PCs plunge as smartphones and tablets soar

ipad3The latest survey of connected intelligent devices from IDC has revealed what we were all beginning to suspect – the day of the PC has gone, while tablets and smartphones continue their inexorable ascent.

The survey covers PCs, notebooks and smartphones.

IDC thinks that shipments of tablets will exceed desktop PCs in 2013 and topple notebook PCs next year. The tablet market is expected to grow year on year by 48.7 percent, representing 190 million units, and the smartphone market  will grow 27.2 percent to 918.5 million units.

Apple did better than expected in the fourth quarter of 2012, closing the gap with Samsung. That’s because of sales of the Apple iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini, meaning that Apple had 20.3 percent unit shipment market share compared to 21.2 percent for Samsung.  However, from a revenue point of view, Apple had 30.7 share compared to 20.4 percent for Samsung.  In short, Apple kit is more expensive.

During the rest of the decade, tablets and smartphone sales will continue to rise, as they are taken up by emerging markets.  Notebook PCs will only show single digit growth and desktop PCs will continue to fall. By 2017, desktop PCs will show to practically no growth.

Megha Saini, IDC research analyst, said that in emerging markets in particular, consumer spending starts with mobiles but move directly to tablets before they think about PCs.

Workplace discrimination still rife

old schoolDespite more and more women finding themselves in top level jobs, workplace discrimination is still rife, research and legal experts have said.

Earlier this month research conducted by Microsoft in Ireland to mark International Women’s Day identified gender discrimination, demands from home, and a lack of support for working mothers as the main perceived barriers to workplace promotion. Microsoft UK in 2011 was itself accused of sexism and hush money to silence critics.

Over in the US, a 2011 survey suggested that nearly two-thirds of Americans reported sexual harassment was a problem with around a quarter of women reporting to having been harassed at work, while UK figures suggest that around 50 percent of women in employment are, or have been, subject to sexual harassment of some form or other.

A partner at Aspen Morris Solicitors also confirmed that there had been a rise in discrimination cases over the past few years.

“We have seen a number of women coming to us complaining of this practice in the workplace,” the partner told ChannelEye. “This has ranged from sexual harassment to trouble when they have tried to go back to work after taking maternity leave.”

The latter is something one mother experienced when she tried to return to her job in a high profile technology company after having her daughter.

“I asked to take on part time hours, a request which was rejected,” she told ChannelEye.

“I then asked if I could work from home one day a week, which the company also rejected.

“After realising I was tied to a full time post I agreed to go back under these terms. However, before I could resume my position I received a phone call telling me my post had suddenly been made redundant.”

She is still locked in a legal dispute with the company, a well known international brand.

For another woman working in a predominately male industry, it was a case of grin and bare it.

“I had comments about my boobs, if my hair or make-up wasn’t perfect I’d also be asked if I’d had a “late night” followed by nudges,” she said. “However, because I was the only girl there I had to take it as banter.”

One woman however who didn’t sit on her laurels was Adria Richards who was given the sack and subjected to online abuse when she tweeted about her experiences of sexual discrimination in the workplace.

The developer evangelist at Sendgrid, a tech company that manages emails, was an attendee at PyCon, a tech conference. However, she took to heart a conversation two male developers, employed by Play Haven, were having behind her during the conference.

She claimed within this they used the words “dongles” and “forking”, which although can be used legitimately in technology, could also be taken as offensive innuendo. Adria took them to be used in a sexual way – she snapped photos of the men and posted them on Twitter, along with their comments.

One of the developers was sacked as a result, leading to offensive comments being directed at Adria as well as a DDoS attack on SendGrid’s site.

Connections Recruitment increases IT job reach and apprenticeships

Hands across the waterConnections, a family owned recruitment company, is increasing its client and candidate reach.

It has also said it will broaden its offerings and recruitment for IT posts as well as make more moves into apprenticeships.

The company, which has survived tough economic times, running since 1985, employs 15 recruitment specialists and operates from offices in Manchester city centre, Sale and Stockport.

