21st > July > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

ARM earns arm and a leg

UK company ARM Holdings, which is also listed on Nasdaq, turned in its interim six months results this morning, and showed strong revenue and profit growth. Compared to the same period last year, revemues rose by 48 per cent to £27.5 million, while pre-tax profits rose 79 per cent to £7 million. The company also broke out its second quarter figures, which showed a similar trend, with pre-tax profit rising 70 per cent to £3.8 million, compared to £2.3 million this time last year. Robin Saxby, the company's chairman and CEO, said the ARM marchitecture was gaining increased acceptance across a broad range of applications. He said the rest of the year looked solid, too. COO Jamie Urquhart said that in the second half of this year, the company will launch prototypes of its ARM10T chip to extend the marchitecture. ARM now has 34 partners, the company said. ®
The Register breaking news

IBM veteran scores in Motorola reorg

A year ago From The Register No 87 -- a year ago. Industry-standard survivor Joe Guglielmi has been upsized again, stepping into the shoes (see below for lame joke) of Fred Tucker, who is moving up to become deputy to the Chief Executive Office. Gugliemi brings a wide range of experience (it says here) to his new post as president of ACCES, Motorola's Automotive, Component, Computer and Energy Sector. ACCES contains the Automotive and Industrial Electronics Group, the Component Products Group, the Energy Systems Group, the Motorola Computer Group and the Flat Panel display Division. This on the surface uninspiring empire is actually very important to Motorola, as it groups together key industry areas that the company targets for embedded systems. If embedded systems take off and Motorola's embedded PowerPC and other solutions are to win major slices of the business available, it's key. Guglielmi however has clearly been available for the post for some time. The Motorola Computer Group he headed has quietly slid into ACCES a couple of months back, in a reorganisation preceding the more recent, post-results-bloodbath, reorganisation. MCG under Guglielmi had been originally charged to make PowerPC a major player on the desktop, but failed miserably in that, and the loss of the Mac licence effectively knocked that plan on the head, forcing refocusing on embedded systems instead. Guglielmi had however been promoted to an oversight role in an (even earlier) reorg of MCG that divisionalised it. Before that he'd run Taligent, the object-oriented Apple-HP-IBM JV that didn't make it, and before that he'd been one of Jim Cannavino's (remember him?) stars at IBM. And here comes the joke, patient readers. After some years of favouring OS/2, The Register finally accepted the war was over, and vividly recalls the time it became abundantly clear. IBM OS/2 Tech Interchange in Paris. Guglielmi, the man running the outfit that was the hope for the future, had jumped ship from Taligent to Motorola just before it started, and in the lounge of the New York Hotel, Disneyland Paris, the canned music kept playing "Say it ain't so, Joe please... say it ain't so..." Shoeless Joe. But we love him really. ®
The Register breaking news

Intel i810 chipset has inherent limitations

A hardware site has taken an in-depth look at the Intel i810 chipset and has concluded that it has severe limitations. Lost Circuits has posted an article on the i810 exploring its benefits and its limitations. According to the piece, there are insurmountable handicaps inherent in the i810 chipset, no matter which CPU is used. "A 66MHz memory bus has to be inadequate for integrated processing," it states. "Our results running at lower CPU clockspeed but using the 133 MHz FSB clearly also show that there is some potential in the design that can be unlocked by means of a higher memory transfer and a higher rate of data integration in the chipset. Unfortunately for Intel, however, the CPU multiplier lock prevents in most cases the use of even the 100 MHz bus speed." According to the author, the 810 can claim the "dubious award" of being the "perfect monkey wrench" for otherwise very high performance CPUs. ®
The Register breaking news

New AMD trademarks bubble to surface

AMD has registered two new trademarks with the US Patent and Trademark Office. The first is called GigaMAC, serial number 75-673052, and is a stylised illustration. It's unclear from the registration form what GigaMAC refers to. The company already has a trademark for GigaNIC. The second trademark, serial number 75-669302, is POWERFULLY DIFFERENT and presumably refers to AMD's entire range of CPUs. AMD is famous for taking its time to record Advanced Micro Devices as its trademark, only remembering to do so in March this year, as reported here… ®
The Register breaking news

IBM clones of a different kind

Big Blue came one step closer to cloning staff this week, according to a report in London's Metro newspaper. IBM UK has recruited identical twins Peter and David Lawther, both at the tender age of 22, to join its happy band of employees. This pair of IBM clones really put the word identical to good use. The Lawther brothers got identical results for their GCSEs and A-levels, as well as this week both netting first class honours degrees in computing. The duo, from Silksworth, Sunderland, said it was pure coincidence that they both got sucked into the IBM vortex at the same time. "We've always been close, but this is getting ridiculous," said Peter. David joked: "I just hope we don't marry the same woman." Beware boys, Big Brother is watching you. ®
The Register breaking news

