Author: Mike Magee

David Atherton assumes a new position

dabs01Serial entrepreneur David Atherton – the brains behind dabs.com which he subsequently sold to BT for a heap of dosh – has a new position, it has emerged.

David is now a consultant at Suzanna’s Pub and Restaurant. We think it’s this one, but we’re not entirely sure.

As part of his iconic career, David once confided to me in a pub close to the Register’s then HQ in East Mayfair that he, like myself, was subject to a Jesuitic regime when he was a kid.

His legacy at DABS is not over.  Just a few days ago, at the Beehive pub in Crawford Street, just off Baker Street, we snapped a branded bag bearing the logo.

ChannelEye launches and injects zest into the supply chain

Hands across the waterPrakasha Publishing Ltd has launched a title designed to inform, educate and entertain the influential supply chain in the United Kingdom.

ChannelEye, (channeleye.co.uk) is edited by industry veteran Mike Magee. The editorial team that launched another channel title this time last year, will upset the apple cart and provide hard hitting news, interviews and pithy comment that reflect the concerns of distributors, resellers and the rest of the community.

“It’s high time that stuffy, old fashioned channel magazines whether online or in print are consigned to the dustbin of history,” Magee said.  “The supply chain continues to be essential to deliver vendors’ offerings to end users.  We will break the mould and deliver essential information to the key players in the market.”

“This is a fantastic development for IDG” suggests Jonny Busse, head of the IDG Tech Network. “Commercially representing this website will now allow IDGUK a strong presence in this important marketplace with ChannelEye offering a clean and unique style coupled with hard hitting content”

In addition to news, ChannelEye will cover wider matters including reviews, interviews with key players, moves in the industry, product information, gossip, and sparky, solid information. Avoiding re-cycled press releases, ChannelEye will avoid business jargon that only marketers understand, and will deliver gritty and realistic depictions of stuff that matters to the channel.

About Prakasha Publishing Ltd.  Prakasha, headed by CEO Mike Magee, already publishes well respected technology title TechEye.  Founder of both the Register and the Inquirer, Magee was listed as the 35th most influential person in UK technology by the Daily Telegraph.  He can be contacted at mike.magee@channeleye.co.uk  He brings on board a team of journalists that has close contacts in the channel and the wider IT community.

Lenovo posts strong profits, beats forecasts

lenovo_hqLenovo has bucked the trend with a stellar quarter, which saw the outfit’s profit and market share soar.

Lenovo reported its earnings on Wednesday and its net profit in the October – December fiscal quarter was $204.9 million, up by a third from a year earlier. Analysts had expected Lenovo to post $178 million net profit, but the outfit outperformed even the most optimistic forecasts. In fact, Lenovo exceeded its previous record of $172, posted back in 2007, before the credit crunch and PC slump.

The company is still trailing Hewlett Packard in terms of global PC market share, but according to IDC, it is narrowing the gap. What’s more, Lenovo is diversifying beyond the PC market and its smartphones and tablets are making their presence felt in China. The same can’t be said of HP, which apparently still thinks it can grow its business by peddling toners and overpriced printer ink.

Although Lenovo phones are somewhat of an oddity in western markets, Lenovo’s mobile business saw its revenues jump 77 percent in the Chinese market, almost hitting the $1 billion mark. So although western consumers don’t see them, Lenovo phones seem to be doing rather well. The company’s mobile internet and digital home business accounted for about one tenth of revenues during quarter and  Lenovo claims its China smartphone business reached profitability for the first time.

Lenovo’s core business is doing fine and its focus on mobile seems to be paying off, at least in China. Lenovo’s Android tablets aren’t big sellers in the west, but they aren’t lemons, either. What’s more, Lenovo is starting to offer an increasing number of high-end ThinkPad tablets on top of its bland Android offerings. It is also in a good position to capitalize on Windows 8 tablets and hybrids. Although the Android tablet market will probably remain dominated by Asus and Samsung, Lenovo might carve out a high-margin niche in Windows 8, if it plays its cards right.

Apple’s down but it’s far from out

Apple, iPadConsumer behemoth Apple reported its first quarter financial results yesterday and while it posted revenues of $54.5 billion and a net profit of $13.1 billion, compared to revenues of $46.3 billion and profits of $13.1 billion in the same financial quarter last year, profits were flat.

Gross margin fell to 38.6 percent compared to 44.7 percent in the same quarter last year. Apple is forecasting gross margins between 37.5 percent and 38.5 percent for its second quarter, with estimated revenues between $41 billion and $43 billion.

So, what’s the problem? CEO Tim Cook said that supply problems were a matter to be concerned about, despite media reports.  And Apple has got a stash of cash in its corporate coffers – not far short of $137 billion in both liquid ashes and in cash.  That gives it a pot of gold that would let it buy other companies to make a splash in new or other developing markets.

A bigger problem is its existing slew of products, including the wildly successful iPad and the solidly popular iPhone.  It does face a challenge on the tablet front – particularly so from Google and Amazon devices.  Microsoft Windows 8 using Intel chips may not be so much of a challenge.  Intel cannot necessarily lower the price of its microprocessors, given its business model and Microsoft appears to believe that tablet devices running the touch version of Windows 8 should command the same prices as Apple iPads, or be even more expensive.

Apple’s share price (AAPL: Nasdaq), stood at $460.15 at press time.

Tablets set to take more PC market share

Apple iPadA market research company said that tablets are set to cannibalise more PC sales as their popularity continues to grow.

