Consulting is Accenture’s elephant in the room

elephantOutsourcing and consulting services provider Accenture is predicting a miserable year as businesses still do not want to consult with it.

The company slashed its full-year outlook and reported a third-quarter revenue below analysts’ estimates.

In a statement the company said that clients were slowing the pace and level of spending on existing contracts.

According to Bloomberg, CFO David Roland told analysts that the company expects outsourcing revenue to be moderate, and consulting revenue to either decline or grow slightly in the current quarter.

Barclays analyst Darrin Peller commented that the Accenture results indicated that there had been moderate improvement in businesses discretionary spend in 2013.  But the consulting segment, particularly in Europe, was still not doing well.

Accenture’s consulting net revenue dropped two percent to $3.9 billion in the three months ending 31 May. Revenue from the business, which Accenture expected to return to growth, fell for the fourth straight quarter.

This meant that consulting bookings were almost $400 million lower than the company expected.

Accenture chief exec Pierre Nanterme said that the consulting side of the business didn’t improve the way he hoped.

He was somewhat cheered that outsourcing net revenue rose four percent to $3.3 billion in the quarter.

Net revenue rose 0.6 percent to $7.2 billion. Net income rose to $874.1 million in the third quarter, from $762.8 million a year earlier.

Adobe buys digital marketing firm

cloud (264 x 264)Adobe has written a cheque for Neolane, a software company which allows for managing digital marketing campaigns over multiple platforms.

It is believed the deal cost Adobe $600 million and is part of the company’s bid to bring cross-channel campaign management to the Adobe Marketing Cloud.

Adobe Marketing Cloud is a set of tools encompassing analytics, social, advertising, targeting, and web management.  Neolane has been tried and tested at Barnes & Noble and Bridgestone Tires.  It means that clients get a software platform for automatic web campaigns.

Adobe said the acquisition, expected to close next month, will not materially affect its revenue forecast and adjusted financial results for the current fiscal year.

According to Forbes, Neolane CEO Stéphane Dehoche will continue to lead the former Neolane team as part of Adobe’s digital marketing business.

The move means we can expect to see Adobe more heavily pushing its cloud offerings, backed by its software rental model, in the next few months.

Gerry Brown, senior analyst at Ovum, said that Adobe desperately needed a good  campaign management platform as a lack of one had been “a glaring hole in its digital marketing platform proposition”.

At more than ten times what Neolane earned, the cost of the deal was steep for Adobe. But Brown said it was worth it because it could propel Adobe into the market leadership.

He thinks that the catalyst for this acquisition was Salesforce.com’s recent $2.5 billion purchase of Exact Target.  Adobe had wanted to get its paws on Exact Target and Eloqua but did not manage it,

“Adobe was likely compelled to act before all the their campaign management best-of-breed vendor acquisition options evaporated,” Brown said.

Sony resellers avoid Iran embargos

iranSony’s resellers in Dubai could be creating the company a ton of hurt by flogging shedloads of gear to Iran.

The company has admitted that some dealers in Dubai resold about $12.8 million worth of its gear to Iranian ministries, in a move that could possibly attract US fines.

Equipment was sold to Iran’s broadcasting unit and health ministry, and Sony found some also planned to sell equipment to the information technology department of the country’s police.

In a filing with the US regulator, Sony admitted that if the US was to get nasty about it, it could cost the company a fortune.

Sony said it did its best to follow policies and procedures designed to keep transactions with Iran in line with applicable economic sanctions laws.

However it did not appear to have much in the way of controls to stop its resellers shipping the gear to Iran.

It listed four Iran-related transactions, in three of which it made net profit of less than $500,000, while taking a loss in the fourth.

Sony does not appear too concerned about it.  According to Reuters it has revealed that it may conduct additional future sales in Iran through third-party owned dealers or distributors, which may require disclosure under US laws.

Chip sales rebound in May

nand-chipsChip sales in May are expected to amount to $23.9 billion, up from 23.5 billion in April, according to a note from the Carnegie Investment Bank.

Although PC sales remain weak, the launch of several new smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, helped chip sales bounce back. Prices for memory chips have also gone up, contributing to the overall figures.

However, looking at the whole year, Carnegie expects semicon sales to fall one percent. May seems to have been an exception, as sales were boosted by external factors and seasonal trends. Korean and Taiwanese chip exports jumped in May, but much of the rise in Korea was attributed to rising prices for memory chips.