HP set to rebrand imaging devices

Trademarks Another set of trademarks, this time relating to Hewlett Packard, has made its way to the offices of The Register. And it appears HP might indulge in quite a bid of re-branding, particularly on its printer, fax and imaging products like scanners real soon now. It has registered this image above and at the same time it has registered another four marks. The other four are Eliptica, which will be applied to its toner and ink products; DeepCanyon and Smartanswer, which relate to services; and ImageMagnet, which relates to digital image editing. A reader has pointed out to us that HP already owns the name Apollo, after it acquired the workstation company 10 years ago. Unfortunately, we are old enough to remember this and during a journalist gong presentation sponsored by HP were sat with some ex-Apollo employees including, believe it or not, one Bob Apollo, who worked for Apollo... Apollo, is not necessarily the Roman equivalent of Helios, the sun god, who seems to have lived on the island of Rhodes. No wonder the earth there is sort of scorched. (Since we first posted this story, a Greek reader has emailed us to say Rhodes is a delightful island. We have to agree -- we've been there. But it does get pretty hot. Another Greek reader writes: I just read your article with title mentioned at the subject of this email. Although my knowledge of the copycat Roman Gods is limited (no reason for a Greek person to learn Roman alternative names for the same Greek mythological entities) and I cannot swear that a Roman "Apollo" does not exist, I can say with some certainty (it's been 20 years since primary school...) that Apollo was one of the 12 Gods of Olympus, the God of poetry and music. And since I could not recall his relationship with Rhodos island, I read in the Cambridge paperback encyclopaedia that his shrine is on the sacred island of Delos - hardly a tourist destination compared with Rhodos. MM) ®
The Register breaking news

IT in Eastern Europe

Analysis The Central and East European Countries (dubbed the CEEC in Euro-jargon) constitute a fast-growing, emerging market that is likely to be highly significant in the next ten years. Much attention was focussed on the Asian tiger economies until economic conditions became tough there, but the size of their IT market is insignificant compared with that of the CEEC. In terms of GDP growth per capita, nine of the top twelve countries in the world are in the CEEC, and in terms of population, the block is similar in size to Western Europe or North America. A clincher for the linguistically challenged is that English is the lingua franca of these countries in the IT world, to the dismay of the Germans and French. We shall be reviewing the IT activity in the CEEC on a country-by-country basis over the next few weeks, and in the future we expect to include updates in The Register about significant IT developments. It is an opportune moment to do this, as the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall occurs in November, which was of course followed by the Mikhail Gorbachev's era of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (reconstruction), the eventual transformation of Russia following his resignation on Christmas Day 1991, and the final hauling down of the hammer and sickle over the Kremlin the next day. The new era of reform and democratisation has been slow and painful, with Russia finding itself behind most of the CEEC in IT development. Five CEEC countries (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia) - as well as Cyprus - are negotiating for European Union membership in 2002. These countries are known as the "acquis" in Euro-jargon. Russia is far from being able to meet the economic criteria for membership, even if it wished to join. The acquis have their sights firmly fixed on the subsidies and grants they expect to receive from the EU, and are fully aware of how Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal have benefited at the expense of other EU members. Mostly the CEEC seems to consider the EU to be a good thing, but there is considerable concern at the weakness of the euro. It is unlikely that any of the acquis would be in a position to join the EMU for some years after their joining the EU, since their economies are not robust. There is an alternative in place should the EU founder as a result of the collapse of the monetary union: the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) has seven member countries with a 100 million people, and it is probable that Russia would join, adding its 150 million people to what could be a successful independent trading block. Using data from IDC and the European Information Technology Observatory (EITO) task force, the IT expenditure is highest in the Czech Republic (116 euros per capita in 1997), followed by Slovenia (109), Hungary (81), Estonia (75), Slovakia (55), Poland (40) and Russia (20). Already, the CEEC is catching up with some of the West European laggards - IT per capita expenditure in Greece in 1997 was just 84 euros, Portugal was 128, and Spain 168. By comparison, the US expenditure was 1,075, the UK 627, France 526, and Germany 492. IT expenditure as a percentage of GDP is similar in the acquis countries to that of Western Europe. The major problem in the East European market is of course the lack of funds to spend on hardware. Software presents a different kind of problem, in that there is a great deal of piracy so that CD-ROMs, of MS Office for example, have a street cost of around $5. Microsoft also seems to be maintaining its position in the world of unprofitable market share. ®
The Register breaking news