It currently rakes in a turn over of £5 million, but has said that it now wants to ramp this up by 20 percent .

It claims that over the the past 28 years it has placed in excess of 15,000 people in permanent jobs throughout the North West, while it’s also doing its bit for apprentices recently promoting its first apprentice and planning to take on a second to train them in all administrative aspects of the job.

The move is sure to please Prime Minister David Cameron who earlier this month claimed that apprenticeships should  become the “new norm” for school kids who choose not to get into debt by going to university.

Connections works with clients from sole traders to global PLCs and recruits for roles in administration, customer services, accounting, finance, HR, recruitment, logistics, buying, textiles, sales and marketing.

Jonathan Dobkin, co-owner of Connections, said the company’s plan had always been to grow the business organically and expand divisional offering.

Atlassian sees growth through partner expansion

lemmAtlassian has said that bookings from its channel partner network grew by 59 percent in 2012.

The enterprise software company says it has around 284 Expert Partner businesses covering 150 countries worldwide on its book.

iGUAZU  has a network of more than 600 trusted business partners in Japan, is Atlassian’s newest partner.

“While enterprise software is increasingly being bought and not sold, we know that many large-scale deployments require professional services and or customization for a successful rollout or expansion of our software,” said Jose Morales, Atlassian vice president.

He claimed that because the company’s software was a “platform” that partners could “leverage and extend” with their own plug-ins and customised integrations, its channel had seen great growth.

Atlassian’s expert partners are said to deploy and customise large-scale software implementations and extend the software platform through customised plug-ins and integrations with existing systems and appliances.

These custom solutions sit on top of Atlassian’s software platform and are sold through the Atlassian Marketplace, a business-to-business marketplace where customers can access 1500 available add-ons.  Partners also provide the professional services necessary for large customer deployments.

In 2012, revenue for Atlassian North American channel partners grew by more than 57 percent. Platinum expert partner Appfire, with offices in Boston, San Francisco, Toronto and Hyderbad, experienced record growth in 2012, doubling its staff and watching its five-year average annual growth rate soar to 57 percent.

In the U.K., Adaptavist, an exclusive Atlassian consultancy with offices in central London, achieved close to 100 percent revenue growth in 2012 and as a consequence, doubled its headcount.

Intel forced to take axe to Ultrabook prices

titanicThe writing was on the wall for Intel-based Ultrabooks well over a year ago.

Overpriced, underwhelming, and facing massive competition from tablets and smartphones and trends such as bring your own device (BYOD), few families would take the risk of spending over $1,000 to have a bright shiny Ultrabook and keeping an eye on jobs and the general economic situation, large corporations weren’t going to splash the cash either.

So the news that Ultrabooks are set to cost far less for the holiday season this year is probably a case of too little too late. It also begs a number of questions about Intel’s business model which remain to be resolved.

Intel’s phenomenal growth was due, in a large part, to the monopolistic hold it had on the PC industry.  True, AMD was around to mitigate that, but it was only in the days of the AMD Opteron that Intel was forced to react.  Because it holds such a large X86 market share, that meant that the revenues from sales of its microprocessors allowed it to finance developing the next generation of its CPUs.  Building fabs is not a trivial matter and involves billions of dollars of investment.  Intel could afford to do this because during its so-called “tick tock” cycle, it was able to maximise profits on its current generation of semiconductors, while developing its next generation.

However, this continual growth could never be guaranteed, and disruptive technology, in the shape of tablets and smartphones, meant that given a choice, lots of people preferred to pay far less for tablets and smartphones rather than go for Ultrabooks at $1,000 plus.

And with this we come to applications and the realm of the other great X86 monopolist, Microsoft.  It’s certainly true that typing on a smartphone or a tablet is not nearly as convenient as using a conventional keyboard.  And if you are into solid beancounting, you’ll certainly need a sophisticated spreadsheet to manipulate the numbers.  Despite the now decades long promise of the paperless office, people still print stuff.  Microsoft, with Windows 8 and its tablet ready interface is too expensive.  It, like Intel, has lost its grip on the electronics market.

