6th > November > 1998 Archive

The Register breaking news

Linux readers compare The Register to ZD Net

A very senior and, she insisted, still very feminine source at the Object Management Group said today that a story in tabloid newspaper The Register has prompted a rethink about its Linux strategy. She said that the OMG stood by the original story, and the fact that a press release was issued by the US operation was still a nonsense. It was and is a mistake, she said, because Corba and Linux make no financial sense. There will be a high level meeting this weekend to investigate why the press release was ever issued, she said. Meanwhile, nonsense emails from members of the Linux “community” continued to roll in. Some were sensible while others were just plain risible. One person, with a Sun email address, described the original story as “breathless” and said that The Register was like ZD Net. This astonished us here... And a person working for Cyrix who calls himself Sengan, delivered an interesting email saying "Que, what does this article mean?" The Register now suspects -- call us paranoid if you like -- that Linux and NatSemi-Cyrix are closer than we ever thought -- or even imagined. To protect the identity of the original source, we have to point out that we are an independent organisation and have no relationship, whatever, with Ziff Davis, Microsoft or Intel (or for that matter AMD). Nor are we interested any more in wild emails from Linux fanatics... On the other hand, perhaps we’re breathless at The Register because we smoke too many cigarettes… ® Click here for more fags and tabs
The Register breaking news

Palm founders kick off new company

The two originators of the PalmPilot handheld are to open a 'second front' for the platform, designing derivative products aimed at consumer markets via their new company, Handspring. Donna Dubinsky and Jeff Hawkins left 3Com, which now owns Palm Computing and the PalmPilot, earlier this year. Handspring has backing from VC outfits Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers and Benchmark Capital, and a licence for the Palm Computing platform from 3Com, so although the departure of the founders may have caused 3Com some angst, relations must be tolerable. Former VP marketing Ed Colligan has however also jumped ship for Handspring. The first products from the company are expected late next year, but Handspring's proposed market possibly says more about 3Com's positioning of its version of the PalmPilot. The device was a consumer product at launch, and at least arguably still is. 3Com acquired it when it took over US Robotics, and would probably be more comfortable if it were to put a corporate focus on its version of the device, or even to concentrate on licensing deals, downscaling its own production efforts. The company has yet to finalise the management of Palm Computing in the wake of the founders' departure, so must still be formulating its ideas. ® Click for more stories
The Register breaking news

Microsoft gains in Web server wars

Microsoft is the winner in a new survey of Web server usage, but it appears that the company's gains have been made as part of a trend away from smaller vendors and towards the big three, Microsoft, Netscape and Apache. According to SiteMetrics' Internet Server Software Trend Report, a survey of 53,000 Web sites owned by large US enterprise, the three companies increased their combined share to 83 per cent, up from 78 per cent in the last survey in February. Microsoft gained 6.4 per cent to 28 per cent, while Apache held the lead with 36 per cent and Netscape trailed with 19 per cent. Netscape still leads in companies with more than $1 billion revenue, but its 33 per cent share represents a narrower lead than in February. The market is however highly volatile. Over 17 per cent of sites had switched servers in the past six months, and eight per cent in the past three. ® Click for more stories
The Register breaking news

SIA optimistic about chip market

The chip market is on the upturn, according to September figures released by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). The organisation said that the worldwide market for semiconductors grew by 4.2 per cent during the month, representing sales of $10.22 billion. That is an increase of $414 million from August sales. According to SIA president George Scalise, the sales figures showed the largest percentage jump for September in trhe last eight years. He said: "This increases our optimism for stronger than expected sales in the fourth quarter, as it is typically the most active period of the year." Europe showed the biggest percentage jump over August, with an increase of 6.2 per cent. However, despite the SIA's optimism, year on year, the figures show a sharp decline, with drops of 12.7 per cent for the Americas, 11.4 per cent for Asia Pacific, and a precipitous drop of 27.9 per cent for the Japanese market. ® Click for more stories Click for story index
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'We're talking about knifing the baby' – MS exec

