Avnet sends Ziokowski to the Poles

64272Avnet has appointed Mariusz Ziółkowski as country manager of its Polish office.

Ziółkowski joined Avnet 18 months ago as sales director, Poland. In his new role as country manager, he is responsible for the development and implementation of the business strategy and operations for Avnet Technology Solutions Poland.

He is also expected to start speeding up the growth and success of Avnet in the region.

Judith Ecker, vice president, Avnet Technology Solutions East EMEA said that Mariusz had a proven track record in developing and managing highly motivated teams.

This skill will support the growth of Avnet Technology Solutions in this region. Mariusz has an excellent understanding of the market dynamics in Eastern Europe.

Before he joined Avnet, Ziółkowski worked for IBM for 14 years and has a Master’s Degree in ‘faculty organisation and management’, specialising in computer integrated manufacturing.

 

EU firms complacent on data risk

ironmountainCABusinesses, overwhelmed by an ever increasing surge of data to deal with, are in danger of becoming complacent about data loss.

A survey from Iron Mountain and PwC has determined there is an increasing awareness in information risk, but many SMEs just don’t have the tools in place to deal with the reams of data and in multiple formats. There is also a danger of more sophisticated security threats as well as needing to treat information management as essential to business.

Under half of businesses surveyed in the 2013 Risk Maturity Index said they had a strategy in place for measuring and combating information risk – even as the average number of data breaches increase by 50 percent each year.

Of those asked, over half were so overwhelmed by the threat of data breaches that they acknowledge they’ll never be able to keep up, while 41 percent said data loss is an “inevitable part of daily business”.

Evaluating 600 European SMEs with between 250 and 2,500 employees, across the legal, financial, pharma, insurance, manufacturing and engineering sectors, there was some improvement compared to last year in understanding information risk. Using a set of metrics based on the amount of data protection in place, it rates companies at a target score of 100. This year European companies scored an average of 56.8 compared to 40.6 last year, but clearly there is a long way to go.

PwC Risk partner Claire Reid said that businesses will have to embrance a “new way of thinking” – where data security will be a top priority and also a way to create value.

Microsoft channels Surface to businesses

surface-rtIn what can only be described as a last ditch effort to keep Surface tablets from flopping, Microsoft has launched a new channel programme in the United States. The programme should push sales of Surface tablets to businesses and other organisations. 

For the time being, the programme is limited to the US, but it will expand over the next few months. Under the programme, Microsoft’s channel partners stateside will offer the Surface RT to schools and universities at steep discounts, reports PC World. Private sector companies and government agencies are being pursued as well.

The partners will also be able to offer technical support, on-site assistance, data protection, recycling and asset tagging. Independent software vendors are also being encouraged to develop apps for Windows RT and Windows 8. The latter just crossed the 100,000 app milestone, but on the whole the choice of RT and Win 8 apps remains rather limited when compared to competing platforms. The software part of the programme is called AppsForSurface and developers who sign up will receive Surface devices and funding.

Ingram Micro, Synnex and Tech Data, CDW, CompuCom, En Pointe, Softchoice and Zones are already on board, while Citrix, Airstrip and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have signed up for the software part of the programme.

However, although businesses don’t tend to shy away from Microsoft, they aren’t exactly lining up for Redmond’s tablets. Demand remains soft and enterprise adoption is anything but spectacular. Windows tablets have one thing going for them, IT departments seem to like them a bit more than Android gear when it comes to BYOD. But many love Apple even more.

Tablet makers cut targets citing white-box competition

cheap-tabletsBig brand tablet makers have slashed their shipment targets for 2013, citing stronger than expected competition from white-box vendors. According to NPD DisplaySearch, worldwide tablet shipments should hit 256.5 million units this year, up 67 percent from 153.6 million units last year.

However, big brands will lose market share, as white-box outfits are growing faster. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Acer and Asus are expected to lose share at the hands of Chinese white-box makers, who are slowly making inroads in the international market. NPD DisplayResearch estimates that top brands shipped 172 million units in April, but shipments are believed to have dropped to 167 million units in June.

Market leader Apple is also feeling the pinch. It shipped 67 million iPads last year, but NPD DisplaySearch has cut mighty Apple’s shipment target for 2013 from 88 million units to 74 million.

