TIME technology

Cable’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

At this time last year, the powerful cable industry seemed to be at the top of its game.

An appeals court, in January 2014, had chucked out the Federal Communications Commission’s latest attempt to establish net neutrality rules, and a month later, in February, the two biggest cable companies in the country, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, announced a massive, $45.2 billion merger.

Meanwhile, the industry’s powerful influence machine, led in part by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, was working overtime in the nation’s capital. In 2013-2014, the industry spent $33 million on lobbying alone—more than it spent in the entire previous decade—and divvied out millions more in campaign contributions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In 2013, Comcast alone spent more on lobbying than any other company in the U.S. except Northrop Grumman, the defense contractor that makes the B-2 bomber.

And it wasn’t just money. The cable industry also enjoyed a Rolodex of almost comically well-connected friends: the president of the NCTA was a former FCC chairman, and the current FCC chairman was a former president of the NCTA—and President Obama’s golfing buddy, to boot.

With those sorts of connections—judicial, monetary, and personal—what could go wrong?

A lot, it turns out. And almost anything that could, did.

Things started getting bad for the industry in late summer, when an unprecedented 4 million people wrote into the FCC to comment on the agency’s proposed net neutrality rules. The vast majority opposed what they saw as an anemic attempt to protect the Internet from manipulation by large cable and telecom companies. Much of the public debate centered on whether a large Internet service provider, like Comcast, should be allowed to collect fees from web companies, such as Netflix, to deliver its content, like “House of Cards,” more quickly and in higher quality to customers.

Obama, who had campaigned 2008 against so-called fast lanes on the Internet, had only hinted that he would prefer to see stronger net neutrality provisions. But by mid-fall, the White House was ready to go to the mat. When Comcast heard rumors that Obama was considering calling for stronger rules, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts pulled out all the stops, calling up Obama’s senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, and making it clear that Comcast opposed the move, according to the Wall Street Journal. It was no use. A few days later, Obama all but demanded that the FCC propose the strongest possible rules on net neutrality, and three months later, it was done.

Consumer and public interest organizations, and Internet advocates celebrated the FCC’s decision, calling it not only a blow to the cable lobby, but a staggering success for grassroots organizing power.

And the cable industry’s bad year wasn’t over yet. Last week, FCC and Justice Department officials began whispering about major objections to the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal, which would tie the two largest cable company in the country and give one company control over roughly 60% of all broadband Internet connections nationwide. On Wednesday this week, officials held a private meeting with Comcast and Time Warner Cable executives to express doubt that the deal was “in the public interest,” according to sources briefed about the meeting, and this morning, the companies formally announced that the deal is off.

Again, consumer and public interest organizations, and Internet advocates celebrated the decision as victory for grassroots organizing power. “Big Cable learned the hard way that their lobbyists can’t silence the voice of the people,” crowed Todd O’Boyle, a program director at Common Cause. “Once again this year, grassroots activists spoke out and Washington regulators listened. Comcast’s insider politics can’t beat us when we stand together.”

David Segal of Demand Progress said the strong net neutrality rules, combined with collapse of the merger, “underscores the importance of an engaged public.”

“We like to identify with the underdog,” he added, cheekily, in a statement, “and Comcast’s recent losing streak almost has us feeling sorry for them.”

TIME Careers & Workplace

11 Ways to Maximize Your Creative Brainstorming Time

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Creative brainstorming can lead to success — if you make time for it

startupcollective

Question: How can leaders carve out time/space for creative thinking each week?

Walk Away

“Get out of the office and into nature, engage in a hobby or just go to the grocery store. Raise your head up to experience the world while you’re in it. The world has so much to offer you creatively — if you’re open to it. But it won’t present your best ideas to you while you’re on the computer or at your desk. It will present them while you are away from the grind. So, give yourself space.” — Corey Blake, Round Table Companies

Wake Up Early

“At the beginning of a day, all the responsibilities of work can have a very strong gravitational pull. It’s usually hard to break away once you engage. Waking up early and taking time to meditate, write and think of creative ideas is a great way to avoid the inertia of your work because, chances are, no one is trying to contact you at that time.” — Mark Krassner, Knee Walker Central

