BAE sharpens Axe for 3,500 US staff

axeThe pink slips could once again be rearing their ugly heads.

This time staff at BAE Systems’ US ship maintenance business are reportedly facing job cuts as a result of the government’s military spending cuts.

The British arms producer could reportedly be making 3,500 – around 70 percent – staff redundant as a result of the US’ navy putting a halt on maintenance work on 13 ships. However, according to Bloomberg the cuts could also have a domino affect on on the company’s suppliers.

It has not been a good week for BAE.

Yesterday the company, which employs around 93,500 across the world, announced that it had made a loss in 2012.

Underlying profit fell six percent to £1.89 billion in the year, while pre-tax profits has dropped to £1.4 billion from £1.5 billion.

It was also bad news for sales, which fell seven percent to £17.8 billion from £19.2 billion in 2012, which the company said was a contributing factor in the failure to a merge with European defence firm and Airbus owner EADS.

The company said the losses were as a result of US defence cuts, as well as reduced military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Longer working hours lead to more office affairs

photoMore extra marital activities are taking place over the office photocopier a report has found.

The survey conducted by Notatwork.co.uk and married dating site IllicitEncounters.com, has found spending longer hours in the office is leading to a rise in workplace affairs, with people who regularly work over 45 hours a week almost five times more likely to seek solace with a colleague.

The duo also said that those who regularly did more than 50 hours a week in industries such as video games, finance, medicine, journalism, and the emergency services were more likely to embark on a cloak and dagger relationship.

People in these industries admitted that they embarked on longer working hours as a result of increased workloads and to ensure their jobs remained as secure as possible.

Mike Taylor, at Illicit Encounters, said these long hours “pushed” people into making bad relationship choices  as they sometimes found themselves in the office late at night, exhausted and feeling low and took comfort with a co-worker in the same situation.

“This can then develop as they spend more time with each other than they are with their spouses,” he added.

Over 54 percent of those asked admitted that at some-point in their career they had considered engaging in a work-based affair.

IBM expands its mobile plans

next-years-mainframe-model-comes-in-nearly-half-the-spaceBiggish Blue has revamped its mobile products for businesses by merging all its mobile tools into a portfolio dubbed MobileFirst.

The idea is to provide a package for corporations looking to turn mobile screens into revenue drivers.

IBM’s mobile strategy has been becoming more elaborate after realising that mobile enterprise could become the equivalent of its e-business, analytics and smarter planet efforts. The company has started mixing software and services together to pitch its mobile wares.

In a statement, IBM said that enterprises are leaving billions of dollars on the table by not transforming fast enough to take advantage of mobility. It plans to double its investment in mobile in 2013 compared to 2012.

IBM’s MobileFirst Platform includes its Worklight product, which is development tool, single sign-on and Rational testing tools for apps. To reassure companies about BYOD policies, MobileFirst includes a Security product which scans vulnerabilities at the app level on mobile operating systems. The security tools are designed to scan and enforce policies for internal and third party mobile apps.

There is also MobileFirst Management which is an update to EndPoint Manager to support bring your own device programs with additional security tools. This targets all screens from the desktop to the smartphone with policies by device.

Finally there is MobileFirst Analytics which is an expansion of its Tealeaf CX Mobile tools to model customer behaviour on multiple screens.

On the services side, Biggish Blue is rebranding a design unit under the MobileFirst moniker. The design and strategy services consist of workshops as well as IBM Interactive user interface expertise. IBM will offer development, network and integration services.

According to the company, its cunning plan is to target its key verticals such as retail with point-of-sale applications, healthcare and transportation.

HTC plans to pull its nadgers out of the fire with direct marketing

htc-isntHTC is turning to marketing as the Viagra to restore its flaccid brand image and it will not rely on its telecom businesses partners so much.

Peter Chou, chief executive officer of HTC, said some of the problems his company had were from overly relying on partnerships with telecom operators.

The new marketing strategy, targeted particularly in Europe, will focus on “pushing the brand” and “driving demand,” Chou said at a press conference in London.

