4th > August > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

AMD's Sanders puts two fingers up to Intel

Pictured here is Jerry Sanders III, CEO of Advanced Micro Devices, on the front page of Dresden Dialog, AMD's local Fab 30 newspaper. He is putting two fingers up at somebody, we're not sure who -- but we suspect it's probably Intel. This gesture, in the UK at least, is an impolite way of saying "go away" and is the equivalent …
Mike Magee, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Taiwan blackout wreaks fab havoc

A seven-hour power black out in Taiwan last week meant a catastrophic and costly lack of silicon production for local manufacturers. That could mean a hike in the price of memory and further exacerbate the shortage of TFT panels for PC manufacturers, already hit by under-supply. The power down, which at first raised fears that Red China was about to invade Taiwan, was instead caused by a pylon falling down. But the kind of damage caused to fab production has illustrated the vulnerability of worldwide production of semiconductors. According to a source, 15,000 expensive wafers were trashed because of the loss of power. That amounts to around 760 dies per wafer, meaning as many as 11 million 64 Megabit chips went down the Swanee. That equals around 1.5 million 8 x 64 or 700 16 x 64 modules lost to the world. But the catastrophe does not end there. There are finished wafers held in bonded stock and those need to be stored at a constant temperature in a clean room environment. Taiwan is a hot and very sticky place without air conditioning. Further, said the source, the disaster has further ramifications. He said: "You can't just turn a Fab on and off like a light switch. It will take at least two weeks for the manufacturers to ensure they are producing stable products again." All DRAM manufacturers are booked solid for the next month, and the source claimed this meant prices will rise dramatically. Even though August is a quiet month, there will be a knock on effect. Manufacturers in Taiwan include UMC, TSMC, Vanguard, Mosel Vitelic and a host of others. Further, the island is already responsible for making a large number of TFT-LCD panels, and these will have been affected by the power down too. There is already a serious shortage of LCD screens which has caused most PC manufacturers to report a 20 per cent shortfall of notebooks during the first half of this year. Although some have speculated that the power out will put Taiwan in a bad light, this is a little unfair. Across the world, silicon depends on good supplies of water and electricity. As we revealed last year, even giants like Intel are subject to these factors and do not necessarily have backup systems if there is power or water failure. ®
Mike Magee, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Motorola announces ‘revolution’ in IC lithography

Motorola has developed two techniques that can achieve feature sizes on integrated circuits below 100 nanometers using IC masks in both electron projection and extreme ultra-violet type lithography, the company announced yesterday. Motorola claims to have "demonstrated the capability of yielding" large area masks "capable of processing practical chip sizes". The electron projection set-up consists of a thin membrane with an overlaid patterned surface to scatter electrons and create an image on the wafer. The technique for extreme ultra violet (EUV) mask processing involves a reflective mask blank upon which a thin absorbing material is patterned to create an image. "The industry has gone about as far as it can with today's chrome on glass technology using phase shifting and optical proximity resolution enhancement techniques," said Joe Mogab, manager of Advanced Process Development. "We think this new technology will allow us to finally go below 0.1 micron level processing." Motorola expects these new technologies to yield masks to print very small-featured ICs "early in the next millennium." Because of the "revolutionary nature" of the technology, "it will take time to develop an advanced manufacturing process capable of handling this new approach," the company notes. Mogab noted that Motorola is unlikely to manufacture its own masks. "Our objective is to develop proficiency in the fabrication of these masks. Ultimately we will transfer the processes to mask suppliers," he reckons. ®
Thomas C Greene, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

AMD and its Dresden Sandpit: Part II

The good Doktor Hans Deppe, the AMD Geschaftsfuhrer at Fab 30, made it clear, straight away, that he wanted to be open about what the bunnies were doing at the factory. To that end, he said: "It's AMD's policy not to behave like Intel has -- we're very proud of what we've achieved so far." And he was pretty open, although …
Mike Magee, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Iridium crisis nears