Put an ‘Hour of Power’ in Your Calendar

“One of the secrets to carving out time for creative thinking and goal setting is by physically scheduling it as a reoccurring weekly event on your calendar. I call it my “Hour of Power,” which takes place on Sunday evening, and I haven’t missed it in four years.” — Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com

Timebox It Every Week

“The only way that’s worked for me is putting a three-hour time block on my calendar every week and sticking to it. That’s easier said than done, but a way to make it even more real is to communicate it openly to your team and encourage them to do the same!” — Derek Flanzraich, Greatist

Meet With Thought Leaders

“It’s important to meet with a wide variety of thought leaders. Ask people you find interesting to meet for coffee before work. It’ll give you a different vantage point and will get your wheels turning. Being internal and insular within your industry or company creates tunnel vision and acts as a barrier to great ideas.” — Luke Skurman, Niche.com

Draw It Out

“Take out a big sheet of paper and simply draw out all your ideas for an hour per day or week. Don’t use a computer. Feel free to draw pictures of words or branch out tree limbs filled with every problem — business or personal — you have. By drawing out your ideas, you can find hidden solutions from your subconscious. Collect these papers, and review them regularly.” — Robert De Los Santos, Sky High Party Rentals

Take ‘Walkies’

“Me and my creative team go on walks for 10 to 15 minutes every day. We like to refer to these as “walkies,” and everyone in the office knows that it’s time to drop everything and go for a walk. Around half the time we are just talking about our lives and getting to know one another better. The other half of the time, we have the best creative thoughts. Our best ideas have come out of these walks.” — John Rampton, Due

Adjust Your Sleep Schedule

“Start going to bed and waking up an hour earlier. Don’t check your phone when you first get up. Use the extra time to work out for 20 to 30 minutes, have a healthy breakfast and then do some active thinking about your day/week. I like to take a walk or just pace inside if the weather’s bad. Make this a non-negotiable item on your schedule. Afterward, begin your normal morning routine.” — Nick Lavezzo, FoundationDB

Have ‘Think Tanks’

“One thing we do at GothamCulture is something we call “Think Tanks.” It’s not something that’s reserved for leaders. Anyone can call a Think Tank. If employees have an unusual situation they’re grappling with, they invite the entire team to an optional meeting where they provide the context and the need, and the participants collaborate to come up with creative solutions.” — Chris Cancialosi, GothamCulture

Make It a Priority

“Schedule weekly recurring blocks in your calendar to keep creative thinking a high priority by either working alone or with others. Working alone can be very productive, and collaborating with colleagues or professionals from different industries is a great way to absorb new perspectives. I schedule these sessions three mornings a week and consider it a win when one or more yield results.” — Lauren Perkins, Perks Consulting

Know Yourself

“First, everyone has different times and circumstances when their creativity is at its peak. Chart a week, and you’ll learn your peak times for strategic and creative thinking and your less-than-peak times for emails and administrative tasks. You will also learn what distracts you, so you can determine the best approach to staying in the creative zone.” — Suzanne Smith, Social Impact Architects

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

This article was originally published on StartupCollective.

TIME Careers & Workplace

4 Strategies for Keeping Your Inbox Empty

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Choose the strategy that works best for your work style

The Muse logo

No matter how much time we spend trying to optimize our inbox—from batch checking messages to adding bells and whistles—email takes over our lives. Looking at my stats from last month, I received and processed over 10,000 emails (eek!), so finding the right way to manage all this online correspondence has been critical for my day-to-day sanity.

Turns out, though, the “right way” to manage email depends a lot on your own personal style. I’ve rounded up some of the most popular and successful strategies so that you can decide which one is best for you:

1. LIFO: Last In First Out

This technique is predicated on letting the old stuff deal with itself. It’s the most common way that people deal with their inbox, reading through email top-down (a.k.a., starting with the most recent email received).

This is highly convenient and intuitive, but there are two primary risks of this strategy. The first risk is that you’ll likely end up with inconsistent responsiveness. On days that you have a lot of time to spend on email, you’ll reply to contacts lightning-fast. On days that you’re busy and in meetings, you’ll have messages pile up and get buried under newer emails.

