AMD cited strong seasonal consumer demand for PCs for record Q4 sales of $968.7 million. Net income was not bad either, coming in at a respectable $65.08 million for the quarter, equivalent to $0.43 per share. This makes a nice change from the dismal set of figures posted by AMD for Q3, 1999 the semiconductor maker, lost $105.5 million on sales of $662.2 million, equivalent to a net loss, or $0.72 per share. It’s also rather better than Q4, 1998, when AMD reported sales $788.8 million and net income of $22.3 million. But the company has some way to go before it climbs completely out of its financial hole. For the full year in 1999, AMD delivered record sales of $2.85 billion, 12 per cent up on 1998, and a net loss of $88.9 million (1998: - $103.9 million). Considering that 1999’s results include a one-time after-tax gain of $2592 million from the sale of Vantis Corporation, it looks like AMD’s financial position deteriorated in 1999. But the company remains upbeat, on the back of a huge Q4. Athlon, AMD’s flagship CPU, lies at the heart of the 46 per cent sales growth from Q3 to Q4, contributing more than half of the "greater than $300 million sequential sales growth," CEO Jerry Sanders says. Processor sales were up 67 per cent from Q3 and a more modest one per cent from the previous record Q4 in 1998. AMD sold 800,000 Athlon CPUs in Q4 (and more than one million for the year). Add in K6 production and total PC processor unit shipments grew by 35 percent to more than 6 million units, a new record, AMD claims. The company says it will have 100 per cent of AMD Athlon production on 0.18 micron technology by February, up from 80 per cent this month. Other roadmap goodies include an 850MHz Athlon this quarter, closely followed by a 900MHz screamer. AMD also says it is on target for the release of K8 at the end of 2001. The company aims to raise its ASPs (average selling prices) to $100 in the second half of the year, although that rather depends upon whether Intel will let it.®
Transmeta may have surfed through most of the tough questions raised yesterday – about bugs (yes folks – potentially, there'll be twice as many) – compatibility and performance, but what about Chipzilla itself? There hasn’t been an Intel clone which hasn’t raised the attention of the Santa Clara lawyers, and some of these have kept us entertained for years at a time. But Transmeta seems braced for the prospect. “You can’t stop them suing you,” an executive told us. “But we’ve built a clean room processor, and we don’t have ex-Intel employees working for us.” Are they sure, we wonder? In any case, here at The Register we fancy Intel will prefer to deploy old-fashioned FUD, and this is where the mere prospect of Intel litigation could be far more powerful than radioactive WordPerfect attachments. This threat will be most powerful between now and the summer – when the faster, PC notebook Crusoe TM5400 seriously begins to ramp. If you’re an OEM, planning a new product line is always expensive – and not half so when it means cannibalising your own lucrative Intel/AMD mobile lines, which regardless of any SpeedStep wizardry, may suddenly look like a poor buy. And the more you have invested in Chipzilla silicon, the more you’ll have to lose – just ask Michael Dull, of Texan assembler the Dull Computer Company. So where’s it likely to fall? We suspect the most likely candidate will be Intel’s Added Value instruction sets. Recalling the trouble AMD had in supporting MMX instructions – it belatedly had to negotiate a license – SIMD could prove a tougher nut to crack. Rather ominously Intel here describes SIMD as 'The Future of Programming Technology' – and stop smirking at the back, there. And right now Crusoe – or more accurately, the two initial versions Crusoe’s application-facing software engine the CMS – supports MMX but not SIMD. At its coming out party, Transmeta’s CEO Dave Ditzel said Transmeta was "examining SIMD closely". We’re sure it is. As FUD goes, lack of SIMD compatibility could run and run. Of course we know that bugger all actually uses SIMD, but much of the launch presentation played up Windows compatibility and the performance and compatibility of browser plug-ins. It even went to the trouble of citing Chipzilla’s Craig Miller – director of the home products group – "StrongARM is headed is to power-sensitive applications ... we’re striving for a platform that doesn’t compromise on plug-in support." While only boy racers may fret over the small Crusoe performance hit over top of the range Intel processors, no one wants a crippled web experience now, do they? ® Transmeta launch coverage A Linux, Transmeta Web-enabled Diamond Rio for CeBIT? Transmeta could face Intel legal challenge No home for Rambus at Transmeta Transmeta OS tweaking auction Transmeta chips to run Linux, Windows, attack Intel x86