Motorola yesterday put on a brave face to stress that Iridium, the troubled satellite cellphone service, can survive -- even as it emerged one of Iridium's creditor's, Chase Manhattan Bank, is demanding repayment of an $800 million loan. Motorola is intimately tied to Iridium's fortunes -- it founded the now spun-off company, in which it holds an 18 per cent stake, and has guaranteed the Iridium's debt -- so it's clearly keen to stave off Iridium's collapse into bankruptcy. That said, last month Motorola admitted it would end its support for Iridium if other investors didn't act to help out both financially and by supporting the cellphone company's restructure programme. Yesterday, Motorola president and COO Robert Growney told analysts that negotiations with other Iridium partners had gone well. "We have had good constructive discussions in the past two weeks," he said. Details of what was discussed were not disclosed, but you get the impression there's a lot of jockeying for the best deal going on as partners attempt to minimise their own risk and maximise others' for whichever possible outcome for Iridium's future -- bankruptcy or restructuring -- materialises. That certainly appears to be the case with Chase Manhattan. According to Iridium filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the bank is claiming Iridium has defaulted on its $800 million loan, arranged by Chase and Barclays, and it wants Iridium to force Motorola to cough up a $300 million load guarantee. It's that debt guarantee provision that underlies Motorola's demands for more support from its fellow Iridium investors. The concern here is that all this financial brinkmanship is masking the real issue: can Iridium, as a business, be made to work? All the battling suggests that, despite Growney's claims, many if not all of Iridium's investors have decided that the answer to that question is a negative, and all that remains to do is limit the financial impact of their investment. If they're unwilling to continue with the project, Motorola's statements to date will force it to cut its losses too, and that's it for Iridium. The crisis point will come on 11 August when Iridium hits the next deadline on its debt repayment, delayed from 30 June, and before that 31 May. Chase's move, made on 29 July, suggest that it has lost patience with the company and will not support a further extension. ® See also Satphone giants face the Buck Rogers bust
Tony Smith, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

BOL UK gives away books – today

Anyone out there fancy a freebie? Between 3:30pm and 5:30pm BST this afternoon (UK time) Books Online UK is giving away free books to all comers. The giveaway is being promoted as a celebration of the company's fist six months online, but it should have the handy knock-on effect of distracting attention from the better known Amazon.com. Is there a catch? Well, visitors to the site are limited to a choice of five titles, which are non returnable. Any of these grab you? Patricia Cornwell's Point of Origin, Alex Garland's The Tesseract, Nick Leeson's Rogue Trader, Chris Stewart's Driving over Lemons and Shawn Levy's Rack Pack Confidential. The books are promised free of all charges including post and packaging costs. But BOL will not accept responsibility for books lost in the post. Bookworms up for a spot of literature -- or, for that matter, any of the best-sellers listed above -- should point their browsers here. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

What was last month's DRAM price hike all about?