The second risk is that you may miss out on good opportunities because you didn’t follow up in time. If you choose to use this strategy, but want to mitigate these risks, I would recommend blocking an hour or two once a week during which you switch to the reverse chronological approach (conveniently outlined below). This way, you’ll clear out anything old that might be important.

2. Reverse Chronological

The opposite of LIFO, taking a reverse chronological approach means dealing with the oldest emails first. If you use Gmail, you can switch the sorting of your inbox, by just clicking the email counter in the top right corner.

With this strategy, you’ll often be confronted with harder emails you’ve been putting off, which is great for any chronic procrastinators. However, there is one downside to this strategy. If you work someplace where you constantly receive urgent emails that really do need to be answered right away, it might be risky to take a reverse chronological approach. With that said, you can definitely combine this strategy with LIFO during the actual workday if that’s the case.

3. Yesterbox

Famously used by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, the Yesterbox technique focuses on dealing today with all of the email you received yesterday. Hsieh explains:

“Your ‘to do’ list each day is simply yesterday’s email inbox (hence, ‘Yesterbox’). The great thing about this is when you get up in the morning, you know exactly how many emails you have to get through, there’s a sense of progress as you process each email from yesterday and remove it from your inbox, and there’s actually a point when you have zero emails left to process from yesterday. There is actually a sense of completion when you’re done, which is amazing.”

This is a great strategy for anyone who feels like they’re constantly drowning in email. While I recommend reading his entire how to, the best part is definitely the amount of control you’ll regain over your inbox. Unlike other methods, your target remains the same as the day goes on, and you’ll find over time that you get a better handle of how long email will take you to get through. Did you receive 25 emails yesterday? OK, that might take you a little over an hour. Have a big day with 70 emails coming in? You can plan ahead and block additional time to manage the volume.

4. Inbox Zero

A term coined by Merlin Mann, Inbox Zero is an email strategy by which the goal is to always keep your inbox 100% empty. There are some big benefits to this: Everything is always handled, and you don’t waste time re-reading an email for the third time before actually taking action. This strategy is good for Type-A list-makers (like me!) who like to have complete control on their inboxes. But from my experience, it’s easy to let your inbox dictate your life if you take this too far. Pro tip: Couple Inbox Zero with Boomerang for Gmail, an app that lets you file messages out of your inbox until the date and time of your choosing, so you can decide between actually answering and delaying for later, as need be.

If you’re trying it for the first time, I recommend checking out Lily Herman’s week-long challenge to stay at Inbox Zero before you start.

After trying each method, I can say with certainty that choosing a strategy is all about matching your personal preferences with any habits you’d like to encourage (or discourage). You may find that mixing and matching works best for you. I went a long while at Inbox Zero and have decided that the stress of getting those last few done wasn’t worth it. But I do keep my inbox under 20 emails by the time I go to bed each night—just short enough that I can see all of them on my screen for a quick check that nothing fell through the cracks. As long as you’re not a slave to your inbox and anyone who needs to hear from you is getting an answer in a timely manner, who’s to judge?

This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article above was originally published on The Muse.

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TIME Advertising

The New Apple Watch Ad Will Break Your Heart into a Million Tiny Pieces

It's about love—and a smartwatch

The Apple Watch launches today. And the company is ramping up its marketing campaign with three new ads. Titled ‘Rise’, ‘Up’ and ‘Us,’ the spots highlight everyday activities enhanced by the Watch. The ads are distinctly more style-focused than the firm’s other product-focused marketing.

‘Us’ (above) is about couples, love, and what’s likely a first, the soupçon of sex. It highlights the Watch’s communication features such as Digital Touch sketch, tap and heartbeat sharing features, and animated emoji.

The other two spots, ‘Rise’ and ‘Up’ (both below), focus on daily routines and working out.

TIME

Comcast – Time Warner Cable Deal Officially Terminated

Reports that the deal would be dropped were leaked to the media Thursday

Comcast officially announced Friday that it has abandoned a $45 billion takeover bid for Time Warner Cable, after significant opposition from U.S. regulators. The deal, first reported last February, would have combined America’s two largest cable companies.

