Big Tech taken to task Down Under

strayaTop tech companies are being called to task by an Australian committee that argues the country is getting a raw deal by unfair price discrimination.

Aussie MP Ed Husic moaned to the Australian that by some estimates, prices for Australia can be 60 percent more than in the States. He and the committee will be putting Apple, Microsoft and Adobe on 22 March, according to the BBC. Although the firms have replied in writing, until now they have not bothered to meet any representatives in person.

Although price differences aren’t as drastic in the USA and the UK, there is still a gap – with the only difference usually being in pound sterling rather than the dollar. Depending on what action the committee takes, there is the potential to set the bar on international price differences, and whether they should be altered in line with currency values.

Husic told the Australian that, considering IT is so widely used in both business and consumer segments, prices for hardware and software can “have a major commercial and economic impact”. He said that bringing IT prices down and “easing the bite of price discrimination” should be an “important micro-economic priority”. Of course, convincing conglomerates that tinkering with their margins is a good idea will be easier said than done.

The bigger picture, however, will be that if pricing is more competitive, consumers and businesses won’t hesitates as much to buy – even in challenging economic conditions.

Channeleye’s likely tips for new Pope

Leo-I_Attila_Raphael-(1)With Pope Benedict announcing that he is cleaning out his desk and collecting his pink slip, Channel Eye has come up with a list of those who it thinks will have the right stuff to be the next Pope. Now we know that one of the jobs of the Pope is to be Catholic, but given that the church is unlikely to survive another 100 years unless it liberals up a bit, we have given our nominations on the basis that if they can run an IT company they can probably look after the world’s largest religious organisation.

1. Steve Ballmer
Ballmer is already half way to the job by having the inner certainty that he is God. Ballmer would sort out most of the Catholic church’s problems by shouting at them until they go away. Pope Ballmer would probably encourage cardinals to make all sorts of power plays so long as they left him alone. We predict that under his rule, the Catholic church would adopt wide scale contraception to avoid another Ballmer.

2. Sir William Gates
Since resigning from Microsoft’s top job, Gates has been heading towards sainthood. Not only is he well on the way of purging Africa from the devilish mosquito, his various charity work is now healing the sick of Polio. If he were appointed Pope, Gates would closely monitor other religions and then try to mimic their success.

3. Steve Jobs
A tricky choice for the church given that he is already dead, however, that has not stopped him being the head of the world’s fastest growing religion. Chances are that thanks to Apple technology he could do the job from the afterlife, all it would take is to replace all those videos of him with an iPad so that he appears to be holding a bible. We predict that under the rule of Jobs, which would be eternal, you would have to pay half of your salary to the church every year and queue to get into the sermons.

4. Leo Apotheker
A bit ofan  outsider but given that Cardinal Ratzinger was a similar figure within the Catholic church, and it is known for being fairly conservative, we think he could be a starter. Pope Apotheker would start by selling off all the churches and training all priests so that they could handle business management software, like SAP. While many people will not understand why the Catholic Church should dump everything it makes money on and moving into business software, Apotheker would point out that this was exactly the same plan he would have run for HP if those pesky board members had not been involved.

5. Michael Dell
Although he might be a little busy for the job, Michael Dell will abandon all the churches and tell his priests to take their services directly to parishioners. However, if this plan starts to go wrong, he will do a deal with Microsoft to buy out the Church from its Mafia backers and make himself the supreme pontiff and not have to answer to anyone.

6. Paul Otellini
Paul Otellini is retiring soon so might be up for the job, as he is a big fan of monopolies and will probably rule the Catholic Church in the same way as he did at Intel. This would involve leaning on the supplies of other religions and advising them to follow the Roman Catholic Church. Then the other religions would go broke and collapse. In some cases, where they had interesting theology, Intel might buy up their patents and incorporate them into Catholic theology.

UK business “confidence” slips to record levels

ukflagAccountancy firm BDO has released a report that suggests business confidence is at a 21 year low in British history.

The company’s BDO Optimism Index, which has been running for 21 years and looks at emerging trends over the following two quarters, dropped to 88.9 in January compared to a reading of 90.3 in December, which is the eighth month in a row that the index has been below the growth metric of 95.0. According to BDO, this suggests trouble for Q1 2013, especially taking figures from the Office for National Statistics into account that threatened a triple dip recession.

