Billion LTE subscribers expected by 2017

LTE-logoThe number of LTE subscribers worldwide is expected to hit 915 million by the end of 2016 and it should pass the one billion mark sometime in 2017.

According to European thinktank IDATE, demand for LTE services will remain strong for years to come.

Out of 915 million subscribers in 2016, Asia-Pacific is expected to represent a sizeable 41.6 percent of the total, North America 21.6 percent, Africa/Middle East 7.5 percent, Eastern Europe 4.9 percent and Western Europe 15.8 percent.

IDATE found that LTE is now mainstream, with major deployments in every region. However, China has yet to decide on the future of TD-LTE and the first LTE Advanced networks should start appearing later this year.

IDATE also warned that increased mobile broadband traffic is putting more pressure on networks and driving demand for more spectrum in sub-1GHz bands for LTE and LTE Advanced networks. It believes 700MHz is the most promising option for a harmonized frequency band across all major regions.

Europe’s decision to auction off the 800MHz band without proper coordination is negatively affecting compatibility, IDATE found. However, harmonisation could prove tricky, as 700MHz LTE services are not expected to launch in Europe before 2020, although Germany and France are expected to organise auctions as soon as 2015.

Big G sees more gloom for PC churners

pc-sales-slumpThe PC slump is set to continue, while tablet sales will remain strong well into the future, according to fresh data from Gartner.

Sales of traditional PCs are expected to hit just 305 million units this year, down 10.6 percent from last year. Things might be a bit better in 2014, but Gartner is still forecasting a 5 percent decline.

Even if non-traditional form factors, such as Chromebooks, hybrids and skinny clamshells are added to the PC figures, we’re still looking at a 7.3 percent decline this year.

Meanwhile tablets are still going strong. Tablet shipments are expected to reach 202 million units this year, up from 120 million in 2012. In 2014 tablet shipments should hit 276 million units. Mobiles are growing as well, but not at the same insane pace. Smartphone shipments are expected to grow by about 4.3 percent, with a volume of more than 1.8 billion units in 2012.

As far as non-traditional ultramobiles go, Gartner believes shipments will double this year, hitting 20 million units. Next year they should double again, to 40 million units, but even that won’t be enough to offset the slump across the rest of the PC market.

Demand for tablets and ultramobiles could be propped up by BYOD. Gartner believes that 72 percent of personal computing devices will used in the workplace by 2017 thanks to the new trend, which is already causing plenty of headaches in IT departments across the globe.

However, tablets might be about to run out of steam, as they are maturing fast and demand for high-end gear is evaporating.

“The increased availability of lower priced basic tablets, plus the value add shifting to software rather than hardware will result in the lifetimes of premium tablets extending as they remain active in the household for longer. We will also see consumer preferences split between basic tablets and ultramobile devices,” said Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal.

Interestingly, the combined share of Apple OS devices might overtake Microsoft’s OS share by 2015. Around 296 million Apple devices will ship this year compared to 339 million Windows devices. However, Android will outpace Apple and Microsoft combined, with shipments hitting 866 million units this year and passing the one billion mark next year.

Western Digital buys sTec

westerndigitalHGST, a subsidiary of Western Digital, has acquired sTec for $340 million, cash, to boost its position in enterprise class solid state storage.

Western Digital is confident that sTec intellectual property will be a valuable addition to HGST’s portfolio. Existing Stec products will continue to be supported by HGST.

HGST is already established in SSDs but wants to further capitalise on the growing enterprise SSD segment, pointing out that it is committed to continuing its joint development programme with Intel. Current and future SAS-based SSD products will continue to be in partnership with Intel, it said in a statement.

STec’s board of directors unanimously approved the agreement and is recommending the same to sTec shareholders. The acquisition was overseen by Wells Fargo Securities and Merrill Lynch, and is subject to the usual customary conditions – planned for completion in Q3 or Q4 of this year.

CEO at Western Digital, Steve Milligan, said that enterprise SSDs will play a crucial strategic role in the future of the company. In a statement, he said this acquisition is part of the company’s overall strategy to capitalise on changes in the storage industry “by investing in SSDs and other high-growth storage products”.

Vodafone to buy Kabel Deutschland for $10bn

vodafoneVodafone has agreed a $10 billion deal to pick up German’s largest cable operator, Kabel Deutschland.

The acquisition comes after the company buying out Cable & Wireless Worldwide, signifying an increased emphasis towards cabel services.

Vodafone has said the $110 per share deal will help it offer more competitive TV, fixed line and broadband services to mobile customers, Reuters reports, in one of its most important markets, a significant change of direction for the company that turns it into a quadruple play company.