Analysis July was a confusing month for those poor unfortunates whose lives revolve around the spinning top that is the DRAM market. Distributors saw prices drop in the first week, continuing the year's downward trend. They nestled at what felt like rock bottom, with everyone wondering just how low they could go. But this demoralising incident was quickly followed by a sudden -- and somewhat unexpected -- rise in price. By the end of the month, modules were up around 35 per cent, and prices seemed to be lying in an uneasy no-man's land of almost, dare we say it, stability? There, we said it. In July, Dane-elec reported rises of around ten per cent on chips, with 64Mb chips jumping to between $5 and $5.50 by the end of the month. But while this sounds like the news everyone had been waiting for, in reality prices were still around 50 per cent lower than they had been in January. The module market hit £21.50 in the first week of July, according to Microtronica sales and marketing director Steve Clark. He said prices rose about 35 per cent in the following two weeks, and have since stayed stable. Feeble recovery Yet this is still quite a feeble price recovery -- and a far cry from the £50 cost of modules at the start of this year. The industry now seems to be waiting to see what will happen next. Most distributors seem confident that prices will stay stable at between $5 and $6 -- but that could just be wishful thinking. Joe D’Elia, principal analyst at Gartner Group, sees no cause for celebration just yet. "I think we will see prices staying stable to slightly down until the end of the year," he said. "The majority of manufacturers are still losing money –- and only the most efficient, such as Samsung, are actually getting a higher price than their manufacturing costs. "Prices won't start going up until there is a balance between supply and demand –- which we don't predict will happen until next year." Prices started rising in July after rumours that chip manufacturer Micron was having problems with a factory in Singapore. Although Micron moved to squash these rumours, it looks like it might have been enough to nudge prices upward. Protective ordering Companies were startled into protective ordering, according to Richard Gordon, a Dataquest analyst. "People were double ordering to make sure they had enough," he said. "It was a chicken and egg scenario – these rumours caused brokers to put their prices up, people ordered more because they thought there would be shortages, and prices went up again." At the same time, there was talk of companies such as Micron stockpiling stock. This also helped to push prices up towards the end of July, according to Gordon. But in a rare show of unity, a number of key analysts are all of the opinion that it would be wrong to put too much faith in the events of last month. Gordon said: "July is the middle of summer –- there are often odd things going on at this time. "I would caution against taking the price rises too seriously, but they can be used as an indication of what's going on." Silly season Dataquest senior analyst Evelyn Cronin -- pulling no punches -- summed it up thus: "It's the silly season." And D’Elia said: "You can't look at the spot market pricing and predict rises or falls -– it has a life of its own." "At the moment, there is still oversupply in the market. And as long as that is the case, we will not get a balance," said Gordon. For August, prices should stay stable. Anthony Williams, purchasing manager at components distributor CCM, said he was expecting a rise of around $1 on 64Mb DRAM chips during August, with prices likely to stay stable. "I can't see prices dropping again -- prices in the Far East are still going up. But I haven't heard about any shortages yet," he said. Alan Stanley, general manager at memory distributor Dane-elec, said 64Mb chips, eight of which are needed for the average module, are currently priced at around $5.50. Stanley said he expected this to rise to $6 in August, and then stabilise. All of which means companies will have to hang on until next year to see any major price rises. And care should be taken by OEMs -– especially when putting in big tenders. "Around the middle of next year we should see the market flip, and this balance will cause prices to rise," said Gordon. Prices should stay stable until the end of this year -- at around $5 or $6 per chip. But analysts say they will probably fall slightly next year before they pick up again. The only piece of good news on the horizon is that shortfalls are now thought to be likely next year -- but don't hold your breath, we're talking about the end of next year. ® See also: Taiwan blackout wreaks fab havoc DRAM prices will rise further claims Micron exec DRAM: comeback or false dawn? Micron hits back at DKB report and hints at legal action
Linda Harrison, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Confusion reigns over Celeron 100MHz FSB

A few days ago we published news that Intel would deploy a 100MHz front side bus (FSB) in Q3. (Story: Intel stops wavering on 100MHz Celeron FSB) That elicited a response from the Intel PR spinola department which puzzled us. It goes a lot like this:"Don't forget that currently 810 chipset DOES support 100MHz FSB because it's also used with Pentium II and Pentium III processors (for "value" systems). So even though we also use 810 for Celeron - the Celeron processor itself is and will remain (at least for the near term) at 66MHz FSB. Also remember that since Celeron is mostly a retail consumer focused processor and consumers buy mainly on MHz, there isn't an immediate need to introduce a higher FSB! Now, at some point in the future we realize that it will be a need to implement 100MHz FSB on our Celeron Processors - but it's just not now." Hmm...so how about the following Intel slide we got our mitts on then, we asked. The spinolas are puzzled, but we can vouch for the fact that this is a 100 per cent genuine Intel Insider slide. And don't forget that when Intel says "not in the near future", that near future can come sooner than anyone thought, like in Q3... ®
Mike Magee, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Microworkz signs $300m ISP deal with AT&T

Cut-price PC vendor Microworkz has signed up AT&T as its new ISP following the company's fall-out with its original Internet access provider, EarthLink. From 15 August, anyone who buys a Microworkz iToaster Net access device will get free access to the Internet -- or at least for the first 150 hours they're online each month. Buy any other Microworkz PC and you'll get 150 hours of Net access for $11.95 per month, the company pledged. The company did not specify how much extra users would pay if they exceeded the 150 hours per month limit. Microworkz said the contract with AT&T will cost the company $300 million. The deal only lasts three years. Assuming an industry standard margin of 20 per cent -- and given the low cost ($199) of Microworkz' boxes, its margins are likely to be significantly lower than this -- the company will have to sell over 7.5 million iToaster during that three year period to pay AT&T, let alone actually make any money on the product. That's significantly more Internet devices than it managed to sell by bundling in Net connection through EarthLink. The ISP claims it gained only 1000 new customers through Microworkz -- and has yet to be paid by the PC vendor for providing them with Net access. That's why its suing Microworkz. The latter is countersuing, alleging its business was damaged by poor service on EarthLink's part. ®
Tony Smith, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Cyber war threat to UK set to explode

