23rd > September > 1998 Archive

The Register breaking news

Roundup: yesterday's markets

The Dow fell marginally and Nasdaq managed a 1.03 percent rise. Tokyo was closed for a holiday. AMD rose 4.2 percent as a result of its announcement that it was shipping a 300 MHz processor for laptops -- the same as Intel's fastest laptop processor. The ability of Broadcast.com to handle the Clinton adult video ("a record day for simultaneous users" -- hope they did it in private) pushed its shares up 15 percent, helped by Morgan Stanley cheering them on as "outperformers". HP fell 2.3 percent after Standard & Poor downgrading its outlook to "negative", because of the competition HP faces. Infoseek, helped by being "selected" by Microsoft (for a hefty fee) as a premier search partner, put on 6 percent. Ciena gained 42 percent as a result of rumours that Cisco might be sniffing around, and because it started shipping its Sentry 4000 multiplexor. Philips, punished the previous day for anticipated poor Q3 results, gained 4 percent. Lernout & Haupsie, the Belgian translation company in whom Microsoft has a 6 percent investment, gained 9 percent following its report of expected 1998 translation sales of $90 million, after first-half sales of $25 million. A duff Dow Jones report claimed that L&H earns $100 million from its Microsoft deal, which isn't true. More acquisitions are expected, L&H said. Micron tumbled 7.5 percent after being caned by Merrill Lynch for anticipated future losses. NCR added 8 percent after Salomon Smith Barney said "buy". Other gainers included Oracle (up 2.9 percent)and National Semiconductor. ®
Graham Lea, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Sony plans online trading venture

Sony is to team up with US outfit Charles Schwab to launch an online stockbroking system, according to Japanese reports. The service would initially be offered in Japan, where there are already a couple of online trading outfits. According to the reports the joint venture company will be formed before the end of the year, and will offer stock, unit trust and mutual fund trading. Sony however declines to confirm that the project has the green light. But then for Sony it must be a particular difficult question. The company has in the past attempted to extend its reach out from hardware to the 'software' that runs on it, but in the cases of music and movies its investments turned out to be ill-judged. The depressed state of the Japanese economy, together with its special characteristics, also make new financial ventures in Japan problematic. Japanese consumers have large cash reserves salted away in low interest accounts, so the possibility of earning a lot more via stock trading at low commission rates might be attractive to them. But current Japanese stocks might not be attractive to them - perfectly reasonably, as much of Japanese industry doesn't look like much of a bet these days. Sony may build it, and then find the money stays in the mattresses. ®
John Lettice, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Microsoft and IBM to clash in e-commerce

A new report by Gartner Group positions the leading e-commerce software vendors, and predicts a platform showdown between IBM and Microsoft. But everybody still has a long way to go. IBM and Microsoft are the only platform players, and will slug it out in what Gartner says is going to be a very large market. Their approach is large-scale; both companies are offering e-commerce platforms or toolkits, and intend to leverage component models in order to build e-commerce infrastructure offerings that will apply across all industries. Of the other contenders Open Market and InterWorld are currently heavily consumer market focused, and need to add business-to-business functionality in order to increase their competitiveness. Netscape is said to have ample business trade functionality, but needs to open its interfaces to allow customers to extend the core function of their software. Most established players in the buy-side business-to-business market are Ariba, Commerce One and Netscape, but the market is still formative, and installation is a major systems integration headache. Gartner intends to explore e-commerce further at its Symposium/ITxpo 98 next month in Florida. It seems however to have neglected to tell us what the e-commerce report is actually called. ®
John Lettice, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Intel to axe nearly half of workforce at Alpha fab