Curiously under-reported yesterday was exactly which flavour of Linux forms the core of Transmeta’s embedded Mobile Linux. This comes as part of the package for its offering to would be OEMs of Internet appliances. Recall that of the two chips, the little one - the single-watt TM3120 – is being shipped with a stripped down distro in 32MB, which Torvalds said amounts to roughly 64MB of code at current compression rates. Enough to run Netscape, and the usability gizmos added Transmeta such as a pop-up keyboard and support for Palm's Graffiti. Given Linus professional impartiality towards the distros he helped spawn – he often cites choosing Transmeta as confirmation of this – we think a little odd no one thought to find out yesterday. But rest assured folks, we've smoked it out. And the winner is … Debian. But if you’re a stockholder of Red Hat, don't send your class action seersucker to the dry cleaners just yet. Being Open Sourcetm natch, Red Hat wouldn't have seen a penny under the usual licensing conditions, and of course the collection of Transmeta add-ons – which includes power management too – gets released right back into the open source code cloud. Torvalds also ruled out the prospect of this package evolving into any kind of Transmeta distro. A nice Transmeta chap also intimated that the choice of distro had been the subject of fierce debate: "carpet" and "blood" weren't mentioned explicitly, but we kinda get the picture. And it's really rather sweet. Not only is this a vote of confidence in Debian – it’s as near to being sanctified as a distro can get – but it might close the gap between the high technical regard in which Debian is held, and the general punters’ ignorance of its existence. And isn't it touching that the blessing should go to the only distribution which is incapable of making its authors obnoxious, millionaired IPO'd superbrats? Debian is a collective organisation, not a private company. Don't even bother looking for the ticker. ® Transmeta launch coverage A Linux, Transmeta Web-enabled Diamond Rio for CeBIT? Transmeta could face Intel legal challenge No home for Rambus at Transmeta Transmeta OS tweaking auction Transmeta chips to run Linux, Windows, attack Intel x86
Right. Where did that horse go? The Register cornered a contented-looking Taiwanese contingent at yesterday’s Transmeta party, but they were unable to explain the clip-cloppetting we all heard. But we rapidly agreed that this was the sound of the (now Six) Dramurai trotting into the distance.
Let's get this right. There are no favoured operating systems in Crusoeland. Transmeta has no instruction set of its own. There’s nothing to write to. And that code morphing engine hasn’t any preferences either– so don’t think that's been tweaked to any particular operating system. And oh no - certainly not Linux, even though we've got its creator on board, helping to design our code morphing engine. That's quite a plateful of holy agnosticism, from a company that can in theory emulate any chip on the market, and that boasts a software engine versatile enough to be tweaked to favour any OS on any of those platforms. Here at The Register we can only take so much piety on an empty stomach – so we weren't too surprised – in fact, we were relieved – when this proposition came unstuck within about half an hour of the start of Transmeta's coming out party yesterday. The Crusoe wonder chip only does about 25 per cent of the work of a typical microprocessor in the hardware, leaving some heady and tempting possibilities for favouritism toward particular hardware platforms, or even operating systems within those platforms, to be written into the software. That's not some underhand plan – it's the big advantage of owning the first software programmable chip – one that only its owner can program. But if you were wondering how long Transmeta could retain its position of Swiss neutrality, then wonder no longer. Of the two processors - and remember as a customer you don't automatically buy the rights to tweak it yourself – the TM5400 has been already specifically tweaked to favour, er… Windows 9x, Transmeta said yesterday. The software portion of the 700Mhz piece, which is aimed at 3lb to 4lb notebooks, had been optimised to boost 16-bit operations. And quite deliberately too, said execs, because Windows 9x is reliant on 16-bit code. The user interface remains 16-bit, and readers with long memories will recall how, long ago, Microsoft's spin doctors obliged its programmers to rename the Win16Lock() system call to the more agreeable sounding Win16Mutex(): the bottleneck which Andrew Schulmann used to demonstrate that the new Windows was just as suspect as the old Windows in the I/O department. To hackers, Win16Mutex() became the proof point that the Win9x kernel wasn’t re-entrant. Or in other words, this is what should blame when you try and format a floppy disk in Windows 9x, and you can’t do much else at the same time. Now hacking around such atrocities is well within Transmeta’s rights. But what we’re seeing here is the most lucrative aspect of Transmeta’s business model tumble out into the daylight. What Transmeta can demand is exactly what happens in the ASIC world – as cores are gradually enhanced by licensees. Only it's in software and it's accelerated into Internet timescales – and the IP rights remain, we can only assume, in the Kremlin. So do you want an ARM7 specific core with tweaks for Cirrus Logic graphics? We got it right here, bud…but it'll cost ya. Whether this sticks depends on how much control Transmeta wants over its tweaks, and it's too early to say just now, and how far licensees will pay for them. But the moral is, if you like, that a truly programmable chip can take a lot of layers out of that vertical cake. Rue the day when you let the software guys in the door boys. They'll eat your lunch. ® Transmeta launch coverage A Linux, Transmeta Web-enabled Diamond Rio for CeBIT? Transmeta could face Intel legal challenge No home for Rambus at Transmeta Transmeta OS tweaking auction Transmeta chips to run Linux, Windows, attack Intel x86