Satphone giants face the Buck Rogers bust

The current near-hysterical hyping of satellite phone systems exists in a curious vacuum. There seems to be an assumption that buying a 350-gram satellite handset with an eight hour satellite stand-by time and paying $1,200-1,500 for the privilege is the only way to get decent international roaming. This overlooks some obvious facts: most of the business and leisure travel from US flows to Europe, Australia, South Africa, Israel, North Africa, China and other GSM markets. Most of the travellers spend their time abroad in areas already covered by land-based digital mobile networks. Most of the target customers for global roaming only travel outside of USA a couple of times a year - meaning that a handset that can handle foreign standards but still function as a replacement for a normal mobile phone would be an optimal solution. Let's not even talk about Europe - GSM cover over European, North African and Middle Eastern travel destinations is so seamless it's not surprising the massive Iridium ad campaign never even registered in EU markets. A handset weighing about four ounces and setting you back by 200-300 bucks can reasonably be expected to appeal to millions of consumers in USA, Europe and Asia. Especially if it offers ten times longer stand-by time than satellite models. AT&T has commissioned TDMA-GSM handsets; CDMA operators have to come out with models offering GSM roaming, even if it takes them longer. But technologically, bundling American GSM-1900 with GSM-900 used in 130 countries around the world is far easier - and the first models are already in the shops. Next winter will pit the land-based worldphones directly against the exorbitantly priced satellite mammoths. The satellite phones are not exactly getting a running start from the manufacturers; all Iridium models were delayed and the word in Stockholm is that Ericsson's Globalstar model is running ruinously late. June 22 press release put it this way: "Ericsson expects to launch the R290 series in limited quantities at the end of 1999 and in volume in the beginning of 2000." Seasoned Ericsson-speak veterans have no trouble translating this into a badly botched Christmas season for a product that was supposed to launch Globalstar in GSM markets this autumn. There won't be another Christmas season for this puppy; the specs are bad enough for 1999, let alone for the next millennium. Note the cute gimmick in the press release: it stresses the 350 gram weight, because that undercuts Iridium models... but the hair-raising Globalstar stand-by time is cloaked in a brooding, Bergmanian silence. Comparing the target consumers groups of satellite phones and land-based multi-mode phones is instructive. Satellite phones are the best option for people who go abroad to visit inaccessible, sparsely populated areas like glaciers and uninhabited desert islands. Worldphones bundling several digital standards are the best option for people visiting cities and villages with more than 2,000 inhabitants. It's not an overwhelming challenge to draw conclusions about the sales potential of these two alternatives. Critical Christmas mass? It's hard to evaluate the future success of GSM operators without assessing the technological progress of GSM handsets. A reference point: the new US version of Ericsson's T28 is expected to pack both American and European GSM bands, internal vibrating alarm, predictive text input and voice dialling into one handset. Here's a kick in the head - it's a three-ounce handset. Not thirteen, which would be the weight of a similar handset trying to offer same features by using some other approach than GSM-900/1900. Miniaturisation is the Social Security of the mobile handset market. Touch it and die. We are going to see several 10-12 ounce models in the US market trying to convince consumers to ditch their small, nifty mobile handsets in order to achieve global roaming or Internet access. Next winter's introduction of GSM models offering similar benefits for minimum sacrifices in portability, weight and price should make for a compelling spectacle. Among main contenders are Motorola's tri-mode GSM handsets packing all existing GSM bands into a 110-gram handset with an eye-popping stand-by time. US operators have not been keen to capitalise on global roaming yet. The critical mass achieved by the new GSM merger changes that - Voicestream is on track to reach 2 million subscribers next winter even if it doesn't gobble up Aerial or some other minnow in the meanwhile. Next winter looks likely to become the big test for the consumer appeal of global roaming. The first substantial ad campaign in Europe for roaming in USA has just begun in the wake of the Voicestream merger. The first mainstream GSM-900/1900 models are now hitting the market after the tentative initial models from Bosch and Ericsson, which suffered from lack of decent operator support. Since then, a rapid increase in international roaming agreements has changed the market situation drastically. Perhaps the key feature in the Voicestream merger lay in the $950 million investment Hutchison made in the company, boosting its stake to 30 per cent. Hutchison already owns a serious chunk of Orange, which is perhaps the premium mobile operator brand from a global perspective - Orange is expected to extend its current roaming agreements to 200 operators in 100 markets by next Christmas. Gaining more access to Hutchison expertise and capital may finally whip the current confused patchwork of US roaming agreements into shape. And that's the goal of Hutchison, of course - it has now built stakes in a formidable array of European and Asian operators and wants to finish its global footprint with the crucial North American component. Hutchison possesses exactly the kind of experience in handling global roaming and selling advanced data features to consumers that is currently lacking in the North American market. Pushing roaming rates under one dollar should be doable by next spring - especially now that this will present a golden opportunity to stick a fork in the satellite phone industry. Orbital decay There may be a market for satellite phones: people hunting for ancient artefacts in the jungles of Bolivia or seeking spiritual insights in the deserts of Outer Mongolia. Whether satellite phone companies can reach 5-10 million of these kooks within five years (as the wildest projections predict) seems highly questionable. And whether the average Indiana Jones will cherish the experience of recharging his phone three times a day in the middle of Amazonia is another fascinating topic. Now that the earlier dream scenario of Iridium phones retailing for around $3,000 and Globalstar offering $1,000 models for the budget crowd has been scrapped the companies face a strange situation. The high-end player is offering 65 per cent discounting in a bid to avoid bankruptcy - and Globalstar, which was supposed to undercut Iridium ends up with initial phone prices that offer no advantage over Iridium - even though the stand-by times of Globalstar handsets are much worse. I expect the pricing plans to change as these companies scramble in search of a viable customer base. But even a hysterical discount slapfight won't bring the price/performance ratios of these models anywhere near the ratios of worldphones hooked on land-based mobile networks. If they avoid bankruptcy for the next 12 months or so, the next big headache for satellite phone firms is going to be the lack of data, and the other advanced features worldphones can offer on top of the roaming possibilities. The bold claim that satellite phones are not in direct competition with mobile phones is an absurd prevarication of uber-Clintonian dimensions - after the consumers have been conditioned to demand advanced features and compact size at low prices there's no turning back. People who buy a futuristic satellite gadget and wake up with a phone that offers the size and the stand-by time identical to a 1991 analogue museum piece are not likely to suffer future shock. The world moved on while the satellite phone consortia were absorbed in their decade-spanning quest for developing global communication devices. The global footprint and technological sophistication of land-based digital mobile standards are now way ahead of where they were projected to be when Iridium and Globalstar were conceived. The straw man satellite phones were designed to battle was an expensive, heavy mobile phone that only works in urban areas. Nowadays even Inuit reindeer herders in the arctic wastelands of Lappland are packing pocket-size mobile handsets - and the areas not covered by some network are shrinking every day. One of the biggest spectacles of next winter will probably be watching the 1990-vintage business plans of satellite phone companies collide with the reality of the modern mobile markets. ®
The Register breaking news

