Software giant Microsoft has said that it aims to make more than $20 billion in annual revenue from its cloud computing businesses by the end of fiscal 2018.
Chief Executive Satya Nadella said this would mean tripling its cloud based revenue in three years.
Microsoft is one of the leaders in the cloud, and been making a killing providing computing power and storage to customers through its network of data centres.
Microsoft said that its total commercial cloud revenue, which includes online versions of its Office and Dynamics applications, is running at $6.3 billion per year.
Its closest rival in the cloud, Amazon.com said its competing Amazon Web Services operation took in $1.57 billion in revenue in the quarter, which would also equal an annual rate of $6.3 billion.
Online book seller Amazon is creating a service side to its business based on the very sound idea that customers might want to buy flat-pack furniture, but have not got a clue how to assemble it.
Peter Faricy, vice president for Amazon Marketplace said that there were more than 85 million Amazon customers who have shopped for products this past year that often require a service afterwards.
Amazon’s answer is a new section in the US, Home Services, where customers can shop for professional help. It’s launching with 700 different services, from the ordinary to the esoteric, everything from installing a garbage disposal to renting you a goat herd.
So far it is all being tested, but it could be rolled out to the EU, where it will solve one of the biggest problems that people have – finding a service person who is not a cowboy, now that all the Polish people have gone home.
Faricy said it is tough to quickly find someone who is qualified. It has only accepted an average of three out of every 100 service professionals in each metro area. It makes sure each business is licensed, insured, and passes a five-point background check, with a further six-point background check for each technician.
Amazon said that it takes 60 seconds to buy a service, regardless of whether that is deck repair, house cleaning, or hedge trimming and you will how much it’s going to cost you, up front, no surprises.”
Online giant Amazon said it is to offer unlimited cloud storage, offering two plans for people who want to upload vast collections of media that they have.
The first is called the Unlimited Photos Plan – it comes with a free three month trial, then a subscription of $12 a year – this lets you store as many photographs as you like on the Amazon Cloud and includes 5GB of extra storage for videos, documents or other files.
The second is called the Unlimited Everything Plan – this also comes with a three month trial at no charge then a subscription of $60 a year. As the name implies, it lets you store all of your stuff in Cloud Drive.
Existing members with a Prime subscription already can use unlimited photo storage but can add a subscription to the Unlimited plan to store everything else too.
Amazon is now a considerable player in the IT business – although many people can buy CDs, books and the like – it also offers services for enterprise players too, particularly in the cloud.
Cupertino based Apple Inc has decided to ditch HP and Dell to supply its servers and instead is looking to Taiwanese firms to supply its data centre needs.
That’s according to Taiwan wire Digitimes which said some of the local white box server manufacturers have already received orders from Apple for boxes.
One of the major manufacturers of servers is Quanta, which used to specialise almost wholly in making notebooks for big vendors but has diversified its business over the last two years.
It offers servers at a price that undercuts Dell and HP and will customise the machines for customers which already include giants like Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Apple said recently it will open data centres in Ireland and in Denmark and it’s also spending billions on building up data centres in the USA.
The company is also cuddling up to IBM and wants to release tablet machines that will appeal to enterprises rather than the home users it has depended on in the past.
Google is offering a new kind of data storage service which should go a long way to melting Amazon’s Glacier.
Nearline is for non-essential data, similar to Glacier, but it is offering it a cent a month per gigabyte. This is more than half the cheapest in the market place, which is Microsoft’s 2.4 cents a gigabyte.
Glacier storage has a retrieval time of several hours, and Nearline data will be available in about three seconds.
While three seconds is years for something like serving a web page, it is ideal for data analysis as well as long-term storage.
This could be Google’s cunning plan – positioning itself as the cloud computing company for all kinds of data analysis.
Tom Kershaw, director of product management for the Google Cloud Platform said that it is not about storage stupid. Its about what you do with analytics. Set ups like Nearline will mean you never have to delete anything and you can always use data.
Google announced plans with several storage providers, including Veritas/Symantec and NetApp, to encrypt and transport data from their systems onto Nearline.
On the consumer front, Dropbox charges about $10 a month to store a terabyte of data, which is the same price as Nearline and Glacier. However those businesses count on most of their customers storing well below their limit.
Either way it is looking like things are hotting up on the cloud with costs being driven down. Scattered showers much be expected.
Alibaba is launching a cloud computing hub in Silicon Valley which is the first that the e-commerce giant has set up outside of China.
The new California data centre marks the Chinese company’s latest expansion onto an US market dominated by Amazon, Microsoft and Google.