BDO’s Output Index, which looks at and predicts turnover expectations, also fell – supporting a looming triple dip recession as it dropped from 93.1 to 92.3, again short of the 95.0 growth mark.

Although the outlook is bleak, BDO believes there are small signs of improving confidence, such as in the company’s Employment Index, which rose to 95.1 in January from 93.0 in December. This is the first time it has passed the 95.0 mark since last April, and also supported the ONS’ data on unemployment dropping in the three months to November. Manufacturer confidence should also be reason for some cautious optimism, which rose to 95.2 in January compared to 91.9 in December.

Partner at BDO LLP, Peter Hemington, said in a statement that despite strengthening in labour, “business confidence continues to weaken, and improved hiring intentions are not translating into growth plans”.

“It sees the damaging effects on businesses of five years’ zigzagging economic growth,” Hemington said, leaving them “wary” of making expansion or investment plans. A crucial tonic for bringing the economy out of a slump, according to BDO, will be providing growth incentives.

Review: D&G Light Blue scent for women

light blueD&G’s Light Blue perfume for women may not be a new kid on the fragrance block, but for many it’s as classic and uplifting as Laurel and Hardy.

Often found wafting from 25-30 year olds, who have held the scent close to their hearts since those teenage summer holidays when finding the nearest fishbowl or perfect dress were the only problems in the world, it’s now grown up with them, filling the nostrils of commuters on buses and trains across the country.

Although worn as an everyday, all season fragrance, to us this scent, which has been lingering since 2001, screams summer – thanks to its light, playful citrus tones.

However, there’s also a feisty element thanks to the tart fruity notes, which are mixed with the softer Sicilian citron, bluebell, Granny Smith apple, and white rose hints, which add more than a touch of sophistication.

The pros of this mix are that it’s light, non invasive and won’t leave an overpowering smell in that office lift. Like many perfumes, which can change in smell a few minutes after they have been sprayed onto that wrist or neck, this fragrance stays honest, remaining the same as it did from when it came out of the bottle.

The cons? Like that spotty teenage holiday romance it doesn’t last long, and five minutes after you’ve sprayed, you may find yourself needing to top it up again.

The fact that it doesn’t change once sprayed also means that it smells the same on everybody, while the sheer popularity means that you won’t exactly stand out from the crowd.

Perhaps not a bad Valentine’s present for those Hugh Heffner wannabes who have more than one gift to buy this year.

From around £40 for 100ML.

 

 

 

aTech Media launches first UK channel partner programme

Hands across the wateraTech Media has launched its first channel partner programme.

The UK-based software development company’s free partner programme is said to allow resellers to earn 10 percent of each subscription that comes from them recommending and promoting services offered by aTech Media.

And higher volume partners are also said to benefit from higher percentages.

The partner programme focuses around the company’s Sirportly software, which is aimed at helping SMEs in different sectors manage and control their customer experience.

This in turn is said to ensure full automation and workflow management quickly and acts as an “extremely valuable offering” for IT resellers with a hand in the enterprise market.

The channel partner programme is predominantly focused on the UK sector, but the company also has plans to conquer the US in the future.

As well as the Sirportly product aTech, which was founded in 2005 and seen a “substantial period” of growth, also offers products including email management and code hosting and project management software,  for SME and enterprise companies.

It’s also recently launched its new website, atechmedia.com, which it claims acts “as a central hub” for customers and partners, offering tutorials and information on new products and features.

Slow Ultrabook sales hurt NAND suppliers in 2012

nand-chipsGlobal NAND memory revenue fell seven percent in 2012, on the back of lackluster Ultrabook sales.

Although demand for smartphones remains strong, IHS iSuppli reports that NAND industry revenue fell to $19.7 billion last year, down from $21.2 billion in 2011. IHS expects revenue to rebound this year and reach $22.4 billion. Sales should continue expanding over the next few years.

Apple’s iPhone gobbled up 10.5 percent of all NAND shipments in 2012. An average iPhone shipped with 24.5GB of NAND, which means most consumers still opt for the entry level 16GB model. All other smartphones combined used 10.5 percent.

Although there was plenty of growth in mobile, IHS iSuppli concluded that Ultrabook demand failed to meet expectations. Ultrabooks have had some success penetrating the consumer market, but overall adoption remains underwhelming.

