Although the PC market is in turmoil, Toshiba believes all is not lost and there is still room for growth. Speaking at the sidelines of a notebook launch event on Tuesday, Toshiba UK product manager Paul Hicks expressed a bit of optimism, which is becoming a rare commodity in the PC industry.
Oracle’s claims that it will be opening a data centre to support the UK government’s G Cloud service for the public sector are perfectly true, but appear to be designed as a boon to Oracle rather than the UK as a whole.
While G Cloud could, of course, always do with more power, an Oracle spokesperson confirmed to ChannelEye that the data centre will primarily be for existing or potential Oracle partners.
“Oracle will make Platform as a Service available to Independent Software Vendors (ISVs),” the spokesperson said. “Oracle’s PaaS provides Oracle Database and Java as a service, hence will be available to ISVs who run on this Oracle platform”.
“These ISVs will likely be existing Oracle partners, but we of course welcome new partners to join the Oracle Partner Network,” the spokesperson added. “The ISVs themselves need to have their cloud services accepted onto the CloudStore catalogue”.
Although presented as a helpful boost to the British economy, the plan appears to be fully Oracle’s with a light dab of spin.
“This investment is funded solely by Oracle,” the spokesperson said, “justified through our internal business case criteria and assessment of market opportunity, and is being made in advance of any contracts or orders from government”.
The global PC market contracted 13.9 percent in the first quarter of 2013 and Europe seems to have taken the worst hit. Sales of PCs in Western Europe fell off a cliff in the first three months of the year and they are down 20.5 percent year-on-year. Big brands like Acer and HP did even worse, experiencing a drop in excess of 30 percent.
This data centre will be designed specifically to support cloud service provisioning within public procurement, including those procured through G-Cloud Framework and CloudStore.
In a statement, Oracle said the data centre will be compliant with the ILS information assurance standard, as required by government departments looking to use cloud services. Some independent software vendors will also be able to use the facility.
The company boasted it will bring further jobs to the Thames Valley area, where Oracle’s British HQ is based.
HP exile and Oracle president Mark Hurd said in a statement that Oracle is “committed to working with public administrations around the world” and that the company applauds the G-cloud programme, believing it to be a “significant step change in the provision of public sector IT services”.
ChannelEye has approached Oracle for further comment, but has not received a reply at time of publication.
All IMIS members will now become BCS members. The idea is that the two groups will try to maintain standards and promote the professional reputation so that it can be recognised alongside established professions such as law and engineering.
The two hope that, together, they will be able to have a “stronger united voice to policy decisions” that have wider repercussions in the industry and internationally.
IMIS has previously been working to promote better understanding of information systems management, and has worked to provide leverage to those working in the profession, as well as promoting higher standards in education and training. Both it and the BCS are registered charities.
BCS group’s chief exec David Clarke said in a statement: “Today IT is central to society and business, therefore it is important that we establish standards for those currently working in the profession, encourage the next generation to consider IT as a future career choice and raise awareness among the general public of the importance of the profession”.
Prof Simon Rogerson, chair of IMIS Council, said that “together our organisations will offer the best opportunity for members to continue to meet their academic, professional and career requirements”.
The data centre should reach completion around 2014, and it will mark Salesforce’s sixth data centre world wide. It will be used to support the company’s cloud services in the EMEA region.
CEO Marc Benioff said in a statement that Europe was the fastest growing region for the company in fiscal 2013, managing to bring in revenue growth of 38 percent. “We are doubling down on Europe,” Benioff said.
Salesforce COO Stephen Kelly praised the UK, calling it one of the world’s “greatest technology centres”. “The UK is in a strong position to support fast growing international companies such as Salesforce,” Kelly said.
At the same time, Salesforce pointed out that there has been ‘unprecedented’ growth in cloud spending throughout Europe, citing an IDC paper that predicts public cloud will grow three times faster than other IT segments for the region.
The announcement follows Mr Jones’ promotion in March 2012 to deputy MD, a role that saw him take responsibility for the company’s 180-strong workforce and £100 million of sales.
Jones has worked his way up through the company, originally joining as a fax machine salesman in 1995, later becoming sales & marketing director.
Commenting on the appointment, Mr Jones said he was “thrilled” to be given the responsibility to lead Brother in the UK as MD.
“Having joined the business back in the early 1990s with little leadership or business management experience, my journey really underlines Brother’s commitment to investing in people and backing talent – a culture that I’m determined to continue building during my tenure,” he added.
Mr Jones, 45, lives in Warrington with his wife and two teenage children. He is a regular speaker and blogger on leadership, innovation and personal growth and a keen road cyclist, it is claimed.