There’s another factor to consider, too.  Right now, Intel is in an interregnum period.  Paul Otellini, the current CEO, is due to leave at the end of May.  Intel is actively recruiting for another CEO, but that means, in the short term, that no-one is going to make huge company wide decisions.

In truth, it’s hard for me, as a seasoned Intel watcher, to see quite what rabbit the new Intel CEO, whoever she or he might be, might pull out of the corporate top hat.  Intel has been in fixes before, and because of its size and its sway can never be underestimated.  But it’s hard to see it making very much more than a ripple in the smartphone and tablet market, leaving it between a ROC and a hard place. It’s also hard to see where the complex supply chain it generates is going to end up, too.

Huawei expands into Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq

huawei-liveHuawei is moving to make money in war torn countries.

The Chinese behemoth has appointed  regional value added IT distie Optimus to distribute its enterprise product range for networking, unified communications and security.

Under the deal Optimus will aim to grow Huawei’s channel network across Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq where it will also undertake regular marketing and channel development activities to help increase the vendor’s market share and reach in the region.

Meera Kaul, managing director of Optimus Technology and Telecommunications said the partnership was “very important” and would help it offer customers a “omplete range of technology.”

She added that the company also planned to take Huawei’s enterprise products including  cloud computing, enterprise networking and wireless, as well as Unified Communication & Collaboration (UC&C), video conference and telepresence products, and partner them with
other vendors.

Optimus also claims it will promote this product range through focused channel development activities, which include training, certifications, skills development and consultancy services to help them sell the productsbetter.

“Over the last few years, our Enterprise Business division has been investing heavily in developing our Middle East customer base,” said Dong Wu, vice president, Huawei, Enterprise Business, Middle East.

He added Huawei would continue to invest in training, motivating and incentivising partners.

E-commerce generates demand for mega-warehouses

warehouse-openOnline shoppers are not just killing main street, they seem to be taking creating a lot of demand for oversized commercial storage units suitable for logistics and delivery outfits. In other words, small warehouses are going out of style, fast.

Property Magazine International reports that 25 million square meters of retail space will be needed over the next five years to keep up with e-commerce trends. That is the equivalent of 3,300 football pitches and some developers might end up driving white Bentleys, just like Premiership footballers.

It is estimated that online outfits will also need an additional three million square meters of specially equipped e-fulfilment space over the next five years. Another 22 million square meters is needed to keep retail stores and satellite warehouses stocked.

The growth of e-commerce will also drive further development of so-called dark stores, which is basically a fancy name for huge warehouses where goods are packed and shipped to consumers.
Jones Lang LaSalle executive Paul Betts argued that many retailers have simply outgrown their supply chain infrastructure and they have to work out new logistics models for multi-channel retail.

EMEA CIOs expect higher IT spending in 2013

server-racksWe might be a bit closer to bottoming out. According to a study commissioned by Riverbed Technology, 71 per cent of CIOs in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region expect IT spending will go up this year, reports IT Web.

A total of 400 CIOs across the region took part in the study and answered a few questions about their spending priorities over the next 12 months. They were asked to pick their top five priorities and virtualisation and consolidation programs ranked first. About 50 per cent believe server virtualisation will be their primary spending priority. Data consolidation ranks second at 40 per cent, followed by storage consolidation, desktop virtualisation, server upgrades security and compliance, and WAN optimisation, all in the 32 to 34 per cent range.

Oddly enough, the study found that 10 per cent of CIOs plan to make rather aggressive investments in an effort to boost competitiveness. However, 28 per cent claim their focus will be on efficiency and overall cuts in spending over the next 12 months.

It is hardly surprising that 33 per cent of CIOs plan to approach investment cautiously in 2013, but most plan to keep spending at current levels. Only 9 per cent said their IT budgets were shrinking and that they would spend less than last year.

Although most outfits see potential to cut costs through data centre and server consolidation, there’s apparently a lot of room for improvement in WAN performance. As many as 38 per cent of the CIOs said application performance over WAN is a barrier to consolidation.