Intel is rationalising a fabrication plant in the USA where it makes Alpha chips, StrongARM devices, and other semiconductor components including PCI bridges. It will lay off 675 people -- nearly half of the staff employed at Fab 17 in Massachusetts -- a plant it acquired after it bought Digital's semiconductor unit. But Intel said that the redundancies, which are likely to occur early next year, will not affect its ability to continue producing units in the fab. Earlier this year, Intel said it would streamline its operations throughout the world. That has meant redundancies and reduction in overheads and expenses. But reports said the job losses at the Alpha plant were not part of Intel's original plans. The move is likely to presage further cuts at other semiconductor plants Intel acquired when it bought Digital facilities. Intel, however, took steps last week to demonstrate its commitment to the StrongARM platform at its Developer Forum in Palm Springs. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Storage startup to challenge Iomega

Datazone has introduced a transportable hard drive which weighs seven ounces and comes in a range of capacities from 2Gb to 8Gb. The Databook, which is priced at $379, will compete against Zip, Jaz and SparQ cartridge systems, the company said. It has two options to connect to notebooks and desktops - either using the parallel port or through a PC card interface, and will support Win95/98 and NT 4.0 platforms. The sealed unit can be password protected and comes with backup software which is encryptable, said Datazone. According to Steven Kanczeus, president of Datazone: "We felt it was time to offer an alternative to the numerous cartridge based storage options on the market, especially with the growing fears over reliability." He said that the reason cartridge based units fail is because they are not sealed, and thus open to contamination. Datazone is a privately held startup based in California. Kaczeus has a background in the magnetic storage industry. ®
Team Register, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Andersen forges $1.6 billion IT unit

Management and technology consultancy giant Andersen Consulting has merged three of its industry groups into a single Communications & High Tech global market unit with $1.6 billion revenues. The new unit unites Andersen's Communications, Electronics & High Tech and Media & Entertainment industry practices, and is claimed by Andersen as a refinement of the global reorganisation it implemented last year. Then, it split into five global market units managing 16 industry practices. Communications & High Tech's constituent parts are thriving; Communications revenues grew 23 per cent to $930 million in 1997, Electronics & High Tech 45 per cent to $532 million, and Media & Entertainment (bit of a punt, if you ask us) 20 per cent to $114 million. Bedfellows in the merged client list include Alcatel, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Hongkong Telecom IMS, Microsoft and Motorola. Joe Forehand moves over from the Products global market unit as managing partner for the lot. ®
John Lettice, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

3Com exceeds expectations

It was good news for 3COM yesterday: Q1 net income was up 32 percent sequentially in its Q1 results, and analysts' expectations had been exceeded. Other ways of looking at the figures are less attractive: the $1.41 billion sales were 12 percent off the year earlier figure, and only 2 percent up on the previous quarter. Net income for the period ending 28 August was $93.7 million, which is certainly better than the $51.2 million loss a year earlier. 3COM's shares went up in after-hours trading by 4 percent. But at around $33, they are still less than half last year's $77 high. The general mood of financial commentators is that 3COM (it used to stand for "computers, communications and compatibility" when Bob Metcalfe -- the inventor of Ethernet -- founded the company) is now positive. 3COM is about half the size of Cisco, its main rival, and has adopted a strategy of going around the edges of Cisco's turf, rather than having head-on confrontations. The practical outcome is that 3COM concentrates on the small-to-medium end of the market, while Cisco has an easier ride at the high end. After a difficult time with excess modem inventory after its acquisition of US Robotics last June, the Palm Pilot is seen to be a very successful acquisition, with sales expected to increase to around $600 million this year, compared to around $225 million last year. The latest rumour is that Intel would like to buy 3COM, but the regulatory obstacles are probably too great to make this a real possibility. ®
Graham Lea, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Alcatel chair steers into choppy waters