He said that HTC and its partners would see major changes this year as the company attempts to communicate with consumers more directly.

In the good old days HTC led the industry in technology innovation but the marketplace has changed. HTC needs to change in terms of its “market positioning and execution”. Market positioning is low and someone will have to be executed.

HTC unveiled its new HTC One smartphone in London and New York on Tuesday with revamped camera and audio.

Chou did not say why he felt that the company had been let down by its business partners. But there was a feeling that the company had suffered from poor marketing as the telcos pushed phones from Samsung and Apple instead.

The cunning plan seems to be for HTC to take a more direct marketing approach, although this might create a backlash against the company from business partners who feel left out of the loop.

Resellers lose no sleep over MacPro’s death rattle

macproconceptWhisperings heard by ChannelEye indicate resellers don’t really care if Apple doesn’t bother to update the MacPro ever again.

Apple has been rubbish at updating the MacPro for years now. Before 2009 it had not been updated for two years. In 2010 it introduced SSDs and 12 core options but sat on its hands since.

Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted that the MacPro will probably get a refresh in June, but the question is how long Apple can continue to pretend it, or its clients, are really that interested.

According to Macworld UK, resellers would be relieved if Apple pulled the plug and just concentrated on what it does best – peddling consumer gear. At the moment they are faced with trying to sell a machine which is not a consumer desktop but lacks the grunt to be a workstation.

The MacPro has historically made headway into the publishing and education industries, but the problem there is that the machines are no longer the power house they once were. Those who actually need a workstation want one with a particularly high spec and Apple has been shuffling away from that market for some time – just like it did from the server market when its Xserve failed to make an impact.

Macworld said that the Mac Pro removal won’t be a huge problem, it was a very small seller in the APR channel, so much so that it was removed along with the Mac mini off the store displays. Those who wanted to have an Apple PC switched over to the iMac a long time ago, mostly because it was a better all-round machine and still has upgrade options.

Apple’s difficulty is that it is competing against much better machines from Dell and HP in an area where its marketing magic does not work. While a designer might want their computer to look pretty, that is less important than its abilities in power and graphics. While Apple used to be good at graphics, this has not been the case for many years. Most users really don’t need that sort of power, and those that want it need it in spades.

Most of the resellers we spoke to said that they can’t flog high end Apple workstations any more. Their high-end customers have to make too many compromises to keep an entirely Apple shop.

A source at one European reseller said that he did not lose any sleep because he could still kit out some types of businesses with iMacs, or even, in one case, Mac Minis. It was worth having a side deal with HP or Dell for the higher end workstations to cover that side of any IT refurbishment project.

“If there were no MacPros, I would not have to show my clients hardware which is frankly not up to par,” the source said. “I could simply say Apple got out of that market, how about this HP model instead”.

In the long term, however, our source believes Apple will get out of the PC market altogether and solely become a consumer device maker.

“Apple has too much invested in being a consumer operation and its business arm is suffering. In the long term it is not really sustainable,” the source said.

If that is the case, then Apple will stop selling the MacPro and then phase out the iMac in favour of something more portable.

Nissan takes Note of affordable safety tech, new engines

nissanote330pxNissan’s new Note mini MPV is out and it features a generous dose of high tech safety equipment and a new range of frugal power plants.

The original Note launched in 2004 and it practically managed to carve out a new niche in Europe, offering the roominess of a hatch with the footprint of a supermini.

Computer 2000 signs agreement with 3Dconnexions

Hands across the waterComputer 2000 has signed on the dotted line with 3Dconnexions.

Under a new agreement the UK arm of Tech Data will distribute 3Dconnexion’s range of 3D mice, which the company claims lets users interact with content intuitively, making it easier for engineers to work faster and more ergonomically.

Using the 3D mouse controller cap, users can simultaneously pan, zoom and rotate their 3D models or camera position while using the standard mouse or tablet to select, create and edit.

Paul Jacobs, General Manager of the PC Components business unit at Computer 2000 said the price points, which ranged from £99 to £299, meant that there was “plenty of margin opportunity”.