The second day of Apple VP Avie Tevanian's cross-examination by Microsoft attorney Theodore Edelman was rather more dramatic than the first, when Tevanian had alleged that Microsoft tried to sabotage Apple's QuickTime, that Microsoft threatened not to develop another version of Office for the Mac unless Apple switched to preferring Internet Explorer to Navigator, and agreed to a conclusion of the so-called patent dispute. On Thursday, the evidence for another market division proposal formed the focus. According to Tevanian's written testimony, in April 1997 there was a meeting between Peter Hoddie and Tim Schaaff of Apple, and Christopher Phillips and Eric Engstrom of Microsoft. The result was a proposal from Microsoft for Apple to drop QuickTime and leave the multimedia playback market to Microsoft, while Apple concentrated on software tools for Internet content. Hoddie: "Are you really asking us to kill playback? Do you want us to knife the baby?" -- meaning QuickTime. Phillips: "Yes, we're talking about knifing the baby." The conversation was relayed by Tevanian, who admitted he had not attended the meeting, but did attend another meeting with Microsoft executive Don Bradford, who made a similar proposal to divide the multimedia market. They were discussing potential conflicts between Apple and Microsoft playback strategy. Tevanian said that Bradford suggested to him that Bill Gates "wonders if the way to solve this is for us to take playback and you to take the authoring". Tevanian claims he replied: "No, this is not acceptable." Edelman was unable to convince Tevanian that the discussion (not denied, it should be noted) was really that each side was trying to claim a superior product. Tevanian said the threats were clear enough. Edelman continually referred to an email from Schaaff to Hoddie on 20 August 1997 as a proposal, when Tevanian and Steve Jobs decided there was no business benefit and rejected the idea. Tevanian said that the document was therefore unimportant. Judge Jackson chastised Edelman at one stage, having previously criticised his conduct several times: "You keep mis-characterising what [Tevanian] has told you. He said this was not a proposal. It's a pre-decisional communication by two Apple engineers which was explicitly rejected by Mr Tevanian and others. This is misleading language and it is not acceptable to me." Such admonishments would be unlikely in a jury trial, lest the jury be influenced, but are a good indicator of Jackson's present frame of mind. Apple had suggested collaboration with Microsoft on multimedia projects, and had even proposed that Microsoft use QuickTime instead of its proprietary technology. Edelman produced an internal Apple memo that discussed how to deal with Microsoft. One of the comments, in a section headed "Why Microsoft needs us" was a bullet point that said "DOJ". Wasn't Apple trying to leverage possible interest by the DoJ, and obtain business concessions from Microsoft, Edelman asked, perhaps forgetting that an innocent party would have nothing to fear from the feds. Tevanian replied that if Microsoft unfairly used its market power, "we would remind them, or even threaten them, that we might involve the DoJ". He added that it would be "a perfectly legal recourse to threaten to get the DoJ after them" as Apple was becoming "very concerned Microsoft would use its market position to kill QuickTime. In our estimation, they were acting unfairly and illegally". A Steve Jobs email records that Microsoft's NetShow team "are really going out of their way to say they intend to kill QuickTime and are being quite threatening and rude about it". Judge Jackson directly questioned Tevanian about Apple's Sherlock product, which is designed to help users find information on the Internet or on their disks. Edelman had been quizzing Tevanian about whether Sherlock was "built in" to the operating system -- an understandable line of questioning -- but it misfired badly. Tevanian said he considered it to be bundled [which is legally acceptable, whereas tying is not permitted if it is done by a company with market power]. Edelman pounced and produced a statement from Tevanian in which he said that Sherlock was "an integrated find feature" and was built into Apple's OS. Tevanian said that there had been a big problem when he was asked the question, and that he should not have answered it, noting that "bundled" and "built into" are phrases that are often interchanged. At this point, Judge Jackson took over the questioning: "Is there a distinction?" Tevanian said he thought so, and explained that bundled software was available separately and could be removed without destroying the operating system. "Is that distinction recognised in the industry?" Jackson asked. "Yes, that would be my opinion," Tevanian replied. This exchange -- and especially the judge's intervention -- is an indicator that Jackson appears to believe that Microsoft did tie IE to Windows, which again does not bode well for Microsoft. Edelman's ammunition was getting low when he introduced the subject of Apple's relationship with Avid, a developer of video editing solutions. Edelman tried to establish that Apple intended to cut off supplies to Avid in March, because Avid was backing Microsoft's multimedia approach instead of QuickTime. However, Tevanian said that although Apple wanted to persuade Avid to change its decision, Apple did not withhold supplies or services. Edelman showed a videotaped deposition from Steven Decker, Compaq's procurement director, in which he denied that Compaq decided not to use QuickTime 3.0 because it feared retribution from Microsoft. It may be that Compaq did fear Microsoft, but Decker gave as the reason that Apple didn't understand that PC makers expect free software, and Apple had decided to charge for version 3.0, whereas version 2.0 had been free and was included by Compaq. "We would be shipping QuickTime if Apple gave it to us for free," Decker said, pleasing neither Apple nor Microsoft with his comment. The judge several times asked Edelman when he expected to finish his cross-examination but received no exact reply, so he told Edelman: "I want you to try to finish today. I urge you to try." On Monday, Tevanian will face a friendly redirect, presumably from David Boies for the DoJ. The next witness will be Steven McGeady of Intel. He declined to provide written testimony, so will be examined first by the DoJ legal team. It is also believed that a further extract of Gates' deposition will be shown, possibly on Monday. ® Complete Register trial coverage Click for more stories Click for story index
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DigiCash files for protective redundancy

