23rd > December > 1998 Archive
Ericsson and US cellular provider Powertel are to run trials of a system that integrates cellular communications with IP networks, and that effectively gives businesses their own local and in-building cellular phone networks. GSM on Net, as the system is known, is intended to provide communications services over an integrated GSM-IP network. Local and global mobile services are intended to be integrated, and Ericsson suggests that future systems could have multimedia capabilities and access to advanced IP-based applications. The bandwidth currently available in GSM networks isn't great enough to support these, but it would saeem Ericsson is trying to build up some of the infrastructure and customer base for broadband 3G cellular systems. But today local, 'mini-GSM' networks owned by businesses could also use multiple channels to handle multimedia without it being necessary to pay vast amounts in call charges. The Ericsson-Powertel system, which is in West Point, Georgia, has already been tested, and will shortly be trialed over a WAN link. The system uses small base stations to provide local GSM coverage for office LANs. Users can have a single number for both local and global mobility, and Ericsson envisages them connecting via GSM phones, PC phones, multimedia terminals and fixed IP phones. ®
Sun is to attend a meeting of the HP-led Real Time Java Working Group next month, in an attempt to sell the membership its Community Source Java licensing model. The Working Group was set up earlier this year with the intention of producing standards for real time/embedded Java systems, and is a potential source of a split in the Java standard. HP is a long-term critic of Sun's Java leadership, and has campaigned for some years to have the custodianship of the Java standard broadened out. The company has launched several initiatives which have in Sun's view come perilously close to splitting Java, but unlike Microsoft insists that it will stick to 100 per cent pure Java standards. Other members of the Working Group are largely from the real time and embedded arena, although Microsoft's membership must be an ominous sign for Sun. The new Community Source model is intended to go some way toward loosening Sun's control, within limits. It allows Java source code to be modified and shared without Sun's involvement, and companies only have to pay a fee to Sun for products sold. So you might say it's nearly Open Source. But is it nearly enough? ®
The Department of Justice has asked the court to allow it to re-interview Microsoft senior VP Jim Allchin, saying that it was misled when Allchin gave his original deposition in September. It also wants to see Microsoft's analysis of Edward Felten's program for the removal of IE from Windows 98. According to the DoJ, Allchin said under questioning that he couldn't give details of Microsoft's analysis. It has since become clear that the analysis had been complete at the time of the deposition, on 29 September. The DoJ on the contrary says that Allchin had claimed that the analysis wasn't complete. What the analysis actually says, and the extent to which it was complete in late September, may be significant, considering the Microsoft-induced failure of Felten's program on 4 December. Microsoft has claimed that the program, described in detail by Felten in his deposition, has never worked properly. Felten however contends that it did, and still gave access to the Windows Update function (Earlier Story) until Microsoft made changes to the update Web site on 4 December. This breakage occurred a week before Felten's cross-examination, and although Microsoft says the changes were entirely unrelated to the court case, they appear to have been trivial, even pointless. Microsoft was given Felten's code in September, so has had ample time to review it. The DoJ clearly thinks it's been withholding the review for purposes of gamesmanship. Its filing also tries to capitalise on the early termination of Microsoft's cross-examination of Felten, accusing Microsoft of trying to discredit him via filings instead of in cross-examination. "With Felten safely off the stand," says the document, "Microsoft is attempting to inject false and misleading information into the record." ® Complete Register trial coverage
A US report has suggested that Compaq is set to withdraw from the networking market. If true, that is likely to be a very costly mistake.