John Moseley, Director of Global Marketing for 3Dconnexion, said the partnership meant the company would be open to more opportunities as a result of gaining a greater visibility and access to the wider channel community.

The 3Dconnexion range is being managed by Computer 2000’s PC Components business unit. It includes the SpacePilot Pro, SpaceMouse Pro, SpaceNavigator and SpaceNavigator for Notebooks.

Mercedes & pals fined for market fixing

mercMercedes-Benz and three of its commercial dealers have been  slapped with fines after being found guilty of infringing competition law.

The brand, along with Ciceley, Road Range and Enza have been ordered to pay a total fine of £2.6 million after the watchdog found the quartet had been in cahoots over market sharing, price coordination and exchange of commercially sensitive information.

Despite admitting to joining in with the other four, dealer Northside was spared a fine for sucking up to the OFT.

The dealer was said to have come forward to “provide valuable” evidence of collusion in return for immunity from penalty under the OFT’s leniency policy.

The cartel were found guilty of cosying up in relation to the distribution of vans.

Between 15 January 2008 and 26 January 2010 Ciceley and Northside were said to have got together to manipulate the distribution of vans, while between 1 February 2008 and 26 January 2010  Ciceley and Road Range were found guilty.

Between 8 December 2009 and 26 January 2010 Ciceley, Enza, Mercedes-Benz and Road Range, were found to have manipulated the market when it came to the distribution of trucks.

Ali Nikpay, OFT Senior Director of Cartels, said the action showed that the watchdog would penalise companies that colluded to “deny customers the benefit of fair competition regardless of the size of the firms involved” – although a couple of million is arguably chump change for the group.

She added that the case also showed the watchdog could sniff out cartels regardless of whether someone grassed them up or not.

HMV to shut 37 more stores

hmv-administrationMusic retailer HMV’s administrators, Deloitte, have announced that a further 37 stores will be shut down since it went to administration in January.

Administrator Nick Edwards told the BBC that shutting the 37 stores has been taken to “enhance the prospects of the restructured business continuing as a going concern”. Overall HMV plans to shut 103 of its 219 stores. The current round of closures sees HMV pulling out of Heathrow – sad news for weary airport-shufflers waiting for a flight.

Despite the trouble it is in, HMV managed to sign agreements with suppliers to guarantee new stock will appear in stores.

HMV was the latest casualty on the UK’s troubled high street. It going bust was not an enormous surprise in the wake of increased online competition which do not have to cover costs such as high rents and are largely able to undercut traditional retailers on price. Coupled with an increasing digital ecosystem for consumer content, HMV has been in trouble for years.

The following stores will close: Ashford, Basildon, Bolton, Cheltenham, East Kilbride, Enfield, Folkestone, Glasgow Argyle, Gloucester, Grimsby, Hatfield Galleria, Heathrow Terminal 5 – Departure Level, Heathrow Terminal 1, Heathrow Terminal 3, Heathrow Terminal 4, Hemel Hempstead, High Wycombe, Isle of Wight, Lancaster, Leadenhall, Mansfield, Middlesbrough, Newbury, Newcastle Silverlink, Newport, Nuneaton, Redditch, Salisbury, Scarborough, Southport, Stafford, Staines, Stockport, Swindon, Taunton, Torquay and Woking.

A recent report from Local Data Company revealed the extent shut shops are making themselves known on the high street, with empty stores accounting for nearly 15 percent of retail space across the country this December.

ONS: youth unemployment up again

Jobcentre-plus-The job centre saw less footfall from October to December last year, with unemployment falling and the number of those in work rising, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Unemployment rates fell by 14,000 to 2.5 million, for the first time in two years, while the number of those in employment rose by 154,000 to 29.7 million. However, 163,000 were included as employed who were on government sponsored training programmes.

More than 580,000 people were counted as employed compared to this time last year. The ONS added that by the end of December there were 29.73 million UK people in employment. Of this, 73 percent were in full time work and the rest working part-time.

