What price English when Chinese Web gets going?
A senior executive from Lernout & Hauspie paid a flying visit to the offices of The Register at the end of last week and sparked off something of a debate about the future of the Internet. L&H, a Belgian company boosted by funds from both Microsoft and Intel, now has 14 languages which its software will machine translate, backed up by teams of human translators to tweak the idioms. Ellen Spooren, a senior corporate VP of L&H, said that her company's estimate was that in only four or five years' time, the number of Chinese people accessing the Internet would change the current emphasis of the Web from an English-centric to a Chinese-centric phenomenon. IBM, which has been in this market for around 30 years, recently revealed that it will resume research into language translation, three years after it ditched its R&D. The reason, according to sources, is the magic phrase "e-commerce". Just a couple of days after her visit, L&H signed a deal with Group Sense Internatonal (GSL) and Huajian Electronic Corporation to create a JV aimed at assisting consumers in China to learn English as a second language. The deal will mean personalised language learning solutions including Web-connected handheld devices for Chinese consumers. GSL will make these, while Huajian will provide full sentence translation between English and Mandarin. According to L&H executive Louis Woo, Internet use in China will reach nine million users next year. L&H will integrate its RealSpeak software into the handheld devices. ®
Intel: watch out for those network building blocks
A week ago, we pointed out that Intel's share price was on an inexorable rise and indeed when Wall Street shut Friday, with the price at $66¼, not too far off the $75 we predicted then. Intel's financial results come out Tuesday and we see no reason why its price shouldn't rise further tomorrow, given that it's expected to show little pain from competing processor companies such as AMD, Cyrix et al. When Craig Barrett, CEO of Intel, was in London a few weeks ago, he said that his company was in the business of providing "building blocks" to the computer industry. Employing not a little stealth, Intel has been ensuring that over the last year it has some of those blocks in place, particularly in the area of high-speed networking and datacoms. Last Thursday it bought privately owned Softcom Microsystems but this is only one item in the $3 billion Intel has spent over the last year on moving into the networking and telecomms market. One of its bigger acquisitions, Level One, which cost Intel $2.2 billion, went practically unnoticed by the world+dog when it was bought on the 5th of March this year. This time last year, Intel struck a strategic relationship with Level One, so perhaps the deal should have been foreseen. Intel's ambition to own the building blocks of the computer industry now extends far beyond the microprocessor in your desktop, notebook or server PC. It is remodelling itself as an Internet company and if it owns a good chunk for the building blocks for that phenomenon, it will be in a vastly more powerful position than before. Internet server farms and deals with ISPs and language translation companies, as well as companies like Level One and Softcom, all fit into Barrett's building block model. He's a manufacturing man, so look out for more infrastructure buys. Intel has 67,000 employees and The Register only has eight journalists, so sometimes it's hard to track Chipzilla in its move to become an even bigger player in the world wide market. But trace elements and particulates such as Softcom all provide the clues to the scale of Satan Clara's ambitions. ®
Merced: is it sunrise or sunset?
Debate over whether Intel's Merced processor is late, has now entered the realm of mediaeval theology, with the argument resembling the old chestnut about how many angels can sit on the point of a needle. And Intel itself has taken the stance that mid-1999 can mean anything from June to September, thus raising a debate over whether the chip giant is using the Gregorian or Julian calendar. A local tourist blurb describes Merced thus: "Beginning in the high country of Yosemite National Park, the Merced River makes a headlong rush through glacially-carved canyons, rugged mountains and foothills to the San Joaquin Valley. Ample access points allow you to punch rapids at your own pace. Hook a trout and plunk it in a pan over an open fire." The mountains in the background of the mugshot are in Yosemite, so meaning the Merced sun is rising. This picture, comes from a mug given to us by Stephen Smith, who runs the Merced programme for Intel. Members of the team use to to drink their tea or coffee during the late nights they're forced to work on the platform. The blue wavy line at the bottom is the Merced spume, and the orange squiggle on the left of the picture, next to the mountains, is the sun. As the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, that means that it's not yet midday for Merced. If a day is like a year, then midday in Santa Clara could be two, three or even four o'clock in the afternoon, while mid-year could be July, August or September. The world can only wait, and watch, as the Merced sun climbs further above the mountains, and the silky, silicon sands of time slip through the muddy waters... ®
EMC strikes back at HP
US wires reported Friday that storage company EMC took out an injunction against Hewlett Packard. According to the reports, EMC's injunction prevents HP using the letter MC to describe any of their storage products. Earlier this year, HP provoked a rift with EMC when it decided to stop re-selling the latter's products in favour of systems from Hitachi Data Systems. At the time, HP senior executives said that EMC products were "old" and "proprietary", compared to their own and Hitachi's products. ® See also EMC and HP: war declared HP, EMC get into store-rage (geddit?!?)