Global cyber warfare is set to cost companies more than $20 billion this year as the threat of Internet generated attacks increases, according to London-based mi2g software. At a technical seminar scheduled to take place tonight, security experts will argue that more needs to be done to counter the growing corporate threat from cyber warfare through viruses, hacking and clock forwarding. According to mi2g, UK businesses are becoming more and more concerned about the increased threats to their network security. mi2g estimates that the global cost of three high profile virus attacks -- Melissa in March, Chernobyl in April and the fatal ExploreZip in June -- has already exceeded $2.5 billion. And it warns that companies and organisations simply don't have the budget to counter future industrial attacks. "The key question is how does one plan for business continuity in the coming years as organisations become totally dependent on IT networks and this type of economic terrorism continues to grow geometrically," said DK Matai, founder of mi2g software. Expenses and time lost are rising much faster than budgets, he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Barbie PC makes computing kids' stuff

All you action men get ready out there, toy maker Mattel is launching the Barbie PC. The customised machines, manufactured by Canadian-based Patriot Computers, will also include a Hot Wheels PC for the boys. The silver Barbie PC comes with pink flower mouse, floral monitor and speakers. The Hot Wheels version is blue and gold with the custom car flame logo and has a steering wheel accessory. Priced at $599, the computers are aimed at the niche, low-cost children’s market. Printers will also be available. The PCs will have a 333MHz Celeron chip, 15in monitor, 56Kbps modem and Windows 98. The Barbie bundle will also include a digital camera. Software such as Barbie Super Sports and Barbie Riding Club will be included. The boys will get Hot Wheels Stunt Track Driver software. Mattel said the Barbie computer move was part of its goal "to create innovative, fun products that keep girls interested in the computer". "Children today are embracing technology at a much younger age," said David Haddad, president of Mattel media. "And we believe that it is extremely important to make computers accessible and affordable to the mass marketplace." The PCs will be available in the US from September through Canadian-based Patriot. There are no plans to bring the hardware to the UK just yet, said a Mattel representative. ®
Linda Harrison, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Who cares about video-conferencing?

Videoconferencing is set to simmer on the back burner for some time yet because it is not viewed as essential to business productivity. It is also seen as the preserve of the corporate elite, according to a survey conducted by Cahners In Stat Group (CIG). The rest of the mobile data market has entered a growth period, the company says, thanks to wider availability of laptops and the removal of traditional barriers to access such as performance, coverage and cost. CIG surveyed nearly 500 senior executives from a variety of company sizes and industries. It found email access, Web browsing and Web clipping are the key applications driving the growth of mobile access. Push content services will not fare so well. As many as 90 per cent of respondents expressed a high level of interest in wireless email services, and 80 per cent in wireless Web browsing. However, speed of access could prove a stumbling block. Over three quarters of those surveyed wanted wireless access speeds equal to or faster than those of fixed-line services. Fewer than 40 per cent indicated any interest in video-conferencing or CD quality music applications in next generation wireless equipment. Rebecca Diercks, a director at CIG, said: "Video-conferencing will not develop into a mainstream portable application until it becomes more prevalent in wireline devices." ®
Lucy Sherriff, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Channel gets £6.5m fillip from Compaq