The ONS also found that the number of people in the UK claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell by 12,500 to 1.54 million, while some in work also saw a rise in wages, with the organisation finding total pay – including bonuses – rose by 1.4 percent and regular pay – excluding bonuses – rose by 1.3 percent from the same period in 2011.

In monetary terms this meant that average weekly earnings excluding
bonus payments stood at £445 in December 2012, before taxes and other deductions from gross pay, up from £439 a year earlier.

The statistics also show that youth unemployment increased by 11,000 to 974,000 – the highest rise for a year.

Other figures showed the number of self-employed workers increased by 25,000 to 4.2 million, and the number of people with more than one job increased by 41,000 to 1.1 million.

BRC calls on Osborne to boost the high street

ossyThe British Retail Consortium (BRC) has laid down the gauntlet to George Osborne, urging him to use the budget to save the flagging high street.

The organisation has said that changes such as freezing business rates and cutting bureaucracy could go some way to helping the high street recover, after a tough couple of years.

Yesterday, a separate report by the Local Data Company (LDC) found that the percentage of empty shops in the country’s 650 most popular high streets nationally hit 14.2 percent – roughly 35,500 vacant properties – in December.

Analysts also warned that this number could rise as a result of big brands such as HMV and Jessops going into administration.

Now the BRC has waded into the ongoing crisis demanding that something is done. It said in a report, written in partnership with Oxford Economics, that the retail industry made an “essential contribution” to investment, jobs and growth.

However, operating costs within this industry have risen by a fifth since 2006 and it is centrally-driven costs that have risen most rapidly.

Costs of doing business are claimed to have increased by 21 percent to £20 billion since 2006, while annual operating costs have shot up by from £96 billion to £116 billion, the BRC said.

However, it pointed out that over the same period retailers sales values increased by just 12 percent meaning that the industry faced job losses and store closures.

In its submission, ahead of next month’s budget, the BRC has now said the Chancellor must intervene to support jobs and growth. It wants to see business rates frozen in April 2013 as well as utility bills cut, which the company said will help businesses stay on premesis.

A ‘One in, Two Out’ regulation, which is said to ensure any regulations being scrapped in one sector are replaced with new rules is also being pushed.

The organisation also wants to see a central coordination on implementation of the Portas Review recommendations.

HP’s Whitman brings cheers to its channel

Meg Whitman, photo by Mike MageeMeg Whitman, president and CEO of HP opened up her keynoting at the global partner event here in Las Vegas by stressing the importance of the channel. “I love the channel,” she said. “You are a huge part of our success and a huge part of our future.  “I want to provide an update to HP’s strategy and growth, demonstrate our commitment to the channel and to make it more profitable for the channel to do business with Hewlett Packard.”

“The last couple of years at Hewlett Packard haven’t been easy,” she said. But HP is turning itself round. “We know what needs to get done and we’re doing it.”  Last year she laid out a four year plan for Hewlett Packard. “My management team needed to come together with a realistic view of what we needed to do and what we needed to change.”

2014 will mean a recovery and the basis for future expansion, she said. “You won’t have to wait until 2015 to see progress. You will see the results this year. In 2013 we are on a very strong financial footing. Last year HP generated $10.6 billion of cash flow from operations. That’s more operating cash flow than Coca Cola, Disney and Fedex. A company with $10.6 billion in cash flow is a force to be reckoned wth.”

One of the biggest problems HP has had in the last few years has been churn in top management, she admitted.  HP has taken some of its old HR systems and revised them. Last year HP invested more in R&D, it launched a new advertising campain, and revised its entire communications and PR strategy.  HP has put an increased focus on the channel, she said.  HP created a party advisory board and surveyed 6,000 channel partners.

That showed HP was too complex to do business with, there are too mny complicated programmes and HP’s tools and processes were hard to navigate, Whitman said. It has implemented a single channel programme.  HP now has a very clear policy about taking business away from the channel and going direct. “This will simply not be tolerated,” she said, raising heavy applause from the channel audience.