Despite this, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is not too fussed. A spokesperson told V3 that although it wants as much competition in place for the contracts, the department accepts some projects are “not as commercially competitive” because of the required scale and infrastructure.
BT has that infrastructure.
Fujitsu for its part said that it was pulling out of the process after conversations with the Department. Ultimately, the company decided there wasn’t enough value. It did not detail the “various conditions surrounding the BDUK process” that ruled it out of the competition.
BT promised it would make good on its investments of up to £1 billion. So far, BT has won Wales, Rutland, North Yorkshire, Surrey, Suffolk and Lancashire, V3 reports.
The study was carried out by multi-touch retail technology provided Skava, and it found that only half of Britain’s top 100 retailers have optimized their websites for mobile devices. In contrast, all of the top US retailers have already done so.
The study found that revenue from mobile accounts for about one percent of all online sales in Europe. However, it is growing at a compound rate of 43.1 percent. Forrester estimated mobile revenue will account for 6.8 percent of European online revenue by 2017. That amounts to 19 billion euro.
Forrester analyst Martin Gill stressed that UK retailers have to adopt mobile tech if they hope to move forward. However, he also believes they will face plenty of challenges.
“A number of factors encourage and inhibit the adoption of mobile commerce… consumer trust, the convenience and value proposition of mobile shopping, the ease of payment and the availability of products at the right price,” said Gill. “European eBusiness executives in many countries have been slow to provide mobile-optimized experiences and these factors — both supply and demand — will continue to limit the opportunities.”
The study found that smartphone and tablet users tend to interact with their devices quite a bit differently than PC users. Hence, retailers’ websites must be optimized to cater to new platforms. They also need to respond quickly to new market trends and devices, which is easier said than done due to the mind boggling pace of progress in the mobile industry.
Online sales are booming and taking their toll on brick and mortar shops, but another interesting trend is starting to emerge. Cross-border sales in Europe are expected to hit £36 billion this year. As much as 10.6 per cent of all online purchases will be cross-border affairs.
It might be a worrying trend for some, but not for British retailers, as they are the most successful in doing business across borders.
According to IMRG data, international consumers dropped as much as £7.4 billion on British online retail sites and the figure is expected to hit £10 billion in 2013. The UK online retail market is second only to the US in terms of overall value. IMRG concluded that cross-border markets are becoming increasingly attractive for UK retailers, as they offer multiple opportunities for sustained growth.
Andrew McClelland, Chief Operations & Policy Officer at IMRG, commented: “Cross-border is the future of e-commerce, and the opportunity is particularly strong for UK retailers due to the advanced state and sophistication of the market here.”
However McClelland warns that expanding internationally is a complex business and retailers need to carefully identify markets that are appropriate to them rather than just attractive in terms of value and growth. Basically, they have to do their homework.
“Research is everything when it comes to cross-border; there have been several instances of retail brands finding success by selling product ranges that they are not well-known for by consumers in the UK,” he said.
In order to facilitate cross-border growth across Europe, Trusted Shops and IMRG came up with ‘Internet Shopping is Safe (ISIS)’ schemes in 2012. Their goal is to create a standard European trustmark that supports UK retailers in their international expansion strategies.
Everything 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.
The company’s BDO Optimism Index, which has been running for 21 years and looks at emerging trends over the following two quarters, dropped to 88.9 in January compared to a reading of 90.3 in December, which is the eighth month in a row that the index has been below the growth metric of 95.0. According to BDO, this suggests trouble for Q1 2013, especially taking figures from the Office for National Statistics into account that threatened a triple dip recession.
BDO’s Output Index, which looks at and predicts turnover expectations, also fell – supporting a looming triple dip recession as it dropped from 93.1 to 92.3, again short of the 95.0 growth mark.
Although the outlook is bleak, BDO believes there are small signs of improving confidence, such as in the company’s Employment Index, which rose to 95.1 in January from 93.0 in December. This is the first time it has passed the 95.0 mark since last April, and also supported the ONS’ data on unemployment dropping in the three months to November. Manufacturer confidence should also be reason for some cautious optimism, which rose to 95.2 in January compared to 91.9 in December.
Partner at BDO LLP, Peter Hemington, said in a statement that despite strengthening in labour, “business confidence continues to weaken, and improved hiring intentions are not translating into growth plans”.
“It sees the damaging effects on businesses of five years’ zigzagging economic growth,” Hemington said, leaving them “wary” of making expansion or investment plans. A crucial tonic for bringing the economy out of a slump, according to BDO, will be providing growth incentives.
HMV, which entered administration in January, currently operates 220 stores in the UK. Deloitte said the affected stores employ 930 staff, but no fixed date has been set for their closure yet.
