Author: Staff Writer

Security appliance market surges

Cisco FirewallOn the day that IBM revealed that a billion individuals had their data leaked in 2014, a report said the security appliance market saw double digit shipment growth in the fourth quarter of last year.

IDC said that worldwide, both factory revenues and shipments grew with revenues growing 8.6 percent compared to the same quarter last year, amounting to $2.6 billion.

But shipments grew twice as fast as revenues at 16.7 percent, representing 635, 933 units.

IDC said that’s the fourth consecutive quarter of shipment growths. For the whole year, revenues and shipments grew 8.4 percent and 8.3 percent respectively, amounting to $9.4 billion and 2.1 million units.

All geographies showed growth, but in Europe security appliances represented 26.9 percent of worldwide revenues.

The leading beacon in the market is Cisco – it has a 16.6 percent share of worldwide revenue. Check Point checked in at number two, with 13.2 percent revenue share. It grew by 25.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014.

In third place was Fortinet, which is the largest appliance vendor in shipment terms.

Palo Alto Networks, Blue Coat and McAfee were the other contenders in the top five position, with the last two tying in worldwide revenues.

 

A billion people get their data leaked

IBM logoA report from IBM’s security division estimates that in 2014 “at lease” a billion records of people across the world were leaked.

That’s about one in seven of this planet’s humanoid population.

IBM released its X-Force quarterly report and relays information about over 9,000 security “vulnerabilities” affecting over 2,600 vendors in 2014. That’s an increase of 9.8 percent compared to 2013 and Big Blue said it’s the highest single year total in the 18 years it’s been tracking such things.

The USA has suffered the most because at 74.5 percent that’s far higher than other territories. IBM said that 40.2 percent of the most common attacks didn’t get described by those surveyed but malware and DDoS accounted for as much as 17.2 percent each.

IBM said that there was a big rise in so-called designer vulnerabilities.

All operating systems seemed to be under attack – including Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

One key vulnerability happened in October with a researcher showing there are thousands of security problems in Android apps.

 

Light sensor market set to boom

Samsung HQ Silicon Valley - MM picMEMS and sensors will be integral to the internet of things (IoT).

And today a report from analyst firm IHS said that the main beneficiaries of the boost in light sensors will be Samsung, Apple and Chinese original equipment manufacturing.

By 2016, revenues fro this sector will amount to $767 million, and Samsung is the main driver of the growth. Last year Samsung accounted for 43 percent of light sensor spending in smartphones.

Apple accounts for 19 percent of the market in 2014, mostly because it currently uses customised and high performance parts.

But Chinese OEMs spending in 2014 represented 23 percent of the market, mostly on low cost components as companies vied to produce inexpensive smartphones which actually have started competing with Samsung on the smartphone front.

As far as suppliers of the sensors go, AMS shipped 744 million units in 2014 and was the top vendor with design wins from both Apple and from Samsung.

Maxim shipped 132 million light sensors last year – most of them components in Samsung flagship products

But there are some contenders on the block, including Sitronix, Elan and Everlight, said IHS.

Microsoft migrates tech to competitors

windows-10-technical-preview-turquoiseThe artificial intelligence project called Einstein and used in its so called personal assistant Cortana is set to be ported to Android and to Apple’s iOS.

That’s according to a report from Reuters, which said in an exclusive interview that Cortana will eventually become a stand alone application.

But in the interim and widely flagged, Cortana will be rolled out as part of its Windows 10 desktop, not due until the autumn of 2015.

Microsoft has been boasting about Cortana’s abilities and a few weeks ago the company managed to predict a large number of Oscar winners.

Microsoft wants to get away from being considered a proprietary company and the new CEO broom at the company, Satya Nadella, wants to sprained the appeal of the company’s tech.

Certain differs from Google Siri because that trawls the web and its own server for information that it believes people want.

Certain is being projected as super duper artificial intelligence (AI). But although AI has been touted now for many decades it still faces many challenges.

What’s certain is that in the quest for the perfect AI agent, Microsoft faces many challenges from its competition – in particular Google – which has fairly deep pockets too.

More gloom ahead for the PC market

A not so mobile X86 PCThere’s still no light at the end of tunnel for PC sales, market research company IDC has predicted.

It estimates that world wide shipments of PCs will drop by 4.9 percent this year, but it suggests things may be slightly better in 2016 and 2017.

Total shipments of PCs this year are expected to total 293.1 million, but the underlying trend remains poor.

IDC said that some sectors of the market saw an uptick in demand during the second half of last year, but volumes were up because the supply chain was inflated by Microsoft’s plan to cut subsidies in its Windows 8.1 + Bing scheme early this year.