DigiCash is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after failing to cash in on the hype surrounding electronic dosh. The company, which has been supported by a bridge loan from its venture capital investors for the last three months, is on the look out for new investors, although interim CEO Scott Loftesness warned that it would take "a fair amount more capital" to make it succeed. News of DigiCash's plight contrasted sharply with an announcement that Hewlett-Packard would start intalling WaveMeter chips inside its computers next year. According to GlobalWave, a joint venture company created by Britain's Internet Technology Group and Wave Systems of the US, the WaveMeter enables users to pay for software or digital content according to how long they use it. Users simply buy credits by accessing GlobalWave’s secure Web site. While the arguments in favour of developing an electronic transaction system capable of handling small amounts of cash affordably are compelling, it appears DigiCash’s experience shows that people simply aren’t quite ready to embrace it yet. ® Click for more stories Click for story index
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Survey: PC card market to be worth $1.3 billion by 2004

The worldwide market in PC cards will be worth $1.30 billion by the year 2004, according to a survey by Forrester Research. The market was worth $653.3 million in 1997, the company said. The growth will be fuelled not only by existing applications but new markets including digital cameras, handheld PCs and smartphones will emerge, the report said. According to Jan ten Sythoff, IT analyst at Forrester, multifunction cards and small form factor cards are becoming more popular, while sales of modem and Lan cards will slow. Memory storage PC cards have very few active players, said ten Sythoff. "Calluna is today the only hard disk PC card manufacturer. Manufacturers with strong flash chip technology lead the memory PC card market, with SanDisk and Hitachi spearheading," he said. The survey shows that 3Com now is the market leader in the total PC card market, while Xircom is market leader in multifunction PC cards. ®
The Register breaking news

12 November 1998: DRAM prices get attack of colly wobbles

Prices supplied by Dane-elec The Register will continue to bring prices of DRAM every day. ®
The Register breaking news