However, despite the cuts the tablet market is looking as healthy as ever, but it might be becoming a bit more heterogeneous. Cheap Androids might undercut industry heavyweights, but at the moment this is more of a regional trend than a global one. White-box vendors are doing well in some parts of Asia, but they won’t take western markets by storm.

While browsing through some cheap tablets at Computex, we got the impression that they have a lot of potential and they might be competitive in some markets. However, it won’t be a repeat of the Macintosh vs. vanilla PC battle of the eighties. The trouble for white-box Chinese tablets is that they can’t just waltz into Europe and the US. For the time being many of them can only sell their kit in mainland China. As one vendor told us, if they tried to go overseas, their collective hind quarters would be sued by Acer and other big players.

First Firefox OS smartphones launch today

zte-open-firefox-osThe first Firefox OS phones could be just days away from hitting retail. Mozilla has announced that the regional rollout of the first foxy phones will begin soon.

There are just a couple of devices so far, the Alcatel One Touch Fire and the ZTE Open, and the latter launches in Spain on Tuesday for just €69.

Needless to say, it doesn’t feature headline grabbing specs. It’s a 3.5-inch HVGA device powered by a 1GHz processor and 512MB of memory. That’s the sort of spec one would expect from a mid-range Android handset launched in 2011, but that sort of seems to be the point.

Mozilla doesn’t want to compete in the high-end, it thinks it has a very lean operating system that could bring most smartphone features to first-time smartphone buyers. Smartphones are overtaking feature phones in terms of worldwide sales as we speak and cheap smartphones are expected to fill the gap.

It seems like a sound approach, but the smartphone market is already overcrowded and it’s dominated by two or four operating systems, depending on whom you ask. There doesn’t appear to be much room for another competing platform, but Mozilla is going after a small niche. Apple, BlackBerry and to some extent Microsoft, don’t really matter in this price segment.

Android, however, remains a force to be reckoned with. There are dozens if not hundreds of cheap Android phones on store shelves, with a tried and tested OS and a huge app ecosystem. What’s more, last year’s models often end up in the bargain bin, hence it is possible to get something even better than an entry-level phone for peanuts.

Mozilla thinks it can do better, with an OS specifically designed to run well on a meagre serving of silicon and this might be what differentiates its products in the long term. The hope is that consumers will choose a frugal phone with a lean OS instead of an outdated Android device that doesn’t really support all the nice features offered by Google in its latest Android builds.

The approach might work, especially in emerging markets, but for the time being the platform is rather limited and untested, although initial reviews were positive.

French police raid Apple over reseller treatment

peter_sellers_3918 Inspector Clouseau of the French Yard has raided Apple’s Paris headquarters on behalf of the government competition authority.

French police were in the building for 24 hours seizing documents as part of an ongoing government antitrust investigation.

Investigators are interested in the relationship between Apple and its resellers in France.  It was spurred by a premium reseller in France, eBizcuss, which went bankrupt last year.

According to Apple Insider the company filed a complaint against Apple accusing it of unfair competition.

According to the complaint Apple favoured its own retail stores rather than resellers like eBizcuss, which exclusively sold Apple products.

Apple made it difficult for resellers to obtain the latest models of new Apple products, while Jobs’ Mob’s cathedrals to consumerism were packed.

The French competition authority is also interested in Apple’s iOS App Store.  Apple increased the minimum selling price for magazines and newspapers last year and the authority is worried that Fruity co is abusing its power for digital downloads as well.

Cupertino should have seen the writing on the wall and that it was suddenly off the French government’s Christmas card list when it was ordered to pay $6.5 million in 2011 taxes for iPad sales.

The mandate came from a French professional association that collects revenue for artists’ copyrighted works.

Microsoft’s starts Surface move to the Channel

Surface-ElementaryMicrosoft has launched Surface partner programmes for tablet resellers and software developers in a small scale to its US channel.

Writing in his bog, Cyril Belikoff, director, Surface marketing, said Microsoft was launching what he called the “first phase” of expansion into the business channel.

It will allow customers to purchase Surface and commercial services through a small number of authorised resellers.