Compaq is to pump an extra £6.5 million into ChannelPaq, its channel joint marketing scheme. Just when its resellers were starting to feel out in the cold, Compaq has moved to reassured the channel that it is not out of favour. It may be selling direct from September with its Presario range, but Compaq says it wants to see resellers expand their businesses. The PC giant has therefore announced the cash injection alongside an online marketing support site for the channel. This is designed to help resellers create customised marketing campaigns. Resellers will also get a sneak preview, one month in advance, of Compaq's forthcoming marketing activities. This will help channel partners plan better for upcoming marketing activity, the vendor said. The programme offers cheaper training courses, rental equipment, quarterly awards for resellers and discount cards for all registered sales staff. Nick Offin, Compaq channel business unit director, said: "By offering additional incentives, discounts and training to better support our channel, we continue to bolster our commitment to our channel partners to help them grow their businesses." Compaq also said it had changed its channel accreditation to six "premier leagues", based on how much Compaq kit resellers shift. Dealers will compete for quarterly awards and receive bonus points when they move up in their league. One can only hope that the channel will restrain from kicking the referee and jumping into the tub together afterwards. Earlier this week, Compaq also announced a deal with Lynx technology for desktop maintenance services. Lynx and ComputerAid will take over responsibility for Digital's old multi-vendor maintenance business, offering service and support for hardware with out-of-date warranties. ®
Linda Harrison, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

AMD to intro non-legacy PC push

Chip manufacturer AMD will next year introduce a non-legacy PC initiative. That news emerged during a trip to AMD's Dresden fabrication ("fab") plant. The initiative, starting next year, is aimed at assisting motherboard manufacturers to produce boards devoid of legacy devices such as the ISA bus. Intel announced earlier this year that it, in conjunction with Microsoft, would push for a similar scheme -- the so-called Concept PC. AMD will doubtless have Microsoft's assistance in its plans. The two companies have traditionally been close and their relationship has not suffered from the strains between Microsoft and Intel. ®
Mike Magee, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Diamond launches ‘Celeron’ AGP card

Diamond Multimedia today rolled out its new Stealth III S540 Xtreme AGP graphics accelerator, based on the S3's Savage4 Xtreme chip and featuring the chip company's texture compression technology. The card will be sold at retail for less than $130.00 in the US, and begin shipping in September, the company said. It features 128-bit processing, 166MHz memory clock and engine clock speeds, AGP 4x downward compatible technology and 32MB of SDRAM memory "for amazing graphics performance", the company gushed. With S3's hardware texture compression will enable the card to store 240MB of textures in 64MB of system memory, and support resolutions up to 2048x2048. Capabilities will include single-pass multi-texturing, 32-bit rendering and stencil buffering. In addition, second-generation motion compensation and sub-picture alpha blending enables the Stealth III S540 Xtreme to provide hardware-accelerated DVD playback with Diamond's bundled DVD player application. The Savage4 Xtreme is "the ultimate price/performance solution for the value segment of the PC graphics market", according to Michael Buchanan, S3's director of desktop marketing. "Based on this competitive advantage, Diamond's Stealth III S540 Xtreme is an optimal solution for consumers who want higher performing productivity applications, faster 3D games and more graphically intense Internet browsing." In other words, a video Celeron. ®
Thomas C Greene, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Tech Data snaps up Globelle

Tech Data has completed its buy-out of Globelle Corporation, doubling its presence in Canada. The deal was completed through a merger of Globelle, Tech Data Canada and GLP Acquisition Corporation – an organisation created for the acquisition. The company will operate as Tech Data Canada. The distributor, which bought Computer 2000 last year, said it would use Globelle’s reputation in the distribution channel to help it grow and push further into the North America market. Tech Data previously owned 82 per cent of Globelle. Rick Reid, president of Tech Data Canada, said he was pleased with the integration process so far. "We are ahead of the original schedule and anticipate total integration of all systems by the end of August," he said. The acquisition was first announced on 1 April, with the take-over bid estimated at C$37 million (US$25 million). It gives Tech Data Canada around 500 staff. The company also announced it had been made an IBM International Business Partner (IBP) – distributing desktops, notebooks and servers. "IBM is making an important industry statement with this programme," said Steve Raymund, Tech Data chairman and CEO. "They clearly recognise that technology resellers are essential to expanding their global reach." The scheme will allow Tech Data to sell to resellers that currently buy direct from IBM through the IBP programme. The US agreement is expected to be worth over $6 billion for the next three years. Tech Data is creating a global reseller programme as a result of the appointment, due to start in Autumn. It has also established a global team under Dan Ahlstedt, Tech Data vice president of international marketing. ®
Linda Harrison, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Is Intel pressuring mobo maker rumour returns