Apple targets low-income families as iMac sales decline

Apple has announced a scheme to provide financing for would-be iMac owners with the aim of attracting the many US families who would like to own a computer but can't afford to buy one straight out. The move appears well timed -- market research suggests demand for the consumer Mac is waning. According to ZD Market Intelligence (ZDMI), US iMac sales in September were 50 per cent down on those recorded in August, the month in which the machine was launched. Last month sales slipped even further. The data was compiled from interviews with Apple resellers. Of course, this should come as no surprise given the huge promotional campaign Apple ran for the launch, a campaign that has long since wound down. Equally, initial demand for the machine was way ahead of what you might expect for a new PC -- so if you start above average, its not hard to predict that you might end up below average some way down the line. ZDMI analyst Aaron Goldberg complained about the iMac's price, lack of floppy drive and relative paucity of software, but these are old arguments, largely proved redundant by the machine's overall success to date. The question really is whether the machine will ultimately win support outside of Apple's traditional user base. As Dataquest analyst Scott Miller has compared iMac buyers to VW Beetle buffs: "It's like those peope who ran out and bought the first Beetles. At some point you run through those buyers and you have to get that next generation of user." This is where the finance plan comes in. The deal allows buyers to take away in iMac for a $29.99-a-month payment over a total of 67 months -- over five and a half years -- which sounds a lot but isn't the far beyond the lifespan of most home machines. And Apple is specifically aiming for lower income homes -- "our programme is targeted to people earning down to $15,000 a year," said interim CEO Steve Jobs -- who are even less likely to upgrade quickly. The only snag is the increasing availability of PCs as cheap as $599, so Apple will have some persuading to do. However, its ad spend over the holiday season will be significant, according to CFO Fred Anderson, so it will be interesting to see if price or profile wins out in the end. ® Click for more stories Click for story index
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Cisco slams small business for resisting Internet revolution

Cisco has claimed the spirit of Ned Ludd lives on in a quarter of British businesses, who have specifically "rejected" technology from fax machines to PCs. The Great Satan of Routers bases its allegation on the results of a survey of Europe's small businesses conducted by NOP, commissioned by Cisco. The study found that, overall, one in five European small businesses can't be bothered with disk crashes, tech support calls, oily sales reps and unrecoverable application errors, the fools. Not surprisingly, Cisco finds this lack of interest in the hi-tech world disturbing and appears to have a real problem getting its head around the idea. "It's remarkable that as we move into the next millennium we will still have businesses in Europe who have yet to buy a PC," said a poitively flabbergasted Goran Strandberg, Cisco's European director for SME business. "There's a revolution going on in the business world today, and so far these companies have failed to notice," he added. "They are missing out on major cost savings and losing opportunities for revenue generation that this technology can offer." They are, of course, also missing out on the cost of all this technology, but Cisco seems to have missed that point themselves. Still, passing up on the chance to take place in the great information revolution, the Internet and the joys of network installation, means all these businesses won't be able to download the handy guide to small business IT Cisco has published on its Web site to put them right. You'd have thought even Cisco would have figured that one out. ® Click for more stories Click for story index
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Second Microsoft leak boosts Linux