Alibaba’s Aliyun cloud division intends the new data centre to cater initially to Chinese companies with operations in the United States. Later it will target US businesses seeking a presence in both countries.
Ethan Yu, a vice president at Alibaba who runs the international cloud business said that it was all part of Alibaba’s international expansion plans. The next stage would be a cloud on the East Coast, or somewhere in the middle of the US.
Aliyun is similar to Amazon Web Services and was part of the company’s in-house technical infrastructure. It has since expanded to lease processing and storage space for small and medium Internet businesses in China.
Aliyun, also known as Alibaba Cloud Computing, holds about a 23 percent market share in the Chinese market. It faces both Chinese and foreign competitors, from carriers like China Telecom to Microsoft and Amazon. Its existing data centers span the Chinese cities of Hangzhou, Qingdao, Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
Only 221.4 million tablets will ship worldwide this year – a drop of 11.9 percent compared to 2014.
That’s according to Digitimes Research (DR), which predicts that Apple will continue to take the lead, managing to ship over 54 million units this year. While this sounds healthy, that’s a predicted decline of 16/6 percent.
The so-called “white box” market will see the biggest decline, with a drop of 20 percent. Margins on these products are super slim.
DR gives estimates for the different vendors’ shares of the market – with Apple accounting for 24.5 percent, Samsung 16.3 percent, Lenovo 5.3 percent, Asustek 4.2 percent, Google 1.7 percent, Acer 1.7 percent, and Amazon only 1.6 percent.
Meanwhile, a report in Chinese language Economic Daily News said that Amazon has cut orders of tablets, sourced by Compal and Quanta by as much as 30 percent.
Compaq has the lion’s share of Amazon tablet business, churning out 80 percent of them compared to Quanta’s 20 percent, the Economic Daily News said.
Microsoft has launched a package to lure start-ups and SME’s to its Azure profile by offering them $500,000 in Azure credits.
The deal, announced by partner Y Combinator, is only available to Y Combinator-backed companies and will be offered to the 2015 Winter and future batches.
It seems that Microsoft is following Google, AWS and IBM which already offer incentives for start-ups to join them.
Microsoft is giving Y Combinator start-ups a three years Office 365 subscription, access to Microsoft developer staff and one year of free CloudFlare and DataStax enterprise services.
It is starting to look like Microsoft is getting more aggressive in its competition with Amazon Web Services and Google, both of whom already offer credits and freebies.
Amazon offers $25,000 in AWS credits and other freebies, while Google offers $100,000 in Google platform credits and IBM offers $120,000 in credit for SoftLayer infrastructure of BlueMix PaaS.
Writing in his company’s bog Sam Altman said that this brings the total value of special offers extended to each YC company to well over $1,000,000. “The relentless nagging from partners to grow faster we throw in for free,” he said.
It is likely that the YC deal is the first of many which will be rolled out worldwide to Microsoft’s partners.
There have been howls of derision on the interwebs after it was revealed that ad-blocking browser Adblock Plus has been paid off by Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Taboola.
What appeared to have been a brilliant bit of software which kept adverts out of your browser, has turned into something of a debacle.
PC Mag said that that one digital media company, which asked not to be named, said Eyeo had asked for a fee equivalent to 30 percent of the additional ad revenues that it would make from being unblocked.
What this means is that all you need to do to make a bit of dosh is write an ad-blocking code, it does not even have to work that well, and show up at the Big IT companies and say: “That is a nice bit of advertising, it would be terrible if something happened to it” and collect your cheque.
PC Mag ummed and ahed about how advertising drives the free Web and sites were not staying in business long these days, but the fact that you have to pay people who write anti-advertising software to look the other way does strike us as the central part of the story.
What this means is that the big companies who can afford to pay, can run adverts while the smaller magazines will see their sites blocked. In short the big guys win and the little sites are stuffed.
to be the market leader for tablets in 2014 but it, in common with other vendors, showed a drop in sales.
A report from Trendforce said that the tablet industry has no reached the maturity point with shipments globally totalling 192 million units. That’s a fall of 2.2 percent compared to 2013.
Apple fared rather worse, it shipped 63.4 million units, a drop of 13.6 percent.
Number two in the pack was Samsung, but its shipments at 41 million units dropped only 2.5 percent.
Lenovo beat Amazon to take third place, and now has 5.6 percent market share.
Both Amazon and Google trailed behind, and Microsoft hasn’t really hit the numbers with its Surface Pro 3.