Brian L. Roberts, Comcast Chairman and CEO said in a statement: “Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn’t agree, we could walk away.”

He thanked his employees and said “I couldn’t be more proud of this company and I am truly excited for what’s next.”

TIME Careers & Workplace

Why You Need to Stop Saying ‘Awesome’

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When something describes everything, it describes nothing

Inc. logo

Awesome. I would advise any entrepreneur who aspires to be taken more seriously to eliminate this ubiquitous word from his or her vocabulary.

Urbandictionary.com describes awesome as “something Americans use to describe everything.” When something describes everything, it describes nothing.

I just got back from Inc.‘s GrowCo convention in Nashville. Lots of useful, enjoyable, wonderful stuff there, as always, but I was stunned by how almost every speech by every presenter and almost every overheard or casual conversation was peppered with the word awesome. It was inescapable, like verbal kudzu choking out the variegated richness of the English language–so omnipresent it seemed like an acceptable substitute for just about any word. “Awesome.” “Awesome.” “Awesome.” “Yeah, really awesome, man.” It was like a lingua franca of evanescent mush, a meme of meaninglessness masquerading as communication and cool.

Fact: People in Shakespeare’s time had working vocabularies of around 54,000 words. They actually talked like characters in Shakespeare’s plays. The working vocabulary of the average American is 3,000 words and, I suspect, declining.

So, is “awesomeness” the beginning of the end for nuanced, accurate business communication? Does it render exact words irrelevant, mute, and dead? Does the practicing and practical entrepreneur even need words and vocabulary to be awesome?

Well, yes. For innovation and thinking, we absolutely need words. As German philosopher Martin Heidegger put it, “Language is the house of being.” There is no being outside of language. Without words, we are grunting our way to Gomorrah. The more impoverished our language, the less our ability to be innovative, growing, effective human beings. As Steve Jobs memorably put it about his own entrepreneurial company, “It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with the liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.”

Perhaps one of the reasons businesspersons default to the use of awesome for their writing and conversations may be that they have not been trained in language as an essential business skill. Arthur Levitt, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Bloomberg commentator, has been on a jihad about business language and communication. He calls much of business speech and business writing “incomprehensible.” He states, “[Business communication] lacks color and nuance, and it’s not terribly interesting to read.”

I believe it is utterly tragic that STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) curriculum seems to be routing the liberal arts–English, history, philosophy, psychology, et al. I understand that students want to have a good immediate job when they graduate, but that is short-term thinking. Especially for incipient entrepreneurs and business leaders. Even engineers, coders, and quants need words for genuine thinking. Without the right word and the right use of words, there can be no right thinking; there can be no accurate perception; there can be no exactitude. Words give a context, a reality, a structure for logic, innovation, and our eureka moments. Language creates a long-term ability to understand and cope with a brave new world moving and changing at the speed of light. It gives us a context to see the forest as well as the trees.

So, the use of awesome as a default word for just about everything is a killer of business accuracy and clarity. It bespeaks imprecision, inaccuracy, comfort with noncommunication, and impoverishment of imagination. “Awesome” is not cool. It is not outré. It is not out-of-the-box. It is mindless, shallow, slothful, ersatz, and, ultimately, disrespectful of anyone you are speaking to. I would suggest it is a good word for any entrepreneur to shake from his or her sandals.

Words are not irrelevant in a post-Jetsons world. They are ever illuminating. They are necessary. They are the house of the truth of being. They are grandiloquent, magnificent, magical, stupendous, fabulous, unbelievable, and extraordinary. These words have meaning. Awesome does not.

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article above was originally published at Inc.com.

TIME

Why Bad Bank Service Means You Could Pay More

We want more attention, they want more money

In the wake of the financial crisis, the Feds put the kibosh on a whole slew of bank tactics pertaining to overdraft fees, interchange fees (which they charge merchants when you use a debit card and which stores say get passed along in the form of higher prices) and credit card interest rate hikes. To cope, banks closed branches, invested in technology so they could replace costly branches and tellers with computers, and started trying to coax their more affluent customers into shifting their borrowing and investing activities from other institutions.