Smartphone exports were also up, although Apple’s numbers did not improve as the iPhone 5 is ageing and it’s due to be replaced soon. The Chinese handset market was up as well, and the Q2 guidance is looking strong as well.

However, US imports were weak in March and April, indicating that the PC market will remain volatile. There were some exceptions. Imports of US telecom equipment were up, while imports of computer accessories were down.

As a result, US retail sales in tech categories did not show much growth and they appear to have been hit by internet sales. The same pattern is visible in parts of Europe.

Notebook shipments hit new low

ancient-laptopContract manufacturers of notebooks had one of their worst quarters on record in Q1. According to IHS, they suffered a worse than expected quarter, with shipments to Apple and HP tumbling to the lowest level in three years.

Global shipments from ODMs in the first quarter totalled 33.2 million units, down 17 percent from 40.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The downturn was four to five percentage points than what IHS had originally forecast, prompting more concerns about the beleaguered industry. Taiwan based ODMs build notebooks for Apple, HP, Dell, Samsung, Lenovo, Acer, Asus and Toshiba.

The knock on effect hit ODMs hard. Quanta got the worst of it, with a 27 percent plunge in shipments. It lost its spot as the world’s top ODM to Compal as a result. Furthermore, Quanta apparently received “conservative” orders from Acer, Asus, HP and Apple during the quarter. Compal saw a quarterly decline of 5 to 7 percent and it weathered the storm a bit better than other ODMs, thanks to stable shipments to Dell and Lenovo.

Wistron’s drop in shipments was 16 percent, but it still managed to rank third. Inventec saw a 9-percent drop and it ended in fourth spot, while Pegatron wasn’t as lucky. It saw its shipments plummet 21 percent, finishing the quarter in fifth spot.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel, though. ODM shipments are expected to improve in the second half of the year. The key drivers of growth will be cheap ultrathin PCs with touchscreens, along with new models based on Intel Haswell parts. In addition, Microsoft will lower the licencee fee for Windows for notebooks with a screen size of up to 11.6 inches, as we reported from Computex a few weeks back. Better late than never.

Android consoles stumble

nvidia-shieldSony, Microsoft and Nintendo have rolled out their latest generation consoles and although they feature very impressive hardware, some analysts are already saying that they could be the last generation of big consoles on proprietary operating systems.

Sales of mobile consoles have also taken a hit, as more and more consumers traded them in for smartphones and tablets. It’s nothing new, we saw the same trend with personal media players and compact cameras.

However, if mobiles are indeed cannibalising consoles, isn’t it time for smartphone makers to capitalize on the trend? Google seems to think so. Late Thursday several reputable outlets reported that Google is indeed working on some sort of Android console. It is apparently loosely based on the Nexus Q, a streaming device which flopped before it hit the market. Google is starting to take hardware quite seriously. A couple of years ago it only sold a single product, the developer friendly Nexus smartphone series. However, over the past 12 months Google also introduced two Nexus tablets and Google Glass. Let’s not forget about the company’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility, either.

On the other hand, it must be said that Google’s idea is anything but original. Kickstarter sensation Ouya is about to hit the market, after a couple of delays. Based on Nvidia’s old Tegra 3 chip, the Ouya was envisioned as a homebrew Android console with a $99 price tag. The first reviews weren’t impressive, but then again this is hardly surprising given the nature of the project.

Nvidia also entered the fray with Project Shield, a handheld console based on the much more powerful Tegra 4 SoC. It’s a bit bigger than Sony’s or Nintendo’s handhelds, but it also has a unique trick up its sleeve. It can be used to stream PC games, but the feature is still not ready for prime time. It has a 720p screen and a $299 price tag, but yesterday Nvidia announced that Shield would be delayed by a few weeks due to a mechanical fault.

The delays illustrate that Android consoles are bound to face a number of teething problems. Android still lacks truly compelling games designed to attract hardcore gamers. Most Android games are made with the casual gamer in mind, and with relatively poor hardware. However, hardware shouldn’t be an issue in the long run. Mobile chips are evolving at a much faster pace than their PC counterparts. New SoC designs like the Snapdragon 800 and Tegra 4 feature vastly improved GPUs and they are capable of delivering a pleasant gaming experience at 720p and even 1080p, with some caveats. The level of detail still can’t come close to PC or console games, regardless of what spinners would have us believe. Although a 1080p game could look lovely on a 4.8-inch smartphone, it wouldn’t be much to look at on a 40- to 50-inch television.