Linuxlab launches $299 Web server

US start-up Linuxlab yesterday introduced its first hardware product, a $299 personal Web server based on the open source OS. That sets the Linuxlab up to follow in the footsteps of US server vendor TeamInternet and UK start-up Inty. Both also offer easy-to-install Internet servers based on cheap PC parts and free operating systems. Linuxlab's WS300 ships with 4.3GB hard drive space and is designed to connect to the Net via a cable modem or DSL line. The server is configured remotely from any workstation on the user's internal network. ®
The Register breaking news

Be reveals IPO plan

Alternative operating system vendor Be yesterday unveiled details of its upcoming IPO. Six million common shares will be offered, at $6 apiece. That's not quite up to the level of the most recent online music IPOs, but then Be's probably glad it can make anything out of a share issue. It hasn't made a cent so far, and needs capital to continue developing the BeOS. Be's problem is that it doesn't have much of a track record to show potential investors, and only a very broad plan to focus on the emerging Internet appliance market as a teaser for future success. The BeOS is certainly not a poor product, but it has yet to win major support among the users or the software development community. Having largely failed to win over the Mac market -- at a time, mark you, when Apple was on the verge of collapse -- Be has more recently focused on Wintel. The trouble here is that Microsoft's Windows licensing terms made it damn difficult for PC vendors to offer the BeOS as a machine's main OS. The few PC suppliers who have bundled it, most notably Fujitsu on a range of multimedia machines aimed at the Japanese market, have installed it in parallel. But since the machine boots into Windows, it's really left to the user to explore the BeOS if they feel like it. Hardly a ringing endorsement. Hence the Net appliance approach, which promises better results. Or, rather, it would if the company wasn't facing competition from Linux and, to a much lesser extent, Windows CE. CE brings with it the mighty Microsoft brand, but then there are plenty of OEMs and customers who don't want Microsoft product. And when Linux is free, it's hard to see too many companies opting for the BeOS instead. Some will, because it's ready to use and arguably better developed -- Be's QA has to be better than Linux's less well focused community efforts -- and that may be enough to justify the extra cost. What Be really needs is some solid support from OEMs. It's best opportunity here is Microworkz $199 iToaster, a BeOS-on-Intel based Net access device. If Microworkz' anticipated deals with AOL and UK free ISP Freeserve come off, that's going to bring a very wide audience to the BeOS, and might well be enough to persuade other device vendors to hop on board. Sounds good, but the snag here is the persistent concern that Microworkz may not be able to supply quite as many boxes as it hopes to. And if it gets it wrong, that could easily tarnish Be's reputation (such as it is) too. ®
The Register breaking news

Computer gaming not a sport says Sports Council

When is a sport not a sport? When the English Sports Council decides it isn't, seems to be the answer. According to Edward Watson, at The Playing Fields, the English Sports Council would not even send it an application form when he applied to have computer gamings recognised as a sport. Watson said: "The method of our rejection was outrageous. They would not even send us an application form. At a minimum this is a pretty high handed and rude rebuff, at worst it is blatant snobbism, not to mention prejudiced." He did, however, receive this explanation from the Sports Council: "It seems clear that computer games could not meet the criteria in relation to physical skills, physical effort, physical challenge, nor indeed that relating to the essential purpose of the activity. It would not therefore be appropriate to send you an application form." But Watson says that he has competed in rifle championships at Bisley. "It is pretty debatable whether holding a rifle steady and squeezing gently on a trigger requires more effort than frantically scrolling your mouse around with one hand while simultaneously tapping away on the keyboard with the other hand." It's not cricket, is it? ®
The Register breaking news

Alpha chip fastest on planet claims Alpha vendor

The company that makes Alpha processors is claiming that the chip beats every other contender hands down in the SPECcpu stakes. But as famous English hooker Mandy Rice-Davies said apropos of a different matter completely, "They would say that, wouldn't they". According to Alpha Processor Inc (API), a company partly owned by Samsung and Compaq, API's 667MHz dual UP2000 system beats the nearest equivalent Unix box on both price and performance. API reckons that its system costs around $7,000 while the nearest Unix equivalent is around $60,000 for a base system. Yesterday, API demoed its systems, once more, at graphics fair SIGGRAPH 98. We expect the flak to arrive from Sun, HP, Intel (and Compaq?) any minute now... API has posted the benchmarks here ®
The Register breaking news

AMD suing FedEx and Japanese railway company…

Chip company AMD is sueing Fedex and the Nishi Nippon Railroad Co. The case was filed in the US yesterday and is the second case of weird litigation in four weeks. At the end of June, AMD filed suit against Singapore Airlines (Strange AMD litigation pops up from nowhere). What's going on? Hasn't AMD anything better to do than to sue transportation companies? ®
The Register breaking news

New CEO found for Compaq

Compaq is expected to announce next week that it has found someone to replace Eckhard Pfeiffer. The new CEO of the world's largest PC manufacturer is believed to be Peter Hellman – an industry outsider. Hellman, the former president and COO of TRW, the system integrator, is expected to be named leader of the Houston giant to coincide with its second-quarter results on 28 July. David Faber, a reporter on financial TV network CNBC, said yesterday: "Compaq has apparently decided its next CEO will be Peter Hellman." "Sources close to the search process tell me the…PC maker will give Hellman…the vacant CEO job," he added. Faber also mentioned an article which appeared in the Houston Chronicle on July 14 about a meeting between Hellman and Compaq. The Houston paper said Hellman was a "likely" candidate for the job. Hellman quit TRW in February during a top-level shake-up. Compaq will be following its rival Hewlett-Packard by appointing an outsider as CEO. Earlier this week, HP named ex-Lucent exec Carleton Fiorina as its new president and CEO. A Houston-based Compaq representative contacted The Register and issued the following statement: "Compaq has not discussed any timetable and we will not comment on speculation about possible candidates or when a new CEO might be named." ®
The Register breaking news

