Dell takes Cameron path to success as McCain likes bull for a China job

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Dell is looking more and more like David Cameron's Tories. Like the Tories, Dell used to be popular but has recently been in the doldrums, and CEO Michael Dell is busy ripping up some of the direct seller's articles of faith (just like Dave and his recent pronouncements on grammar schools) to get back in everybody's good books.

The company recently admitted it was considering an authorised reseller programme for Europe. "We haven't made any decisions yet, but Dell in general is entering a more differentiated strategy, in which the company will respond more directly to customer needs," said Rainer Von Mielecki, EMEA communications director.

Meanwhile, Dell himself was busy telling the FT the company's future growth would be dependent on acquiring services companies because services revenue was growing faster than hardware sales and represented a huge opportunity. One area that isn't growing is Dell's workforce. The company announced plans to cut more than 8,000 jobs worldwide.

Hello? Hello? I've just been thrown off the carousel

A new fraud-busting VAT accounting scheme has been introduced to try and counter so-called carousel fraud of mobile phones and computer chips. In a bid to save the taxpayer £3bn, VAT-registered customers of the products will now have to pay VAT to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs rather than the supplier.

A Touch too much?

Still on the subject of mobile phones, HTC has launched a mobile phone handset that is operated via a touch screen (a bit like a certain other product due to launch at the end of the month). Known as Touch, it ships with Windows Mobile 6 and features a 2.8in LCD 240x x320 resolution touch screen and a 2 megapixel CMOS digital camera. The manufacturer claims around 200 hours standby time and up to five hours talk time.

Big money deals

In a busy week for acquisitions, the largest deal was the $3.6bn take over of Solectron by Flextronics. The two companies construct a wide range of products from computing systems such as the Xbox and high-end servers to medical devices. The combined company could have total revenues of $30bn a year.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported Avaya could be bought by private equity firms Silver Lake partners and Texas Pacific Group for more than $8bn, although there is a chance Nortel might still acquire the company.

A couple of light snacks for IBM and EMC

IBM was busy beefing up its web application security with the purchase of Massachusetts-based security firm Watchfire, and EMC decided it just had to buy another company, snapping up Florida-based authentication software specialist Verid.

Networks First and ANS converge

Networks First claimed it had become the largest independent provider of converged network support services in the UK with the acquisition of ANS (Access Network Services), a Hampshire based firm that supports IP telephony products.

The combined firm is predicted to turnover £10m within a year and have a headcount of 85 people.

At the same time, Anglo-South African reseller Logicalis bought the Information Technology Division of Carotek, based in Matthews, North Carolina. The HP specialist has 30 staff and expects revenue of $25m over the next year.

iSoft gets tough with CSC

One company which must have been watching all these successful deals with a degree of envy was iSoft. The company's planned takeover by Aussie health provider IBA Health was recently vetoed by CSC. But iSoft has decided to fight back by starting legal action over CSC's decision, claiming CSC's objections are not reasonable.

In a joint statement from IBA Health and iSoft, the companies said they had been advised CSC's refusal to consent to the takeover could be rejected by a court.

Just in time for the summer holidays

Speaking of courts, it was reported the European Court of First Instance could deliver its verdict on Microsoft's appeal of its anti-trust ruling before the summer recess. The last possible date for the arrival of the verdict is 17 September, but a secret meeting at the end of the last month suggested the verdict could be made public before that.

Microsoft strikes deal with Xandros

Meanwhile, Microsoft struck its second deal with a Linux vendor when it announced a five year joint development deal with Xandros under which the two companies would collaborate on systems management, office suite, and server interoperability. A lot of men with beards and sandals got very upset.

Google tops European charts

A survey of internet usage across Europe revealed that Google was the most popular website in every country except Sweden and Norway. Rival Yahoo! only made the top three in three countries out of 16, but was still the third most popular site across Europe.

One site unlikely to be in the top three is a web page that defends paedophilia hosted by PRQ, a company owned by the founders of The Pirate Bay. PRQ claimed it was an issue of freedom of speech.

We're not talking...

While we're talking about freedom of speech, it was interesting to note that three stalwarts of the internet - Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft - declined the opportunity to have their say on the topic by refusing to attend a web conference on internet freedom being hosted by human rights group Amnesty International. This may have had something to do with their slightly tarnished approach to the issue in China.

...but we're selling

Still, you can see where Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft are coming from when you look at the global figures for DSL usage. According to figures released at Broadband World Forum Asia in Beijing, China is the largest provider of DSL-based services, accounting for 37 million of the world's DSL subscribers and representing 20 per cent of the global market for the technology.

ASA reinforces Intel rights

It was good to see someone's rights being upheld, although we're a bit dubious of the decision by the UK's advertising watchdog to uphold Intel's right to claim its Core 2 Duo CPUs are the "world's best processors".

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) ruled Intel had substantiated its claims and they were unlikely to mislead potential customers.

Good technology stories

What's a technology site without a couple of technology-related stories? First off, we bring you news of the Eee PC 701 from Asus, a sub-notebook with a 7in display, QWERTY keyboard, 512Mb of memory, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, a 0.3 megapixel camera, stereo speakers, microphone and 2, 4, 8 or 16Gb of Flash storage. The 2Gb model is expected to retail for around $200 (£100/€148).

In the same week, Siemens boffins demonstrated a data rate of 1Gbit/s over plastic optical fibre, ten times faster than is possible with current products.

Things we had to leave out

No space this week for the news that 855,000 mobile phones are thrown down the toilet every year and 810,000 are left in the pub. According to research from SimplySwitch, users lose or break 4.1 million handsets every year.

We can't mention the embarrassing episode at the BBC concerning viewer submissions for an alternative London Olympic logo. While one of the entries, from Sean Stayte, might well represent "Britain pulling together to reveal the Olympics", it also echoed one of the most iconic and notorious shock pictures on the web, originally hosted at

And you can bet good money that we won't get into the decision by Bill Gates to fund a multi-million dollar public health institute at the University of Washington, a year after Oracle CEO Larry Ellison pulled out of his promise to fund a similar facility at Harvard University.

Apparently scientists from Italy's National Research Council (CNR) have discovered particles of cocaine and marijuana in the atmosphere in Rome (and you thought it was history), predictably centred around the city's Sapienza university.

Bull in a China shop?

We're not sure whether US Republican presidential hopeful John McCain has been to Rome recently, but he had some interesting things to say at the recent D: All Things Digital conference. After announcing plans to co-opt various tech industry figures if he reaches the White House (including Cisco boss John Chambers), McCain dropped the name of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer as a possible member of his administration.

With someone like Ballmer, it would have to be a position that required tact, diplomacy and great sensitivity to different perspectives, so it was no surprise to hear McCain had him in mind for the post of ambassador to China. Given McCain's experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, we thought the least he could do was send Steve to Ho Chi Minh. ®

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