On the whole, NAND production slowed sown in mid 2012 in order to stabilise and reduce inventory. IHS iSuppli now says manufacturers need to tightly manage their supply in the first half of 2013, as the first six months of the year are seasonally a weak period for the industry.

An increasing number of vendors are focusing solely on internal storage and ditching microSD slots in tablets and smartphones. While this trend might be good for NAND demand in the short term, emerging technologies such as cloud storage coupled with 4G could pose a challenge down the road.

Pivot3 signs EMEA distie deal with Avnet

avnettsPivot3 has signed on the dotted line to make Avnet its distribution partner.

The company, which deals in converged storage and compute appliances, has said under the agreement Avnet will distribute the Pivot3 vSTAC VDIproducts to its partner network across EMEA countries.

The Pivot3 vSTAC VDI appliance family is said to make VMware View deployments easy, affordable and channel friendly for the 100 to 2,500 desktop target market.

They are also claimed to eliminate the need for specialised IT expertise to configure and integrate separate SAN storage, servers and software into a VDI solution.

Ed Bateman, director of software, Wireless and Mobility Business Group EMEA at Avnet said the partnership would give resellers a product that was “simple, scalable and cost-effective” for their clients.

In support of the partnership, Pivot3 has a VDI Channel Ready program which it claims is  designed to maximise lead opportunity and qualification for Avnet resellers and product providers in EMEA.

It provides online tools for VDI self-configuration and ROI analysis. Additionally, prospects can “Test Drive” a live, hosted 300 to 400 desktop scenario complete with workload simulation, login storms, scale-out of desktops and performance reporting. The Channel Ready program is also designed to enhance sell-through with all VMware and Microsoft license revenues flowing to the resellers. In addition, deal registration is available to partners.

The Pivot3 vSTAC VDI is available now and is already said to have caught the eye of several leading enterprises across various industries, including healthcare, education, government and financial services. List pricing starts at $29,999.

Dell hints at more buys in open letter

mikedellcloseupFollowing Dell’s acquisition of, er, Dell – taking the behemoth off the public market – CEO Michael Dell has penned an open letter to the company’s customers which promises “organic” and “inorganic” investment. Translation: Dell’s patent-packed Supermarket Sweep shopping spree will be ongoing.

At Dell Tech Camp, Amsterdam, last week, the company was very keen to assert the importance of acquisitions in its portfolio. Wyse, Kace, and the others were wheeled into Dell’s Software Group and it is clear from the time given to each that the company’s intended message was that it’s growing. It wants to continue to compete with HP and IBM in enterprise, and there are plenty of pre-packaged firms out there it believes it can pick up.

The letter opened by saying Dell’s agreement represents an “exciting new chapter for our company and for you, our customers”. Ultimately, more control in the paws of Michael Dell will define Dell at this transitional point in the company’s history.

“As always, our unwavering focus is on delivering a fantastic customer experience and creating value for your organisation,” the letter reads. “We believe that our proposed new ownership will provide long-term support to help Dell innovate, invest for growth and accelerate our transformation strategy. We’ll have the flexibility to continue organic and inorganic investment and drive industry leading innovation”.

Mentioning the past few years, Dell claimed that strategic execution has been “consistent”, and again mentioned that portfolio it has managed to swell. Considering the enterprise represents the overwhelming lion’s share of Dell’s products, services and technologies – will we see Mike pick Apotheker two from HP’s notebook under the latter’s short lived leadership? Some pundits guffawed when IBM dumped its consumer division, but it turned out to be for the better.

HP, meanwhile, struggles with ‘restructuring’ and was forced to write down the insanity of its Autonomy buy. We’ll say it right now: it will be Michael Dell’s hated box-shifting label for whom the Dell tolls.

Customers confused by “SIM free” and “unlocked”

Old_chainCustomers buying “SIM free” Nokia Lumia 920 handsets from retailer Phones 4U have found much to their horror that they are locked into EE network and not “unlocked” like they expected.

Phone4U obtained the Lumia 920 as an exclusive deal in the UK for mobile operator EE. However it was also being sold SIM-free via Phones 4U.

According to PC Pro, the phones are locked to EE, Orange and T Mobile and has been offering refunds for those who expected the full “unlocked” experience.