Qualcomm beats 3Com to Palm-cellphone debut

3Com CEO Eric Benhamou's comments earlier this week that his Palm Computing subsidiary is working on a Palm-based cellphone appear to be a little late. Phone maker Qualcomm already offers one: the pdQ Smartphone, available in 800MHz and 1900MHz versions. The phone looks like a standard cellular handset, but the numeric keypad folds forward away from the body of the phone to reveal a Palm III touchscreen. The CDMA-based phones are currently available now from a limited number of CDMA-supporting carriers in th North America, such as AirTouch. Apparently prices range from $500-1000, depending on the carrier. ®
The Register breaking news

Great Satan of Mayonnaise is Hellman

It's worrying isn't it? No sooner does the Great Satan of Haircuts disappear than he is replaced by the Great Satan of Mayonnaise, i.e. one Mr Hellman. It would be very, very hard to make it up. We only hope the Compaq rumour is true so that we can make hay while the Sun still shines... ®
The Register breaking news

Win95 lives – companies are slow to shift to 98

Windows 98 hasn't managed to displace Windows 95 - the earlier OS is still shipping in respectable quantities, and even seems to remain the version of choice for many businesses. The data comes from an IDC survey of OS shipments last year, and although Win98 was only available for the last five months of the year, its numbers still seem unexpectedly low. IDC reckons Win98 shipped 15 million units in 98, or 17.2 per cent of the total OS market. Win95 clocked up 51 million, or 57.4 per cent, out of a total market of 89 million. That gives Microsoft a comfortable 75 per cent or thereabouts via Win9x alone, so the numbers aren't entirely unhappy for the company. Lob in 11 per cent for NT and - oh yes - around 1.5 per cent for Win 3.11, and you can see that Microsoft's hold on the OS market is scarcely being challenged (Linux 2.1 per cent, says IDC). But Win98's failure to hit the spot entirely must worry Microsoft to some extent. The operating system is to a great extent just a clean-up of Windows 95, with the addition of a couple of bells and whistles, the most notable being the integrated browser. If you imagined a situation where Microsoft was able to just switch over production from 95 to 98 (Microsoft has repeatedly tired to imagine this sort of thing, but failed to win the OEMs over) then annualised the monthly Win98 shipments, you'd get 36 million, which of course is nowhere near the actual 1998 shipments of both flavours of Win9x. Corporate customers are usually reluctant to switch over operating systems quickly, because of support issues. The two operating systems are however so similar that this oughtn't to have been a major problem. Is it therefore the case that the integrated browser is a problem? IDC's numbers may be detecting a certain amount of resistance to Microsoft's integration policies, and although the shorter shipping time for Win98 will have distorted the data to some extent, the outfit says that the trend has continued in 1999 - Windows 95 lives, evidently. ®
The Register breaking news

Licensing drives MIPS Q4 revenue gains

MIPS Technologies has posted profits of $4.6 million on revenue of $17.8 million for its fourth quarter ended 30 June. Year-on-year, those figures represent an increase in revenue of 62 per cent, though no increase at all in post-tax profitability. The bulk of the revenue gain came from the company's licensing programme. With the end of the quarter, MIPS also completed its first year as a public company after being spun off from SGI. For the year as a whole, it made $71.67 million, an increase of 26 per cent on the previous year, leading to net income of $22.7 million, compared to $376,000 for fiscal 1998. Again, you can see how licensing its processor technology helped MIPS: in fiscal 1998 only one per cent of its revenue came from licensing -- this time round the figure was 17 per cent. MIPS now has a good array of licensees, most notably graphics company ATI, which is basing its set-top box reference design on a MIPS chip, and Sony, which used the same technology to power its robot dog (MIPS can't afford to be too choosy, after all). Almost all of MIPS' partners are operating in the embedded arena, which will always be more lucrative than the desktop CPU market MIPS originally targeted. That suggests a very positive future for the company, particularly if it can continue to expand the revenue it receives from licensing. ®
The Register breaking news

Euro listing to save ilion

ilion is considering floating its French subsidiary to boost the value of the company. The distributor is looking at ways to prevent further rival bids which have, in its opinion, until now undervalued the company. Floating the French business on the German or French stock markets would secure a more reasonable price for the company, said one ilion representative. "The company is being valued on the poor performance of the UK business," he said. "The French or German markets would value ilion on its European business, giving it a higher value." Nothing had been decided at the ilion camp, but the representative said the float would be "the logical thing to do." ilion remains vulnerable to competitors like Landis, which offered 114 pence per share to buy the company earlier this month. The ilion board rejected the offer as "totally unacceptable", saying the price per share undervalued the company. The ilion UK business has been fraught with problems this year – financial irregularities totalling £500,000 were discovered in May. A month later it lost its Cisco franchise while admitting sales in the UK were down on the previous year for the first six months of trading. ®
The Register breaking news

Record breaking Q2 for Citrix

Citrix has turned in a record-breaking set of financials for its second quarter. The period ending 30 June saw the thin-client software specialist increase turnover by 68 per cent to $94.4 million. Q2 98 turnover was $56.2 million. Net income for the period was $30.2 million, against $17.4 million for last year’s second quarter. Combined results for the first six months tell a similar story. Turnover for the first half of the year was up 70 per cent to $179.5 million, with net income of $53.6 million. ®
The Register breaking news