Yesterday's announcement that Alcatel had signed a $150 million contract to provide the MAYA 1 submarine network for the Caribbean did not help Alcatel's predicament much. Alcatel will get about 75 percent of the contract value -- the remainder goes to Tyco Submarine Systems. Perhaps it was a mistake to sign the contract in the offshore haven of the Cayman Islands, in the present circumstances. Alcatel's chairman, Serge Tchuruk, persuaded the board on Monday to agree to buy back 10 percent of Alcatel SA's shares after the drop of 38 percent on Thursday. On Monday, the shares were suspended for a time on the Paris Bourse when they dropped more than 10 percent, and finished the day down 8.1 percent. The Bourse regulator has launched an enquiry into Last Thursday's trading in Alcatel, presumably because it suspects insider trading. Tchuruk faces several other problems: a class action suit from DSC Communications shareholders alleges that Alcatel did not present a fair corporate outlook when it agreed a share swap to acquire the DSC. It was hardly diplomatic for Tchuruk to tell Les Echos "There isn't a big financial transaction in the US that doesn't trigger a class action. it's a way for some shareholders to try to get more." Another problem is that Alcatel is vulnerable to a take-over bid, although Tchuruk says he thinks the market overreacted to a slow down, rather than a significant drop in sales. Yesterday, Alcatel shares dropped a further 3.68 percent in New York, and in Paris this morning they were up FF18 to FF532 at 10am. This is some way off the 1998 high of FF1425. ®
Graham Lea, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

A billion cellular phones by 2005, says Nokia

Nokia sees a rosy future for mobile phone growth, and has revised its estimates upwards, reckoning that there will now be a billion cellular subscribers world-wide by 2005. And significantly, it sees multimedia as a key factor in this growth. "We now estimate that there will be about one billion subscribers in the year 2005 and that a substantial portion of the phones sold that year will have multimedia capabilities", says president and CEO Jorma Ollila. The billion will quadruple current subscriber numbers, which Nokia says were around 250 million by the middle of this year. Growth in multimedia and data over wireless will require substantial changes in bandwidth, the reliability and capabilities of the service providers and user attitudes - take-up of data over cellular has so far been nowhere near the confident early predictions that were made for it. But Ollila remains optimistic: "The favorable development of a number of initiatives where Nokia has played an important role, such as Bluetooth, the WAP forum and the establishment of Symbian, has increased the visibility of the significant role that data will play in wireless in just a few years time." Broadband wireless multimedia will have to wait until the deployment and maturity of third generation systems, and although these will start going into service early next century, 2005 is seen as optimistic for the fulfilment of Nokia's multimedia dreams by many observers. In the interim Nokia is banking on the deployment of High-Speed Circuit Switched Data capabilities that will take GSM's data rate up from 9.6 kbit/s to 14.4 kbit/s, and also seems to be dreaming on the subject of multi-time slots which would allow speeds of 56 kbit/s. But the service providers don't like this much, and doubt they would have the capacity or the users the bucks to make multi-slot a credible fix for data over cellular. ®
John Lettice, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

NewsNow steals our headlines!

Congratulations to Struan Bartlett and Nick Gilbert, former colleagues of The Register in our VNU days, for their success in creating NewsNow, a spanking gorgeous UK news aggregation site. After seven short months, NewsNow has hit half a million page views per month, a useful milestone which will do no harm when it comes to flogging ads. NewsNow is doubling in size every seven weeks, according to “the boys behind the top UK portal site”. Not bad at all for a company set up on a couple of shoestrings. The Register notes a steady increase in visitors coming in from NewsNow! We’ve even received a protest from one reader, who complained of seeing our stories twice – once on our site, and once on NewsNow. Well we think our stories are worth reading twice. So keep up the good work, NewsNow. ®
Drew Cullen, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

ICM results better than expected

ICM Computer Group has come in comfortably ahead of forecasts in its London Stock Exchange maiden set of set of results. The Leeds-based company reported £3.43 million PBT (on continuing activities), 43 per cent up on 1997, and ahead of the £2.85 millon flotation forecast. The figures include a one-off loss of £502,000, related to the sale of ICM’s Dutch business to an MBO team, and the sale of Applied Computer Systems. Sales on continuing operations grew 28 per cent to £35.1 million (£28.8 million) ICM’s business is organised around three core activities: IT Customer Support; Business Continuity Services (more usually termed "Disaster Recovery"); and IT Solutions (a corporate reselling arm). Richard Holway, the UK’s best known software and services analyst, reckons ICM is an attractive bid target. ICM is a "super little company which came to the market at a sensible rating and has performed well. Even more importantly, with its long term relationships, it is the kind of operation which could be relatively immune to the inevitable slowdown", he says. ®
Team Register, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

