Microsoft cuts the price of Ultrabooks

msSoftware giant Microsoft has twigged that Intel’s dream of Ultrabooks is not proving that successful.

Redmond has been slashing the price of its Touch ultrabooks at the Microsoft Store with the Acer Aspire S7 losing about $300, falling to $1,299 from $1,649. .

There was nothing wrong with the Acer Aspire S7 and it was well reviewed, it is just that no one wants Ultrabooks as much as Intel told the world that they did and certainly not for $1,649.

Perhaps the key to the problem is still the spec. The $1,649 price tag strikes as a lot to pay for something with a 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-3517U processor. A laptop might be heavier but it does more and a lot faster.

CNet  found another one discounted by Vole was the Sony’s Vaio T Series 13 has been reduced to $999 from $1,299 with its 2GHz Core i7-3537U processor that model is a little faster.

And the lower-end of Ultrabook land 0 the Vaio T Series has been cut to $799 from $899 and HP’s Pavilion TouchSmart Sleekbook is now $599, reduced from $699.

To be fair it is not just Intel’s Ultrabook dream which has seen some cost cutting. Microsoft has also been reducing the price on some of its tablets. Some are as cheap as $399.

Adobe and Sapient expand their partnership

RembrandtSapient Nitro – a division of Sapient – and Adobe have expanded their offerings by integrating the EngagedNow platform with Adobe’s Marketing Cloud.

The idea is to spread the offerings across web, social networking, mobile phones and digital displays, Adobe said.

EngagedNow, according to Alan Herrick, CEO of Sapient, is create multi-channel offerings without having to design and develop the back end infrastructure.

What this means is that the two firms offer hosted and managed services using Adobe Marketing Cloud with Sapient’s EngagedNow. The companies will build integrated offerings for vertical markets including travel, sports, entertainment, retail and financial services.

The worldwide partnership was announced at a conference held by Adobe in London, today.

AMD to cut reliance on PC chips

AMD, SunnyvaleAMD might be on the verge of its biggest strategic shift in ages, as it starts to embrace ARM processors and more frugal chips. The company hopes to make as much as half of its money from console chips and ultra-low power processors by 2016. That is on top of ARM-based server chips which are already in the works.

At the moment, AMD generates the vast majority of its revenue from x86 processors and GPUs, but this year it is expected to ship millions of custom APUs for gaming consoles. On Tuesday the company launched a range of embedded x86 chips based on the new Jaguar core, but it also hinted at upcoming embedded chips based on ARM designs.

AMD already made it clear that it intends to use upcoming 64-bit ARM cores in its server parts, but the decision to design embedded APUs with ARM cores could have far reaching implications. In technical terms, these chips will have a lot more in common with consumer application processors than server chips. They are also expected to feature the latest generation Radeon graphics. In other words, AMD will develop ARM based SoCs, but it is still unclear whether it will target the consumer market.

Several years ago AMD sold its Imageon mobile graphics division to Qualcomm, and Qualcomm put it to good use, churning out millions of mobile SoCs with Adreno graphics, courtesy of AMD IP. However, AMD insists that it could catch up with relative ease.

Sasa Marinkovic, AMD’s Technology Marketing Lead, told Forbes that chip architecture at the time of the Imageon sale was full of bottlenecks and it has moved along since then.

“We sold some graphics IP, but we didn’t forget how to build it,” he said.

AMD already has some x86 designs capable of hitting sub-5W thermal envelopes required by tablet manufacturers, such as the 4.5W Temash SoC. However, ARM based chips could offer even better power efficiency and end up with sub-3W TDPs.

On the console front things are looking even better. AMD expects sales of custom APUs for the Playstation 4 and next-gen Xbox to account for 20 percent of its revenue by the end of the year. Similar chips based on the Jaguar core are coming to the consumer market as well.

Salesforce announces real-time social ads in Social.com

Salesforce_Logo_2009Salesforce has brought out Social.com which it reckons will transform advertising – being what it claims as the first social advertising application which integrates social ads with CRM.

The application will allow agencies to run social advertising campaigns on Facebook and Twitter in conjunction with real time responses from customers and social listening, which Salesforce touts as a way to utilise data to maximise dollar return on ads.

Part of Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Social.com will let advertisers create optimise and ultimately automate the social advertising campaigns. The differentiator, Salesforce says, is that the competition mostly offers outsourced services, however, Social.com is here for agencies and advertisers to use themselves.