ABI Research estimates that 145 million tablets will ship this year, with 50 percent of sales outside the USA. Price, new entrants to the market and increased shipments into enterprise will help drive the growth.

Business sales will account for as much of 19 percent during 2013, and a variety of slates using Intel chips and Windows 8 will begin to make more impact this year, according to Jeff Orr, senior director at ABI.

Meanwhile Israeii company Perion said it conducted a survey of 4,400 iPad users about how they used their machines.  Ninety percent of those surveyed said they used their iPads to read and write email.

Women are more likely to read and write emails from their pads, while the favourite app is Apple Mail at 41 percent, Gmail at 31 percent and Hotmail at 13 percent. Eighteen percent of people use browsers to access webmail rather than using clients.

ARM set to grow share in server market

arm_chipA report from Markets and Markets (M&M) suggested that the micro server market will be worth $26.55 billion by 2014 and microprocessors based on ARM technology are set to take a significant share.

Micro servers major on low power consumption and have small footprints, and use multiple mobile processors. The main market will be small to medium sized businesses and applications use light duty web serving, can be used for dedicated hosting, cloud computing and analytics.

Right now, this sector only accounts for 2.3 percent of total server sales, but M&M predicts that in the next five years to reach between 25 and 30 percent of sales worldwide.

While some large enterprises are already using micro servers in an area dominated by Intel Atom and Xeon CPUs, 64 bit ARM processors are set to appear in 2014 and that will change the market dynamics, the research company said.

North America is the biggest market for micro servers currently, followed by Europe, but it is expected that the Asian region will overtake Europe by 2018.  Vendors already in the game include Intel, HP, Dell, Fujitsu and Samsung.

Samsung flattens Apple in smartphone helter-skelter

Samsung rules the roostA report suggests Apple will see its sales of smartphones peak this year and from then on will pursue the seemingly unstoppable rise and rise of Samsung.

According to ABI Research, smartphones will represent 50 percent of all handset sales in 2013, and by 2018 2.4 billion smartphones shipping will represent 69 percent of all handsets. By then, LTE handsets will represent 50 percent of smartphone shipments and 35 percent of all handsts.

Michael Morgan, a senior analyst at ABI, said: “Apple will be chasing Samsung’s technology, software device leadership in 2013 through the foreseeable future.” He said that the Korean chaebol grew its smartphone market share from eight percent to over 30 percent last year. Apple will remain flat until 2018, he predicted. While Samsung is relying on Google Android for 90 percent of its smartphone shipments, ABI thinks that it will use other OSes including Bada, Tizen and Windows Phone.

Even though many handsets will support LTE in the future, people may not have access to LTE networks.  ABI thinks that LTE will be the fastest growing WWAN in history.

Samsung has plenty of advantages over Apple – it is a vertically integrated company and is able to keep costs down by providing essential components from its own manufacturing arsenals.

Voucher hell breaks loose in Blighty

davidwillettsSeveral people we know have lost quite a lot of money in Christmas presents owing to HMV going down the gunnel.

Our advice, then, to anyone who got vouchers as part of a Christmas present is, to spend, spend, spend.

One source told ChannelEye that her twin boys could not redeem HMV vouchers yesterday. So a net loss and a disappointment, for the kids,  by and large.

If you have a “voucher”, redeem it. And redeem it fast. Who knows which company is going to go down the tube, next?

There is somethimg very dodgy about this, and ChannelEye is watching it closely.

How Microsoft and Intel lost the plot

The TitanicWhile no-one could say that the writing is on the wall for giant tech companies Intel and Microsoft, there is a warning there but so far it’s just written in invisible ink.

As I write this, Intel’s share price (NASDAQ:INTC) stands at $21.93 and Microsoft’s (NYSE:MSFT) at $26.90.  They’ve ticked along in this way for many a long year now and the only way seems to be down.

Signs of bombers approaching have been on the radar for many a year now, and both companies seem to be like supertankers, which take an awfully long time to run round.  The Vole and the Zilla have got complacent and failed to take steps years ago to re-engineer their businesses.

You still have time to have a wee and wash your hands before a PC boots up and despite the undoubted process advances Intel has made over the years, people are fleeing the Win platform in their droves.

Both companies have failed to make inroads into the smartphone and tablet market, even though they whined on and on about convergence for many a year.  Handset manufacturers, by and large, do not want to be in the tender embrace of the two companies which essentially dictated what went in the PC industry.

And besides, their basic technology deeply sucks, for different reasons. Intel is forced, because of its huge capital investment commitments, to put a premium on its notebook microprocessors while it is safe to say that its much vaunted Atom range is just a total flop.

Microsoft’s software has always basically sucked anyway and it’s only by cunning marketing that it achieved its pre-eminence in this side of the business. I don’t think anyone, apart from Intel executives, have got smartphones powered by Intel Inside. Oddly enough, at an Intel Developer Forum years and years ago, when it still had its StrongARM stuff, me and a few other journos did ask why Intel just didn’t go and develop really low power devices based on the ARM chip and give people what they really wanted.

While Intel and Microsoft have been shilly-shallying and, essentially, living in the past, competition has crept up and overtaken them.

And so at some point this year, current CEO Paul Otellini is to depart from his captain’s cabin at Intel, to be replaced by who-knows-who to guide the ship into 2013 and beyond.

Right now, and as an Intel and Microsoft watcher for nigh on 30 years, I just can’t see how these particular conjurers are going to pull any rabbits out of their magic hats. Maybe they’ll specialise in producing cabbages from up their sleeves, instead.