28th > August > 1998 Archive

The Register breaking news

Kyocera forecasts decline in profits

Kyocera issued a profit warning for the first half of its financial year which ends on the 30th of September. The company said it estimates that its profit will fall by 13 per cent compared to the same period last year, with problems in the semiconductor industry blamed for the drop. According to the company, its gross profit will slip to 28.7 billion yen, a decrease of 2.3 billion yen. Meanwhile, sales are expected for the whole financial year to drop by around 10 per cent to 222 billion yen. This is attributed in some part to falling prices of LCD screens as well as the other ceramic packaging business Kyocera undertakes. However, Kyocera expects to do well out of its relationship with the Iridium project. It will release mobile phones for the global satellite market early next month. The company said that its net profits for its 1998 financial year will be around the 53 billion yen mark, a rise of over 13 per cent on the year before. ®
Team Register, 28 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Intuit shows loss on vastly increased turnover

Software company Intuit made a net loss in its fourth quarter of $39 million on turnover of $117.3 million. In the same quarter last year, Intuit made a loss of $19.8 million on $79.1 million turnover. The company said the results included a once only charge of $53.8 million, after it bought Lacerte Software. According to the company president and CEO, Bill Harris, its Quicken software product showed good profits during the quarter, while he said Intuit was succeeding in bettering its operating performance. The company is shifting its emphasis to relying not just on Quicken but on Internet based products too. Earlier this year, Intuit sought to protect itself from acquisition by introducing so-called "poison pill" measures. Sources said that American Express had taken an interest in acquiring Intuit. ®
Team Register, 28 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Acer's chief takes pay cut as Taiwan warns of recession

Stan Shih, CEO of Acer, has taken his first steps to restore the ailing semiconductor division of the company by cutting his own salary by 30 per cent. Separately, the Taiwanese government issued a warning that the country was in danger of entering a recession. Shih expects other executives and staff at Acer Semicon to take pay cuts of between five and 30 per cent. The company found itself in trouble after it acquired the Texas Instrument part of its joint venture, while the price of DRAM and oversupply in that market put a further squeeze on Acer. Earlier this month, Shih said he was restructuring the entire Acer group so that he could concentrate on turning round the Semicon division. Acer is not the only Taiwanese company in some difficulties as a result of the general Asian malaise. The Taiwanese Council for Economic Planning and Development said that the island was in danger of entering recession. Exports in the first seven months of 1998 showed negative growth of eight per cent. Exports from the IT sector in Taiwan represents the biggest chunk in money terms. Earlier this week, Acer warned that it would make a bigger net loss for 1998 than it had expected. It will go into the red to the tune of NT$ 4.9 billion, while sales will drop by $NT7 billion from its previous estimate. ®
Mike Magee, 28 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Dixons hires man to wiggle his PC hips

Dixons said that it had appointed Jonathan Cowan to head up its private label computer brands. He will work in its PC World subsidiary with the aim of promoting Dixons PC brands, including the Advent brand. Cowan was poached from Nestle and also worked for KP Foods. There, he was credited with turning round the Hula Hoops brand using actor and comedian Harry Enfield with a campaign called "Oi No". Meanwhile, PC World said that it was introducing a refresh of Packard Bell machines in all of its stores during the course of this week. The PCs, branded Club, Pulsar and Platinum, are aimed at the consumer market. The Club 30 range sells for £699 and uses a Cyrix 300 chip. ®
Mike Magee, 28 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

PC card modems market to grow to six million units by 2002

A Dataquest survey of the modem PC card industry in 1997 has shown that Psion Dacom still holds the top slot in the Western European market. The figures show that Psion Dacom helds 16 per cent of the market, followed by 3Com at 15.2 per cent, with Xircom holding third place at 11.5 per cent and TDK at 5.9 per cent. Psion Dacom's share represents 233,500 units, 3Com 221,800 units and Xircom 167,100 units. The report said that PC card sales grew over 32 per cent in the year, accounting for shipments of 2.9 million units. The market is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 12 per cent, and will total 5.7 million units by the year 2002. ®
Mike Magee, 28 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

BT goes down in ISP weakness

BT Internet's proud boast to be the UK's favourite ISP looked a little weak today, when the service crashed for in excess of 12 hours. At 11:30pm Thursday 27 August, the entire BT Internet service crashed. By 8:30 Friday morning, BT Internet support staff were advising callers to wait an hour or two before trying to reconnect. However, by Noon callers were greeted by a recorded message that said all connections to the BT Internet service were unavailable. No information was available about when the service would be back up and no-one from BT Internet was available to comment at press time. ®
Sean Fleming, 28 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Highlander becomes master reseller for Wise