American billionaire John Malone’s Liberty Global also had its crosshairs on Kabel Deutschland, but it is thought it was outbid by Vodafone.

Liberty Global is planning a push into the European market which it entered earlier this year when it acquired Virgin Media.

Senior analyst at CCS Insight, Kester Mann, believes the acquisition is both “offensive and defensive”. While it will allow it to attack the biggest European market with cable and TV services, it also shores up the company’s defenses from other cable operators like Liberty Global, Deutsche Telekom, and of course, Kabel Deutschland.

“The move reflects the severity of the threat from cable providers offering faster and lower-cost services,” Mann said.

By diversifying the services offered, with this acquisition Vodafone will be more likely to keep customers from straying to multiple providers – and offer benefits for those that use its services across the board.

Across the pond, Mann thinks that if Vodafone is offered a respectable amount for its stake in Verizon Wireless, leaving the US market entirely would be worth consideration. The acquisition of Kabel, as well as an increased focus on the European markets, could give Vodafone ample opportunity to improve EU networks.

Emeka Obiodu, an Ovum analyst, said the buy instantly transforms Vodafone into the biggest pay TV provider in the country – and the second largest fixed broadband provider.

This is the largest Vodafone M&A since the 2007 India acquisition. According to Obiodu, this indicates that Vodafone’s domestic European market is “sickly and requires a good dose of medicine to jolt it back to life”.

Ovum predicts that mobile telecoms revenues in Germany are subject to downwards pressures, so the acquisition is to diversify Vodafone’s product line up in Europe for additional revenue. “The implication,” Obiodu said, “is that if Vodafone becomes Germany’s largest pay TV provider, why would it not want to do the same in the UK, Spain, Italy or the Netherlands?”

Firms face XP migration nightmare

framedwindowsWindows 8.1 is around the corner – a reshaping of Windows 8, which received a lukewarm reception since its October 2012 launch. However, critics warn that the key question for businesses will be migration from Windows XP, when support for that operating system ends in early 2014.

Considering the poor economic conditions of much of the world, particularly in Europe, there are plenty of companies who simply cannot afford to, or do not want to, upgrade from their Windows XP boxes. But they will have to.

UK based IT efficiency company, Sumir Karayi, believes that Windows 8.1 could well be the post-XP iteration of Windows that businesses will seriously consider.

As support runs out for XP, these organisations will be faced with sky-high support costs or migration to a newer operation system, and as such, most should be planning a migration strategy, Karayi says.

Aside from the daunting financial risk in keeping XP on life support, Microsoft will no longer be patching critical security flaws. As such, companies still running XP could find themselves exposed to disaster.

“Most large enterprises are unaware of all the software applications they already have, let alone how many are actually being used, and how many licences they should pay for during a migration process,” Karayi warns. “The licensing issues surrounding software applications are complicated”.

“There is little consistency in the agreements and businesses are often left paying for far more than they actually require,” Karayi says.

As companies upgrade, then, they should make sure their migration strategies are compatible with their software licences.

The message, then, is “loud and clear” according to Karayi – if IT decision makers are to avoid shooting themselves in the foot, organisations must move away from XP before the deadline’s up.

Analysts call on Acer to rethink its strategy

acer-logo-ceLast week Acer held its annual shareholder bash in Taiwan, which was marked by a strange mix of optimism and admissions that the company was unprepared for the boom in tablets. Acer chairman Wang Jeng-tang issued an apology to shareholders, as he failed to boost the company’s shares, but he reiterated Acer’s commitment to the traditional PC market.

Distie talks up video conferencing

telepresenceDistributor Zycko has claimed that a significant amount of resellers are unfamiliar with video conferencing despite thriving demand, but there is ample room in the channel for capitalising on the technology.

In a survey of 204 resellers, 31 percent admitted they didn’t have a clue about video conferencing, although most respondents acknowledged that they and partners could benefit from it. However, 48 percent were familiar with video conferencing and 21 percent claimed to have a solid understanding of the technology.

The reception was largely positive. 84 percent said their experiences had been good or very good.

Almost half of respondents said they used video conferencing themselves with about a third claiming that it is part of their daily or weekly routine. Sales and management were the top users, mostly using the technology for internal communications , followed by customer calls.

Zycko CEO David Galton-Fenzi said that there is plenty of opportunity for capitalising on flexible and remote working in the channel. Distributors should take the initiative to educate partners on the benefits of the latest remote working technologies – if not selling packages themselves, at least utilising telepresence to deliver personable customer service when meeting in person is not possible.