Tesco chucks cash at digital services

tescoTesco is continuing in its quest to become the all singing all dancing supermarket giant.

The company has now said it will be launching a new UK digital music and book service, while, like many companies, is moving to improve its presence in China, launching its Clubcard into the country.

Head honcho Philip Clarke said that the supermarket would be throwing $750 million at the technology market  this year, a mark up three times more than in 2010, in a bid to go head to head with the likes of Amazon and Play.com.

He said the company would be embracing digital retailing, eventually offering apps to help customers shop easier as well as confirming that it would launch blinkboxmusic and blinkboxbooks over the coming months.

It’s taking the moves seriously – hiring one of Facebook’s most senior European executives, Gavin Sathianathan, to lead the operation.

Mark Bennett, a former EMI and Warner Music executive, has been tasked with heading up blinkboxmusic.

This is one of many paths the company has been taking in its quest to become supermarket king.

Earlier this month it was reportedly in talks to buy family food chain Giraffe as well as entering into the price match war with its rivals.

Fortinet to purchase Coyote Point Systems

fortinet-logoFortinet has agreed to purchase Coyote Point Systems.

The network security company has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire the privately-held provider of enterprise-class application delivery (ADC), load balancing and acceleration services, which it claims will complement its offerings.

Fortinet also claims that the merger will help it and its channel partners to accelerate and further deliver on services to their clients.

Under the agreement no immediate changes will be made to Coyote Point products, customer support and channel programs or any existing ADC products that Fortinet markets, the company said.

However, as new products become available things could change.

According to industry forecasts, the annual end-user spending for Application Delivery Controllers will exceed $2 billion for 2013.

John Grady, research manager at IDC said as more enterprises turned to the cloud, data centres would require higher performance products coupled with strong security.

He said that, as a result, security and application delivery “must work hand-in-hand” to ensure quality of service while still preventing attacks.

“This acquisition places Fortinet in a unique position to deliver on both aspects in one [service].” he added.




Acer to slowly revamp product line, focus on tablets

acer-logo-ceAcer is apparently planning to revamp its product line in an effort to revive sales and growth momentum.

Last week Acer announced that it will increase R&D spending to between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of annual sales this year. Acer apparently wants to invest more in order to stay competitive in the tablet market, while at the same time improving its notebook line. Acer hopes to sell between 5 and 10 million tablets this year.

Analysts, however, see trouble ahead. Deutsche Bank analyst Ivy Lee said Acer might encounter new challenges that might cause its sales to remain flat, reports Taipei Times. Windows 8 is apparently the biggest risk, since there is still not enough consumer feedback on Windows 8 tablets and notebooks.

Acer recently killed off a couple of its value brands, after it experienced a huge inventory loss in late 2011. Like other leading PC makers, Acer is experiencing a lot of margin erosion and falling market share.

Citigroup Global Markets analyst Kevin Chang believes Acer will continue to struggle in the near future. In a recent note he argued that Acer’s current strategy is simply not working and that it has to be more aggressive on pricing.

As the PC slump drags on, Lenovo, Asustek, Dell and HP will try to hold their ground and fierce price competition is to be expected. As for tablets, Asus and Lenovo have done a bit better than other major PC players. Lenovo did particularly well in China in the last two quarters, while Asus has managed to make quite a name for itself in the Android tablet space with the Transformer series. It also builds Google’s Nexus 7 tablet.

TNT delivers job cuts to 4,000 staff

tntTNT Express has said it will be driving away around 4000 staff within the next three years as it struggles to get back on its feet.

In a strategic memo released today, the Dutch delivery group, which was the target of a failed $7 billion takeover by United Parcel Service, has said the cuts, which will affect around six percent of its workforce, will save it around $287 million (€220 million) by 2015.

The company added that it would also be restructuring the business, which it hoped would knock another $195 million  (€150 million) by 2015.

The plans fall under the company’s “Deliver” strategy, which aims to help it turn its business around and rake in profits by 2015. Currently the company is failing on the money front, as a result of “challenging trading conditions and continuing price pressure”.