DoJ demands Gates video testimony be made public

Yesterday, the DoJ filed a brief to the court of appeals concerning Microsoft's appeal to prevent Bill Gates' and other Microsoft executives' video-taped depositions being made public, as required by the 1913 Publicity in Taking Evidence Act. The parallel to the Clinton videotape being made public sharply focuses attention on just how political the US judicial system has become. Three Republican-appointed judges in the court of appeals overruled Judge Jackson's decision to allow public and media access to the depositions, pending a hearing in the appellate court, which will now be on 20 October, five days after the trial in the federal court is scheduled to begin. The DoJ has been joined by the New York Times, Reuters and Bloomberg as intervenor-appellees, who feel that the public should know what was said. The DoJ's brief is a great improvement on some of its earlier argument, and neatly draws attention to fallacies and omissions in Microsoft's brief. The DoJ noted that Congress did not intend so-called discovery depositions to be excluded from being covered by the 1913 Act, since Congress expressly exempted pre-complaint (also known as CIDs -- civil investigative demand) depositions from a subsequent Act. Despite Microsoft's legal spokesman, Jim Cullinan, saying yesterday that "we are preparing to move ahead on 15 October" for trial, this does not mean that Microsoft will not try for a further delay. Microsoft needs to appear willing, and is unlikely to ask for a further delay until very close to the trial, when it will say it needs more time to analyse the documents it is receiving from its competitors about their actions against Microsoft. Normally, the competitors would object to Microsoft having access to their secrets, but they know that in this case, it would give grounds for a considerable delay, to Microsoft's advantage. Sun asked for an extra week to gather documents -- it considered two days notice was ridiculous -- and sent some documents to Microsoft last Friday. Novell is evaluating Microsoft subpoena, according to spokesman Jonathan Cohen. The most likely outcome on the present facts would seem to be that Microsoft will use every legal avenue, including a supreme court appeal, to delay the trail. At the end of that process, it is rather unlikely that Microsoft would want any dirty laundry to be hung out in a public trial. Several times in the past Microsoft has backed down at the courtroom door -- and even once while the jury was deliberating -- rather than face something much worse than a pie in the face. ®
Graham Lea, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Netscape teams up with Bull, Lucent

Netscape has signed agreements with Bull and Lucent, the first to provide tougher security software and the second to bring ecommerce solutions to telcos and major corporates. The Bull deal licenses Netscape to resell the its firewall technology, NetWall. In return, the French company's software subsidiary, BullSoft, will license unnamed Netscape server and security software. Bull, already well established in the European network security market, will use to push into the US sector of the business. Netscape will gain access to Bull's security technology, allowing it to expand its own offerings with support for x509 digital certificatrs and smart cards. Meanwhile, the Lucent tie-up gives the telecoms specialist the right to resell Netscape's CommerceXpert ecommerce applications and its Applications Server all under the banner Lucent Ecommerce Solutions. Lucent's offering will include consultancy, and its own security and call centre management software. ®
Team Register, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Intel's Barrett says company made $2 billion from Net since July