Microsoft memo-writer extraordinaire Vinod Valloppillil has been leaked again, this time with a competitive analysis of Linux apparently designed to be read in conjunction with his paper on open source software (Leaked Microsoft memo outlines anti-Linux strategy). As was the case a few days ago, the latest document was sent to Eric Raymond, but in this case the leaker is said to be a different individual. Like the first document this is dated 11 August, but seems to be aimed more at providing a briefing on Linux as competition, rather than at developing strategies for coping with it. This however arguably makes it more useful for anyone trying to get to grips with what Microsoft sees as the major threats from Linux. The other document's efforts at roughing-up strategies for combating open source software in general and Linux in particular can best be described as embryonic (if we're being kind), whereas the competitive analysis could in some areas be used as a blueprint for competitors considering using Linux to attack Microsoft. The author describes Linux as a best-of-breed Unix capable of running mission-critical apps, as being popular with users, and as coming with most of the primary apps needed to use it free. Advantages ("real and perceived") over NT include customisation, availability/reliability, scalability and interoperability. Note that most of these are alleged NT features that Microsoft has been pushing like crazy for the past few years in its attempts to push further into the enterprise. So according to Valloppillil Linux has the potential of getting NT where it lives. In the OSS document he seemed to largely discount Linux as far as the desktop is concerned, but here he seems to have changed his mind, reckoning it has a real chance. He also says it is emerging as "a key operating system in the nascent thin server market," and this goes some way to confirming the rumours The Register has been spreading about Intel thin servers and Linux for the past couple of months. He sees Linux threatening Microsoft in several ways, one of the most interesting being that "Linux is recreating the MS '3rd release is a charm' advantage FASTER." Linux in Microsoft terms is therefore now at version 3.0, and while externally the rule goes 'never install anything from Microsoft with a 1 or a 2 in front of it,' internally the iterative process (of the first two versions being crud) is seen as an advantage. He also thinks "the Linux community is very willing to copy features from other OS/s if it will serve their needs." He therefore expects Linux to "cherry pick" the best features introduced in NT for incorporation into the Linux codebase. Interestingly, he says that "the effect of patents and copyright in combating Linux remains to be investigated." ® Click for more stories
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Hyundai-LG talks collapse in disagreement

A proposed merger of Hyundai and LG's semiconductor businesses now looks on the brink of collapse, according to the South Korean press. A report in the Korea Herald said that both companies have failed to reach agreement on a third party arbitrator to organise the merger. That means that both companies will be punished by the South Korean government. The chaebols (family outfits) had until November 30 to sort their differences. Possible punishments include forced restructuring and the severing of credit lines, said the Herald. ®
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Workplace snaffles LanBase

Workplace Technologies is shelling out up to £19.56 million in cash and shares for the acquisition of rival networking equipment reseller LanBase Holdings. Berkshire-based LanBase increases the company’s turnover by more than £20 million. Judging from its historic growth rate of 20 per cent, LanBase should be on course for £24 million t/o for 1998. In its last interims, Workplace sales were £40 million. DKB is forecasting £79 million sales for the full year. Workplace also gains a foothold in the Spanish market through the acquisition of outstanding shares of Madrid-based LanBase Espana not already owned by LanBase Holdings. LanBase Espana sales are consolidated into LanBase Holdings figures and contribute around 8 per cent of turnover. Keith Berry, founder and MD of LanBase, is to join the Workplace board. The enlarged group aims to leverage better purchasing terms from its suppliers. Workplace is "3Com's biggest UK reseller, Cisco's fastest growing UK reseller and (following the acquisition of LanBase)the UK's largest Bay Networks reseller", according to Andrew Vaughan, Workplace MD. It also expects to achieve “key operational synergies such as training and stock management.” Workplace is presenting the deal as the next strategic step in the expansion of the company. Although LanBase trawls the same networking equipment market as Workplace, it brings a different customer base, concentrated in the London financial sector, and increased geographic coverage. LanBase will also deliver a big boost to Workplace's post-sales support business. Support contracts account for 20 per cent of LanBase turnover. The enlarged group operates out of 11 branches in the UK and Ireland, and will have a workforce of over 500. Redundancies are not envisaged "at present", according to Vaughan. "With the market growing at 20 per cent a year, there is plenty of opportunities for jobs," he said. Workplace’s historic strength is in cabling and maintaining data networks in gigantic buildings -- it numbers the Ministry of Defence and Hong Kong Airport Authority among its customers. The company blames late payments from the latter client for full-year interest charges that are “likely to be somewhat greater than current market expectations”. Berkshire-based LanBase produced operating profits of £1.52 million on sales of £19.9 million for the year to 31 December, 1997. Workplace is paying a maximum of £8.8 million in cash, £1 million in loan notes, and the issue of 6.5 million Consideration shares, dependent on LanBase achieving an operating profit of £2 million in the year ending 31 December, 1998. As it is November, LanBase shareholders must be pretty sure of hitting their target. Certainly, they are highly incentivised to hit the £2 million operating profit target. For every £100 profit shortfall their payout is chopped by £520 in cash and 338 consideration shares. LanBase owners have also warranted that the companies net assets will be at least £2.1 million on 30 November, 1998. Any shortfall will be adjusted pound for pound in the payment. There is plenty more goodies to come for LanBase shareholders, as Workplace is buying only 68.8 per cent of the share capital of LanBase Holdings and the 49 per cent of shares in LanBase Espana not owned by LanBase Holdings. The outstanding balance of LanBase shares are covered by option agreements. Workplace has the right to acquire up to 24.7 per cent of the 31.2 per cent optioned shares after 2 January, 1999,on the same terms as the first tranche. Workplace needs shareholder approval to wave through the deal. Vaughan is confident the deal will get approval. "This is our first acquisition and it is low-risk...Lanbase is a good, solid growing business." The company was advised on the acquisition by Hawkpoint Partners. ®
The Register breaking news