Chip giant Intel has complained to the US International Trade Commission (ITC) that competitor Via is taking patent liberties with technology it owns on the P6 front side bus. That follows a series of legal actions Intel took in the second half of last year, alleging that Via and some of its subsidiaries infringe its patents. The ITC received a complaint from Intel on January 7th, in which it was asked to investigate whether Via's use of the technology was a breach of a 1930 US tariff law. The body will begin investigating whether Intel has a case in the next few weeks, reports said. Intel is, quite openly, paranoid about Via, which last year acquired x.86 manufacturers IDT-Centaur and Cyrix. At a press conference held at its last Developer Forum last September, senior executive VP Pat Gelsinger said that it did view Via as a threat, and in some ways considered it to be a bigger threat than its traditional rival AMD. The first legal actions began against Via before it acquired microprocessor technology from Cyrix and IDT. Via claims that a cross licensing agreement it made with National Semiconductor, which formerly owned Cyrix, allows it to use elements of front side bus technology. However, there does appear to be something more of an agenda to this dispute than first appears. Via was instrumental in promoting the PC-133 synchronous memory standard, a technology that Intel rejected in favour of Rambus. However, in the end, Intel has been forced to accept market realities. At the beginning of this week, Intel formed a new memory consortium group excluding Rambus, and fell into the arms of JEDEC, an industry body which it had studiously ignored previously. The legal actions Intel is engaged in are a response to Via's increasing market share, and lawyers are likely to be rubbing their hands in glee at the piles of dosh they will make from the dispute. However, Intel's move to invoke the ITC is not without its little irony. If the US government body agrees with Intel, it would effectively ban Via chipsets from entering the US. Perhaps Via had better start manufacturing them in the country, and fast. ® Intel kicks out Rambus from Seven Dramurai Intel vs Via: Trumpets sound in battle of Jericho Intel Santa Clarifies Via legal action Intel sues FIC, Everex as Via legal action mounts
A computer company manager and his wife were kidnapped at gunpoint, driven to the firm where they both work, and forced to open the doors. The robbers grabbed £250K-worth of chips from the safe of SPD, yesterday's Evening Standard reports. Mission accomplished, they drove the couple back to their home in Alton, Hampshire and fled. ®
Corel's aggressive Linux alliance-building programme - six deals in five weeks - shows no sign of slowing down, with the Tuesday announcement of Corel having taken up to a 30 per cent stake in Ottawa-based OE/ONE.com for an undisclosed sum. No wonder Corel thinks it has only done five deals, according to its Q4 financial statement, although that was issued only hours after the OE/ONE deal. The avowed objective of this latest alliance is to deliver a lean Linux appliance platform. Now, who should be running this start-up but Eid Eid, who a few years ago was head of Corel development. One could reasonably question the company's direction here, given that it was developing the NetWinder, its own Linux-based appliance platform, until it sold it to Rebel.com. But as that deal resulted in Corel getting a 25 per cent stake in Rebel.com, the outfit now qualifies as one of those alliance partners. And then there's GraphOn. Corel took a 20 per cent stake in the company last year, and is integrating GraphOn Bridges, which allows Windows apps to be run on remote servers, into Corel Linux. But in December 1998 Corel sold its (i.e., Corel's) jBridge software to GraphOn. The alliance network is twisted, tangled and more than a little incestuous - maybe Mike Cowpland should get out more and meet people. Corel has a history of rather unsuccessful efforts to break into new territory, but it is a trier. There was a very early and brave attempt at a Java office suite which turned out to be too slow. Likewise CorelVideo (acquired by simply.com) was not a great success, nor its PDA and NC efforts. However, the Word Perfect acquisition now looks good, and Novell must be kicking itself for having disposed of its Corel shares before their dramatic rise. Corel still owes Novell $8 million from that deal, as at the end of its FY in November, but reduced the amount owing by $8 million during the year. The Corel NetWinder project taken over by Rebel.com uses ARM processors for its Linux machines, whereas Newlix (a deal with Corel was on announced on 12 January) is using Intel processors. LinuxForce, a professional services group in which Corel has an undisclosed stake, specialises in Debian: the deal was announced on 22 December. The S3 Professional Graphics Division partnership for 2D/3D graphics for the Linux desktop was announced on 16 December, the same day as the partnership with Creative, and a day after a deal with Bitstream for font support for Linux. What are we to make of this? Is it as straightforward as the company avows: building its Linux business? Most of the alliance partners are small start-ups, some