A veil of silence has descended over whether or not Intel has put pressure on Gigabyte and Asustek to slow down on their K7 motherboard activities. One rumour -- and we stress this is only one of the rumours -- is that Intel asked the Taiwanese firms to slow down on developing solutions for the up-and-coming Athlon. Another rumour goes along the lines that Gigabyte and Asus bowed to Intel's pressure. But the third rumour is that both companies turned round to Intel and gave Chipzilla the Sanders Salute. AMD said today it couldn't comment. Intel was unavailable for comment. Gigabyte and Asustek couldn't be contacted. So make of that what you will... ®
Mike Magee, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

3Com, others sued over Palm Pilot patent

Rhode Island firm TTools took legal action against 3Com, Ideo Product Development and Palm Computing for an alleged breach of patent. The company, which describes itself on its Web site as predominantly female-owned and led filed the suit on Monday. Tom Hazzard, TTools VP, said the company manufactures a range of three styli with dual functionality under the Throttle brand name. TTools alleges 3Com and the others infringed this technology with the Palm Point stylus. ® See also: Big Blue sued over mice -- twice
Mike Magee, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Palm licenses Planet.com WAP browser

Palm has licensed Planet.com's WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) Web browser, but curiously the move appears to have been made more for the benefit of third-parties than itself. According to Palm, the deal was made to allow it to sub-license the browser to Palm platform licensees, in particular those taking the PDA technology into the cellphone arena. Pressure to do so is likely to have come from US cellphone manufacturer Qualcomm, which is already developing a PalmOS-driven CDMA mobile handset. Given WAP is going to play a major part in the evolution of cellphone handset functionality, it's no wonder Qualcomm reckons WAP support needs to be built into the PalmOS. Palm itself claimed that it would not be supporting WAP in its own devices -- instead it will stick to its own Web Clipping technology. Previously, it had been rumoured that Palm would drop Web Clipping in favour of WAP. Of course, Palm is smart enough not to rule out such a swap, which could well happen once WAP becomes as widespread as its advocates predict. In the meantime, by supporting WAP Palm at least ensures its telecoms-oriented licensees aren't limited in the devices they offer. Licensing the PalmOS is now a key part of Palm's strategy to broaden acceptance of the platform, and the last thing it wants to do is put potential licensees off. ®
Tony Smith, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Scrap the Internet – it's bad for you

A little-used newsgroup that calls for the annihilation of the Internet has received a lyrical endorsement from a Net user in Norway. Arve Kirkevik said people should walk mountains instead of being hooked up to the Net. He also called for TV to be scrapped. He aired his feelings in the newsgroup alt.destroy.the.internet. "Ten per cent of the Internet users develop Internet addiction disorder," he wrote. "Man is not meant to sit in front of a display unit all day long, therefore TV should also be abolished. "Walking tours in the mountains is a far better spare-time occupation and infinitely better for your health. It is said that Internet connect people, but instead of meeting each other, alienation from real contact with people is the outcome." Since alt.destroy.the.internet was created last month, it has only received three postings focused on destroying the Net. Seventeen were related to the pursuit of topless sport for women. The rest had nothing to do with anything in particular. ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

ISPA knocks UK e-commerce bill

The government's attempt to introduce e-commerce legislation has been branded as "overly complicated" by industry leaders in the UK. The Internet Services Providers Association (ISPA) -- the UK trade organisation for ISPs -- said too much emphasis was placed on policing the Net and not enough was being spent on e-commerce itself. According to ISPA, 20 pages of the e-commerce bill deal with enforcing laws on the Net. Only three pages relate to the legal recognition of electronic signatures and contracts. "What should have been a sensible move forward for the economy has been further delayed because some of the contentious issues seem to have lost any chance of cross-party support," said Tim Pearson, chairman of ISPA. "It appears to be an overly complicated bill that still seems to be suffering from the echoes of the key escrow debate," he said. While ISPA is in favour of "sensible law-enforcement measures" it believes some of the government's proposals are simply "too strong." It will publish a formal response within the next two months. ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

