Category: News

UK B2C e-commerce to hit £62.49 billion

visa-epayBritish people are falling in love with e-commerce and a new eMarketer report claims their enthusiasm for buying things they don’t need and can’t afford with money they don’t have will drive UK business-to-consumer e-commerce sales up to £62.49 billion this year.

It gets better – by 2017 the figure may hit £89.73 billion, or 16 percent of total UK retail sales. However, the figures include digital travel sales. The volume of retail e-commerce sales this year may be £44.06 billion and they will represent 70.5 percent of B2C e-commerce sales in 2013. The share is expected to rise to 72.5 percent by 2017.

Although the average UK buyer often ranks as the top spending e-commerce consumer worldwide, non-UK people are starting to play a notable role in B2C sales. IMRG speculates that online retail sales made by non-UK people will total £10 billion this year, up from £7.4 billion in 2012.

Mobile e-commerce is also showing signs of growth. Sales from mobile phones and tablets are expected to increase 71.8 percent year-on-year to £6.6 billion, that’s 15 percent of total UK e-commerce sales. In 2017 they will  hit £17.2 billion. Possibly.

Most online shoppers are after clothes, sports goods, household goods, travel arrangements, accommodation, tickets, music, films, newspapers and books. British fashion outlets are doing particularly well, unlike their counterparts in the rest of the world. Many people are still reluctant when it comes to buying clothes online, but fashion shops in the UK are offering free shipping and generous return policies.

Juniper increases partner services offerings

JuniperEnormous company Juniper Networks has announced the Juniper Partner Advantage Services scheme, in addition to the 2012 launch of the Partner Advantage Program. The idea is to give partners a way to differentiate their brands and offer incentives for market performance.

Partner Advantage Services will bring in two new specialisations. These are Partner Support Services, which offers partners different tools and services to improve their businesses, and Partner Professional Services, which places an emphasis on helping partners expand their services segments.

Those specialising in Partner Support Services will get access to new course offerings like the troubleshooting cert, Juniper Networks Certified Support Professional, for enhancing practices in the routing, switching, and security markets. They will also get access to advanced support engineers from Juniper’s technical assistance centre.

Partner Professional Services seeks to boost Juniper and its partners’ capabilities in the professional services sector, offering help for generating more revenue and improving customer services.

Emilio Umeoka, senior veep for worldwide partners at Juniper, said the offering “amplifies” the company’s investment in partners and services “by providing unique tools and opportunities that will help drive growth, increase profitability and reward partners that deliver a truly remarkable customer experience”.

Channel cautious on Ivy Bridge notebooks

Intel-logoSome channel retailers are expected to switch away from Ivy Bridge based notebooks and back to the classic desktop, on the back of weak industry demand.

Plenty of channel retailers, according to Digitimes, are struggling getting rid of their Ivy Bridge notebook interviews and are taking a cautious approach to placing new orders for the classic back to school period of September and October. This is traditionally serves as a boost for notebook sales, but the economic outlook is having varied depressive effects on the industry in general.

Intel Haswell desktops could account for as much as 30 percent of all desktop shipments for the third quarter, above the 10-20 percent in notebooks, so Digitimes believes channel retailers are pinning their hopes on the former.

Ivy Bridge inventories, still reportedly high, will be the main focus for the channel – so Haswell models with touchscreen features may not be promoted until the beginning of 2014.

If correct, a way to read this is Ivy Bridge PC prices could be knocked down for the back to school period, and almost certainly will become cheaper when efforts are concentrated on Haswell next year.

Cash strapped consumers and cautious businesses may not want to upgrade to the highest end gear either, save enthusiast communities. As a result, there will be an effort to popularise low end gear, with cheaper kit coming out like Atoms in Q3 and more affordable Kabini laptops.

High street must evolve or die

highstreetA retail company is calling out for a change in the way the high street manages and expects upticks in sales.

Powa Technologies CEO Dan Wagner suggested it is ridiculous to rely on the weather for an upturn in sales when the country is in search of wider improvements in economic performance. “There should be a greater emphasis on innovation that engages more directly with consumers to deliver more activity at the tills,” Wagner said.

Online shopping has transformed the way people buy and the high street has struggled to keep up. Of course, high street stores were bound to have a hard time if they clung to old models, which has lead to the death or transformation of what were once givens in any town centre.