Freeserve float massively over-subscribed

If you applied for shares in Freeserve, you might not get as many as you thought you would. Demand for the shares has been overwhelming and brokers are talking about a real stock shortage and a tenfold over-subscription. The deadline for applications is 1pm tomorrow. Freeserve users were given first dibs on the shares, but the powers that be (Freeserve and its brokers) have reserved the right to decide on share allocations if the issue were oversubscribed. Freeserve says it will announce its decision on Monday, but would not comment any further. The controversy over the value of the company continues, with some brokers warning clients to keep a healthy distance. Miles Saltiel of Panmure Gordon told the Daily Telegraph that Freeserve was "deliberately creating an institutional scramble for stock". The shares, which have been hit by the news of AOL's planned free Internet access in the UK, will be sold at around 130-150 pence each, but Saltiel said they are only worth 60 pence. Freeserve made a loss of £1 million last year on sales of £2.7 million. ®
The Register breaking news

Pirate software create more woes for PC Science

Yet more dirty linen has been aired about PC Science, the Yorkshire vendor that went into receivership earlier this month. The company was using over a single copy of Microsoft Office on 100 systems, according to a report in the Yorkshire Post. Top staff knew that unlicensed software was being used at the company, despite being warned by an employee about the penalties they could face if discovered. The Yorkshire Post printed part of a memo written by a member of the IT staff warning PC Science directors in April. It read: "…you can see the number of PCs we are running unlicensed software on, namely: 149 desktop PCs and fileservers, around 97 per cent of which are running the same copy of Office." The author of the memo warned the directors that they would be liable for prosecution if the illegality was discovered. UK directors can get two years in prison and be fined for the offence. PC Science sparked an SFO enquiry this month and receivers KPMG have also moved in. These add to existing investigations by Trading Standards and the Office of Fair Trading. The DTI is also understood to be involved. Microsoft chose not to comment pending the outcome of the investigations. ®
The Register breaking news

Time to fight Web Ad Flab

There is now a name for those irritating Web ads that pop up unexpectedly when you're surfing. Flab. And highly appropriate it is too. Flab stands for Forced Link Advertising Banners – they lurk within some free Web sites and are almost as much of a nuisance as spam. But help is at hand, according to free.prohosting.com. It says that it has declared war on these cyber love handles by introducing a genuinely free site hosting service. Companies like Geocities and Tripod offer free hosting services provided that you allow pop up advertising to be linked to your site. "People hate coming across Web sites with the irritating pop-up banners and ads," says Bryan Crimin, president of free.prohosting.com. "Our research indicates that a Web surfer who happens on to such a site will likely close the offending pop-up window as quickly as possible and retreat to friendlier domains." Although the company's service is free, and without advertising obligations, they are not doing it purely out of the goodness of their skinny little hearts. Crimin hopes that news of the service will be spread by word of mouth by Netheads who dislike advertising. Then, Crimin says: ".. as they graduate on to bigger and better things (and Web sites) we hope that they will consider virtual domain hosting with our parent company, ProHosting." Now we understand. ®
The Register breaking news

Women are Ready2 surf

More women are online than ever before, now accounting for nearly 50 per cent of net surfers. It should come as no particular surprise then to hear that companies want to capitalise on this growing population, with sites and services designed for women. It being a well known fact that women are only interested in fashion, babies and marriage (ahem), Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) decided to address this gap in the market. Working with alleged styled gurus Susannah Constantine and Trinny Woodall, (of 'This Morning' fame) CWC is launching a new portal site called Ready2.com. When it launches in October, Ready2.com will include an ISP and easy access to 15 channels. For your surfing pleasure there will be: Ready2shop, Ready2wed, Ready2eat, Ready2divorce, Ready2play and Ready2read.. Half a million CD-ROMs will be given away on the cover of a major women's magazine, and on a book written by Constantine and Woodall. ®
The Register breaking news

Resellers selected for schools market

The government today named the 12 resellers certified to sell to the UK education sector. Schools Minister Charles Clarke announced the companies selected as National Grid For Learning (NGFL) certified managed services suppliers at the Stakis St Ermin's Hotel, Westminster. The elite few include Centerprise International, Elonex, Hugh Symons Group and IBM. But others, confident of victory only last week, missed out. "Schools will no longer have to make hand to mouth decisions about buying computer equipment. No longer will the risk rest entirely with the school. Nor will they be locked into contracts with a monopoly supplier for years," said Clarke. Almost 120 companies applied to join the scheme and were vetted by BECTa (the British Communications and Technology Agency). Clarke told the unsuccessful companies that the onus was now on them to improve quality and cut prices. "We will not tolerate learning institutions being charged excessive prices or having to settle for second best," he said. The chosen group will be recommended to educational institutions for the next twelve months of IT purchases. They will all provide kit, networking, and support and have "MOT" tests each year. A second round of tendering for managed services will start soon. The winners will be announced next April, said BECTa. The government aims to have all schools on-line by 2002. BECTa estimates 90 per cent of secondary schools are connected to the Internet. The full list of certified suppliers also includes Akhter Computers, Bull Information Systems, Clifton Reed Consultants, Comtec (Business Systems), EIS Kent, Research Machines (RM), Apple Xemplar Education and XMA. ®
The Register breaking news