At the time, these actions made sense. Banking industry trade publications and white papers were full of buzzword-y terms like the “360-degree customer view,” which encouraged banks to think of a checking account as the financial services equivalent of the $1.99 chicken breasts at the supermarket: A loss leader that could reel in customers who would then stick around and buy more profitable items (like, say, a home equity loan or brokerage account). And banks poured money into their online offerings, mobile apps and upgraded ATMs that — the thinking went — could deliver customer service at the fraction of the cost of a teller depositing money or checking a balance for a customer.

But it didn’t turn out like that, according to a new study from consulting firm Capgemini and banking trade association Efma. The World Retail Banking Report shows that positive customer experiences fell among North American bank customers. “Return on investments in the front- office and digital channels are struggling to keep up with evolving customer expectations,” the report says.

The advancements in technology just built up people’s expectations — especially for tech-savvy younger customers. “Across all regions, Gen Y customers registered lower customer experience levels than customers of other ages, reflecting the high expectations Gen Ys have of banks’ digital capabilities,” the report says. The fact that young adults are less satisfied than customers in other age brackets shows that banks aren’t keeping up with the technological times, and less than half of American Gen Y bank customers say they plan to stay with their current bank over the next six months.

And yet, customers’ embrace and expectation of digital banking didn’t put the kind of corresponding dent in branch usage banks were seeking. In fact, the number of people using bank branches in North America actually went up — hardly the kind of digital revolution banks were seeking. Seems we’d still rather deal with a human being for most kinds of banking activities because we don’t think the digital service is up to snuff. “Customers still perceived the branch to be offering better service than what could be found on the digital channels,” the report says.

Banks’ cost-cutting moves in the service arena did some serious damage to customer satisfaction, dampening customers’ inclination to deepen their relationship with their banks or recommend the institutions to others, another key component of banks’ post-reform moneymaking strategy. “Alarmingly for the banks, there was a significant increase in the percentage of customers who were unlikely to buy additional products or refer someone to their banks,” the report says. In North America, that figure jumped by more than 20 percentage points in just a year.

The report blames this on growing competition to banks from other products and services like Apple Pay, LendingTree and Starbucks’ prepaid payment platform.

What could this mean for customers? If you said, “more fees,” you just might be on the right track. According to research company Moebs $ervices, financial institutions have collectively lost roughly $5 billion a year in overdraft fee revenue alone (although, if this sounds like a lot, keep in mind that they still made roughly $32 billion off these fees in the year that ended September 30, 2014, compared to around $37 billion just before the new laws kicked in.)

Moebs also says bank and credit union net operating income as a percentage of assets fell by nearly 7% last year from the year prior, driven by a drop in revenue from fees. “Financial institutions need to assess why fee revenue is falling and develop additional sources of fee revenue to get net operating Income back on track,” Moebs economist and CEO Michael Moebs wrote earlier this month.

And that technology we’ve grown to depend on might be the way to accomplish this. One recent study finds that a quarter of bank customers say they’d pay $3 a month just to use their bank’s mobile app, a figure that goes up to about a third for customers under the age of 35.

“Customers are willing to pay for services such as credit monitoring, person-to-person transactions, personal couponing, identity theft protection, and related other services,” a recent banking trade publication article notes, saying that if banks get on the ball, they could more than make up their losses from that declining overdraft revenue — probably not what all those already-frustrated customers wanted to hear.

TIME Tech

Microsoft Looks to the Cloud as Sales of Windows Tumble

It used to be that software giant Microsoft could count on its flagship Windows operating system as a big contributor to its bottom line. With Windows bundled on millions of new personal computers, the company could count on a lot of easy money to basically activate the pre-installed software.

But, as reflected in its latest earnings report, Microsoft is feeling the sting of consumers shifting away from PCs, which cuts into the company’s lucrative licensing business model.

Indeed, while the company’s overall sales grew to $21.7 billion for the past quarter from $20.4 billion during the same period last year, its Windows licensing business has taken a hit. Revenue from the business version of Windows dropped 19% while the Windows consumer edition fell 26%.