Using Social.com, Salesforce claims brands will be able to put together and launch social advertising on scale in mobile, as well as optimising them by testing and targeting different placement and creative combinations, then use data from Facebook and Twitter to figure out where to go next.

Social.com will also allow advertisers to alter advertising spend automatically, and automate how it is allocated using real time optimisation decisions.

Marketers will also be able to use Social.com to put offline and online purchase data side by side, as well as other useful data like customer loyalty, contest data, whitepaper downloads, and active campaigns. The idea is providing a bridging connection to existing and potential customers.

Social.com is generally available now, while real time customer data and listening should be generally available this Summer.

Demand for mobile gear outpaces support

SmartphonesSkyrocketing demand for mobile devices in the workplace seems to be putting too much pressure on IT professionals and support staff. According to a LANDesk Software survey, 83 percent of end-users want to create service desk incidents or requests using their mobile device. However, only 24 percent are able to access self-service systems using mobile gear because their companies don’t have the technology to support it.

BYOD and the consumerization of IT are clearly causing a plethora of issues. The survey found that many employers are simply failing to keep up with demand for effective support for mobile gear. If they fail to do so, the potential benefits of BYOD and mobile tech in general could be limited. Although access by mobile devices remains limited, 86 percent of respondents said they have access to self-service IT support via their PCs.

‘‘Mobile devices have become so integral to how employees work that it’s worrying to see so few businesses enable employees to report IT problems via mobile devices. Businesses will find their employees more willing to embrace services if the way they are requested goes hand in hand with the way they work, ’’ said Ian Aitchison, Director of Product Management, LANDesk. “As employees evolve and adopt new technologies to support them in their work, businesses are well advised to support these technologies to maintain productivity levels and streamline interactions between the employee and the service desk.’’

The research also covered 10,000 IT professionals, who said they have seen some positive results from desktop PC self-service, despite limited availability of mobile support. The majority said self-service helped reduce call volumes and improve user experience. Of those who worked in organizations without a self-service programme, 83 percent said they plan to implement it and 47 percent already have a rollout plan.

Lenovo rumoured to buy IBM’s x86 biz

ibm-officeJust as Lenovo started climbing the ladder to become a top PC seller when it picked up IBM’s PC business, it is now rumoured to be in early discussion about buying Big Blue’s x86 server business.

Both the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg have reported rumours that the Chinese PC seller  is interested in IBM’s server unit, which isn’t making as much cash in revenues as the latter would like. With IBM’s results taking a bit of a kicking, a deal between the two could be just weeks away, and worth up to an estimated $4.5 billion.

Lenovo conceded that it is in early stages of discussions with a third party about a potential acquisition. Meanwhile, an unnamed executive deepthroat told CRN that Lenovo is the only company in the running to buy IBM’s x86 business.

The move could be seen as the first major play by recently appointed CEO Virginia Rometty – looking to shed excess weight from the company’s portfolio and focusing on other higher revenue areas.

Lenovo, for its part, would be undertaking a serious diversifying of its portfolio by picking up the server unit – pushing into the enterprise beyond its traditional role as a PC shifter. While it has managed to weather the storm of the global recession and keep PC sales relatively reasonable, the company may be looking to build on other, more consistent revenue streams – a hefty buy from IBM would not look amiss next to the company’s server and network storage work that began with an EMC collaboration in mid 2012.

Enterprise software driven by Cloud, Big Data

cloud 2A report from IDC said the market for enterprise software worldwide showed conservative growth during 2012.

It estimated that the worldwide software market grew 3.6 percent year on year – half the growth rate of 2010 and 2011.

However, some market segments grew by between six and seven percent, including data access, analysis, CRM applications, security software and collaborative software.

IDC said that the management of information for competiive purposes is pushing along applications associated with Big Data and analytics.

From the vendor standpoint, Microsoft was the leader of the applications primary market in 2012 with 13.7 market share, followed by SAP, Oracle, IBM and Adobe. Of these vendor, IBM showed the highest growth rate.

System infrastructure software made up 27 percent of total software revenues but that only grew 3.3 percent during 2012, compared to the previous year.
IDC_software

Retail search volumes on mobile gear skyrocketing

smartphone-shoppingAccording to the latest BRC figures, total retail search volumes grew 16 percent in the first quarter of 2013 compared to a year ago. However, search volumes on mobile devices are skyrocketing. Growth on smartphone devices is estimated at 66 percent, while the volume of searches coming from tablets grew by a staggering 198 percent.