Chuck's away at Western Digital

Western Digital has outlined its company re-jig and is hunting for a replacement to existing CEO Chuck Haggerty. Haggerty, the storage vendor's chairman, president and CEO, said yesterday that the company had completed its restructure and indicated he would quit the company by the end of June 2000. External applicants would be considered for his position, with a decision expected within the next six months, according to a company statement. "I have discussed my retirement with the board of directors over the last three years," said Haggerty. "The timing is now right to hand over leadership of Western Digital as our organisational restructure is complete and the company embarks on the diversification strategy and repositioning we have laid in place over the last several quarters." The structural change creates a worldwide operations and geographies structure, led by executive VP Matthew Massengil. It also includes a lines of business/research and development organisation, headed up by senior VP Russell Stern. Both organisations report directly to Haggerty. Each of the lines of business has to define its market, dish out resources forge business plans. The lines are: desktop, enterprise, audio/visual, appliance and services/software solutions. The geographies' responsibilities include field sales, customer and channel business management and channel marketing in each region. Worldwide operations include manufacturing, materials and supply chain planning. A new centralised customer operations group is taking care of sales, accounts and logistics. Haggerty joined Western in June 1992. He previously worked for 28 years at IBM. ®
The Register breaking news

Apple debuts iBook

Apple today announced its long-awaited consumer portable, formerly known by the codename P1 but now officially dubbed the iBook, as predicted by The Register back in April. Looking like a cross between Apple's earlier education-oriented portable, the eMate 300, and the iMac, the clamshell iBook will ship with a 12.1in TFT screen, full-size keyboard, 300MHz PowerPC 750 CPU, CD-ROM drive, 32MB RAM (expandable to 160MB), 3.2GB hard disk, two USB ports, and built-in 56kbps modem and 10/100 Ethernet adaptor. The notebook will also be Apple's first machine to sport an AGP graphics bus, through a 4MB AGP 2x ATI Rage Mobility graphics card. Like the iMac, the iBook has a built-in carry handle, and, like a cellphone, activates when the case is opened. And the power cable rolls up into the machine on a ratchet mechanism. The new "iMac unplugged" will ship in the US in volume in September (again as predicted here) in two iMac-style colours: tangerine and blueberry. Apple claimed the machine has a six-hour battery life. The pricing is good too. "The iBook contains features you'd find in a portable costing over $2000," claimed interim CEO Steve Jobs. "And we knew we could sell a bucket load of machines at that price," he boasted. Instead, the company will charge just $1599 for the machine. The machine also features optional wireless networking -- the so called AirPort technology, co-developed with Lucent. The AirPort add-in card connects to a built-in antenna and hooks the machine up to a base station via an 11Mbps RF link. AirPort cards will cost $99, the base station, which can connect up to ten iBooks, $299. A CardBus version of the AirPort card will be made available for existing PowerBooks. ®
The Register breaking news

Acer set to snap up IDT…

What about if Acer does not just buy Centaur WinChip business but the whole of IDT? (Story: IDT exits x.86, puts Centaur up for sale) Those are the rumours we are hearing, from normally reliable sources, as Acer diversifies its business away from chip manufacturing and into design. If the rumours are true it would give ALi, Acer's wing, an x.86 clone with one snap. It would bother Via, also a Taiwanese company, but could help propel Acer into the XC business it covets at one stroke. At press time, we were unable to contact Acer in Taiwan, and this is just a rumour, right? But our rumours have a way of turning into realities... ®
The Register breaking news

BT to exact huge price for international enquiries

A story in today's edition of Private Eye, a UK satirical fortunately, said that the price of people accessing International Directory Enquiries was set to shoot up. According to the magazine, the current flat rate price of 80 pence charged by British Telecom (BT), is set to rocket to £1.10 per minute for end users here in Blighty. Worse, said the Eye, employees on the service are having their unsocial hours rate cut. For anyone wanting to phone people abroad, this could be a very expensive situation. But hope is at hand. In the USA, for example, you can find out telephone numbers for the cost of a simple Internet dial-up. BT also charges money for people phoning 192 for local directory enquiries, but public pressure has just forced the telco giant to put its list of numbers online. ®
The Register breaking news

Rambus a yo-yo rollercoasta experience for share addicts

Rambus Watch After Intel's pre-emptive but predictive statement last Monday, we saw prices drop like pigeon's droppings, that is, of course, if pigeons can fly high... At the time we posted our post on Monday, shares were very high at over $110 but gradually a huge volume of shares (over three million) were traded). Yesterday (Tuesday), saw a slight recovery as the RMBS share price managed to rally to $99. On the message boards of investors, there was a huge hoo-haa in which even your humble Register got mentioned. So, for these very reasons, we have decided specifically to track the Rambus share price, on a once-per week basis. When we published our story back when that samples of RDIMMs would be massively delayed, we received much flak from investors in the product. Some analysts are still forecasting that Rambus is, in WSJ-speak, a long bet. They may well be right. The vengeance of Intel is long, too, and reaches into the smallest crevices of the IT industry. Morgan Stanley, late yesterday, re-iterated that Rambus is a strong buy. For people trading long, this has got to be true. Intel is, after all, the kind of company that doesn't like people treading on its tail. As this story was filed, Rambus' share price had risen to over $102.... ®
The Register breaking news