So what’s picking up the slack? The answer is that nebulous term known as the cloud, which generally refers to companies using their own data centers to provide computing, networking and storage power to others.

For Microsoft, this means not just the computing and infrastructure-related services it sells through Azure, the name of its cloud service. But also products that Azure powers like the Office 365 product suite, analytics services for companies that want to crunch numbers, and even an e-discovery service—a new business line for Microsoft tailored for lawyers who need to sift through thousands of corporate emails for evidence, for example.

During an earnings call with investors, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella downplayed the decline of Windows licensing sales and instead touted the company’s burgeoning cloud business, which more than doubled in sales from the previous year and now has an annualized revenue run rate of $6.3 billion.

Nadella sees Microsoft’s cloud business as a big contributor to the company’s revenue and a way to open up new markets. For example, Nadella said that selling Office 365 via the cloud means that consumers and small businesses without the sophisticated IT of big corporations can buy more sophisticated versions of the product that would otherwise require complex infrastructure to operate.

And once a company buys into one of Microsoft’s cloud services, Microsoft can then use it as a foothold to sell them additional products.

Of course, Microsoft isn’t alone in this line of thinking. Rival cloud providers like Google and Amazon Web Services have all been busy over the past year creating new cloud services powered by their massive data centers to land more customers.

What used to be a war between the cloud giants over which one could provide customers with data center storage at the lowest possible price has been steadily morphing into which cloud provider has the best services that companies can tap into. So while Microsoft has been losing cash when it comes to Windows and the old software licensing model, it’s steadily making that up by selling access to its data centers and the software services built on top.

But with Amazon, Google and even IBM seemingly doing the same thing, it’s not going to be a piece of cake for Microsoft to come out on top.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Companies

Bezos Says Amazon Web Services Is a $5 Billion Business

Amazon President, Chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos speaks at the Business Insider's "Ignition Future of Digital" conference in New York City on Dec. 2, 2014.
Mike Segar—Reuters Amazon President, Chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos speaks at the Business Insider's "Ignition Future of Digital" conference in New York City on Dec. 2, 2014.

At long last, we get some details on AWS revenue

The one thing everyone knew about Amazon’s nearly nine-year-old cloud business was that it was massive. But actual details were scarce, to say the least. That changed Thursday when Amazon corporate broke out Amazon Web Services sales and revenue for the very first time on its first quarter earnings call.

Drumroll please. For the quarter, AWS logged $1.57 billion in revenue, up 49 percent from the year-ago period. Perhaps a bigger deal: It logged operating income of $265 million for the quarter, up from $245 million a year ago. And for the first time Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, put a number on the AWS business. In a statement he characterized Amazon’s cloud as “a $5 billion business and still growing fast — in fact it’s accelerating.”

Up until now, here’s what we knew about AWS: In November, Amazon execs claimed 1 million business customers and a 40 percent year-over-year growth rate. But growth from what number to what number was a closely held secret. AWS figures were buried in the overall North American Sales “Other” category which included branded credit cards and other stuff. Technology Business Research Analyst Jillian Mirandi projected that AWS made up 90 percent of that category, but no one outside of Amazon’s executive suite really knew for sure.

For the record, net sales for that “other” category including AWS was $1.67 billion for the fourth quarter ending January 31, 2014 and $1.204 billion for the first quarter last year.

There were plenty of educated guesses though. Most recently a Deutsche Bank analysts estimated AWS to be $6 billion/year business (albeit an unprofitable one) and roughly 10 times the size of Microsoft’s cloud business.

AWS has been a runaway train in public cloud services—where companies’ workloads share massive pools of computing, storage, and networking infrastructure run by AWS. That’s because it has had that market to itself since 2006 and was noted for launching unilateral price cuts on basic services while also introducing higher end (and more pricey) database and other services. Developers at companies large and small loved AWS because they could quickly—often with their own credit cards—launch new applications and test them very quickly. AWS use spread like wildfire among that substrata of IT users.