“Now is the time for resellers to align themselves with channel partners able to support them, and help them engage end users with a solution that will continue to grow in popularity as the ROI potential is realised,” Galton-Fenzi said.

Toshiba rolls out a hybrid

toshiba-sshdToshiba has introduced its first 2.5-inch hybrid drives aimed at the fledgling Ultrabook market. For a second it looked like Toshiba was about to be outdone by WD and Seagate, as they joined the SSHD club a bit earlier.

However, Tosh wasn’t taken by surprise and its 7mm hard drives should be on par with WD’s and Seagate’s similar offerings. The drives come in 320GB and 500GB capacities and both feature 8GB of NAND flash cache.

Although the spindle speed is 5400rpm, the hybrids perform better than plain 7200rpm drives, but the still fall short of SSD performance. However, they should end up four to five times cheaper than their solid state counterparts.

Toshiba did not reveal the exact pricing though, or availability date for that matter. However, both Seagate and WD are pricing their 7mm hybrids south of $100 and Toshiba’s SSHDs should probably have a similar price tag.

Former Tiger Direct boss in hot water

Tiger_in_WaterThe former president of a Systemax TigerDirect, was indicted in New York federal court on seven counts of fraud and money laundering charges.

Carl Fiorentino took more than $7 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for steering more than $230 million in business to Taiwanese and California companies.

The cash was used to buy an $8 million residence, furnishings for the home and pay his credit card bills, tennis lessons and the use of a hip-hop production company.

He is bailed on a million dollar bond.
Fiorentino worked for Sytemax from 1995 through May 2011 and he was the president of TigerDirect, its computer and electronics unit. His job was to pick suppliers and approve the quantity of the gear his outfit used.

However Fiorentino entered into an illegal agreement with the owner of a Taiwanese company to steer TigerDirect’s business his way in exchange for $6.5 million in bribes and kickbacks.

In addition, he received another $570,000 from a California-based company to do something similar.
Fiorentino concealed the scheme by submitting false conflict of interest forms to Systemax and using a web of shell companies and wire transfers.

Systemax claimed that the indictment has no effect on the company or its management. However it came to light after a 2011 internal whistleblower probe which led to Fiorentino’s sacking.

 

Nokia about to be eaten by a larger shark

Finding-Nemo-Shark-Wallpaper-HDIt is starting to look like Nokia is about to be eaten by a larger player.  Already software giant Microsoft considered buying Nokia, until it realised how much it would cost.

The Wall Street Journal claimed that Microsoft was in “advanced talks” to buy Nokia. According to the report, Microsoft would have used its substantial reserves of offshore cash for the deal. It’s estimated that Microsoft has about 89 percent of its cash parked abroad to avoid paying US taxes.

But it turned out this morning that Redmond could not get close to the price it wanted for Nokia, which is worth $14.3 billion and pulled out.

Ironically Microsoft was unhappy about Nokia’s weak market position and only wanted to buy the company if it was at a bargain basement price. Arguably Nokia is in a weak position because it packed in making Symbian phones to become a Microsoft only shop.

But if Microsoft does not buy Nokia there is a good chance that Huawei might. It is only a rumour but the Chinese company is said to be interested.

Huawei’s Richard Yu told the Financial Times this morning that it was considering these sorts of acquisitions but he did not confirm it.

One of the reasons that Huawei has not been rushing to Finland with its chequebook in its hand is because of the poor showing of Windows phones, and Nokia’s dependence on its deal with Microsoft.

Yu said that Huawei expected the industry to go through a period of consolidation. If he is correct than Nokia is almost certain to be for the chop.

 

Alcatel-Lucent moves to IP networking

Alcatel-Lucent_Murray_HillAlcatel-Lucent has told the world+dog that it is going to be the second telecom network equipment provider to re-invent itself as an IP networking and ultra-broadband access company.

The troubled French-American maker of telecommunications equipment has been scratching its head trying to come up with a cunning plan to whisk its nadgers out of the fire. The company was created by the 2006 merger of the French company Alcatel and the North American player Lucent Technologies. It has since struggled to expand sales and restore profitability.

Reinventing itself will mean a package of cost cuts, planned job reductions and asset sales designed to raise at least 2 billion euros, or $2.7 billion, by the end of 2015.

The chief, Michel Combes, a former Vodafone senior executive hired in February to lead Alcatel-Lucent, which lost 1.4 billion euros in 2012, said he would refocus the company on selling wireless broadband equipment to carriers in France, China and North America, as an increase in mobile data traffic is prompting network operators to expand and upgrade their grids.