Intel CEO Craig Barrett has used his visit to the UK to hit out at the high price of telecomms charges and a lack on behalf of the educational authorities to implement PC technology. Barrett, who later this afternoon is speaking at the House of Commons as part of a joint educational initiative with the University of Oxford, said that UK Internet access was over two and a half times the price of the US. He said that high charges would stifle the development of e-commerce. "The new rules are, instant access to information, 24 hours a day. This gives rise to a new form of competition," he said. "Small companies can act like big companies and big companies can act like small companies." He said that estimates of Internet world trade by the year 2002 currently stood at between $450 billion and $500 billion, but he said those figures were conservative. Intel, he said, had started a pilot scheme in July and had already turned over $2 billion of revenues. That, he expected, would amount to $20 billion next year. "There are substantially higher charges here [in the UK] than in the US," he said. "The UK is about two and a half times more expensive. The lower the charges, the more access there is. Telecom charges need to come down in Western Europe." Barrett added that penetration of the US market for PCs was around 50 per cent, and that gave Europe more opportunity for growth. But, he said: "Young people are one of the big driving factors for PCs in the States." That was because their parents understood the importance of the Internet to education, he said. Educational authorities in Western Europe had not got that message yet. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Barrett plays down Compaq competition

The CEO of Intel today attempted to play down competition from Compaq's Alpha platform and said that Eckhard Pfeiffer's firm was still committed to Merced. Speaking at a Q&A session after a keynote speech he delivered to over 500 business executives in London today, Barrett said: "Compaq bought the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and they have a $3 billion to $4 billion business with Alpha. "Compaq is a leader in servers with Intel architecture and I understand they've just shipped their 200 millionth Intel server last week. "They [Compaq] are very committed to the Intel architecture. They're still committed to using Merced architecture. We'll have Compaq and most of the rest of the world with us." He said that while Alpha was competition to Intel's IA-64 Merced platform, his company had "competition everywhere". That included competition from MIPS and Sun Sparc too. "That's the name of the game," he said. Compaq moving to Alpha for Tandem represented only a very small part of its total business, worth an estimated $40 billion, he added. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Sybase sets up embedded division

Sybase announced yesterday an "executive transition" and a new move to create an embedded computing division. John Chen, who joined Sybase in 1997 and was appointed co-CEO with Mitchell Kertzman as the other co-CEO, is now given both reins, and Kertzman stays as Chairman. The move was foreseen in February when Chen, who was President and COO, took the additional title. At that time, Sybase was wounded from a $55 million loss in 1997, and an 11 percent reduction in the workforce, which cost $70 million in restructuring costs -- rather more than the $40 million envisaged as recently as February. Sybase turned a profit of $400,000 in its latest quarter. Sybase's three market growth areas were then seen to be Web computing, occasionally connected computing, and data warehousing. It was strange that Sybase's eponymous database was not specifically mentioned. Sybase formed its new mobile and embedded computing division because it says it "dominates the small database market for mobile computing with an estimated 22 percent market share". Terry Stepien will run the division, and report to Chen. Sybase's core development and marketing team will remain in Waterloo, Ontario, although the head office is in California. Sybase announced recently that in Q2 next year it would be incorporating Unisys' Universal Repository in Sybase's Enterprise Application Studio, scheduled for Q4 this year. In the latter half of 1999, Sybase plans to integrate the repository with other Sybase products, including Adaptive Server, Enterprise Connect, and Replication Server. ®
Graham Lea, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Novell begins BorderManager beta

Novell said yesterday that it had begun a beta test of BorderManager Enterprise Edition 3, its software for Internet security management that is currently used by 4.5 million enterprises. After its seasons in the wilderness when it could do no right, in recent weeks the media have been taking a kinder view of Novell. There is indeed a tale to tell. Novell is reapplying its earlier successful formula, which was to provide file-and print for desktop applications. New times needed new men and new measures, so enter CEO Eric Schmidt with enough savvy from his days at Sun to realise that Novell Directory Services was indeed Novell's crown jewels, and that it could play a major role in making networking work on NT, which Microsoft has proved itself singularly unable to do. The problem for Novell is explaining to non-techies just why directory services are important. It's not so difficult -- it's just that Novell hadn't really set about this very well (and still needs to do better). But the techies did understand that it was possible to control not just NetWare, but also UNIX and NT from a single point of management. There was also the control of access to data that a directory gives, which is now becoming very important in these Internet/intranet/extranet days. BorderManager is a key part of all this, and as John Gantz of IDC said in Novell's press release yesterday, Novell is directly addressing the three major concerns of speed, performance and security with BorderManager. The product is scheduled for year-end shipping, and it would be better for Novell if it were not late with it. ®
Graham Lea, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