The strong US dollar makes PCs more expensive and there’s a continuing move to other form factors. Intel won’t release its Skylake processor and Microsoft won’t ship Windows 10 until later this year, so many will wait buying until they see which particular writing is on the wall.

Emerging markets don’t offer much either. IDC said that these markets ended 2014 with a decline of 9.5 percent in PC shipments.

Loren Louverde, VP of PCs at IDC, said opportunities for long term growth depend largely on growth in the emerging market. “That seems unlikely with the shift towards mobile devices. Vendors can focus on growth segments of the market such as All in One, slim and convertible PCs, or consolidate share, but pressure on pricing and from competing devices will continue to make it a challenging market.”

Swatch fleshes out smart watch plans

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 16.29.23Giant watch vendor Swatch isn’t going to directly take on Apple in the smart watch market.

Instead it has what just might be a far more cunning plan.

According to CEO Nick Hayek, Swatch is going to start selling watches using inexpensive near field communication (NFC) chips, letting you make payments by just waving your wrist at the receiver.

Reuters said that Hayek’s view on Apple is that it is creating a new market for watches which it will be able to leverage. It won’t venture into what he described as having a mini mobile phone on your wrist.

Swatch hopes that people will buy Apple watches because lots of people don’t wear watches and if Apple succeeds in selling as many as it hopes, that will put it and other watch vendors in a stronger position.

Hayek is quoted as saying that Swatch is not in the business of upgrading software every year.

In any case, Swatch is going to introduce sort watches which will connect to Android phones and perform many of the functions of the Apple iWatch. You won’t have to pay hundreds or even thousands of US dollars for this functionality.

ICO busts nuisance call centre

policemanThe Information Commissioner’s Office said it raided a call centre in Hove that it thought is the origin of millions of nuisance phone calls.

The ICO said the company used automatic dialling to make millions of calls about payment protection or debt management.

The calls are made without peoples’ permission and the ICO said it’s impossible for people to opt out of them.

The enforcement people at the ICO removed documents and computer equipment for forensic action and to decide what action it could take to prevent the company from making the the prerecorded calls.

Options include issuing a civil monetary enforcement notice.

David Clancy, who led the raid for the ICO, said: “It is astounding to think this one small company has the ability to pester millions of people with unwanted calls on a huge skill.”

He said the rules are clear about making recorded calls without consent. “If the evidence proves the law has been broken, we will act,” he said.

Electronic marketing regulations are soon to change and that it will make it easier for the ICO to take action, he said.

 

Intel suffers $1 billion hit

Intel-logoChip megagiant Intel has revised its forecast for the first quarter of this year by close to one billion dollars.

The company said that people haven’t been buying the expected number of business PCs, and distributors, dealers and other vendors haven’t been ordering what Intel expected.

Intel thought that small and medium sized companies would flock in their droves to upgrade the now defunct Windows XP operating system. But that hasn’t happened.

It also said that currency conditions in Europe had affected its business.

Now Intel thinks its first quarter revenues will amount to $12.8 billion – down from its original estimate of $13.7 billion.

But if you’re starting to feel sorry for the behemoth, you don’t need to be. It said it is still expecting its gross margin to be about 60 percent, a gross margin that many other enterprises would die for.

 

Tablet shipments to slide

ipad3The next five years for shipments of tablets will see them grow only in the low single digits, according to market research company IDC.

IDC said it expects worldwide shipments of tablets to amount to 234.5 million units this year, that’s only 2.1 percent up from shipments last year.

It anticipates, however, that the commercial market for tablets will grow, and Microsoft will gain some market share in the sector.

IDC said that the Android operating system will remain the leader in the market while Apple’s iOS will show declines this year. Microsoft, which had 5.1 percent share in 2014, is expected to grow to 14.1 percent in 2019.

IDC thinks the introduction of Windows 10 this year will have a “significant impact” because people want consistency across different devices.

Predicted market share in 2019 will be 62.9 percent for Android based tablets, 23 percent for iOS based tablets, and 14.1 percent for Windows based tablets.

IBM pushes low power WANs

ibm-officeBig Blue said it is cooperating with Semtech to create a new technology using low power wide area networks (LPWANs) that it says has advantages over wi-fi and cellular nets for machine to machine communication.

The long rage wide area networks (LoRaWAN) uses a spec and protocol for low power nets that uses a wireless spectrum that can contact sensor over long distance in anticipation of the emergence of the internet of things (IoT).

These networks have better mobility, security, bi-directionality and localisation as well as being cheaper than existing networks, IBM said.

Semtech, IBM and other firms have formed an organisation called the LoRa Alliance to develop and provide standardisation for the technology.

The technology promises communications of over 60 miles in favourable environments, nine miles in semi rural environments and 1.2 miles in urban environments with data rates of 300 bit/s up to 100 kbit/s.