There is also a new ISV program, called AppsForSurface, which provides devices and funding for app design intended to get key enterprise apps on Surface and Window 8.

While there is no news yet about what Microsoft’s plans are in other parts of the world, it is starting to look like there is a thaw in its plans.
When the Surface came out, Vole’s hardware partners screamed blue murder claiming that Microsoft was treading on its toes.

In response to that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer  said that its channel could sell Surface but only if they order it from a Microsoft store or Microsoft.com. There will be no formal channel programme.

Now it seems that Vole is starting to branch out in a small way and test the water and close to home.

The Surface will be going to Microsoft’s bigger US partners first and Vole does not seem to be that keen to have a huge push.

In the United States that means CDW, CompuCom Systems, En Pointe Technologies, Insight Enterprises, Softchoice, Softmart, SHI International, PC Connection, PCM and Zones Inc. are the first Surface authorised resellers.

That is a tiny drop in the market of the US channel.

Microsoft says the initial Surface resellers bring a variety of value-added services to tablet family, such as asset tagging, custom imaging, kitting, onsite service and support, device recycling and data protection.

In other words, Microsoft really does need the channel to push its surface but it wants to do it without isolating its hardware chums.

IT should use XP migration to boost infrastructure

framedwindowsWith support for Windows XP just around the corner, yet another company is shouting that businesses must have no illusions: sticking with unsupported software could be catastrophic.

Attachmate’s Barry Davis, UK sales director, said in a statement that businesses will be and should be migrating – and when they do they should take the migration as an incentive to evaluate security vulnerabilities in their infrastructure. “They can also reconcile and shrink the sprawl to a level their current IT staff can support,” Davis said.

Attachmate pointed out Accenture research that claims half of UK IT departments have no strategy for applications current running on Windows XP. And it warns that if businesses continue to run terminal emulators made for XP after upgrading, they could still be open to vulnerabilities.

“This is an opportunity to invest in future proofing, streamlining desktop emulation and mainframe access,” Davis said.

Attachmate advises businesses to take step by step best practice approaches to migration, based on standardisation, and starting with an inventory check to get all the data in place.

Product development skills gap causes failure

1362021062108002A third of products are failing at launch because product development skills are lacking, according to a new report.

ExeTech Consulting, a UK business consultancy which advises on exploiting the commercial potential of technology companies, points out the journey facing entrepreneurs and business leaders to build and grow a technology business is hugely challenging.

Clive Mayne, Managing Partner, ExeTech Consulting said that one area which makes matters worse is that product development has a reputation for high failure rates.

“Research indicates that of every four products that enter development only one makes it to market and then a third fail at launch,” he said. “Gaining investment against that background and in the current economic environment means that the hurdles are as high as ever”.

Failure rates are high in themselves, however many products go on to fail and do not actually match the commercial expectation of success.

Mayne puts it down to a  lack of the crucial skills to make a market entry a success and a failure from management to give the launch of a product the attention needed.

Product development is a key skill gap and often one that isn’t really recognised until things go wrong.

The company has decided to release white papers documenting its experiences in this area  which can be downloaded here.

Ingram Content brings colour to UK

rainbowIngram Content has expanded its colour inkjet book manufacturing capabilities to the UK.

This means that publishers can print a range of colour books quickly and cost effectively worldwide.

David Taylor, Senior Vice President, Content Acquisition International, Ingram Content said that the marriage of colour inkjet book manufacturing with a  single copy print-on-demand (POD) selling model is going to be a first for the UK market.

So far inkjet colour options have almost exclusively been limited to short run printing.

But the new colour offer is poised to be a real game changer for publishers as the cost to print full-colour POD books is approaching the price of black and white manufacturing, he said.

The combination of an economical, single-copy solution with Lightning Source® quality broadens the scope of print-on-demand POD to more titles.

Taylor said that the new inkjet colour offer is competitively priced, half the cost to print colour books in most cases, and savings will be passed from Ingram to the publisher.

Hundreds of publishers that work with Lightning Source are already using the new colour printing option for both their short run needs and to fulfill orders via Ingram’s comprehensive reseller channels, which reach tens of thousands of online and traditional bookshops worldwide.