CEO of Intel urges vendors to go direct

Craig Barrett, Intel's CEO, said today that the way to sell PCs in the future was across the Web. That is likely to antagonise major vendors, including IBM and Compaq, which still maintain they have a channel strategy. Bennett said that in ten years' time e-commerce was likely to be worth trillions of dollars and that the way to achieve sales was through using e-commerce. He said retail prices of PCs in the UK were "a bit higher" than they should be. "You ought to be buying your PCs using e-commerce," he said. "That will erase competition". One of the necessities for e-commerce was sound encryption methods, said Barrett. He hit out at both the US government and the French government. The former, he said, had resisted attempts to allow the export of 128-bit encryption, which was necessary for Intel and other companies to do business. France, he said, had banned all encryption altogether which meant that it was the only country out of 127 others in which Intel could not do business. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Intel roadmap goes chocaholic

A fresh codename for a future processor has appeared on an Intel roadmap and it is named after a beer rather than a city. A roadmap Intel's CEO Craig Barrett showed at a meeting with London business executives had the name Fosters as the next IA-32 processor after Cascades. But worse is to come. Other codenames on future roadmaps include Lilac (wine) and Koa, understood to be a codename for Kahlua, a particularly sweet confection. Fosters could be Intel's attempt to capture the Australian market, which, so far, does not have a great deal of PC penetration. On the other hand, more sober observers thought that it was a backfill for Katmai as it slipped away into the distance in the year 2001. ®
Team Register, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Intel price slashing to remain unabated

Details have emerged about the introduction of Intel's Tanner processor, a 500MHz part with 512K of level two cache. At the same time, it has emerged that Intel will keep the price of its high end Xeon server platform right up through until the beginning of next year. According to a leaked price roadmap, which The Register understands is reliable, and is already available on Tom's Hardware page, Tanner will launch at a price of $931 when bought in quantities of 1,000. Tanner is expected to arrive towards the end of this year or early next year. However, on October 25th, Intel will cut the price of its PII/Xeon 450MHz part from $2,680 to $1,900 when bought in thousands, while the high end PII Xeon with 2Mb of level two cache will stay steady at $3,690. Katmai will be introduced early next year and the pricing quoted is $800 for a 500MHz part, while the 450MHz part is likely to be much less at $570. By early January, prices of the PII/450 will have dropped to $520 from their current position of $670, while the 350MHz PII will slump them from its current price of $420 to less than $200. The original Celeron 266 part will disappear in October, as reported here but by early January next year, the 333MHz Mendocino Celeron part will have dropped to $140, while the 300A will be around $100. That will aid the ramp of the Celeron parts, according to OEMs familiar with Intel's plans. ®
Team Register, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Bouygues pullout may give Telecom Italia French foothold

Telecom Italia looks set to inherit an embryonic French fixed line telecommunications operation, following the decision of partner to Bouygues to pull out. Bouygues is basically a construction company, but has piled into telecoms because of European deregulation. It owns Bouygues Telecom, the GSM 1800 system that started up in France last year, and currently has 51 per cent of 9 Telecom SA, with Telecom Italia holding the balance. The plan now seems to be to get out of fixed telephony, where the company would have faced substantial up-front costs, and stiff competition from France Telecom, Cegetel and more cable companies than you can shake a stick at. Bouygues wants Telecom Italia to buy its stake in 9 Telecom, leaving it free to concentrate on development of Bouygues Telecom. Here too it will face substantial costs, as it is the number three entrant in a market dominated by France Telecom and Cegetel. Whether or not Telecom Italia will jump at the chance to kick off its own operations in France is unclear. The company is just about the last major European telco without an international alliance, but its own strategy remains fuzzy, and if it starts trying to set up international operations on its own it will probably fall flat on its face. ®
John Lettice, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Internet access takes to the skies