Net quacks could be bad for your health – official

Doctors have hit out at "cyberdocs" on the Internet, warning patients that the medical advice they receive may not be good for their health. Writing in The Lancet, doctors said there is no way to determine whether "cyberdocs" are medically qualified and called for a "cyberlicence" to be introduced. One patient was told that he was simply constipated and needed to have at least "two good bowel movements a day", while another was prescribed fresh air, rainwater and dandelions by two of the online medical services. In fact, the patients taking part in the study were describing the classic symptoms of shingles in someone with a damaged immune system. Of the 17 Web sites checked by researchers from the University of Heidelberg, seven charged for the advice and 12 diagnosed the condition incorrectly. ® Click for more stories Click for story index
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Blair launches National Grid for Learning

The prime minister of this country has announced that £700 million is to be invested in hardware and software as the government honours its election pledge to create a National Grid for Learning. Due to be spent over the next three years, the cash will be used primarily to supply schools with the necessary hardware to link them to the Internet and ensure that the nation's children become "computer literate". Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme this morning, the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, said that a further £230 million had been set aside to train teachers to use the new technology. Only one out of every five teachers is currently trained to use the Internet, he said. Chris Yapp of ICL, who advised the government on the National Grid for Learning and is responsible for coining the phrase, welcomed the cash injection but said that it wasn't enough. He also predicted that more and more companies would enter the education market enticed by the government's spending plans. ® Click for more stories Click for story index
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Partner slaps Yahoo! with $10 million lawsuit

Yahoo! is being sued for $10 million by an Illinois-based online stock brokerage which claims that the giant portal neglected to maintain their co-branded Web site. Earlier this year Web Street Securities (WSS) agreed to sponsor a just-for-fun portfolio contest site on Yahoo!'s finance channel. However, Yahoo! ignored numerous requests to fix technology glitches on the site, WSS claims. As a result, said senior VP of WSS, Jonathan Rosenberg, his company received many complaints from angry customers causing a lot of negative will in the trading community against his company. "We felt they were in breach for not standing behind their product," he said. Yahoo! refused to comment on the details surrounding the case but a spokeswoman did confirm that the company would "defend it rigorously". ® Click for more stories Click for story index
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Amazon set to sell software

Amazon.com, the leading online bookseller, has declined to confirm reports that it is to sell software over the web. Such a move has been eagerly anticipated by investors and analysts in light of remarks made by Amazon.com's chairman, Jeff Bezos, who said he wanted the company's Web site to be the place where shoppers can buy "almost anything" online. Already established as an online bookstore and music shop, Amazon.com has confirmed that it will beginning marketing videos soon, although it has not said exactly when. Any movement into software, one of the most popular purchases on the Web, would come as no surprise, analysts and online software vendors have said. "The concept of Amazon selling software is well anticipated and a natural extension," said Steve Jurvetson, of venture capitalists Draper Fisher Jurvetson. "Software is a good high-margin business on the Web," he added. According to market research agency Jupiter Communications, online software sales in the US are expected to rocket to $2.4 billion by 2002 from $258.9 million this year. Meanwhile, Jonathan Bulkeley, formerly head of AOL UK, has been appointed CEO of Amazon arch-rival barnesandnoble.com, the online branch of US bookseller Barnes and Noble. "What Barnes & Noble has done in store we need to do online," said Bulkeley. "Obviously, we're not the largest online bookseller... but I'd like to be the best," he said. ® Click for more stories Click for story index
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Broker trims Videologic annual profit forecast