Software might be a tougher nut to crack. Piracy is rampant on Android and even if that wasn’t a problem most users prefer casual games on the go, rather than big budget games that can generate plenty of revenue to pay for the eye candy needed for 1080p televisions. Attracting big developers won’t be easy, but someone has to make the first step and in this case it seems as if Nvidia has the best chance of getting some devs on board, as it is trying to get the best of both worlds, with PC streaming on a portable Android console with pretty good hardware. To make Android consoles truly attractive, developers must start coming up with titles specifically designed to make good use of physical controllers and fast chips used in such devices. The one size fits all approach, used to develop tablet and smartphone games, just won’t work. With next to no Android consoles on the market, this won’t happen anytime soon.

If Android consoles do take off, and we believe they will, sooner or later, the gaming market could be in for a frugal surprise. An average high-budget Xbox game costs about $60, yet the Ouya is priced at $99 and the Shield should sell for $299. This is a massive difference that won’t go unnoticed in emerging markets, or in the West for that matter. The Play Store could also democratize the market, allowing small outfits with good ideas to publish their games with ease, ending up with a runaway hit. Such success stories are not uncommon in the iOS and Android universe, as the market is not dominated by huge developers with endless budgets. The openness also means other software can be developed and put to good use, transforming Android consoles into proper home entertainment centres, capable of handling rudimentary computing, thus putting even more pressure on the embattled PC market.

All this leaves us with a very interesting emerging market, with plenty of pitfalls and opportunities for all involved. As tablets and smartphones mature, hardware makers will start exploring smaller niches. Samsung already has Android cameras and a strange phone-camera hybrid with a zoom lens. Smaller outfits are building dirt cheap Android sticks and some are experimenting with other form factors, like gaming tablets.

Although the first generation of Android consoles doesn’t seem too impressive, the market will be anything but boring over the next few years.

Mobile shipments in Europe fall again

nexus4-ceThe smartphone market seems to be cooling off at last. After years of double-digit growth, sales of mobile handsets in Western Europe were down 4.2 percent in the first quarter compared to a year ago, according to IDC’s latest numbers.

Smartphone sales were up 12 percent annually, but this was the slowest growth rate since 2004. Feature phones are dying a quiet death, with shipments down 31 percent to just 12 million units.

Samsung solidified its lead in the market. Its market share rose six percent to 46 percent. The Korean giant shipped 19.9 million phones in the first quarter, up 1.8 million compared to Q1 2012. Apple ranked second with 6.2 million iPhones shipped in Q1, but overall its shipments were down 800,000 units from a year ago. Nokia is in a close third, with 6.1 million units, but its shipments fell 2.6 million units. 

These figures include feature phone sales and the smartphone standing is a bit different.

Samsung still reigns supreme with a 45 percent share and 14.3 million units shipped. Apple is second, but its market share dropped from 25 percent to 20 percent. Sony came in third with 10 percent and LG had a very good quarter, quadrupling its shipments and seizing 8 percent of the market. Nokia ranked fifth with just five percent of the smartphone market and 1.6 Lumias shipped. HTC is conspicuously absent from the top five ranking.

In terms of platforms, Android is still on top, with 21.9 million units and a market share of 69 percent, up from 55 percent last year. Apple’s iOS dipped from 25 to 20 percent, while Windows Phone came in third, with a share of six percent.

“We are now entering the second wave of smartphone adoption in the region. The first wave was driven by those users looking for devices that would meet their mobility needs.” IDC European mobile devices research director Francisco Jeronimo said. “They did look for the best devices in terms of performance and user experience, and more importantly, they were able to afford and pay a premium to get a premium experience. We are now entering the second wave of smartphone adoption, which will be driven by those users with no need for a smartphone.”

In other words, the market is maturing. People who felt the need for a smartphone already have one and the upgrade cycles are bound to start slowing down, in spite of generous telco subsidies and 2-year plans. On the other hand, feature phones are going extinct and they will be replaced by cheap smartphones rather than high-end devices like iPhones or Galaxy S-series phones.

Ingram Micro appoints new DACHH boss

ingram-mico-hqEarlier this month Ingram Micro announced plans to reshuffle its global management team. The changes are set to go into effect in August and they will see Gerhard Schulz promoted to senior executive vice president and president, Europe.

Schulz currently serves as senior vice president, central and eastern Europe and on Wednesday the company announced that he will be succeeded by Marcus Adae, the current sales chief of Ingram Germany.

Adae will head Ingram Micro’s DACHH region, which includes Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Hungary. He will report directly to Shulz.