A survey by market research company Frost & Sullivan said that printer market revenues across Europe are set to be worth $200.3 million by 2004. The report, The European Market for Printers, said that total printer market revenues stood at $47.1 million in 1997, and the growth will be driven multifunction devices (MFDs), improvements in inkjet technology, faster print speed. The SoHo market for colour printers is booming because of increased Internet usage as well as take up in the sales of digital cameras. But the printer market is riven by price wars in all sectors, the study says, with inkjets in particular affected by this trend. Vendors are now pacing this trend. There is a total of 30 million PC users in the SoHo sector in Europe, claims the report, with that figure set to increase because of an increase in telecommuting. ®
Pioneer Web-based computer reseller Cyberian Outpost continued to lose money during its third quarter, ended 30 November, but the red figures were not as bad as anticipated. The figure posted was $7.6 million, up from $1.1 million for the same period last year. Wall Street estimates had put the loss at around $8.7 million. During the quarter, sales grew to $23.5 million, up some 286 per cent on the $6.1 million sales recorded for Q3 last year and 38 per cent on this year's second quarter. CFO Katherine Vick said the company's business had expanded considerably during the last two weeks of the quarter, thanks to a series of high-profile TV and print ads. Cyberian's roster of buying customers rose by 49,000 to 210,000 during November -- nearly a third of them visiting the site and making purchases during the last two weeks of the month. Repeat buyers accounted for 53 per cent of sales during the quarter. However, that campaign added $1.7 million to the Cyberian's costs, contributing to its large loss. The latest figures will again raise questions of Cyberian's ability to compete with the likes of Buy.com and most notably Egghead.com, the reseller which this year closed down its real-world stores in favour of an online-only strategy. Egghead brings a very well-known brand name to the online IT retail arena, but has some catching up to do with the rather better established Cyberian Outpost. ®
France Telecom has cut the charges it makes on rival telecoms companies that use its network infrastructure, a move the French national telecoms regulator said would lower call charges. The move comes a week after French Net users held a 24-hour boycott of the Internet in an attempt to force down dial-up charges (see French Internet strike 'a success', claims organiser). The charges will fall by an average figure of 14.4 per cent, and will apply to Internet connections and voice services. Jean-Michel Hubert, chairman of the Autorite de regulation des telecommuncations (ART), said: "The lowering of rates should facilitate the development of the market and increase its competitive character." Currently, France Telecom's rivals spend some 30-50 per cent of their costs on interconnection fees to the former monopoly. ART believes the cut will allow them to challenge France Telecom more effectively. That should please the Association of Unhappy Internauts, which staged last week's boycott in an attempt to persuade FT to adopt a flat-rate structure for Internet dial-up charges. France Telecom has said it is opposed to the idea, but the interconnection charge cuts could pave the way for a rival to offer users just such a deal. France Telecoms's 60-odd rivals, of whom Cegetel and Colt Telecom are by far the biggest, welcomed the cuts but said they wanted further refinements to be implemented over the next two years. Specifically, they demanded Internet access to be made a special case, and an incremental cost basis instead of a fixed connection charge and a duration-based call charge. ® See also German Net boycott goes ahead Portuguese strike against Net charges British Telecom threatened with two cyberstrikes
3Com has posted profits of $132.9 million on sales of $1.54 billion for its second quarter of fiscal 1999, ended 27 November, a rise of ten per cent on Q1's sales and 29 per cent on the same period last year. The company saw particularly strong growth in network access products, including modems (courtesy of its acquisition of USR) and network interface cards. Sales of these products grew some 33 per cent and generated revenue to the tune of $795.8 million. Systems products made $744.7 million, an increase of 25 per cent on last year's Q2 figure. ®
Chip company Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) said today that it is confident it will be able to resist Intel price pressure in 1999. Rana Mainee, European director of market research at AMD, conceded that it will cut prices on its products in early January but forecast that situation will change during the year. He said: "Intel is targeting AMD products with its pricing and it has lost much market share to us. As far as we're concerned, we'rre not panicking and have the volume to supply the demand. If Intel did not continually drop its prices, we wouldn't drop ours." Mainee said: "We're not in a position today to resist that [Intel's] market pressure. But sometime during 1999, we won't feel compelled to drop our prices when Intel does." He claimed that as the average selling price (ASP) is eroded, Intel has only been able to maintain its margins by internal cost cutting and streamlining their business model. "In 1999, everything comes to a head. Intel can't cut costs much further because the ASP will continue to erode. Its networking and other revenue streams won't support its microprocessor business to the same degree." But an Intel representative refuted Mainee's analysis of the market, and said that his company will continue to cut prices throughout the year, partly because of the competitive stance it is taking and partly because members of its microprocessor families will be phased out. The only place Intel is losing market share is in the US retail sector, he said. ®