NEC's difficulties supplying graphics chips for Sega's forthcoming Dreamcast games console continue to bother Videologic. Credit Lyonnais Securities Europe (UK) today reduced its predictions for the UK graphics specialist's annual profit from £4.6 million to £3.2 million. The broker admitted the problems NEC has had adapting the PowerVR 2 3D graphics processor to the Dreamcast design were not the fault of Videologic. However, it clearly expects the delays in shipping chips to Sega, for which the Japanese manufacturer has accepted blame (see NEC admits it delayed Sega Dreamcast), to have a knock-on effect on the payments Videologic receives. Videologic's current fiscal year ends March 1999, the same timeframe Sega recently shifted its 'sell a million units' target to. Longer term, the broker said it believes Videologic's technology has an "excellent" future, thanks to the success it ultimately expects Dreamcast will achieve. Demand for the console is "extremely strong", it added, and anticipated NEC will have ironed out its supply problems in plenty of time for the console's US and European debuts. It expects Videologic to achieve profits of £7 million next year. ® Click for more stories Click for story index
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Music industry body to probe Samsung

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), would-be scourge of copiers of digital music everywhere, is following up its attack on Diamond Multimedia with a less aggressive approach to Samsung. Like Diamond, the Korean electronics giant wants to launch a portable Walkman-style device that plays MPEG-based MP3 digital audio files downloaded from the Internet. But whereas the RIAA decided to challenge Diamond in the US courts, with Samsung it's hoping that a friendly chat will persuade the manufacturer to ensure its Yepp player can't be used for the piracy of music. This more concilliatory approach follows the US federal court's rejection of the RIAA's legal attempt to get Diamond to modify its Rio player, although the RIAA is appealing against the ruling (see Diamond wins right to ship Rio) and Diamond has to pay a two per cent royalty on each $199 Rio it sells. The RIAA's senior executive VP and general counsel, Cary Sherman, said he would exploring whether Samsung would also be liable to this so-called MP3 Tax. However, his main concern was that the manufacturer would add anti-duplication technology to Yepp. ® See also Leading US indie label backs MP3 Diamond to add Liquid Audio to Rio Diamond forms MP3 lobby body
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Nvidia appoints VML as UK rep?

Roy Taylor, joint managing director of VML UK, would not comment today on whether his company had been appointed as an agent for Nvidia. Rumours circulating in the channel indicated that Taylor, and his partner John Byrne, had scooped up the Nvidia franchise which means that it has yet another string to its bow. Three weeks ago, VML scooped up a deal with x.86 chip clone Cyrix to sell its products in the UK. Taylor maintained that its relationship with Vanguard Microelectronics, a Taiwanese manufacturer of DRAM, was still sound. His company, he said, would continue to service that market. ®
A staffer, 06 1998
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Nigel Parry to exit Datrontech subsidiary Portable AddOns

Nigel Parry, managing director of Datrontech subsidiary Portable AddOns is leaving the company. A source close to Parry said he was likely to be returning to New Zealand early next year. By that time his earn-out period will have finished, the source confirmed. When Datrontech acquired Portable AddOns, the takeover was negotiated on a share swap basis. (See related story, Datrontech chief says company will turn round) Datrontech's share price at that time was well over the £3 mark. The share price now stands at 30 pence, and Parry was unavailable for comment on how much money, personally, he stood to make. ®
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Datatec interim profits up five-fold