Phones 4U has admitted that its marketing initially wasn’t clear enough about the difference between “unlocked” and “SIM free”.

Part of the problem appears that when Phones4U announced the handset at the end of October, everything was exclusive to EE.

It was advertised online and in-store as being SIM-free, not unlocked, however it started to queries that from users who thought SIM-free means unlocked.

Staff have since been “rebriefed”, and the website and sales material were altered. Since that time, the phone outfit has not had any complaints about it or queries about it,” a spokesperson claimed, although recent EE forum posts suggest sales staff are still confused about the difference themselves.

Customers were given a refund if they complained within 14 days, and anyone still affected would be dealt with on a “case by case” basis, she said.

Even if Phones4U wanted to unlock phones, it couldn’t and those who use a backstreet jailbreaker will void the warranty, the spokesperson added.
She admitted it was rare for phones to be SIM-free but not unlocked, saying she could think of no other phone on the store’s website with such conditions.

Fujutsu orders 5,000 to fall on sword

seppuku-p1000701Troubled Japanese electronics maker Fujitsu has announced that its wants 5,000 workers to dispatch themselves in the company carpark while PR bunnies throw cherry blossom in the air. Not literally, of course.

The company said that nearly three percent of its global workforce will have to surrender to the company’s vigorous restructuring, write a haiku of resignation  and clean out their desks.

Fujitsu is desperate to boost profitability by reshaping its computer chip business and its overseas operations.

In a statement, it said that the job cuts will be completed by the end of this fiscal year, next month, and will rely on early retirement, layoffs and “other methods”.

Meanwhile another 4,500 workers will be shifted to other parts of Fujitsu. There is a computer chip company being set up with Panasonic, which does sound better than the dole queue. It should be pointed out that Panasonic is not exactly in the best of health either.

Japan’s electronics sector, which has been flapping around on the floor of the IT industry like a bloated fugu fish waiting to be prepared, has been getting a boost lately from the the weakening yen. Still, 2012 will be remembered as the year that the Japanese government finally gave up Elpida Memory and the outfit filed for bankruptcy.

Nexus 4 shipments estimated at just one million units

nexus4-ceGoogle’s Nexus 4 has been on sale for three months, although one could argue that it has been on sale for a couple of weeks, since it wasn’t really available anywhere. For some reason, Google grossly underestimated demand for its latest vanilla Android phone, resulting in ridiculous shortages in every single market.

Android enthusiasts managed to work out that Google shipped just a million units in the first three months of sales, after four months in production.

Microserver market set to be a money spinner

HP-MicroServerCompanies interested in jumping on the next industry craze might want to have a look at what is being cooked up in the microserver market.

Analysts like iSuppli thinks that shipments of microservers will go up by three times this year. While that sounds like a lot, we are talking about a miniscule market now so a threefold increase is only 291,000 microservers.

But, if the pundits are right, this year will just be the start of something fairly bright and glorious which will start netting huge numbers of sales next year.

The forecast shows shipments increasing substantially each year until 2016. By then, it will represent one-tenth of overall server shipments.

For those who came in late, a microserver uses a bunch of densely-packed, low-power chips. The chips themselves are slower than an asthmatic turtle with a heavy load of shopping, but they can manage to do simple tasks without wasting power.

This makes them ideal for providing contact information on one website user. The bigger web-companies, including Facebook and Yahoo, and the banks are looking at them.

IHS says that Microserver shipments are going up faster than general servers and blade servers.
It will take a while for them to dent normal server shipments. To match that IDC estimates that microservers will have to come up with 8.4 million sales. It is worthwhile remember those are  last year’s figures and that companies were not buying due to the recession.

Already the big names in the chip industry are starting to come up with their plans for this big boom. Both Intel and ARM have announced that they are ready to come up with chips ready. The key was having 64-bit versions, which Intel was tooled up for while ARM wasn’t.

Now it looks like ARM is ready to come to the party and its partner AppliedMicro announced it will have something ready by the middle of the year.

Chief Financial Officer Robert Gargus told Reuters this morning he has been increasingly impressed this month with performance test results on new chips that include 64-bit features widely used in servers.

The company’s shareholders also like such talk. AppliedMicro stock has surged almost 80 percent since September. Gargus however seems to think that the serious revenue from microserver chips will not be around until next year. When they come through, those chips could account for as much as half the company’s business.