Intel will use the Superbowl game in mid-January to introduce its Katmai chip to a waiting universe and will call it Pentium III, it has emerged.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's comments in Sydney yesterday that the over-inflated valuations of Internet companies, such as Amazon.com and eBay, was a "bubble that just has to burst", brought to mind a much older tale... Shipping magnate Sir Larrimore Elision today lashed oute at Robert Harley and his South Sea Companie for both the rash promises of profitability his arch-rival has made -- and his attempts to retain control of ye world's largest shipping market. "'Tis a bubble, and 'twill burst -- mark mine words," said ye tycoon. Formed some nine years ago (1711AD), ye South Sea Companie achieved prominence through a deal with then Her Britannic Mahestie's governmente to assume ye national debt in exchange for exclusive rights to trade with ye islands of the South Seas and South America, plus a healthie annual payment. However, it is well known that Sir Larrimore also sought a similar deal but was beaten off by Harley. The twain have been bitter enemies e'r since. Sir Larrimore has made many long speeches accusing his rival of abusing his monopoly position and adopting a so-called 'sail, steal, slaughter' stratagem. "There is much fraudulente trading with ye South Sea Companie," claimed Sir Larrimore, "and -- I saye again -- ye South Sea Bubble will burst." "If I am made first Lord of ye Treausurie and Chancellor of ye Exchequer, I can and will put ye South Sea Companie on a more 'Open Trade' footing," pledged Sir Larrimore. "However, I expect that bloodie Robert Walpole felloe will get ye job." ®
First details of the performance of the AMD K6-3 (Sharptooth) have emerged with a review appearing on the World Wide Web. A review on Sharky Extreme claimed that the 400MHz part, which ships in February of 1998, only needed a BIOS update to run successfully on K6-2 motherboards. The review added that the product “now shines” as a chip for the gaming market. Rana Mainee, European director of market research at AMD, said that samples of the K6-3 were now out with major OEMs and that it would achieve volume in the middle of Q1 1999. He said: “Sharptooth will be head to head with Katmai (the Pentium III).” While he refused to discuss pricing, he said that AMD will pitch it below its Katmai offerings, which will be introduced late February 1999. The AMD introduction is intended as a spoiler to the Katmai launches. The reviewer at Sharky said that AMD will introduce a 450MHz part within four weeks of launch. The 400MHz part will cost around $350. ®
Flying in the face of accusations that it is about to dump its channel and go direct, Hewlett Packard (HP) has launched an advertising campaign aimed at promoting its reseller base. This is the first time HP has run an ad campaign on behalf of its channel and it is being run to support HP’s Connect accreditation programme. Connect groups all existing HP accreditation schemes into five categories; wholesaler, Connect reseller, select business reseller, select value-added reseller and select corporate reseller. The idea, HP claims, is that this approach is more streamlined and makes for more efficient account management. Kevin Kearney, HP EMEA commercial channel marketing manager said: "When we launched the Connect programme, we promised we would take an active role in helping our channel partners promote its values. This advertising campaign does that by appealing directly to end users, letting them know Connect is a name they can trust." Back in AugustThe Register reported that HP resellers were not stampeding to sign up to the Connect programme. Today no-one was available from HP UK to tell us all how successful the scheme has - no doubt - now become. ®
3Com and Intel were yesterday fighting for the top slot in network interface cards (NICs), with both claiming victory after 3Com secured a top deal with Hewlett-Packard. 3Com said it held 55 per cent of business in this competitive market after winning a deal to provide NICs across HP's entire line of PCs. The boast was news to rival Intel, which in November was named number one in the field by research group Dell'Oro. According to the Dell'Oro report, Intel was the top provider of 10/100 Ethernet network connections for this year's third quarter with 45 per cent of the market. 3Com came a close second with 43 per cent, the report said. Fuel was added to the fire when 3Com said it expected the deal to add significant growth to last year's 50 million dollars of business done with HP. The company also reported strong growth in the NIC market was partly responsible for an upturn in sales for the second quarter ended 27 November. Figures released yesterday showed turnover up 29 per cent on the same period last year to $1.54 billion.(Story: 3Com Q2 results) An Intel spokesman said: "3Com might think it's number one through its own figures, but the independent Dell'Oro report states otherwise." The deal extended 3Com's existing agreements to supply NIC cards to certain PC product lines at HP.®
Santa has paid an early visit to the boys and girls of Psion this year - they must have been behaving themselves. The Psion Series 5 handheld computer has picked up a prestigious European design award - the iF award - from the Hannover-based design body Industrie Forum. The iF award went to the Series 5 for its "outstanding product quality and its conscious use of design," the judges said. It beat off 1,300 other products from 28 countries that had also been nominated for the award and has picked up other gongs along the way since its launch, including the Design Council’s Millennium Product award. Psion’s head spin doctor, Anthony Garvey, said: "This is a significant accolade from a prestigious body that will allow us to reach over 200,000 key customers and industry executives over the next year." No doubt the Christmas spirit has already started flowing at Psion HQ. ®