“Partners are part of the DNA of Hewlett Packard and are an essential part of our future,” she said.  HP will make it simpler and more consistent to do business with its partners and strengthen trust and loyalty. HP has simplified the management of the channel and will work hand in hand in business growth.  “A fast no is far better than a slow no. A long yes isn’t satisfying either,” she said.

HP will rationalise sales and technical specifications and will simplify the support profile. There will be one partner programme across the whole of HP, she reiterated. HP will implement a simple compensation model generating rebates from the first sale. It will also remove caps and allow an unlimited pay out.  It will put more focus on making its compensation structure clear. There will be a new HP tool to simplify channel business. HP Financial Services will also chip in on the channel front.

She said that HP has a number of products so popular that there is a shortage, such as its storage portfolio and its Elite tablet, aimed at the enterprise market. She said that the leadership across the channel business had the power to do their best now. HP has kept its best and brightest executives but has brought in some new members of the management team.

HP is top on blades, claims HP

hpmanvegasBlades are not expensive, HP said at a briefing here in the amazingly huge Sands Expo centre today.

It has shipped over three million blade systems and vastly outsells Dell and the others, said a man from HP. HP didn’t have very much to say about ARM, so we suspect he is talking about Intel based systems.

HP also claimed at the same press conference it was ahead on the storage front, you’ll be astonished to hear. HP will extend its converged storage portfolio with a couple of new products with a channel exclusive set of stuff called HP Store System and HP Store Virtual. It is all industry standard so basically we are talking about AMD and Intel – not ARM.

Store Virtual is incredibly simple, according to HP. “Because of the power of being HP we can deliver storage with rich data services with ProLiants”.

WLAN is a huge market for HP’s partners, growing 11 percent CAGR. WLAN is worth $4.18 billion, a spokesperson said.  HP claimed to be committed to driving all wireless revenue through its channel partners.  Ninety percent of HPN portfolio goes through the channel. HP Blade systems are worth $37 billion and driven by the channel, it was pointed out.

HP to throw $5.1 billion into the channel

HP, tindall, channel, resellers, sands conference centre, palazzo, venetianAt its Global Partner Conference event here in Sands conference centre in Las Vegas today, HP boldly said it will spend $5.1 billion on the channel, worldwide, in financial year 2013. It will cut out some channel partners.

Dan Tindall, VP of worldwide channel sales (pictured) gave what he described as an overarching account of HP’s Partner One programme on different levels, including alliances and OEM deals.

It will introduce a simplified compensation model with rebates earned from the first units sold, better rewards for specialisations, and rationalised certifications.

“Our compensation model will be easier without gates,” said Tindall. HP will give increased rebates with a “more for more” model.  Expert One is one of HP’s programme – it is cutting own 44 specialisations to 22. HP will cut down the six month model to a three month model for rebates. It will simplify the programme in 2014 fiducial year too.

Tindall said it is improving the software tools for its partners. It will do joint business plans rather than the “ad hoc model” it had before on the MDF (marketing development funds) front. Resellers will be able to close deals faster.

Alliance One is for ISVs and improving it by education, programme certifications and test and development, particularly regarding the cloud, claimed HP. It will build up communities and let ISVs get to HP stuff immediately, online.

HP Autonomy will also simplify, or rather create a partner programme. That will all change. It will have one programme across all partners.  HP is at a point where the next phase of growth is partners, who give it reach into customers. Autonomy programmes were too complicated. HP Autonomy will follow the HP model and move it channel wise before 2018.

The worldwide programme will roll out on the 1st of May. HP sees no distinction between resellers in any territory.

4G adoption rates in UK remain sluggish

EE-4GEE-logoEverything Everywhere launched Britain’s first 4G network in late October last year and it seemed like it was off to a modest start. However, it now appears that the number of early adopters was remarkably low.

EE shed more light on the number of customers in its quarterly earnings report, but it did not break down the figures to distinguish between 3G and 4G users. In spite of that, the numbers look bleak. EE added just 201,000 postpaid 3G/4G customers in Q4 2012, down from 250,000 in Q3 and 313,000 in Q4 2011.