EarthWeb snaps up Sysopt and CodeGuru

EarthWeb has forked out $12.4 million in cash and stock to acquire SysOpt.com and CodeGuru.com. CodeGuru.com is an online service for Windows developers and offers directories of technical resources and source code among other services. SysOpt.com is one of our favourite hardware review sites. Both acquisitions are reported to be of strategic importance to EarthWeb. The acquisition of SysOpt.com will help extend EarthWeb's presence in the hardware sector while CodeGuru.com brings a new audience to the table for EarthWeb's existing advertisers. Together, the new acquisitions increase Earthweb's inventory by around 12 million pages per month. EarthWeb -- which provides business-to-business online services to the global IT industry -- was recently ranked the third fastest growing company within Business Week's Info Tech 100. ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Europe set to overshadow US for e-commerce

Europe has the potential to overtake the US and become the largest Internet trading centre in the world, according to analysts at Fletcher Research. In a report published today, Fletcher claims that 121 million Europeans will be spending EUR17 billion (£11.3 billion) online by 2004. Net users in Germany and the UK will dominate the market accounting for more than half of all adults online. But with credit card use in Germany currently hovering at around 12 per cent, e-commerce suppliers will have to develop new payment methods to get round the problem. The authors of Internet Europe: Connecting the Consumer warn that unlike Europe's "single market" the virtual marketplace in Europe will be fragmented and not just a single "honey pot". "Europe has the potential to become a larger Internet market than the USA, but the complexity of creating successful Internet business models across the continent will mean the marketplace will develop very differently," said Caroline Sceats, Business Analyst, Fletcher Research. "Established off-line businesses have a real advantage in Europe, they have the corporate funding and local distribution channels to set up Internet businesses with truly localised services. Providing a one-size fits all solution just won't be enough to compete effectively," she said. Key findings of Internet Europe * Fletcher forecasts that 121 million adults in western Europe will be online by 2004 -- a growth of almost 400 per cent in five years. * Countries will use the Net in different ways depending on what technology they use. Italians and Scandinavians will use wireless connectivity through mobile phones, Benelux consumers will use digital TV and cable access. * Leading Net companies Europe are more likely to be existing brands rather than start-ups from nowhere. * European Net users rate convenience and product information more highly than price when shopping online. * Operating costs in Europe will be higher. To reach two thirds of Europeans online in their mother-tongue a Web site needs to be translated into five different languages. ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Compaq loses top slot in UK PC market

Dell sold more PCs than any other vendor in the UK in the second quarter, according to preliminary IDC figures. Which means the demon of direct sales stole the number one spot in the UK from under the nose of Compaq. The UK market grew almost 22 per cent against last year’s second quarter. Dell took 19 per cent of the market for the period, showing 43 per cent growth. Dell nudged ahead of Compaq, which secured 16 per cent of the UK market and lagged behind with only 0.6 growth in shipments. This was a reversal of last year's second quarter, where Dell had 16 per cent and Compaq 19 per cent of sales, according to IDC figures out today. IBM took the number three spot, with around seven per cent of the market. However, it showed the highest sales growth at 75 per cent. Packard Bell stood in fourth place, with six per cent, and Hewlett-Packard took fifth place, with just under six per cent. Both HP and Packard Bell showed higher growth than Dell, with 54 and 71 per cent respectively. Tiny Computers clung onto sixth place in UK sales. This is the first time Dell has taken the largest chunk of business in the UK in any quarter. According to Andy Brown, IDC analyst: "The main reasons for the turnaround revolved around the internal problems at Compaq." "In addition, things have not been going as well with Compaq's channel as in the past, and Dell managed to capitalise on this indecision." Dell did very well in selling to the SMB market, according to IDC. Compaq fell down on notebooks, with poor sales in the whole of Europe, but stayed strong in the server and corporate market. "It's very much a two horse race at the top of the UK market," Brown told The Register. "If Compaq managed to re-organise internally, it could possibly make a comeback. "It is still a very volatile situation." As reported last month, Compaq is still the world leader in PC sales, with shipments up 32 per cent in the second quarter. Dell saw worldwide sales jump over 50 per cent for the same quarter. ®
Linda Harrison, 04 Aug 1999