with historical links through former Corel people or former Corel development products that did not make it. There are so many start-ups in the Linux world, including some bigger and healthier ones, that perceptions and clout will prove to be important in the survival stakes. In this respect, Corel as an alliance partner may not be a bad thing. Cowpland said in the quarterly results analysts call that Corel will not be directly helping alliance partners with sales calls, but might provide some marketing assistance and use of the Corel help-desk set-up. The future of Corel's Linux alliance programme will ultimately depend on Corel's performance. With only four profitable quarters in four of the last eleven quarters, the situation is still a little shaky, although the quarter just reported will calm some nervousness. It appears likely that Cowpland has found it easier to develop the Linux business by doing deals with small start-ups that have Linux fever, and want a stake in what they achieve. It is certainly getting hard to recruit competent Linux developers without incentives that would need to be too big for a medium-sized company to integrate in its compensation packages. If even one of Corel's Linux investments is a success, the company could easily find itself dwarfed by its child. Since even MSNBC has been enthusing about Corel's Linux distribution recently, it looks as though Corel is doing something right. Tax rebate produces surprise profit Corel made a surprise profit in its Q4 (ended 30 November), having issued a profits warning on 22 December. It turns out that the company obtained a delayed tax rebate from Revenue Canada of $14.5 million for some losses and R&D investment tax credits for the 1993 to 1995 tax years shortly after its profits warning. One might well wonder why it took so long, and whether there was some political component to the timing of the rebate, since it seems rather unlikely that Corel had wind of the timing. Apart from the windfall, the results were in line with what had been suggested earlier. The quarter's results now show revenue of $61 million ($243 million for the year) and net income of $4.6 million ($16.7 million for the year). Q4 sales were down 15 per cent compared with the previous quarter (down 1.5 per cent for FY99 compared with FY98), apparently because of Y2K effects which were said to have hit North American retail sales of WP. Linux sales in the quarter yielded $3.2 million from just three weeks in the stores, with a street price of $79. Cowpland said that Linux costs had been less than $2 million, so that the operation was already in profit. Graphics product sales held up, because they were primarily into the SOHO market which it was believed was less affected by Y2K purchasing decisions. Expenses were still regarded by the company as too high, despite expenditure having been reduced some $50 million over the last three years, primarily as a result of closing US operations. Expenses were higher for the cost of goods, advertising, selling and general/administrative costs. Gross margins are expected to rise to nearer 80 per cent from around 70 per cent in the next year, and the cash should be collected in 60 days rather than the reported 76 days for the quarter. Cowpland said there were no plans to lay people off to reduce overheads. Corel ended its FY99 with $18 million cash, down from $24 million at the beginning of the financial year. CFO Michael O'Reilly has agreed to stay as a financial consultant until the end of June, but would not disclose the terms, other than to say that the arrangement was "mutually beneficial" and that he would be working on some projects and the transition. It sounds rather as though he may have sold some Corel shares at an optimal moment, and may be interested in a different lifestyle. CEO Michael Cowpland said that the financial position was now restored, with a $47 million improvement in the bottom line. He noted that Corel was now "financially among the top Linux players" and stuck with his forecast that half Corel's revenue would be from Linux products in five years' time. Cowpland would not make a forecast for future Linux sales as he said there was insufficient data so far. Indeed, he would not be drawn on any forward projections, which suggests some caution as he approaches the hearing before the Ontario Securities Commission next month. Corel has achieved delivery targets, Cowpland said, and praised the engineering side for this. Linux downloads were now number one, he noted, and Red Hat had been displaced at number two by WP8 for Linux. Corel's download rate was two to three times that of Red Hat, Cowpland said, and it will be interesting to see how long this holds up. Certainly Red Hat has upset some users with its support policy over KDE, which is probably good for SuSE in Europe. It was noted that since the end of the quarter, Linux sales had continued at a similar rate. Corel's Q2 would see the WP office suite for Linux, Cowpland said, with new graphics products in Q3. FY99 was certainly an extraordinary year for Corel, as was reflected in its share price, which oscillated between C$3.05 and C$64.65 when Linux was white hot - a remarkable twenty-one fold spread. Yesterday it closed up 50 cents, at $20.562, having touched $24 during the day. ®