As well as the cuts and restructuring, the company has also said it will focus around reshaping the TNT  portfolio through the sale of China and Brazil Domestic and reducing exposure to fixed intercontinental air capacity. It will also look at focusing on TNT Express’ distinctive service proposition and increasing growth in its most profitable segments and invest in infrastructure and in business supporting and customer IT.

Commenting on the Deliver programme, Bernard Bot, interim CEO said the business faced difficult market conditions and strategic challenges. However he pointed out it had a “unique competitive proposition” – an unrivalled European network, worldwide connections, an integrated range of services and recognised dedication to customers.

However, he warned the strategy had to be executed correctly to ensure results.

M-commerce to double in next 12 months

google-walletMobile shopping is the new black and a recent survey carried out by Conlumino indicates that it will continue to grow at an impressive rate for the foreseeable future. M-commerce has already risen 55 percent compared to a year ago and it is now estimated that it will grow another 115 percent over the next 12 months. 

Apple tops US PC satisfaction list

dellsigA survey of 10,000 US consumers has pointed to Apple and HP taking the top end of the satisfaction ratings for the computing segment in a Temkin Experience study. At the bottom of the rankings were Sony and Lenovo.

The survey looked at three areas of customer satisfaction, that is, functionality, accessibility, and the emotional reaction to the use of their product across different industries, including with computing.

Acer, Apple, Compaq, Dell, eMachines, Gateway, HP, Lenovo, Sony, and Toshiba were included. According to the survey, personal computers have been making steady gains in customer satisfaction – the average experience rating has increased to 60 percent for this year, up six percent from 54 percent in 2011.

Apple’s enormous popularity in the States put it on top for computing, reaching 134th place of any brand across every industry at 64 percent customer satisfaction. That is slightly below its 2012 rating at one percent less, however, it pipped other computer makers to the spot with top feedback for the accessibility and emotional categories. HP was second, beating Apple in functionality, and scoring 62 percent overall.

Of the PC brands, Dell scored the biggest improvement from 2012 with an increase in six percentage points. Sony and Lenovo however were the lowest ranked PC brands, both scoring 54 percent – not dismal, but showing significant declines for the segment. Sony scored poorly on functionality and accessibility, while Lenovo users were just not that attached to their machines with a low rating for the emotional category. Overall, ratings for PCs were 13th out of the 19 included industries.

The full ratings can be found at Temkin’s website, here.


Shoppers shun brand snobbery for cheap prices

light blueShoppers are shunning “premium shops” as the place to buy premium brands, and instead are happy to buy them at the cheapest possible price, research has revealed.

In the latest survey of 1,000 consumers, ShopperCentric said just over three quarters cited ‘product quality’ as the key defining feature of a premium brand.

A measly 16 percent said that they felt that upmarket stores were the place to go to buy these brands, with half of those questioned saying that it was the pricing that attracted them into stores.

Snobbery around premium brands was also shunned, with six in ten shoppers claiming that they hated the status these products held, and just 28 percent stated that they wanted to feel ’special’ when they bought these.

In fact, it seems lower prices and promotions are the way to a consumer’s pocket, with 74 percent of shoppers claiming that they loved finding a premium brand with a price discount and 61 percent said they only bought premium brands when they were on offer.

Manufacturers could face a lose/lose situation. 59 percent of shoppers admitted that if they saw a premium brand on reduced price, it would make them question whether the full price was too high.

Despite that, 37 percent of shoppers agreed that the types of brands who don’t discount, don’t care about their shoppers.

Danielle Pinnington, Managing Director of ShopperCentric said that the findings showed that  that price alone clearly did not “denote superior quality for shoppers any more”.

Instead, “great (and proven) quality appeared to lie at the heart of an unequivocal premium brand definition.”

She pointed out there was a role for expressing this through price, packaging, image or even channel and in store.

“For many shoppers it appears, it isn’t about where you sell a premium brand, but how you sell it,” she added.