South London-based software dealer, Highlander Software, has signed a deal to become a Master Reseller for Wise Solutions, a US software developer. Wise specialises in software for distributing Windows applications, one of its utility applications, Wise Installation System, includes a wizard to guide users through Windows installation procedures. Andy Gardiner, Highlander managing director, said: "Everyone at Highlander is delighted with the announcement of our association with Wise Solutions." Gardiner went on to say that the Wise product range fitted into what he called "the Highlander mentality of focusing on best of breed products". Other manufacturers' products within the Highlander portfolio include AccuSoft, NuMega Labs, and Sequiter Software. Wise is hoping the deal will help it boost its presence in the European software market, which it has identified as a rapidly growing area. Wise CEO, Bill Thomas, said: "The European application development community is one of our fastest-growing customer groups. Wise has an aggressive new product development plan with several new products scheduled for release in October." ®
Sean Fleming, 28 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Snickers to OEM Big Blue Magstars

Siemens Nixdorf (SNI) is to start to OEM-ing the IBM range of Magstar tape storage products. An agreement signed this week will mean SNI becomes the first OEM partner to gain access to the whole IBM Magstar range. IBM has been supplying storage products to SNI for the last 10 years under different OEM agreements; the existing Magstar OEM deal covers the 3590 model only. This latest agreement will also see the two companies collaborate on the development of a tape subsystem controller for IBM 3490 Model F channel-attached tape products. The controller device will be supplied by SNI to IBM. IBM Data Technology Group vice president, Dr James Vanderslice, said the deal was a crucial part of IBM's attempts to expand the market for its storage devices. "This agreement is especially important in that it validates our Seascape vision to promote the increased use of IBM storage solutions on non-IBM platforms. Part of that vision, which is currently underway, will be to enable Siemens Nixdorf to offer its customers IBM's enhanced Virtual Tape Server," he said. ®
Sean Fleming, 28 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Prosoft buys Irish courseware company

Ireland-based Internet Certification Institute International (ICII), a body which licenses courseware and provides technical training, has been bought out by US training company Prosoft. Prosoft has acquired all of ICII's shares in the deal, which will help the US company break into Europe. Jerry Baird, Prosoft chairman and CEO, said training companies need to fall into step with their customers: "The Internet is a global medium. Our partners, customers, and technology do not see national boundaries and neither can we. "We already have what we believe is the world's largest course library dedicated to vendor neutral Internet skills training. It is imperative we extend the availability of our products and services worldwide to fulfill our commitment to our shareholders to be the world leader in our market. The acquisition of ICII is an important step in that direction." The Irish government has been pushing to make the country's economy techno-friendly and encourage the development of the IT industry. ICII had been part-owned by Net Guru, another of Prosoft's acquisitions; Net Guru had formed links into Ireland because of the government's positive attitude toward IT companies doing business there. ICII CEO John MacNamara was upbeat about the deal. "The market for Internet training and vendor neutral certification in Europe should be every bit as large as the market in the United States within a few years. Teaming with Prosoft, ICII is now better positioned to capture that market. We also believe Prosoft will find in Ireland a very cost effective resource for instructors and course developers," he said. ®
Sean Fleming, 28 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Cadence buys Bell Labs EDA group

Cadence said today it had struck a deal with Lucent in which it would acquire the Bell Labs Design Automation Group (BLDA). It did not say how much it paid for the electronic design automation (EDA) component of Bell Labs. Over 100 of the employees, largely made up of software engineers, consultants and doctorate technologists, will join Cadence. The team has expertise in the computer, comms and consumer electronics markets and will join existing Cadence engineers in a quest for the semiconductor grail of systems on a chip. Current BLDA customers include HP, Matsushita, IBM, National Semiconductor, Ricoh, Silicon Graphics and NTT Research Labs. ®
Team Register, 28 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Qualcomm and Ericsson jaw-jaw

Ericsson and Qualcomm are continuing to talk over licensing arguments, following the refusal of the Japanese company two weeks to license its technology. Qualcomm has intellectual property rights on the CDMA mobile phone technology and put its foot down on licensing that technology to a mass of companies which want to establish wide bandwidth CDMA as a global standard. But according to Japanese reports, Ericsson is close to an agreement with Qualcomm which would help put an end to the stalemate. ® Related stories Qualcomm set to cause mobile war
Mike Magee, 28 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

