28th > December > 1998 Archive
Deutsche Telekom's battles with the German regulators have escalated with the news that the company is to cancel its interconnect contracts with competitors from 1 January. The move seems to be a retaliatory strike against the regulator, which recently gave over 100 private telephone outfits access to Deutsche Telekom's network at 2.7 pfennigs (1p, or 1.5 cents) a minute. In response the German giant is playing hardball. Its contracts with the independent operators last until the end of next year, but include a clause allowing the company to cancel them a year early, and that's what it's decided to do. Deutsche Telekom says it's making the move in order to commence new negotiations with its rivals, and to 'clarify' the interconnect conditions. Alternatively, given the shortness of the notice period, you could say Deutsche Telekom is clapping a pistol to the heads of all concerned. The run-up to the New Year in thee German telecoms market should therefore prove somewhat fraught. ®
Larry Ellison has been telling Australia that Netscape is dead, and that the industry must unite against Microsoft, according to local reports. But is this the sound of grinding axes we hear? In Ellison's view the AOL takeover is the death-knell for Netscape. AOL simply wants Netscape for the Netcenter portal, and isn't interested in Netscape's technology. If we take this to its logical conclusion, then it means that AOL is perfectly willing to let Netscape's Web server business slide, and quite possibly has no real interest in further development of Navigator. But in that case, the large sums of money that AOL has expended on Netscape and on retention of Netscape staff surely look to have been flushed straight down the drain. At the same time, the effective subsidies of the deal by Sun (which were covered round these parts, if not elsewhere) are wasted too. So we don't believe Larry, do we? Netscape may be dead in the long run, but if it is it will be because AOL doesn't understand its business rather than because it doesn't want it. Why, then, is Larry mouthing-off? In addition to wanting Netcenter, AOL saw the Netscape deal as bringing it two things - expertise and technology in Web server development, and the ability to develop an 'AOL Anywhere' strategy. Both of these development routes couldn't be pursued without extremely close relations with Sun. The second is meanwhile particularly interesting because we're talking about set-top boxes, portable devices and the like which, logically, will start gluing together Netscape microbrowser technology and Sun Java. These devices could then be used in conjunction with Sun-Netscape hardware-software combinations at the Web server end. Maybe then the reason Larry says Netscape is dead is because in that picture there's no obvious need for the presence of a company beginning with O. Oracle is allied with Sun, certainly, but in it's also possible - certain, if its plans succeed - that in the longer term Sun will pose a threat to Oracle. ®
The Compaq Corporation and Firefly, its PR outfit in the UK are still on their Christmas break like most others in Blighty, but that will not stop further redundancies in France. Sources close to Compaq’s plans say that on the 4th of January next, around 1,400 staff in the country will be issued with severance notices, following intense arguments between the company and trade unions. The trade unions originally agreed that 800 jobs would disappear in France but our source tells us that figure has grown because Digital and Compaq executives have a very bad relationship in the country that gave us Gitanes, Calvados, De Gaulle and Groupe Bull. Although neither the company’s UK PR outfit nor the company itself can be contacted (many have been on holiday from the 23rd December and will not return until the 4th of January), the news is bound to cast something of a blight on server announcements Compaq will make next month. The Register now feels that Eck should make at least one New Year’s resolution, and that is not to take over any more companies in 1999. ®
Reports from South Korea said that financial sanctions will now be imposed on LG after its refusal to accept a merger deal in which Hyundai will have 70 per cent of a new semiconductor company. LG (formerly Lucky Goldstar) is one of the top five chaebols (family concerns) in South Korea.
After already receiving plenty of stick from august UK organisations like the BBC, mighty Intel faced the combined might of 200 more journalists at the launch of its MMX Pentiums a few weeks back. But this time, the audience included tabloid hacks and many of them wanted answers. Pity then that after a lacklustre presentation by Ian Wilson, a European technology marketing manager, the assembled mass were only given 10 minutes for a Q&A session. The question many wanted to know was why Intel had waited until the Christmas selling season was over before it introduced chips which obsoleted the family that went before. Although Wilson insisted that Pentium chips before the arrival of MMX were not obsolete, his stance was more than a little undermined by an earlier presentation by Gateway 2000 when the company announced that it had obsoleted Pentium 150s and 166s and replaced them with Pentium 150MMX and Pentium 166MMX processors. Nor was Intel highly convincing about the arrival of the Pentium Pro as a home consumer platform later this year with the introduction of Klamath processors. Although our sources tell us that the plug-in card is now delayed, Gateway said two hours earlier that it would, in fact, introduce a Klamath (that is a Pentium Pro on a card) for Christmas 1997. The lacklustre presentation was only mildly improved by a demonstration of software by Intel. It showed us four titles, one or two of which were pretty good-looking although the car-race one which Wilson seemed to like looked more like a race around the bowels of La Defence in Paris to us. And as Microsoft sources tell The Register that it, at least, won't ship its games titles until this Christmas, that leaves Intel in a bit of a sorry mess. Will the poor punters be able to upgrade their expensive Christmas home PCs? Again, Intel was more than a little evasive. The answer is, "yes they will" but there is no price for an Overdrive nor is there a date for one either. If an OEM was clever enough to have designed an Intel motherboard in what Wilson described as a "flexible" way, then people could plug in an MMX chip. All of this led to one distinguished journalist to break out in a bitter diatribe against Intel for only giving 200 of the leading British hacks a mere 10 minutes to answer the many questions begged by this introduction. Wilson's reply was that people could always talk to Intel staff afterwards. Your staffers at The Register thought that was possibly a fruitless endeavour. For us, not even a "happy new year" greeting from spin doctor Gail Hall, an Intel staffer who still, on the whole, feels very cheesed off that we know too much about Klamath and Deschutes technology. It was a frosty reception. Now The Register is not invited to Thursday's party at Planet Hollywood south of Soho nor is The Register allowed to hear Grove explain himself to 1000 IT managers in London next week. Thank god for that. Intel is likely to announce a name for Klamath later this month but our sources at OEMs tell us that the technology is already delayed because of heat problems. The Dell Corporation appears to be getting the blame for being the source of the leak which gave The Register its exclusive leak about Deschutes et al last year. Poor Dell. Intel is said to be now thoroughly revising its security techniques and changing the way it delivers information to its OEMs. No-one in the security wing at Santa Clara appears to have even considered the possibility that rather than make things tighter for its customers, it could try lightening up a little. ® From The Register No. 39
Just a few weeks after it was revealed here how Big Blue lost a Fedex account for 70,000 NCs, the company has given Register readers the chance to chuckle again. (Story:IBM puts big boot in own big NC mouth) Just back from its Christmas break, the company issued a statement claiming its NC strategy is still alive and kicking. The release said that Big Blue has sold 8,000 Network Stations to American General Finance, and several thousand NCs to the Sysco Corporation. Now if only Big “boots” Blue had not messed things up by awarding its courier contract to UPS after clinching the deal for 70,000 NCs with Fedex, perhaps we would all have the same “optimism” and “general acceptance” the release asks us to have. ®