Convenience has trumped the bricks and mortar approach for many people. Especially when it comes to delivering content, microtransactions online get that content to whichever device you prefer so much faster than a bricks and mortar shop, it’s unsurprising that many film and music outlets have faltered.

But this won’t necessarily mean the death of the high street.

“New shopping models involve convenient delivery and collection methods, more enjoyable methods of browsing, and quick means of payment,” Wagner said. “We shouldn’t be anticipating the loss of the high street, we should be anticipating its evolution”.

Just where that evolution will go depends on companies being prepared to take risks. One possible model is a hybrid approach, where consumers can buy online and collect in store or vice versa in interactive showrooms.

Tablet shipments slow right down

cheap-tabletsThe tablet market appears to be overheating and according to IDC’s latest report global shipments slowed down in the second quarter. It appears that many consumers are waiting for new iPads and cheap Androids are not filling the gap.

IDC said unit sales dropped 9.7 percent to 45.1 million last quarter thanks to soft demand for iPads. Shipments of Apple’s tablets dropped to just 14.6 million units, down from 19.5 million in the first quarter. IDC’s original forecast was 17 million, but it appears consumers had other things in mind.

Despite the dip, Apple is still the daddy of the tablet market, with a 32.4 percent market share. For some reason Samsung managed to grab an 18-percent share, despite the fact that its tablets are overpriced and underspecced.

Thanks to its massive market share, Apple’s woes tend to have an immediate effect on overall unit sales. The trouble for Apple is that it simply does not have any fresh products to offer. The iPad and iPad mini are getting old and a refresh is expected over the next few of months. Consumers are simply putting off their purchases until Cupertino rolls out something new, i.e. a Retina iPad mini.

“A new iPad launch always piques consumer interest in the tablet category and traditionally that has helped both Apple and its competitors,” said Tom Mainelli, Research Director, Tablets at IDC. “With no new iPads, the market slowed for many vendors, and that’s likely to continue into the third quarter. However, by the fourth quarter we expect new products from Apple, Amazon, and others to drive impressive growth in the market.”

A long Apple drought seems to be just what the doctor ordered for makers of Android tablets, but they don’t appear to be capitalizing on iPad fatigue.

Asus shipped just 2 million units for a 4.5 percent share. Lenovo was in a close second with 1.5 million units and Acer is in hot pursuit with 1.4 million.

To be fair, Android peddlers also had their share of problems. New high-end designs based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 have yet to materialize, Nvidia’s Tegra 4 was delayed and the first products have started shipping just a few days ago, at the very end of the second quarter. The new Nexus 7 is out, but it also launched too late to make a mark in Q2.

However, IDC believes new tablets from both camps should have a massive effect on shipments toward the end of the year. As for Windows RT and Windows 8.x tablets, we’re not sure they’ll make much headway this year.

Accenture gears up for multichannel push

accenture-logoAccenture has teamed up with Hubris to implement cross-border multichannel solutions more effectively. Accenture is now the sole global strategic partner of hybris, the world’s fastest growing commerce platform.

The unholy alliance should combine Accenture’s prowess in digital marketing, platform management and customer experience with hubris’ leading omni-channel software. The companies hope to peddle commerce solutions to enterprises in retail, manufacturing, wholesale distribution, telecommunications, media/publishing, software and gaming.

“We have seen huge growth in e-commerce in the last few years, often driven by global brands looking for complex platform solutions, but with the ability to offer local languages and market websites for customers,” said Frank Schoutissen, Vice President Channel of hubris. “Our alliance with Accenture will allow these companies to have both a technology and implementation partner that can help them meet these objectives. We are very excited about the potential this will bring to both companies and the customers we can support as a result of this.”

Anatoly Roytman, EALA managing director of digital consulting for Accenture Interactive, said Accenture can help bring the hybris’ omni-channel commerce platform to companies that have struggled to implement worldwide transaction solutions that can be tailored to local country needs.

“Our global presence can reduce the complexity and cost of transforming the consumer transaction experience across multiple geographic markets,” he added.

The agreement should enable international brands to create consistent consumer transaction experiences across multiple channels, including online, mobile and in-store, regardless of geographic location.