South African technology and services group Datatec reported turnover and profits up by a staggering 405 per cent and 513 per cent respectively, for its interim six months up to the end of September this year. The company, which has spent this year establishing a considerable presence in the UK, Canadian, Australian and French marketplaces, said its international operations now account for over 75 per cent of its operating profits. And Datatec said it will continue to expand by acquiring foreign firms, not only in Europe and Australia but also in North America. Network integration is the main cash cow, according to the company. Companies Datatec has acquired recently include US company Westcon, UK firm RBR and, more recently Network SI. Jens Montarana, Datatec's executive chairman, said that all of the businesses it has acquired will trade under the Logical brand. Montarana said that Datatec's intention was to make Logical a leading international brand. The company will also make inroads into the e-commerce market. It has a joint venture with SA retail group Wooltru and has started the "Web Factory" to mirror the group's UK business, he said. ®
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NEC invests $15 million in WinCE hardware developer

NEC has invested $15 million in California-based mobile computing hardware specialist Vadem, and the two companies have agreed to jointly develop a family of CPUs optimised for CE. The system-on-a-chip CPUs will be utilise Risc technology. Vadem is an authorised wordwide distributor for CE and a certified CE developer and integrator. Earlier this year it unveiled Clio, a Windows CE-based sub-notebook. The company is also an OEM for a number of CE hardware suppliers, including Sharp. It also specialises in single-chip implementations of graphics and PC Card controllers and power management systems, collectively known as the VG family. Both companies have worked together in the past. NEC is already a customer for the VG chips, a number of which are based on NEC processor designs. ® Click for more stories Click for story index
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Netscape feels White House lash

The smart browsing features of Netscape Communicator have taken the company straight into a minefield - 'adult' site whitehouse.com has taken grave umbrage at having its trade redirected to the, er, White House. The feature seems like a good idea, as indeed was whitehouse.com. The White House itself is of course whitehouse.gov, but one could see reason why the entrepreneur responsible for whitehouse.com (which a cursory Register survey confirms contains acres of naked flesh of all descriptions) might have reckoned the slight difference as being pretty useful for catching and keeping passing trade. Lots of sites do profit from typos and general errors, so it's a plausible approach. Conversely, a browser company trying to make life easier for users might reckon it was a good idea to try to anticipate, trap and correct those errors. It gets more complex too - whitehouse.org seems to be another strange site sponsored by something called bondage.com. We made an excuse and left. But it's a bit of a cowpat, isn't it? In the case of whitehouse.com the original jape (if indeed that's what it was) has been long since superseded. Many people (we hear) want to go to whitehouse.com in the first place, and will be somewhat perplexed to wind up at the Pennsylvania Avenue variety - where we understand the pictures are a lot fuzzier. And if the browser company decides what the user meant to type, then it has a measure of control of the Web that perhaps it should not have. What if it accepted money from companies to redirect in cases where the request was ambiguous? What, indeed, if the browser company was the one we all reckon is far less trustworthy than Netscape? Netscape this week found itself on the receiving end of a letter from the lawyers of Dan Parisi, owner of whitehouse.com and the somewhat more specialist site netscapesucks.com, where the text of the letter can be found. "We fear that in your current use of your 'keyword system' you may, knowingly or unwittingly, be facilitating an infringement of our client's rights," it says. "This includes sending people who intended to go to our client's site to another site, and/or diluting (if not eliminating) the name recognition of his mark that our client has painstakingly built up over the last several years." Tricky one, eh? If Netscape gets whacked by even a tenth of the sites it ends up helping its users avoid, it could wind up having to fund a Microsoft-sized legal department. And if it wants to pursue the approach, it'll probably have to have every single entry put through the lawyers before it gets into the browser. Loser, basically. We should, incidentally, thank CMP reporter Malcolm Mclachlan for drawing this matter to our attention. We at The Register lead sheltered lives, and thus would never have happened by whitehouse.com in the ordinary course of events. ® Click for more stories