Staff quickly took to Twitter, talking about redundancies made across HMV offices and distribution centres.
Deloitte, HMV’s administrator, is in talks with restructuring specialist Hilco about a possible takeover of HMV. Hilco is said to be in talks with suppliers and HMV’s landlords, as part of an effort to save about half of the shops in the UK, Express reports.
“This step has been taken in order to enhance the prospects of securing the business’ future as a going concern,” Nick Edwards, joint administrator at Deloitte, said. “We continue to receive strong support from staff and are extremely grateful to them for their commitment during an understandably difficult period.”
HMV became a hugely profitable enterprise following the introduction of CDs and cheap video tech in the eighties. It quickly expanded around the world, opening shops in North America and on the continent. Its retail operation peaked in the naughties, with 325 shops up and running. However, HMV failed to recognise the threat posed by online distribution to its traditional retail approach and by the late 2000s it was in more trouble than it could handle.
HMV is not the first retail outfit to face collapse due to online competition. Camera chain Jessops and DVD rental business Blockbuster were forced to close last month.
The HMV stores set to close over the next two months are:
England: Ashton-under-Lyne, Barnsley, Bayswater, Bexleyheath, Birkenhead, Birmingham Fort, Blackburn, Boston, Bournemouth Castlepoint, Bracknell, Burton-upon-Trent, Camberley, Chesterfield, Croydon Centrale, Durham, Fulham, Huddersfield, Leamington Spa, Leeds White Rose, Loughborough, Luton, Manchester 90, Moorgate, Orpington, Rochdale, Scunthorpe, South Shields, Speke Park, St Albans, St Helens, Stockton-on-Tees, Tamworth, Teesside, Telford, Trocadero, Wakefield, Walsall, Walton-on-Thames, Wandsworth, Warrington, Watford, Wellingborough, Wigan, Wood Green, Workington
Scotland: Dumfries, Edinburgh Fort, Edinburgh Gyle Centre, Edinburgh Ocean, Edinburgh Princes Street, Edinburgh St James, Falkirk, Glasgow – Fort, Glasgow – Silverburn, Glasgow Braehead, Kirkcaldy
Northern Ireland: Ballymena, Belfast Boucher Road, Belfast Forestside, Coleraine, Craigavon, Derry, Lisburn, Newry, Newtownabbey
The figures were lower than expected for the last three months of 2012 and have sparked fears that, if the economy does not pick up, the UK will enter an unprecedented ‘triple dip recession’ – although arguably, Britain never left the recession at all. Chancellor George Osborne has warned that tough times still lie ahead for the country, but shirked advice from the International Monetary Fund that he and the Coalition should ease up on the policy of austerity.
On the GDP figures, Osborne said: “We have a reminder today that Britain faces a very difficult economic situation”.
The figures serve as a “reminder that last year was particularly difficult” and that the country faces problems at home “because of the debts built up over many years and problems abroad with the Eurozone, where we export most of our products, in recession”. The opposition accused Osborne and Prime Minister David Cameron of being “asleep at the wheel”, although the macroeconomic environment is unrelentingly difficult and both Labour and Conservatives differ on many minutae of policy – with the wider climate beyond their control.
GDP, meanwhile, was flat compared to the same time last year. Production output decreased by 1.8 percent for the quarter, negating a 0.7 percent increase between the second and third quarters. Service industry output was flat from Q3 into Q4, although that followed a 1.2 percent boost between Q2 and Q3 2012.
Britain enjoyed steady GDP growth from 2000 right up until the world markets crashed in 2008, and according to the ONS, the decline of economic conditions in 2008 and up until now has had a significant effect on construction and production – though the service sector wasn’t hit as hard, and is now slowly returning to 2008 levels.
In October last year, channel analyst house Canalys’ CEO, Steve Brazier, said that, despite the difficult economic climate, there is still opportunity in the channel. Although growth was not exactly meteoric, Brazier said that by carefully steering the ship, channel players could weather the storm, although the market will be tough.
Senior analyst at Canalys, Rachel Brindley, offered some thoughts to ChannelEye on just what channel players can do to push through the crisis. She tells us the situation isn’t exactly all doom and gloom.
“Some partners will struggle if this economy goes into a triple dip recession,” Brindley said, “but there is a chance that it could happen. That being said, a lot are well placed – those who focus on customer service, keeping existing customers very close, growing their services business an diversifying their portfolio into things like managed services and data centres, will rise to the difficult times we’ve been going through”.
“Generally,” Brindley said, “those that focus on their customers, and diversify their business away from traditional hardware and box shifting will come through OK, it will come down to careful planning and taking opportunities in spaces like the data centre and looking at what’s going on in the networking space”.