Some analysts believe that not only has the market reached maturity, but it’s hard to persuade people to upgrade. Others think that tablets are being squeezed on the one hand by larger screen size smartphones and others by low cost notebook PCs.
suggesting that the market for tablets is in decay, fresh data shows that it ain’t necessarily so.
Digitimes Research said that overall global tablet shipments in the fourth quarter last year grew by 16.9 percent to total 74.77 million units, mostly down to Apple and first tier vendors good performances.
But so-called “white box” tablets declined in the fourth quarter.
The survey said these white box tablets, using the Android operating system, offer very slim margins and many vendors have given up on manufacturing.
Apple managed to ship 21.9 million iPads in Q4 2014 and was the largest tablet vendor.
Samsung failed to introduce new tablet products in the second half of last year and so it say some stagnation.
Third in line was Amazon, displacing Lenovo from that position in the marketplace.
European antitrust watchdogs have serious doubts about Amazon’s cosy arrangement with Luxemburg to dodge its taxes.
According to a report released today, the European Commission believes the Amazon deal constituted state aid and doubted that such aid was lawful.
The European Commission, which rules on competition and subsidies in the European Union, announced in October that it had opened an investigation into a tax ruling struck in 2003. It published details of its case on Friday.
The 23-page document, which was penned in October 7, concluded that Luxemburg gave Amazon an unfair advantage over European competition.
“The Commission’s preliminary view is that the tax ruling of 5 November 2003 by Luxemburg in favour of Amazon constitutes state aid… and the Commission has doubts at this stage as to that ruling’s compatibility with the internal market.”
Online bookseller Amazon has created 6,000 new full-time positions in Europe in 2014 to respond to booming demand.
The company said that it now employed 32,000 permanent staff in the European Union, with the new jobs created in logistics centres, customer service, software development, supply chain management and design.
Amazon vice president for EU retail Xavier Garambois said the company was still investing and will be hiring even more in in 2015.
He said that customer demand in Europe was bigger than ever.
Amazon said around 1,200 of the new jobs were in Germany, its second-biggest market after the United States where it employs 10,000 warehouse staff plus more than 10,000 seasonal workers. Britain had the next most new positions with the rest spread around other countries.
It does not seem that Amazon is particularly concerned about the increased union militancy of its staff in Germany. Last year Amazon was been hit in Germany by a series of strikes over pay and working conditions.
Trade union Verdi has organized frequent strikes since May 2013 to try to force the retailer to raise pay for warehouse workers in accordance with collective bargaining agreements across Germany’s mail order and retail industry.
So far these issues have not been resolved and Amazon insists that its warehouse staff are logistics workers and that they receive above-average pay by the standards of that industry.
While Amazon is known
to many for delivering CDs, books and foot spas, not many are aware that it has grabbed a sizeable chunk of the enterprise market too.
And now it seems eBay wants a slice of that enterprise action too. The company said today it has introduced a global programme that will pull in companies selling retail, business consultancies, system integrators and digital agencies.
It said it wants its partners to advise, design and integrate “omnichannel” commerce using eBay Enterprise elements including Magento, Retail Order Management, Store and Warehouse fulfilment and customer care.
eBay said it will extend facilities in the future and wants to provide retailers with the opportunities to grow their businesses internationally – indeed globally.
It has already recruited a number of partners including Gorilla Group, Bridge Solutions, AOE, and Vamio. These companies all have a multi-national presence.
Craig Hayman, CEO of eBay Enterprise, said: “This is just the beginning as we set the stage for future programme enhancements that create mutual opportunities for growth with our key partners.”
Despite evidence that sales of tablets showed signs of decline in 2014, one market intelligence is bucking the trend by predicting healthy sales in 2015.
ABI Research said that although 2014 was “lacklustre”, it predicted that there will be solid growth during the next five years with shipments of tablets close to 290 million units in 2019.
But the growth is not for every vendor – Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Google will show year on year falls in shipments.
On the other hand, Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, LG, Microsoft and Samsung are predicted to show higher volumes in 2014.
Senior analyst Jeff Orr doesn’t have good news for Apple. He said: “Historically, Apple has counted approximately 35 percent of its iPad sales in the last calendar quarter of the year. Unless Apple can pull off a 32+ million unit quarter, sales for 2014 will be down for the first year since the iPad launched.”
He said that Apple probably shipped 68 million iPads in 2014, but managed to sell 74 million in 2013.
On the operating systems front, Android has 54 percent of branded tablets, Apple iOS has fallen to 41 percent, and Windows 8 has a meagre five percent of shipments.