Heatwave reheats British retail in July

highstreet South endJuly appears to have been a great month for British retailers and they have mother nature, a tennis player and a baby to thank for it.

According to the British Retail Consortium and KPMG, sales were up 3.9 percent, against a 2.0 percent increase in July 2012, the fastest July growth since 2006. In real terms, total growth was 4.4 percent, the fastest since April 2011.

Since much of the growth was fuelled by hot weather, fashion outlets and the food sector did particularly well. However, online sales grew by just 7.9 percent, much lower than the 15.6 percent in July 2012. Home accessories, furniture and home textiles were the worst performing sectors, as most people chose to buy flip-flops and barbecue sauce instead of new carpets and Allen key loving flat-pack furniture.

“Food has performed very strongly, with summer barbecue ingredients and feel-good foods doing well during a month where the Lions, Murray, Chris Froome in the Tour de France and the start of the Ashes series all contributed to the positive summer feeling;” said Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC. “Clothing has also had a very good month, which was down to good weather spurring summer fashion buys and some very good discounting.”

David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, said July was a “golden month” for retail sales and a return to form for British retailers.

“Hopefully this uptick in sales is another indication that the UK economy has turned the corner towards growth. Murray mania, summer sun and the arrival of the royal baby gave consumers that much needed feel good factor, encouraging them to leave caution behind and help retailers put in a champion performance,” he said. ‪”With autumn ranges now hitting the shelves, retailers need some cooler weather to encourage consumers to treat themselves to some new winter woollies. If they get these new ranges right and suitable weather, it could be game, set and match.”‬‬‬

Avnet wins EU Cisco contract

avnettsMassive global distie Avnet has won the first EMEA contract from Cisco to supply Cisco UCS servers running SAP HANA, which will let resellers approach SAP customers all over Europe.

UCS lets customers run data analytics and warehousing in real time, quick, as well as providing the base for running other SAP enterprise applications on SAP HANA. The idea is that by using Cisco UCS for SAP HANA, customers will get simplified management, scalability, operational automation, and a range of quality storage options, helping them exercise greater control of critical enterprise applications.

Avnet EMEA veep Miriam Murphy said in a statement that in-memory computing should be expanding rapidly in Europe, as companies look for products that will help them make data driven business decisions quickly and on the fly.

“We can install the SAP in-memory computing platform and ship the rack mounted servers in as little as three days from receiving an order on most models,” Murphy said, “placing our partners in pole position to address new SAP customers”

Cisco’s director of partner operations for EMEA said the company had been working with SAP on HANA since 2010, and chose Avnet for the first European distributor considering its experience with Cisco and capabilities to built to order, plus the company’s logistic strengths.

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College kids like tablets, but still buy PCs

dorm-room-pcTablet sales are going through the roof, but some consumers still prefer the flexibility of a proper PC. According to a Deloitte survey, laptops are still huge on college campuses, which makes sense as it’s easier to copy papers and download illegal torrents on PCs.

The survey found that 82 percent of college students own PCs and 80 percent have smartphones. However, although tablets are popular among every age group, just 18 percent of college students in the US have one. Deloitte concluded that the combination of smartphones and laptops simply makes tablets redundant in a campus setting, reports Marketwatch.

There are a couple of factors contributing to the popularity of traditional PCs among students. First of all they are still unbeatable when it comes to productivity. While tablets may be more practical for reading and researching, nobody is going to write a paper on a tablet. In addition, PCs are incredibly cheap right now, so a low-end PC often costs less than an iPad mini. We also think gaming and storage have something to do with it. When they’re not writing papers, students can use their boxes to play or enjoy some movies or TV shows.

In addition, many PC vendors are offering tempting deals designed specifically for cash strapped students. Dell University, HP Academy and Apple’s Educational Pricing programmes offer big discounts in the US, although the same doesn’t apply to most European markets.

The only trouble is that students don’t like to spend much, so they usually go for the cheapest possible box. They aren’t very likely to choose fancy all-in-ones or small form factor PCs, but there are also quite a few gamers in the mix and they have no choice but to go after high-end PCs or pricey upgrade components.

Microsoft cuts Surface Pro price

surface-proA couple of weeks ago Microsoft was forced to concede defeat and slash the price of its Surface RT tablets by about 30 percent. It later took a $900 million hit for a mountain of unsold RTs and CEO Steve Ballmer told the world that the company got carried away and built too many tablets, just in case anyone did not know that already.