Security concerns hamper BYOD adoption

Keep taking the tabletsAlthough BYOD is one of the hottest trends in the industry, it seems that the adoption of BYOD policies and gear is still being hampered by security concerns.

According to Insight UK’s latest survey, security, or more specifically data loss, is still the biggest problem concerning IT departments, at 72 percent.

However, although security is the top concerns, 55 percent of respondents said they have no plans for the introduction of BYOD policies designed to inform employees of how they should protect themselves. Three quarters of businesses questioned issuing mobile devices themselves, while one quarter allow employees to bring their own devices and access corporate networks and documents, allowing the data to leave the company every single day.

“It’s interesting to note that a year down the line almost three quarters of those businesses surveyed have seemingly moved to tackle this trend by issuing their own devices to employees and you’d think that means those allowing BYOD would now have their ducks in a line when it comes to policies surrounding this,” Ashley Gatehouse, VP EMEA Marketing, Insight, said. “To hear almost half have no plans to create a policy is clearly at odds with the raft of measures we know businesses already have in place to protect the flow of data within the corporate network. Failure to implement a policy or define rules regarding the use of personal devices at this stage of proceedings is tantamount to leaving the backdoor wide open and hoping you don’t get robbed.”

The survey also found that support for iOS and Windows is increasing, while Android and BlackBerry devices are becoming second tier. A total of 26 percent of IT departments support just iOS and Windows and going forward the divide will become even more apparent, as 38 percent plan to support Apple products and 29 percent are betting on Microsoft. Android and BlackBerry are in a different league, with 17 and 16 percent respectively.

In terms of actual support and implementation of BYOD policies, 82 percent of IT departments view security as the top concern, while device integration into existing infrastructure ranks second at 60 percent. Providing support to BYOD users is the third biggest concern, at 52 percent.

Unsurprisingly, the survey concluded that sales teams and new business teams are most likely to adopt personal devices. This probably has something to do with age, or the fact that they are on the go more often, or both.

Although not every staff member is keen to take the BYOD route, 60 percent of companies say they are implementing BYOD strategies that cover all staff, regardless of job function or status. However, 22 percent believe BYOD should be a privilege available only to senior executives.

Kcom invests in Cisco certification

ciscologoKcom has got some more Cisco certification on its roster that open it up to selling and delivering further Cisco’s cloud products.

The programme gives partners cash rewards for selling cloud services as well as other incentives.

From getting the Cisco Master Service Provider certification, Kcom will now be able to flog at least two Cisco services, that is, managed or cloud services labelled Cisco Powered.

The service designation are in Cisco Powered Hosted Collaboration Solution and Cisco Powered Managed Hosted Collaboration for Contact Center, complementing the company\s existing services.

The idea is to use Cisco Powered services to boost connectivity to boost customer connectivity and take away unnecessary technology to reduce both cost and risk. For their buck they get 24/7 partner and Cisco support plus the sway of a big name.

HP changes partner cert requirements

HPHP has updated its ParterOne programme, and it looks like a simplified model.

Certification requirements have been tinkered with across the board and in all regions.

Partners will get their compensation depending on membership status as well as regions, plus sales incentives for products and services.

It also looks like HP is going a little more liberal on certifications – with some areas such as the Enterprise Group having their certification requirements halved, from 44 to 22. ChannelEye has asked an HP spokesperson to clarify on other certification requirements.

We have asked HP if this announcement is to do with it changing its T&Cs and are waiting for a response.

In a statement, HP said the programme offers “predictability, simplicity and profitability”, and has been successful at helping partners bring in more revenue. It seems to be part of wider efforts to have each HP group more in common and horizontal.

*Update HP told us it modifies the PartnerOne Ts&Cs every year. Next year, HP says, changes to the program Ts&Cs will be told to partners at the time of the full 2014 program announcement in October 2013.

An HP spokesperson said that cert requirements are important to the PartnerOne Specialist designations “throughout all of HP’s “value” business”, which includes Software, Enterprise Group and parts of PPS.

The idea is that more partners will attend HP training and get certifications to, basically, become accredited to sell more kit across all the business units. It is cutting Enterprise group certifications from 44 to 22.

“We believe these competencies are a real value-add for our partners, as they allow them to differentiate themselves in the market,” the spokesperson said.

UK retail flat as a pancake

highRetail sales volumes in recent weeks were practically unchanged from the same period last year, according to the latest figures from the British Consortium of Industry. Although the industry was hoping for a better start of the summer season, there was little change, although the start of June looks a bit more promising than May.