The company, created by the 2006 merger of the French company Alcatel and the North American player Lucent Technologies, has struggled to expand sales and restore profitability. The company has streamlined a costly inventory of old and new mobile network equipment technologies while fending off intense competition from larger rivals like Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks.

Ron Kline, principal network infrastructure analyst, at Ovum said that Alcatel-Lucent’s strategy change shows just how fast market dynamics have changed in a market once dominated by the large Tier-1 telecommunication providers.

These have been increasingly under siege by Internet content providers in the West. They have also been given a good kicking by Chinese vendors, most notably Huawei, and by other specialists.

Kline said the move will allow Alcatel-Lucent to focus on cloud and large-scale internet providers that are generating a growing portion of bandwidth demand.

From a Network Infrastructure perspective the plan will consolidate ALU’s R&D on high growth areas. But he warned that leaving legacy technologies markets is likely to prove to be difficult.

For example if it tries to find a buyer for its Submarine Network Solutions division, it is likely to face regulatory hurdles.

Mobile market prepares for bendy screens

7746.yoga5LG Display is about to kickstart the mass production of smartphone bending display screens.

According to the Korea Times, the flexible displays are expected to be in the channel ready to ship to OEMs.

In a statement to the Times the company said that it had completed the development of its first flexible displays.

It will be using a 4.5th generation glass-cutting technology for the OLED flexible displays. Monthly capacity for the line was set as 12,000 sheets.

LG spokesman Frank Lee said there was a rapid need for display advancements.
Already LG is hoping to get the leg over its rivals by releasing a smartphone with the technology later this year..

OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology used in the LG bendable display screens is apparently thinner, lighter, and more flexible than conventional LCD displays.

While it is unbreakable and bendable smartphones could curve with a user’s body movements so that the devices sit more comfortably in a pocket or pack into any number of compartments.

When the sudden rush of flexible screens come out, it could kickstart the smartphone market which has suddenly ground to a hold as the US and European market became saturated.

 

Web spending leads in retail sales

poundsRetail sales increased year on year this May, the Office for National Statistics has revealed.

In its monthly survey of 5,000 UK retailers, it was found that sales volumes increased 1.9 percent compared to May last year – with the quantities bought in retail marking the highest level since the series began.

Amounts spent grew 3.1 percent, also the highest level on record.

It was the non-store retail sector that brought in the largest quantities. Compared with May 2012, goods bought here increased by almost 20 percent, at 19.1 percent. The non-food sector enjoyed some growth, at 2.2 percent.

In terms of amounts spent, the food sector saw an increase of 3.4 percent.

There was downwards pressure from petrol station, with the amount spent here declining 1.8 percent compared to the same time last year. But the amount bought showed minimal growth at 0.1 percent, over the same period. The ONS points out that this indicates price deflation.

Compared to April 2013, both quantities bought and amount spent grew by 2.1 percent. Here, the food sector also drove the most upward pressure on amount spent and quantities bought – at 3.4 percent and 3.5 percent respectively.

Every store type enjoyed growth from the previous month, signifying a slight upwards trend compared to a bleak overall picture in April.

The overall proportion of non-seasonally adjusted online sales stayed healthy at 9.7 percent. Average weekly spending for online retail reached £582 million – an increase of 10 percent compared to the last year.

Canon offers editable scanning in the cloud

Canon logoPrinting company Canon is offering partners the use of Nuance Scan to Cloud as part of its Imagerunner Advance Multifunctional Devices (MFDs).

This software lets customers turn paper documents into forms that can be edited digitally, which can then be uploaded to the cloud using services like Google Drive, Dropbox and Salesforce. Canon promises that the technology will nicely complement other already available scanning software in the Imagerunner Advance platform, such as Scan Kit and eCopyShareScan.

Scan to Cloud is available to partners from today – and is offered on three, four or five year contracts. Partners can pick whether they want a limited or unlimited amount of scan-to-edit conversions.

Partners will be able to install the software on the MFD’s multifunctional embedded application platform – remotely and without needing access to a server. As a result, according to Canon, installation is cheap as chips and easily scalable for customers. Devices at an organisation can be configured with an all in one utility tool, cutting down on installation times.

Canon exec Daniel Seris pointed out that, as more organisations plan on pushing their businesses to the cloud, there will be loads of physical documents lying around that firms will need to hold onto. They “expect partners to be able to provide them with the best technology to support this trend,” Seris said. “Employees need to access and edit documents whenever and wherever they want, in the office, at home, or on the go,” he added.