Now Microsoft is cutting the price of its other tablet, the x86-based Surface Pro. The cut is far less substantial, $100 or just around 10 percent. However, the Surface Pro will remain quite expensive even after the cut. The Pro, like other Windows 8 tablets, is just too expensive to build and Microsoft doesn’t have much wiggle room. The Surface Pro will now cost $799 and $899 in 64GB and 128GB flavours.

It’s hardly a bargain and the Surface Pro is not a successful product. It never was, like its Windows RT based sibling. Analysts believe Microsoft sold just 1.5 million Surface tablets to date, but since there is no breakdown between the Surface RT and Surface Pro, we don’t know how many Surface Pros are in the wild.

Judging by the sales figures, the Surface Pro might be a very collectible oddity in a couple of decades. It might even end up in a few museums, where curators will use it to explain to our kids how Microsoft lost the plot in the early 2010s and single-handedly wrecked the PC industry.

Hard drive sales slow down

hdd-hugeShipments of mechanical hard drives are steadily declining, confirming what everyone in the industry knew already – the PC market is losing steam.

Seagate saw its Q2 shipments drop 3.2 percent over Q1, to 53.9 million drives. Toshiba lost some market share and shipped 19.6 million units. Western Digital shipped 59.9 million drives, 0.4 percent less than in Q1.

Shipments of mobile drives were also down 0.4 percent and the average drive size remained at 610GB. Hybrid drives are not taking off as expected by some punters.

Desktops fared even worse, with an 8.3 percent decline from the first quarter. The slump may cause some inventory concerns in Q3 and beyond. The average capacity of desktop drives shipped last quarter was 1TB, no changes there.

There is some good news to report as well. The enterprise hard drive market is recovering. It was up 12 percent last quarter. Shipments of hard drives for consumer electronics were also up, 0.8 percent according to IT Wire

Although there’s plenty of room for improvement, the hard drive market won’t recover anytime soon.

Cheaper SSDs and hybrid drives are also starting to make a mark, but HDDs are still the cheapest option and the darling of OEMs and consumers alike.

Dell vote deal could get Dell Dell

dellsigTinbox supremo Michael Dell and buyout partner Silver Lake may well be reaching a deal with Dell’s special board committee to increase the price they’d pay – as long as the voting rules are tinkered with to make sure they win.

People familiar with the matter told the WSJ that Dell’s new deal isn’t done yet but if it were to go through, the per-share price would be bumped up from $13.65 to $13.75, as well as include a special dividend for shareholders.

The vote is set for today. But if Dell and Silver Lake successfully convince the committee to modify the voting rules, the shareholder vote could be staggered by as long as one month.

According to the WSJ, the change to voting rules would make it so only shares that are actually voted count. As it stands, abstentions count as a “no”.

It is possible with a change to the rules the deal could well pass. But it will upset top shareholders such as Carl Icahn, himself gunning for control over Dell, who started dragging Dell through the courts as of yesterday about the change.

PC and tablet shipments to hit 493m this year

pc-sales-slumpCombined worldwide shipments of tablets and PCs are expected to hit 493.1 million units, according to research from Canalys. The firm is expecting seven percent growth, but it will come from tablets rather than PCs.

Tablets are forecast to account for 37 percent of the market, up from 25 percent last year.

By 2017, unit shipments should reach 713.8 million, but only a quarter of them will be laptops, while tablets should make up 64 percent of all shipments.

The tablet market is booming. It more than doubled in the first quarter of the year, while at the same time desktop and laptop shipments took a double-digit plunge. Tablet shipments in 2013 should hit 182.5 million units and by the end of the year they should outpace laptops.

Competition should heat up over the next few quarters, with traditional PC vendors vying for a piece of the lucrative tablet market. Windows 8.1 tablets are expected to start making their mark later this year, but they might not have what it takes to stand up to Android and iOS gear in the low end. Therefore many outfits are turning to Android tablets, including Acer, Asus, Lenovo and HP. However, the trouble with cheap Android tablets is that they’re not good money makers.