Orders were broadly flat on a year ago, although they surpassed expectations of a third consecutive fall. Sales volumes were below average for the time of year in June, despite more optimistic expectations and good weather. However, the outlook for July is a bit brighter, as retailers expect sales volumes to rise.

The survey, conducted between 29th May and 13th June, found that 25 percent of firms reported sales were up on a year earlier, while 24 percent said they were down. One in ten reported good sales volumes in line with seasonal trends, while 26 percent said their sales were poor.

Looking at July, 32 percent of firms expect an increase in volumes, while 19 percent are gearing up for another decrease. Interestingly, 63% of wholesalers reported sales volumes were up on a year earlier, and 18% said they were down. These numbers saw faster growth than expected, while most other indicators fell below expectations.

Sales in non-specialised stores, foot and leather store and non store sales all saw double-digit growth, but sales in durable household goods, cultural goods including papers and DVDs, were down.

Phishing attempts triple

fishingEvery single day roughly 3,000 UK web users were sent a phishing attack between 2012 and 2013, triple the levels seen between 2011 and 2012.

That’s according to a new Kaspersky Lab’s report, “the evolution of phishing attacks”, revealing what was once a subset of spam has grown into its own category of cyber attack. The most targeted websites were Facebook, Yahoo, Google and Amazon, with Facebook and Yahoo overwhelmingly ahead as targeted sites.

Worldwide, attacks reached an average of 102,100 people each day, with the most common targets being web users in Russia, the United States, India, Vietnam and the UK. Most servers hosting the phishing pages were registered in the USA, the UK, Germany. Russia and India.

Kaspersky discovered that half of all identified attack sources came from only 10 countries, signifying there is quite a small number of preferred regions from which to launch the attacks.

20 percent of phishing attacks were set up to mimic banks or financial organisations.

Kaspersky’s deputy CTO for research, Nikiti Shvetsov, said the enormous increase shows that phishing is not just a subset for spammers. “These attacks are relatively simple to organise and are demonstrably effective, attracting an increasing number of cybercriminals,” Shvetsov said.

Mobile ad spending on the up

SmartphonesIn the UK alone, it’s predicted the amount spent on mobile advertising will increase by 90 percent in 2013 to reach £1.6 billion according to a report from eMarketer.

Last year the amount spent on mobile advertising was a comparatively tiny £526 million.Because mobile and tablet adoption rates are so high in the UK, advertisers have woken up to the necessity of spending big on the platform.

Digital ad spending – including traditional online and mobile platforms – will also be up from the same time last year, reaching £6.1 billion in 2013, or a 12 percent increase. Spending on digital ads could be as high as £8 billion by 2017, the firm predicts.

Right now advertisers who investing in search, while eMarketer expects display ad spending will make up a quarter of expenditure in 2013, although increased adoption of video advertising should contribute to further growth. Mobile users can expect to be thoroughly annoyed by video advertising more and more in the coming years – considering

All media advertising should reach £13.98 billion this year, eMarketer forecasts, or an increase of 3.7 percent from the previous year. Although the company notes the poor economic backdrop has slowed growth, the strength of the industry –  backed by online and mobile ad investments – kept it healthy. Digital advertising counted for the biggest chunk of all media spending. Major sporting events such as last year’s Olympics also put the advertising industry onto a solid course for 2013 and are expected to help again in 2014 with the World Cup and Winter Olympics.

Samsung may be about to ditch desktops

samsung-aioSamsung might not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of desktop PCs, but the Korean giant had a handful of interesting products, including some stylish all-in-ones. Sadly though, it might be getting out of the market just as it was starting to look like it was about to make its mark.

According to the Korea Times, Samsung has decided to ditch its desktop business, which was deemed unprofitable. Instead, Samsung wants to devote itself to tablets and laptops.

“Demand for conventional desktop PCs is going down,” a Samsung Electronics official told the Korea Times. “We will allocate our resources to popular connected and portable devices.”

Another Samsung official said the company is restructuring its PC business through product realignment toward profitable products – and desktops don’t appear to be very profitable at the moment.

Oddly enough, Samsung launched its latest all-in-one PC last week and the Atic One 5 Style is quite a looker. Sadly though, while AIOs might be pretty, they don’t seem to be generating plenty of cash .

On the other hand, Samsung’s decision to throw in the towel should be welcomed by competing vendors. After all, Samsung spent billions developing and marketing its Galaxy smartphone range and now it’s certain that it won’t to the same in the PC space.