Sensors can run on one AA battery for 10 years and AES128 keys make for good security, IBM claimed.

Applications include machines telling distributors when they’ve run out of supplies or need fixing; cities could offer smart metering; distributors can track cargo containers; and home heating firms would get alerts when oil tanks are running low.

IBM has made the LoRaWAN protocol open source to encourage standardisation.

 

VCE widens its portfolio

Pic Mike MageeVCE, which specialises in converged infrastructure, said it has added a raft of software and hardware products aimed at customers looking to move to a hybrid cloud model.

The company said its Vscale architecture offers speed and simplicity for data centres. The VxBlock Systems use Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure or VMare NSX for software defined networking.

Its VCE Vision Intelligent Operations 3.0 is an update to its management software with unified intelligence across many VCE converged infrastructure systems.

It supplemented these announcements with VCE technology extensions – pre-tested and pre-validate hardware – the announcement means that businesses can add storage and computing resources including EMC and Cisco products.

Further VCE said that it has launched the Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud, making it easier to build scalable systems.

VCE said it is now shipping the Vblock System 540 and the System 740 in volume. These products were announced last October.

 

Sound systems face wireless revolution

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 14.24.31Home audio systems are undergoing a sea change because of the popularity of mobile phones, according to a report from IHS Technology.

The analysts said that shipments of connected audio products – that includes wireless speakers, wireless sounders and connected AV receivers will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 88 percent.

In unit terms, that’s a rise from 1.5 million units in 2010 to close to 66 million units in 2016.

Paul Erickson, a senior analyst at IHS, said that its penetration of tablets and smartphones and streaming services including Spotify that are creating a shift in peoples’ perception.

“Consumers are seeking ways to wireless play audio from their mobile devices on speakers in the room they’re in, in multiple rooms in a household, and on speakers carried with the. This need will drive strong global growth in wi-fi and Bluetoosh connected speakers over the next few years,” he said.

Major players in the market will include Samsung, LG, Sony, Bose, Denon, and DTS.

And while prices for connected multi-room speakers are high, they will still be adopted by many people. Sony, Samsung and LG are all expected to put serious marketing bucks into the equation.

Apple faces watch attack

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 18.15.41If Apple thinks it will have the smart watch market to itself, it had better think again. Traditional vendors of watches are on the march.

According to Reuters, the Swiss watch industry is preparing itself to parachute into the smart watch sector, following Apple’s announcement of a range of glitzy wrist watches earlier this week.

The report said that a number of big players in the watch business are quietly preparing to introduce smart watches – including Swatch, Guess, Richmond and LVMH. Richemonte owns the Montblanc brand.

Apparently, the companies believe that Apple may ignite the taste of youngsters for watches and they hope to make sales off the back of the rush of publicity the Apple iWatch has generated.

Swatch publicly confirmed in January that it was ready for the smart watch and its device won’t be tied just to the Apple iPhone but will support the Android operating system too.

And, perhaps crucially, it will have much longer battery life than Apple’s offering.

Guess, too, has far advanced plans for a smart watch.

Perhaps more crucially, the traditional timepiece manufacturers have long established routes to market and unparalleled distribution know how.

Notebook sales fell in February

notebooksA report said there were large falls in shipments of notebooks in January and February.

Digitise Research said that shipments for the five multinational brands and the top three manufacturers – original design manufacturers – fell by 13 percent and 18 percent in February.

One major reason, the analysts say is because there are high levels of stocks of models intended for home use left over from last year. Fluctuations in exchange rates also caused a decline in sale.

However, it appears that Hewlett Packard managed to buck the trend and in February its notebook shipments rose by 30 percent. It had managed to make adjustments to its overstock and also made significant sales of units for the educational market to India.

Lenovo fell behind HP in the top five, but it was Acer and Asustek which really took a hit, with falls in shipments of as much as 40 percent, Digitimes Research said.

The ODMs, who make notebooks to be rebranded by others, also saw their shipments fall during the period.

 

Wikimedia sues the NSA

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 14.21.01The Wikimedia Foundation, along with other human rights organisations, has taken legal action against the National Security Agency (NSA) and the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

Wikimedia, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, allege that the NSA surveillance programme breaks US laws on freedom of speech.

The NSA’s surveillance work violates a number of matters covered by the US Constitution, Wikimedia Foundation alleges.

According to the BBC, the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation claims that the NSA is “training the backbone of democracy” and this activity collects data which is too wide to conform to US laws.

The Wikimedia Foundation alleges that the NSA and the DoJ have spied on Wikipedia and so violated privacy laws and challenged intellectual freedom.

The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, hopes that the lawsuit will end the NSA’s trawling internet traffic.