Now we've heard everything. St. Louis, Missouri-based Angel Technologies is planning a new wireless communications service for major US cities -- based on high-altitude aircraft. The company demonstrated the plane, called Proteus, in the Mojave desert yesterday. The oddly-shaped beast is designed to get up to 50,000ft and fly around in circles for hours on end acting as a wireless base-station. Angel president Peter Diamandis told US newswires: "What we have done is put all the communications capacities of what might be a satellite 22,000 miles high... ten miles over a city." He believes the service will be used for high speed Internet access and video-conferencing. A 24/7 service can be maintained with just three aircraft each flying for eight hours at a time. By flying a pre-determined flight path, the system could serve anyone within a 75 mile diameter area. Diamandis hopes to get the service up and running by 2000. All this recalls to mind an episode of classic 70s BBC TV comedy The Goodies in which Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor saves Blighty from the next ice age by tying a three-bar electric heater to a passing giant butterfly. The principle's the same and it's just as likely to get off the ground... ®
Tony Smith, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Intel chief says NC dead

The CEO of Intel said today that only Larry Ellison, Oracle's CEO, believed the NC or the Windows Terminal was still a viable option. Speaking to 30 journalists after meeting 500 businessmen in London today, Craig Barrett said: "The whole concept of NCs has been pretty well answered by the public. Only Larry Ellison hasn't heard that message." Intel's stance on the NC follows a similar statement from Microsoft's CEO Bill Gates two weeks ago. But Intel's idea of a thin client or an NC could be based on its own specification. It is understood that Intel is using the StrongARM chip as the basis for a system which could act as a Windows terminal. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Compaq to implement Visa scheme in Holland

Compaq has been selected as the prime contractor to implement a Visa credit card Internet shopping pilot in the Netherlands. The project is to be carried out in conjunction with GlobeSet, a supplier of techonlogies compliant with the Secure Electronic Transactions (SET) 1.0 standard. In addition to SET technology Compaq will be supplying the iTP Payment Solution, which consists of iTP Wallet, iTP PayServer, iTP Payment CA and iTP Gateway, and is an end-to-end SET-based electronic payments system. The pilot will be using a Compaq payment gateway server cluster to process Visa transactions, and stems from the involvement of Tandem in the Visa project since April 1997. "Compaq, with its Tandem products, solutions and expertise, is the electronic payment market leader in Europe, so this was a natural choice for us," said Hans Bouman, project manager of the pilot. ®
A staffer, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

US storage card vendor raises finance in Europe

In an unusual reversal of the way these things usually work, a US hi-tech manufacturer has turned to Europe for funding. Washington state based Upgrade International has secured up to $10 million in private financing from European institutions. It will use this to complete the acquisition of a 50 per cent stake in Ultra Card. Described as a "California-based developer of revolutionary data storage technology", Ultra Card is the proud owner of a patented storage technology which enables 5MB storage capacity on a standard card format with the potential to expand up to 2 GB of data storage. According to Upgrade International, the big leap in data storage capacity promised by UltradCard will deliver an "immediate global impact". The company estimates the current market potential for the Ultra Card at $2-3 billion. Which sounds extraordinarily optimistic to us. On completion of the financing, Global Cyber Systems Inc which is 50 per cent owned each by Upgrade and Ultracard, will file for an IPO on the Pan European Exchange (EURO NM). ®
Drew Cullen, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