The numbers should come as no surprise, as the high street had a rather miserable quarter and quite a few consumers chose to do their shopping online. The horrible weather also had a lot to do with it.

Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said the figures confirm tablets and smartphones are becoming increasingly integral to the shopping experience for many consumers.

“It’s easier than ever to compare prices and products online, and retailers are continuing to invest in their websites and their ‘omnichannel’ offer so that customers have choice, convenience and flexibility when they shop,” said Dickinson. “The retail search data also closely mirrors the sales performance across different categories in March. It’s clear that the prolonged cold snap held many of us back from both browsing and buying new-season clothing lines until some sunshine arrived.”

Google Retail Director Peter Fitzgerald described the results as a “strong start to the year,” pointing out that retail queries grew by 16 percent year-on-year.

“This growth continues to be fuelled by the multi-device trend we are experiencing. Tablet queries grew nearly three times compared to the same period last year, whilst mobile traffic grew at 66 per cent,” he said.

Fitzgerald said the positive trend is set to continue into 2013, as more and more users embrace multiple smart devices. He also added that British brands did relatively well overseas, with searches up 16 percent across the globe and 75 percent in America.

‘BadNews’ malware family infiltrates Google Play Store

dandroidLookout has unearthed a new family of malware it is dubbing BadNews – which has emerged in the Google Play Store for Android devices.

According to Lookout’s research, BadNews poses as an aggressive ad network – however, it floods the user with application install prompts and brings up fake news, all with the agenda of pushing more malware and affiliated apps.

In its early days, Android in particular was dismissed by critics as being unreliable on the security front thanks to the open access nature of the OS. The Play Store, or Android Market as it was known, did occasionally sport dodgy applications that would mimic other popular apps but were anything but.

BadNews, Lookout says, is significant because it has managed to distribute itself so far and wide – using a server to delay malicious behaviour. The security company has let Google know about the malware, and all developer accounts associated with BadNews have been suspended and are being investigated.

BadNews and its affiliated could have been downloaded as many as 9 million times. Not all apps that have been compromised had malicious code in them, but BadNews, LookOut says, puts a “significant number” of users at risk.

The malware also threatens to leak sensitive information such as phone numbers and IMEI codes.

It is a reminder that as smart device use becomes more widespread, so will malicious coders targeting these devices. While at one time mobile security features were panned by some corners, it can’t hurt to have a legitimate piece of antivirus software installed on your phone and to only download trusted applications, as malicious coders will increasingly target the etailing and digital services space.

Ingram Micro exec named most powerful influential women

IMIngram Micro has announced that one of its staff members has been named as one of the “Most Powerful & Influential Women” by the California Diversity Council (CADC).

Robyn Tingley, vice president, Human Resources for Ingram Micro North America and Latin America, has been awarded the title and will also be speaking on a panel at the conference titled “Gaining the Trust and Credibility You Deserve.”

Ingram Micro is of course thrilled at the publicity and bigged up Robyn by claiming she has been a  significant contributor on a wide range of inclusion and diversity issues including minority recruiting, veteran hiring and developing a workplace that is educated and aware of all aspects of diversity and inclusion.

The awards were presented in conjunction with the 4th Annual California Diversity & Leadership Conference, held April 18-19, 2013, at the Hilton Concord in Concord, California.

Tingley is a certified Global Human Resources professional who has worked internationally in the fields of human resources, communications, corporate social responsibility, public policy and journalism. Prior to her current position, Tingley was previously vice president of Human Resources and Communications for Ingram Micro Europe based in Brussels, Belgium.

She has been with Ingram Micro for five years. Prior to joining Ingram Micro, she was vice president of Communications and Public Affairs for Bell Aliant, a Canadian-based leader in telecommunications.

Google rakes in the cash for first quarter

google-ICGoogle made more than a few dollars in its latest quarter, raking in a cool $14 billion in revenue.

The company, which described the figures as a “strong start to 2013,” reported consolidated revenues of $13.97 billion for the quarter ended March 31, 2013, an increase of 31 percent compared to the first quarter of 2012.

GAAP operating income in the first quarter of 2013 was $3.48 billion, accounting for 25 percent of revenues. This was in comparison to $3.39 billion, or 32 percent of revenues, in the first quarter of 2012.