Szechuan Publishing's guide to…eating in pubs in East Mayfair

The hacks here are only a stone's throw from Oxford Circus where, to our dismay this morning, we saw six people dressed in Tropicana Bottles dispensing little cups of orange juice to the tourist masses. If there isn't a law against it, there should be. Oxford Circus attracts hordes of people at this time every year and there is a veritable mass of hucksters ready and willing to take advantage of their tourist dollars. What's worse, is that ye Olde Englishe Pubbe may be alive, but Oxford Circus is not necessarily the place to find it or goode Olde Englishe Fare. As residents round das Capital, we are, however in a position to give you, foreign tourists, valuable information about the drinking spots hereabouts. So here goes... The Old Monk This is only three or four doors down from Szechuan Publishing's offices and is a modern kind of a place with pine tables, good clean toilets and a bill of fare which is long. However, the food, while functional, is nothing special and probably merits the same star rating as the Clachan (above). The Masons Arms Two or three doors down from the Old Monk (above), is this place, which a little like Libertys, has one of those oak beamed fronts that might persuade tourists to enter therein. The Masons has an eatery above, but in our opinion, merits only one star in Szechuan's list of desirable places to have an English-style pub lunch. However, The Masons has a dingy ambience all of its own and the beers it serves are perfectly acceptable belowstairs. The Clachan This is an interesting pub just behind Liberty's, a London department store to which many people flock over summer. Billing itself as a Scottish pub (it isn't, it's a Nicholson's Free House), it also offers lunch fare, and at the bottom of the blackboard says the food is recommended by a San Diego newspaper. We've tried the food there, and although it's comparatively inexpensive, we would not rate it more than two stars. The Windmill Some might confuse the pub of this name, also off Maddox Street, with a place in Soho which had the proud boast during the Second World War that "it never closed". However The Windmill offers excellent food and beers in both smoking and non-smoking rooms, at a very reasonable price. All of The Register's staff who have eaten and drunk there, vote it highly. We give it four and a half stars. The French Horn and Black Flag We get confused sometimes to the title of this hostelry. It is just off Maddox Street in the delightfully named Pollen Street. The staff are unfailingly helpful, the beers are just fine, and although we haven't tried the food, it's probably OK too. On the basis we haven't tried the food, we'll have to award this one two stars too... Next week...Soho proper pubs... ®
The Register breaking news

Apple QuickTime TV takes aim at RealNetworks

Apple today took the fight for control of the Internet streaming media market to RealNetworks with the launch of QuickTime TV. So far, Apple's attempts to promote QuickTime as the standard for Internet multimedia have largely been aimed at Microsoft. True, the company has often taken digs at Real for the streaming specialist's so-called 'server tax' -- in reality, the price of its server licence -- but Apple's efforts have been directed at building widespread support for QuickTime, especially on non-Microsoft operating systems. The deal here has centred on offering the underlying streaming technology as open source software. The plan here is to encourage the generally anti-Microsoft Linux and free software communities to adopt the technology. And, unlike rival offerings, QuickTime Streaming Server is dirt cheap because it's not licensed on a per stream, but a per server basis. Indeed, not so long ago, Apple announced an updated version of the software designed to make it even easier to port the software from its FreeBSD roots to Linux on a range of non-Mac platforms. Essentially, Apple's moves promote QuickTime as a standard, and helps make Linux appear an even more attractive alternative to Windows NT. It also makes the MacOS more attractive, since the MacOS X version of QuickTime Streaming Server comes will a rather nice, easy-to-use interface. Even if only a few companies shift from PCs running Linux to MacOS X Server, Apple can notch up a success. In a sense, Apple's strategy apes Microsoft's own: giving product away to ensure it's dominance. Apple, however, can get away with it because it not only lacks Microsoft's huge marketshare lead, but because it's target is, well, Microsoft. The QuickTime TV launch, on the other hand, targets RealNetworks. QuickTime is undoubtedly a better Internet multimedia solution than Real's RealSystem G2. What Real has, though, is top-notch content, and it has it in spades, primarily by being the first company to tackle Net video and audio streaming. QuickTime TV brings to Apple the opportunity to offer the same level of quality content. Indeed, it has already signed up a host of top players, including Disney, the BBC, Bloomberg, HBO and Fox. The approach here encourages users to choose QuickTime as the best way of viewing online streamed media. That, in turn, persuades more content providers to support the technology (as does the inexpensive nature of the server software), which means they spend more money on third-party QuickTime authoring software (unlike Real, Apple isn't forcing anyone to use its own authoring apps), so Apple makes more money from the licences it sells to companies like Adobe. QuickTime TV also leverages relaying and rebroadcasting technology from Akamai Technologies, a small company devoted to developing streaming backbone systems, so that should ensure the network's playback performance is as good as, if not better, than Real's. RealNetworks has over 80 per cent of the streaming market, so it was a company Apple would have to attack sooner or later. Right now, Apple's own share is too small to worry Microsoft, which will continue to focus on promoting Windows Media Technologies as the alternative to RealSystem. That leaves Apple to get on using its open source strategy to attack Microsoft, and QuickTime TV to go against Real. And if it's canny, it may just find itself in the dominant position before its rivals even realise what's going on. ®
The Register breaking news

BT cuts off Nottingham

Oops. A suspected internal power failure at two of BT's exchanges has left the whole of Nottingham phoneless today. BT executives thought that the problem was under control at 3PM today, but many Nottingham numbers – including that of the City Council - were dead. Having acknowledged that it had and ongoing problem, BT said that its priority was to get the service back up and running. After that, it could start an investigation into the cause. At press time, 90 per cent of service had been restored and the remaining people were expected to be back on the phone inside an hour, BT said. A BT spokesman said that the downtime could have affected other services, such as cable. "The telephone system is so big and interconnected that there really is no such thing as an isolated fault," he said. The Register has heard (unconfirmed) reports that some parts of Derby have been disconnected too. How very embarrassing. Tee hee. ®