Lightning Source will begin manufacturing colour books using inkjet technology immediately for publishers worldwide from the UK.

EU slashes roaming charges

dubrovnikThe EU just got a bit bigger. Croatia entered the fold at midnight, just in time for the summer holiday season – which is economically vital for the new EU member. Good thing, then, travelling in the EU just got cheaper with roaming caps in place cost cutting on all networks and services, effective Monday.

Mobile wallet market worth billions by 2018

google-walletThe mobile wallet market is about to get big, huge even. According to a new report published by Transparency Market Research, the global mobile wallet market will reach $1,602.4 billion by 2018. In EMEA it will grow at a CAGR of 30.7 percent from 2012 to 2018 and EMEA will be the largest mobile wallet market in the world by 2018.

EMEA accounted for about 40 percent of the global mobile wallet share in 2011, but the Asia Pacific region is expected to see the fastest growth over the next five years.

The staggering figures sound optimistic to say the least, but Transparency Market Research is basing them on a few emerging trends that hold a lot of promise. The outfit found that affordable NFC enabled phones and POS (point of sale) systems will be the main drivers of growth over the next few years.

Retail is currently the biggest application for mobile wallet services and the trend is set to continue, due to ease of payment using smartphones and initiatives to introduce new POS terminals in convenience stores. Vending machines are also a potent market. Mobile network operators are expected to play a pivotal role in future mobile wallet adoption.

Unsurprisingly, the key players in the market will be Visa, MasterCard, American Express, PayPal, Google and others from the list of usual suspects.

However, it won’t be just smooth sailing. Quite a few consumers still don’t know how mobile wallets actually work and we’re pretty sure that many aren’t even aware of their existence. Security and privacy remain sources of concern, too.

HP thinks about smartphones again

HPHewlett Packard is apparently seriously considering re-entering the smartphone market. In related news, we did some research and found out that HP did indeed make phones at one point.

Joking aside, HP was a force to be reckoned with in the days of Windows Mobile. It viewed smartphones as a natural extension of its once massive iPaq business, but smartphones of the day were just too big, too slow and unattractive.

In 2010 HP acquired Palm and started making WebOS devices, but they flopped. HP launched its last WebOS phone in 2011, but now it might give smartphones another go, although the new generation will probably feature a different operating system and rumour has it that Android tops the list at the moment.

In a recent interview with Indian news agency PTI, carried by The Indian Express, HP Senior Director Consumer PC and Media Tablets Asia Pacific Yam Su Yin said the company is focusing on all market segments. When asked whether smartphones are one of them, she answered yes, but noted that she couldn’t give an exact timetable.

“It would be silly if we say no. HP has to be in the game,” she said.

However, HP might have a lot of catching up to do, but Su Yin believes the company can pull it off.

“Being late you have to create a different set of proposition. There are still things that can be done. It’s not late. When HP has a smartphone, it will give a differentiated experience,” she said.

At this point there is very little to go on, but HP probably won’t be another also-ran Android peddler. It will probably need to integrate a few of its business services into the upcoming phones, and recently the company has been making quite a bit of noise about its cloud services, which should end up on the feature list.

Despite that, we’re not sure we share HP’s optimism. The market is already overcrowded and overheating. It is about to get even tougher as Chinese manufacturers start to look beyond the local market and as some PC component makers enter the space. On the other hand HP has a nice brand to play around with and a top notch sales force.

Genii gives SecureIT to new US masters

idreamofjeannie1-300x193Genii Capital has sold the Multi-Tier Datacenter service provider SecureIT to a US real estate fund manager.

Genii funded and started SecureIT in 2003 on the back of the acquisition of a datacenter building to be developed.  The company remained solely funded by Genii Capital until its sale.

Eric Lux, CEO of Genii Capital said that when his company bought the building that would became SecureIT’s first datacenter, it just inherited a mini datacenter and a few racks. “We had no idea this small operation would become so successful but we knew there was a niche for us,” Lux said.

Initial demand came from new players like Skype who were considering setting up part of their infrastructure in Luxembourg.

This transaction underlines Genii Capital’s capabilities in the growing cloud and datacenter industry, he said.