Intel is vying for a sizable cut with its Atom-based processor that uses just six watts. AMD snapped up SeaMicro, and Rackspace has already certified the new SM15000 for use in OpenStack.
Qualcomm and Samsung Electronics, which both use ARM’s technology to make chips for mobile gadgets, could also move into the microserver market and create a formidable challenge for AppliedMicro, analysts say.

Then there are the hardware makers who will be wading in for a slice of the pie. All up, there will be a lot of people who will want to make a pile out of technology before the technology becomes old hat.

Intel denies pay freeze claims

IntelIntel’s HQ  in Satan Clara has poured water over rumours that it has imposed pay freezes and left important vacancies open in a bid to save cash.

The comments from the company come following claims that the company was making these cuts in a bid to claw back the cash and make up its falling profits, which  dropped 27 percent in the last quarter.

Earlier this week the reliable sources told ChannelEye there had been “talk” of pay freezes, while vacancies that had been left open for months had yet to be filled.

When Intel was initially contacted regarding these claims, its press machines told us that the company didn’t “comment on rumour or speculations”,

However, it seems someone has had a change of heart – or woken from its media slumber, with the company now issuing a further statement.

It told ChannelEye today: “Just to follow up with confirmation from HQ.  [ChannelEye’s] report is false, there are no pay cuts or frozen hiring.”

We say watch this space.

Men become shopping lapdogs to their WAGs

ChihuahuaBritain is breeding a generation of men bearing thumbprints on their foreheads, if recent retail research is to be believed.

Gone are the days when men sat in the pub watching their sport and women took this opportunity to shop, with Debenhams claiming “a huge number of men” are using its free wi-fi in stores to catch up on the sport they are missing by shopping with their missus.

Sites such as BBC Sports, Sky Sports, LiveScore and YouTube were found to be the most popular, with the lapdogs telling Debenhams they were spending an average of thirty minutes on their mobiles checking the latest results, watching video clips and sharing their reactions on Facebook, while their other halves spent the cash.

The retailer has decided to cash in on these soft touches and their joined at the hip ladies, by offering “sport-starved men forced to miss the weekend’s big matches”,  Internet crèches”.

It’s promising its free wireless service to men who are waiting for their WAGs to spend the money and missing out on the range of sport events, including  Six Nations Rugby and Premier League football, taking place.

Men can grab a comfy chair in any of the retailer’s cafés where they can use the in-store Wifi to browse the internet free. They’ll also be treated to a free cup of tea or coffee so they can avoid being dragged around looking at clothes or having to wait outside the fitting room – is it just us, or does this totally defeat the point of going shopping together.

Helen Lacey, a spokeswoman for the company said men were “over the moon” that they could keep up-to-date with all the latest sporting news.

E-commerce spending hits $186bn in US

shut-up-and-take-my-moneyRetail e-commerce is still growing, in spite of economic volatility and a host of other concerns. According to comScore, 2012 was a record year for e-commerce outfits in the US. No doubt it will have a trickle down effect here in Europe.

Total e-commerce sales amounted to $186.2 billion and a quarterly breakdown shows that Q1 2012 was the fastest quarter, with year-on-year growth of 17 percent. Growth in the second and third quarters hit 15 percent and it slowed down to 14 percent in the holiday quarter.

On the whole, E-commerce spending saw double digit growth for the last nine consecutive quarters. Sales in Q4 2012 hit $56.8 billion, an absolute record, despite the fact that it fell somewhat short of expectations.

“2012 was a year in which – for the most part – e-commerce continued to grow strongly, despite an uneven macroeconomic environment showing signs of recovery but also cause for continued concern,” comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni said in a statement. “With e-commerce growth rates consistently in the mid-teens throughout the year, it is clear that the online channel has won over the American consumer and will increasingly be relied upon to deliver on the dimensions of lower price, convenience and selection.”

The fourth quarter was also the first time e-commerce spending reached 10 percent of total US retail spending, excluding food, gas and auto sales. The top performing product categories in Q4 were digital content and subscriptions, consumer electronics, toys and hobbies, apparel and accessories, followed by books and magazines. Each category grew at least 15 percent compared to 2011.

comscore-ecommerce