“Shipment numbers can be high but absolute margins on these products are expected to be small. Low-price tablets will not be lucrative but it is necessary to compete or a vendor will simply lose relevance and scale. In fact, accessories, particularly cases, as well as the new generation of high-tech app-enabled accessories will likely provide higher margins than the products themselves,” said Pin-Chen Tang, research analyst at Canalys. “This new influx of Android devices will provide a boost to the platform and Canalys therefore expects Android to take a 45% share in 2013, behind Apple at 49%. The iPad mini is expected to continue selling well, becoming more significant in terms of the product mix and spawning a further increase in consumer demand for smaller tablets.’

The other big unknown is Intel’s 2-in-1 convertible push. They should also start appearing later this year and vendors have already shown off some designs, but many are not convinced that they will do well. The first generation isn’t very impressive. They require pricey and relatively hot x86 chips, so they end up a bit bulkier than ARM-based tablets. In addition, Windows 8.x is still an unproven OS in the tablet space and it’s more bloated than Android or iOS.

“These convertible products have disappointed so far. Convertibles are too heavy in tablet form and too expensive when compared with clamshell product,” said the company. Canalys therefore expects that, for at least the next 18 months, consumers will buy separate products, rather than compromise on a Windows 8 convertible or hybrid PC. Even for Android products, alternative form factors are not expected to grow rapidly due to the category being sandwiched between low-priced slates and more familiar Windows-based clamshell notebooks,” said Canalys analyst James Wang.

SAP wants VARs to cash in on big data

sapbeerSAP is telling its partners that it is time to cash in on big data. The company estimates that its global partner base will earn up to $220 billion by selling its big data and analytics products.

So it sees a huge opportunity for partners and resellers, who could provide more services and products in addition to SAP software.

A recent IDC report revealed that SAP partners could be in for a lot of growth over the next five years. IDC’s Worldwide Ecosystem Analytics and Big Data: Growth Opportunities for SAP Partners found that EMEA partners could earn $70 billion by 2018, dabbling in big data and analytics. Asia Pacific and Japan should climb to $40 billion, while North America will lead the way with $102 billion.

One of the more curious factoids from the report claims that the digital landscape will grow more than 30 thousand percent between 2005 and 2020, from 130 exabytes to 40,000 exabytes. It’s not called big data for nothing.

“SAP and its partners make a significant impact on the global economy,” said Darren Bibby, vice president for IDC Channels and Alliances Research. “SAP does an excellent job delivering great products for partners to work with, as well as effective sales, marketing and training resources. The result is that the SAP ecosystem is well-positioned for the future and customers will benefit from these additional skills and resources.”

Interestingly, the IDC report concluded that 68 percent of the companies don’t have a business intelligence or analytics strategy, while a whopping 63 percent don’t even know what big data is. However, 69 percent said they are looking for staff who can handle analytics.

As it grows, the industry will change. IDC believes 90 percent of industry growth will come through third-platform technology, cloud, mobile and social.

TechEye hacks launch tech comedy site

sod-the-net-ce330Techeye hacks Nick Farrell and Nermin Hajdarbegovic have launched a “news for nerds” site which aims to “take the Nintendo” out of everything to do with science, technology and this horrible industry.

Sodthe.net covers news which is part satire, part true, or complete satire. Farrell and Hajdarbegovic are long-term inmates of Mike Magee’s growing stable of tech magazines, which are game changers in that they are closer to blogs than orthodox technology magazines and occasionally use swear words.

“What we realised was that while some people wanted technology news presented to them in the style of an Intel press release, others wanted to be entertained,” Farrell said.

Farrell and Hajdarbegovic wondered what would happen if you did only that in one magazine and just dropped every pretence of being serious about it. That is probably why they decided to launch the site in August, the worst possible month for anything tech-related.

The pair are freelancers working for Fudzilla, TechEye, ChannelEye and anyone else who will give them money. Farrell has been a “serious journalist” for 29 years and written silly stuff for the last eight. He is also a veteran INQster, which means he’s not new to tech lunacy. Hajdarbegovic is a former graphics designer and currently news editor at Fudzilla.

The aim is to get a close knit community of fundamentalist geeks who will populate the site with deranged comments of their own and click the adverts.

“It is very important that people click the adverts or we will be really f****“ Farrell added. “Did we mention that people are supposed to click on the adverts?”