But now, AWS is seeing competition from big and very-well funded competitors including Microsoft, Google, IBM, and a cadre of telecommunications companies all pitching cloud services not only to developers but to CEOs, chief information officers, and mucky-mucks at big companies, most of whom get nervous about the idea of “shared” infrastructure when it comes to their precious corporate data and applications.

For its third quarter, Microsoft said its “commercial cloud” business, which includes, but is not limited to Azure, was up 106 percent year over year, and now represents $6.3 billion in annual revenue.

In this race AWS has to compete with other cloud vendors that have entrenched relationships with big customer executives. It registered a seismic coup two years ago when it beat out IBM for a coveted deal to build a CIA cloud even though it bid more than IBM did on that business. That win gave AWS credibility among other security-conscious users and showed a willingness by AWS to adapt its model if the customer was big enough.

Perhaps more important, it is no longer able to call the shots on pricing. Last year Google started undercutting Amazon pricing on some basic services—meaning that, for the first time, AWS had to respond to someone else’s price pressure.

But AWS is no longer alone, and at a time when it’s trying to appeal up market to CEOs and CIOs as well as to its more traditional base of developers and programmers, it is facing stiff competition.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME justice

Trust-Busting Isn’t Back. Comcast Was Just Unlucky.

The Comcast Corp. logo is seen as Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive officer of Comcast Corp. (R) speaks during a news conference in Washington on June 11, 2013.
Bloomberg/Getty Images The Comcast Corp. logo is seen as Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive officer of Comcast Corp. (R) speaks during a news conference in Washington on June 11, 2013.

Comcast walked away from its $45.2 billion proposed merger with Time Warner Cable, according to a statement released Friday.

The unexpected change of heart—attributed to unnamed sources by Bloomberg News, CNBC and the New York Times (Comcast declined to comment to TIME)—comes just a day after government officials at the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department expressed doubt this week that a marriage between the nation’s two largest cable companies would serve the public interest.

But advocates for robust antitrust action shouldn’t celebrate too much. The collapse of the merger had more to do with the specifics of this particular deal than a return to the 1970s, when the federal government last engaged in energetic trust busting.

For starters, the two companies involved in this particular marriage are uniquely unpopular. In poll after poll, Americans ranked both Comcast and Time Warner Cable as among the most-hated companies in the country. The prospect of two nationally despised companies merging into one bigger despised company did not earn much public support. Though 97 members of Congress signed a letter in 2011 in support of the unprecedented merger between Comcast and the much less-hated NBC Universal, this time around, there was hardly a peep.

Weak public support for the deal was also exacerbated by bad timing. The announcement of the proposed merger in February 2014 just happened to coincide with what became, over the course of the last year, a frothy, nationwide debate over net neutrality, the idea that all web traffic should be treated equally. While Comcast did its very best to separate its proposed merger from the hubbub over a free and open Internet, it was a tough sell. Comcast, which charged Netflix for faster delivery of its content—a violation of many people’s idea of net neutrality—found itself constantly in the news.

But even if the environment had been pristine for a merger of two giant companies, the fact that Comcast and Time Warner Cable are regulated by the FCC meant that, unlike with most mergers, this one always had to clear two separate hoops: one with the FCC and one with the Department of Justice.

The FCC was charged with determining whether the transaction would serve “the public interest, convenience, and necessity”—a nebulous standard that only exacerbated the companies’ problems. Meanwhile, the Justice Department had to decide whether the larger, combined Comcast would constitute a monopoly—another vaguely worded mandate that left room for interpretation.

The FCC, while technically an independent agency, doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Just weeks after President Obama expressed support for the strongest-possible net neutrality rules last November, the FCC proposed them. So it’s perhaps not insignificant to mention that Obama, a second-term Democrat who’s currently going to battle with liberals by supporting the biggest free-trade deal of all time, would throw the left a bone by quietly encouraging both agencies to slow-roll a merger that most Americans hated anyway.

If Comcast walks away from the Time Warner Cable merger as reported, anti-trust groups who vehemently opposed the deal will celebrate.

But there’s no reason to believe that the $49 billion merger between AT&T and DirecTV—or any of the other huge marriages coming down the pike—won’t go through without a hitch. Anti-trust organizations may have won a battle, but they’re still losing the war.

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