IBM stores solutions for EMU

IBM has introduced an initiative in conjunction with its partner Storage Tek aimed at exploiting storage opportunities arising from European Monetary Union (EMU). Big Blue said that customers will now only pay for storage capacity that is required, irrespective of how much storage is installed. SnapCapacity Storage for enterprise systems is aimed at large corporate users who need greater flexibility to decide how much storage they require, IBM said. That initiative was introduced last March. Now Big Blue has introduced SnapCapacity, which allows 500Gb of effective storage capacity, including a 2Gb cache, within the Ramac virtual array. Customers will now only pay for the storage capacity they use, said IBM. ® While IBM and its bitter competitor EMC disagree on many topics, including technology, both are agreed that EMU is a big opportunity for storage manufacturers. Large companies, such as Marks and Spencer, are installing dual systems to cope with both local currencies and the Euro and so need double the storage capacity. The IBM offer is available to customers ordering 160, 290, or 420Gb. They will be offered a 500Gb array with the 2Gb of cache at no extra cost until 31st of January 2000. At that point, customers will either pay for the product or IBM will, it said, physically reduce the effective storage capacity of the unit.
Team Register, 28 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Microsoft money "waivers" Sun contract breach suit

Microsoft has come up with a novel defence in the Java breach of contract suit launched by Sun Microsystems. It argues that Sun took $3.75 million as a licensing fee for Java from Microsoft - and so the company can't claim that Microsoft breached a contract that enabled it to use Java in its products. "Acceptance of performance (including the payment) constitutes a waiver of the innocent party's right to complain," Microsoft argues. The company claims it met Sun's contract terms because its Java flavour passed compatibility tests. It offers an alternative defence that - even if it did breach the contract - it did not infringe Sun's copyright. "We have fully complied with the contract and have delivered real choice to developers and offered consumers the best and fastest Java implementation in the marketplace," Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan told Bloomberg. Sun's legal action against Microsoft has been trundling through the US courts since October. In March , it obtained a preliminary injunction to bar Microsoft from using the Java Compatible logo with its products. The company accuses Microsoft of modifying Java - in breach of its contract terms - to work better with Windows. ®
Drew Cullen, 28 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Energis pays £75 million for Planet Online

Paul Sykes, our least favourite mult-millionaire, has done it again. The businessman from Yorkshire (the county for which the word dour was invented), who funds the election expenses of anti-European Conservative MPs out of his own pocket, is in the money again. This time through his major stake in Planet Online, the Leeds-based Internet Service Provider, which has been bought by Energis for £75 million. The company will pay up to £10 million more, dependent on Planet hitting performance targets by March 2000. The sale of Planet Online follows closely on the heels of the £66 million sale of Demon Internet, the UK's biggest ISP, to Scottish Telecom. Easynet and Internet Technology Group , both listed on AIM and both loss-making, are perhaps the sole remaining UK independent ISPs commanding significant customer bases. Energis is the UK telco arm of power utility firm National Grid. The company claims it already carries 40 per cent of the UK's Internet traffic. It says the addition of Planet will enable it to deliver more services, as well as giving it access to a blue-chip customer base. Planet Online's customers include Barclays, PowerGen , Mirror Group Newspapers Sony Computer Entertainments. And in a roundabout way, The Register. It is galling to think that in we may in some small way be contributing to Mr. Sykes' anti-European crusade. We can live with that - if some of the Energis dosh makes its way to Planet's networking infrastructure. This promptly fell over the very day we transferred our web hosting to the company. A core router collapse was the excuse.®
Drew Cullen, 28 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

AMD sees red mist over 350MHz parts

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has denied that the story which appeared in yesterday's issue of The Register is true. We reported yesterday that there were additional cautionary statements in a press release about its K6-2 350MHx part which went beyond the usual sort of statements in such a release. Frenzied phone calls from AMD today tried to kill our story. But the chip company, so far, has failed to provide evidence that it can produce enough chips for the market. A marketing representative from AMD called us today and said that it was "unfair" to write such a story. He said that his company would supply The Register with facts and figures showing that the K6-2 350MHz was ramping up. He promised he would provide us with the number of wafer starts AMD was engaged in. He said: "Practically the only thing AMD is producing is the K6-2." We asked if that meant AMD had abandoned its telecommunication products and Flash products but the representative declined to answer. Over the course of a five hour period, staff here did not receive such figures. He said our story was substantially untrue and it was unfair to use cautionary figures in that way. But he declined to say how many of the new parts, substantially hyped in the US press, were shipping on announcement day. We offered to retract the story if AMD could supply us with figures and tell us where the parts were being made. So far, we have not heard from AMD. ®
Mike Magee, 28 Aug 1998