CAA undertakes survey to verify PC-aeroplane compatibility

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said today that it was sponsoring research into the effects of PCs and CD-ROMs on aeroplanes, large and small. That follows a report in today's edition of The Daily Mail which claimed that a Qantas 747 almost destroyed large parts of London because passengers were playing computer games. The report said that a Quantas flight from Australia to London on September 4th almost crashed because the kit interrupted systems on the plane. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in central London confirmed that there was an incident on a 747 but said it had only been notified out of courtesy. A representative said: "I believe it did happen. It was reported to the Australian Aviation Authority because the plane came under its jurisdiction." But, he added, the jury was still out on whether unscreened equipment could interfere with planes in their flight. He said that onboard equipment, such as Nintendo games on Virgin Flights were screened, and mobile phones were banned because their frequencies interfered with air to ground communications. Computer games, CD ROMs and the like however, were still a matter of discussion. "There have been a few allegations over the last 10 years that such equipment compromised systems," he said. "The CAA is currently sponsoring a survey to find out if this is true." He said: "Because we have only allegations, we've been unable to reproduce the effects." For that reason, the CAA had taken the course of asking airlines to stop people using non screened equipment during take off and landing. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

iMac number two seller in August

Apple's iMac was the second best-selling PC in the US in August, according to market research firm PC Data. And the signs are its Wintel rivals are beginning to take it more seriously. The top-selling system, based on a survey of catalog sales operations and retailers, showed Hewlett-Packard's Pavilion 6330 account for 8.6 per cent of all systems sold -- the iMac accounted for 7.1 per cent. According to a PC Data spokesman, that's the highest figure -- by a large margin -- a MacOS machine has had in the two years the company has been tracking consumer PC sales. The research shows that while Compaq is still ahead of its rivals, with a 30.9 per cent share, HP moved up number two (23.2 per cent) and Apple shot ahead to the number three slot (13.5 per cent). IBM came in at four with 10.5 per cent. PC Data's figures confirm the boost the iMac has given to the once ailing Apple's fortunes. Recent research by IDC showed (see Worldwide PC sales show strong growth) Apple beginning to catch up the market share it has lost in the past, and the company predicted even stronger sales for the iMac in Q3. The IDC research also highlighted Dell's increased market strength, and Dell appears to be particularly concerned with the success of the iMac. According to information leaked to Mac news site MacOS Rumors, allegedly from a Dell staffer, the doyen of direct sales is telling its sales staff to "provide quotes, anti-Apple marketing information [our italics], pro-Dell marketing information, and approval for Premier Page and Scholarship fund". Not Gateway, not Packard Bell NEC, not HP, not IBM but Apple would seem to be Public Enemy Number One at Dell. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Sep 1998
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Northamber pins price erosion on Intel

Northamber has placed the blame for market price erosion squarely on Intel’s shoulders. Turning in a good set of annual results, the Chessington-based distributor said “over-frequent announcements of performance upgrades to their Pentium processors... had contributed to purchasing delays and inevitably consumer confusion”. Sales were also adversely affected by the withdrawal by AST from the PC desktop market, the company said. Northamber was at one time Europe’s biggest distributor of AST hardware. Against a background of “the hesitant conditions prevailing in the general marketplace”, Northamber produced sales up 6.8 per cent to £293.46 million for the 12 months to June 30, 1998 (£314 million for the 14 months to June end, 1997). More importantly, the company reported £8.81 million PBT for the year to June 30,1998, against £7.92 million for the 14 months in the previous financial year. Profits were up 30 per cent for the corresponding 12 month period. It ended the year with net cash of £1.7 million, against borrowings of £1.7 million last time. Pre-tax margin increased to 3.0 per cent up from 2.5 per cent last time around, helped along by the channel assembly and late configuration, according to chairman David Phillips. He said the company improved profits because it “avoided the vanity of revenue. We will not chase market share for the sake of it, unlike some of our competitors who end up wrapping money around each box they send out”. Margin retention would remain the key focus of the board, he said. Northamber, linked with bid speculation since last November (when it was first linked with CHS Electronics, the acquisitive US-owned distributor), could be interested in making an acquisition, he said, while noting the scarcity of targets. “If a distributor has a clean balance sheet and a clean business, we could be interested, but there is very little about,” he said. “There are a few big companies, many small companies and nothing left in the middle.”. ®
Drew Cullen, 23 Sep 1998