares.

This whole "game" of meeting or not meeting "expectations" is a farce in terms of basic value analysis.

-- Peter Irvine

(received 7/22)

Xooming In on Service

David Shabelman:

In response to your article

Net Stocks Bounce Back Ahead of AOL Earnings, I had an unfortunate experience when I ordered a



Web-enhanced keyboard. I could have bought it from my wholesaler. But I thought, these



people have been persistent -- I'll give them a shot.

Well, the keyboard came in after three or four weeks and didn't work like it was supposed to. I'm in the computer business. I could have called Logitech and sorted it out with their technical support, but I decided to test Xoom's support. Well, I could not get any tech support from Xoom. It was as if there were none, or the one guy that it has is impossible to get a hold of. I tried lots of calls and emails. They won't even give a customer a regular email address; you have to fill out an online form.

So, I sent it back, but that's another story.

The bottom line is this: Companies that treat customers badly are not going to be around for long.

-- Jonathan Thorne

(received 7/22)

The China Syndrome

James Cramer:

About your column

What's Behind Trade Problems in China?, I have no inside info, but I believe China is becoming the new bogeyman. They are accused of everything from pirating software to stealing military secrets and threatening their neighbors. Not only don't I trust that government, but I see a big anti-Chinese backlash coming. I am worried that U.S. companies that invested in plants over there will get burned from increased tariffs or some other dealing from that government.

Or perhaps I am just a paranoid Midwesterner.

-- David Hanna

(received 7/21)

James Cramer:

About your column on China, I think the

only investments that will pay off in China are investments which China simply cannot do without. Thus


(BA) - Get Report

is essential, and China probably will do business fairly with it.

In my opinion, any investment involving something the Chinese can soon do themselves or where they can play off an investment against something or someone else hasn't a chance. A contract is not a contract in China. A contract is simply a way of getting someone to commit his or her resources so he or she can get worked over later.

My personal experience in China is limited, but I have talked about this problem with many expatriate executives who work there and know the place. Generally speaking, they find it necessary to recognize a totally different mindset doing business in China. To the extent that I have personal experience, it convinced me that I want no part of doing business in China.

I found it an interesting place to visit, but I wouldn't want to leave any money there.

-- Charles Blankstein

(received 7/21)

Trying to Keep 'Em

Kevin Petrie:

In response to your story

ISPs Try to Keep Customers Who Love 'Em and Leave 'Em, in addition to being a subscriber to

, I am also an unfortunate subscriber to



. That company has subjected me to what it calls "Authentication Failure" twice in two days.

The company's self-described "award-winning help phone lines" are busy. Using


to send an email to email support results in a stock letter with a case number giving URLs for help. Never mind that the problem is an inability to get past the log-on screen!

I left



after similar fiascoes. MindSpring was recommended as dependable. Watch the company's turnover rate if these outages continue.

-- Ronald L. Sutton

(received 7/21)

Working Through the Rumor Mill

Aaron Task:

About your

Merchants of Scuttlebutt, I thought it was a good article about the rumor mill that exists on the Street. However, I think your article misses the point why many traders and/or money managers listen to or trade on some these rumors. If you are an active trader with many positions, you must be aware of any reason why a stock you own is moving -- up or down. Part of one's research is to be aware of any scuttlebutt on the Street, and to react or not is your own decision. Rumors have always been a part of the Street and always will be. Discovering the truth is a hard and time-consuming process. If you hear the rumors early enough and think they may have an ounce of validity, there is hope someone else may pay a higher price for the same shares.

The point is this: The earliest with the rumors has a chance to trade for a profit.


Reuben Taub

(received 7/20)

Been There, Seen That

Elizabeth Roy:

In response to your article

What's My Mother-in-Law Doing in That Tax-Free Bond Fund?, believe it! I have seen a real case where a financial professional with a money-center bank put an elderly couple with no yearly tax liability into a New York muni bond fund. To make matters worse, he put $45,000 into B shares and switched it to A shares one week later without the couple's knowledge. He made a decent commission both ways, and the couple was out $2,000 for his financial expertise.

It's people like him who give the rest of us financial professionals a bad reputation. This is a classic case of how to take old people for a ride. More often than not, I have seen this with bank investment advisers. So, I am inclined not to give whoever at


the benefit of the doubt.


Ed Cheng

(received 7/16)

Revisiting the Long Goodbye

Lewis Perdue:

In response to your column

IBM's Long Goodbye to NetObjects about



, as an employee, I read your May 19 article with great interest. While your assessment of the company's business dealings may or may not have been correct, the line in his article that leaped off the page at me was:

"Although it's supposed to make cool graphic effects easier to execute and complex sites easier to manage,

NetObjects Fusion fails to live up to its newbie promise: It's extremely difficult both to learn and to use..."

Rather than write you immediately to take issue with your assessment of Fusion's ease of use, I decided to wait two months to see whether I would encounter anyone on the Internet who agreed with

on the issue. I can honestly tell you that over 60 days, I found no articles or reviews that echoed your befuddling conclusions.

While dozens of legitimate issues have been raised by Fusion users and critics, from



PC Magazine



, they almost universally agree on one point: Fusion is the simplest software solution for individuals and businesses to get their first home pages on the Internet or their corporate intranet.

You're entitled to your own opinion, of course, but considering your editorial need to present carefully considered, accurate facts to your investment-minded readers, it can't hurt to let you and your readers know when your writers are expressing opinions that seem to defy common sense.

-- Todd Giles

(received 7/20)

Supporting Sunrise Critics

Jesse Eisinger:

Thanks for your article

Sunrise Tech Takes Critics to Court on Sunrise Technology. I have written my congressman and my two senators about the


policy of allowing clinical investigators to purchase stock in companies they are evaluating.

I was the head caseworker for a congressman and I am aware of the close relationship between governmental departments and agencies, employees and the industries they regulate. It's a national scandal and neither the elected



Democratic House



pay any attention to their oversight obligations and take meaningful action. They all just pass more new laws that compound the problems, which creates new bureaucracies that need to hire more bureaucrats who do not function. And their salaries are paid by me, an unhappy constituent.


Darlene Bothell

(received 7/20)

In Other News...

Aaron Task:

I just read your piece

Going Shopping in Media and Biotech; Seeing the Sites (Sometimes Quickly) where you talked about

John Kennedy Jr.

Good work. I found myself agreeing that it would be nice to think he had pulled a vanishing act. Since that's not going to happen, it would be nicer if the media would stop beating this to death the way they did the

O.J. Simpson

story, the

Gianni Versace

murder and

Princess Diana's

death and just leave the dead alone.

I think the incessant coverage of the plane and of JFK Jr., his wife and sister-in-law, while certainly newsworthy, has been among the most inane, vapid and insipid self-promotional ratings-grab I've seen to date. Oh, I'm sure they'll top themselves soon enough. Just let

Geraldo Rivera

get a hold of the

Jon Benet Ramsey

story if an indictment is handed down, or give

Diane Sawyer

another chance to bleat and emote over the next Columbine High.

-- Lewis Moyse

(received 7/19)