Excerpts from the blog I should go on vacation more often. While I was away last week, Microsoft became the hot tech story once again, and...

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Excerpts from the blog

I should go on vacation more often.

While I was away last week, Microsoft became the hot tech story once again, and there was some lively chatter on my blog.

Some readers noticed in my last pre-vacation post that I had speculated a Microsoft-Yahoo merger would be the subject of Microsoft’s New York analyst meeting Monday. I’m not providing stock tips, but if you bought YHOO stock on that guess, you would have done pretty well.

Others took me to task for a post written after Microsoft’s earnings came out Jan. 24, as its stock passed $35 in after-hours trading. I noted the jump, and asked whether the stock could be headed toward $40.

A few Microsoft bears chuckled about that one after the Yahoo deal and market malaise pulled the stock back down into the high $20s — it closed Wednesday at $28.52, down 2 percent.

“It’s now 20 percent below its October high of $37.50,” commenter “John” wrote. “I don’t expect to see $40 stock this year, & only give it a 5% chance of hitting it within the next 3 years.”

You win some, you lose some, I guess.

By the numbers

Here’s a game that should be almost as fun as Sudoku. Sort these numbers to figure out which company has the “proprietary monopoly” on consumer Internet services.

Challenge 2: Can you add them up to $44.6 billion?

Challenge 3: Can you arrange them in a way that gives Google a good antitrust argument? Bonus points if you factor in the value and utility of search versus Web mail.

The stats are from a media advisory that comScore sent to media outlets today. It also offered a summary:

• Google Web sites had nearly 588 million visitors globally in December, more than either Microsoft or Yahoo; Microsoft-Yahoo had 665 million visitors.

• Google’s search market share is 58.4 percent in the U.S. and 62.4 percent globally, versus the combined Microsoft-Yahoo share of 32.7 percent in the U.S. and 15.7 percent globally.

• Yahoo and Microsoft are the clear leaders in e-mail and instant messaging; combined they’d reach nearly 77 percent of the IM audience worldwide.

Playing games

I wish I were in Amsterdam covering the Casual Games Association conference this week, but I’ll have to make do with the press releases floating back to Seattle and talking to industry honchos who stayed in town.

Among the announcements keyed to the show:

• FlowPlay, a Seattle startup developing “community oriented casual gaming technology,” received $3.7 million in funding led by Intel Capital and Ambient Sound Investments. Also contributing were Michael Schutzler, a former RealNetworks games executive, and Ben Feingold, former Sony Pictures home-entertainment president.

• RealNetworks signed a partnership with Netherlands-based game network Spill Group that would increase Real’s customer reach by 20 percent, to 48 million monthly unique visitors, up from 40 million. The deal also gives Real broader global reach.

• Real also announced that the “Sally’s Salon” game it produced and promoted through the Lifetime network was the top-selling game on its game network in 2007. It had 300,000 downloads in its first month on myLifetime.com. Real also announced a survey that concluded players don’t mind the in-game streaming video-game ads the company is using.

• Bothell’s Sandlot Games on Tuesday launched “Monster Mash,” a new “strategic adventure game” published with Kranx Productions. The $19.95 game “transports gamers into the fairy-tale world of Curly Valley, where they’re forced to defend villages from the invading hordes of quirky and bizarre monsters.”

• Seattle’s Movaya is announcing today the beta launch of TryNBuy, a technology that lets people try new downloadable games on their phones before purchasing them. Founder Phil Yerkes said it’s of interest to the casual crowd in Amsterdam, but he was trying to get the product out in time for the Game Developer Conference starting Feb. 18 in San Francisco.

This material has been edited for print publication.

Brier Dudley’s blog appears Thursdays. Reach him at 206-515-5687 or bdudley@seattletimes.com.