Non-GAAP operating income in the first quarter of 2013 was $4.22 billion, or 30 percent of revenues. This compared to non-GAAP operating income of $3.94 billion, or 37 percent of revenues, in the first quarter of 2012.

GAAP net income including net income from discontinued operations in the first quarter of 2013 was $3.35 billion, compared to $2.89 billion in the first quarter of 2012.

Non-GAAP net income in the first quarter of 2013 was $3.90 billion, compared to $3.33 billion in the first quarter of 2012.

Again it was Google’s ad business that generated the most profit with revenues hitting
$12.95 billion, or 93 percent of consolidated revenues, in the first quarter of 2013, representing a 22 percent increase over first quarter 2012 revenues of $10.65 billion.

Google-owned sites generated revenues of $8.64 billion, or 67 percent of total Google revenues, in the first quarter of 2013 – an 18 percent increase over the same period last year.

And its partner sites also raked in the cash generating revenues of $3.26 billion, or 25 percent of total Google revenues, in the first quarter of 2013. .

In the UK, Google revenues amounted to $1.39 billion, representing 11 percent of revenues.

Traffic acquisition costs, the portion of revenues shared with Google’s partners, increased to $2.96 billion in the first quarter of 2013, compared to $2.51 billion in the first quarter of 2012.

However the company lost out on some dough over in its flagging Motorola mobile sector with a decline of 27 percent in the first quarter of 2013.

IBM goes on axe rampage in France

ibm-officeIBM is said to be wielding the axe amongst its employees in France.

According to Reuters, the company, which reported a five percent decline in revenue to $23.4 billion for the first quarter of 2013, has said it will be trying to make up gaps through  $1 billion of accounting charges this year.

It also wants to ensure its profits are boosted by 2015, despite the critical global economic crisis.

Part of this saving will have a knock on effect on its workforce, with three trade union reps over in France claiming that the company plans to axe  up to 1,400 jobs in the country over the next two years.

IBM has yet to confirm that its heads in the US have okayed the pink slip practice, but the union reps have said the deed had already been communicated.

Pierry Poquet, secretary general of the UNSA union told Reuters that IBM head honchos were set to present the plan to cut between 1,200 and 1,400 staff in a meeting was planned for April 25.

The CFE-CGC union’s representative, Evelyne Heurtaux, backed up her pal saying she had also been told that there was a around 1,300 jobs slated for the next two years.

Ingram Micro names new finance VP

IMIngram Micro has appointed Gina Mastantuono as executive vice president of finance.

Mastantuono will now be responsible for the company’s financial planning, analysis, controllership, SEC reporting, treasury and tax and will report directly to Bill Humes , chief operating and financial officer at Ingram Micro.

Prior to joining Ingram Micro, Mastantuono was at Revlon for six years, serving most recently as senior vice president, chief accounting officer, controller and international chief financial officer.

Before Revlon, she held various finance executive roles, including four years with InterActive and four years with Triarc Companies,

She is also a Certified Public Accountant and has 21 years of finance experience.

Mastantuono attended the State University of New York, where she earned a bachelor’s of science degree in accounting and business administration.

Supply chain standard aims to eliminate counterfeit gear

server-racksCounterfeit iPhones, sunglasses and handbags have been around for years, but so have counterfeit IT products, and they tend to be a bit more dangerous and costly than a fake Gucci bag crafted from genuine imitation faux leather.

The Open Group has published a new technical security standard with the aim of improving supply chain safety and weeding out counterfeit products, or gear that has been tampered with. The Open Trusted Technology Provider Standard (O-TTPS) is a 32-page document containing a set of guidelines, requirements and recommendations that should mitigate the risk of acquiring counterfeit products, or products that were “maliciously tainted.”

The standard is being backed by the likes of IBM and Cisco. It should address concerns raised by governments and the US Department of Defense, which tends to be rather picky when it comes to networking gear. Junipar, Huawei, EMC, Raytheon, HP, Microsoft, the NSA, Booz-Allen Hamilton, Boeing and NASA are also on board, reports Network World.

It is still unclear when the group will start issuing accreditations, or how it plans to go about it, but the backers feel that the IT industry should get acquainted with the new standards. With such high profile names on board, the industry should listen closely.

Big outfits are expected to embrace the new standard first, but in doing so they will also reduce the risk for smaller businesses. Still, the best way of steering clear from dodgy routers and switches is to simply avoid buying gear from unknown companies altogether.