Intel pulled down pages which showed references to some up and coming chipsets only minutes after they were posted, cheating many readers of the chance to see information about unannounced products. The first time we posted the URLs, Intel took down the pages only moments after we noticed them. On the second occasion, after we had found fresh references, the pages were up for a little longer, presumably because Chipzilla thought it had fixed the problem. We were able to see and take notes from the pages before they disappeared for the second time, so can report on what was contained in the two documents. We can't publish the whole lot, because clearly that would be a breach of Intel's copyright... Both related to software installation for the following chipsets: The 810, the 820, the 840, the 430TX, 440BX, 440DX, 440EX, the 440GX, the 440GX AGPset, the 440LX AGPset, the 440MX and the 440ZX AGPset. The "unannounced" chipsets alluded to in the documents are the Solano, the Timna, the Greendale, the 810-M, the Colusa and the Tehama. The first document makes references to added support for Windows 2000, using the Intel installation utility and to a number of INF files, including ones for Colusa, Greendale, Tehama, Timna and Solano sets. The software also offers support for Microsoft's Windows Millennium beta OS. The first document, over four weeks old, indicates that beta testing on the Solano chipset, which supports PC-133 memory, is far advanced. Our understanding is that samples of this chipset will be delivered to Intel customers in the next week or two. The Greendale and Colusa chipsets are also clearly in an advanced stage, judging by the revisions it has already undergone. The second document adds little more information to the first, except to confirm a high level of integration for USB in the Solano chipset. An Intel representative confirmed yesterday that the company could not comment on unannounced products. ®
Apple CFO Fred Anderson's prediction that the company would achieve double-figure growth during its first quarter of fiscal 2000 proved accurate yesterday when he announced profits of $183 million on revenues of $2.34 billion. Those figures represent increases of 20 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively, on the same period last year. Once again, Apple sold off a heap of ARM shares, though for once the sale did little to inflate the company's net profit. Some $101 million of ARM shares were shifted, offsetting a $6 million restructuring charge and a $90 million "special executive bonus" -- Steve's LearJet, in other words. All that led to a surplus of $5 million, taking the quarter's profit from $178 million to $183 million. During the period, Apple shifted some 1,377,000 Macs, in increase of 46 per cent year on year. The total number of systems shipped includes over 700,000 iMacs and 235,000 iBooks. In other words, 68 per cent of Apple's revenue is nominally coming from the consumer space rather than its traditional professional marketplaces. While that's good for Apple's attempts to remodel itself as a consumer brand, it does mean it's being forced to operate in the toughest sector of the PC market, which probably explains why its gross margins were down from 1999's 28.2 per cent to 25.9 per cent. Increased component costs -- in particular, DRAM -- inflated pre-Christmas air freight charges and weaker-than-expected sales of MacOS 9 were also highlighted by Anderson as factors pulling down Apple's gross margins during the quarter. Apple sold over 350,000 Power Mac G4 machines, thanks to a rather better supply of PowerPC 7400 (aka G4) processors from Motorola during the quarter. That said, sales would have been higher had Motorola fixed the 500MHz speed-limit bug and produced sufficient 500MHz CPUs during the period. Anderson refused to comment on 500MHz G4 availability, so it's still unclear when Apple will ship its proposed 500MHz machine. Meanwhile, the megaHertz gap between Mac and Wintel continues to widen. Looking ahead, Anderson said Apple's recent tie-in with US ISP Earthlink, which will see all US Macs pre-configured to access the Net via Earthlink, should generate $25-35 million of gross profit for the company over the next year. The belated release of the company's next-generation notebook, codenamed Pismo, should grow its professional portable sales. The release of Apple's PalmOS-based handheld should add another new revenue stream to the company's business. ®
So what did Steve Jobs gain for announcing to the world that he was no longer Apple's interim CEO, but the position's permanent incumbent? In a jaunty release, the company confessed it had offered up to its saviour a Gulfstream V light aircraft (retail price: approx. $40 million) and the right to buy ten million Apple shares. Jobs, you may recall, got rid of his entire Apple stock but for a single share not long after engineering the sacking of Gil Amelio and assuming the company's pilot seat. Indeed, he only kept the single share because of promises he'd made previously that he would always remain an Apple shareholder. Amelio himself was a keen aviator, and had previously come up with the wheeze of renting his own aircraft to Apple for the company's executive transport needs. And don't forget Apple board member and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's own avian passion, which turned to anger when San Jose airport recently refused to allow him to take off -- for which he is now suing the city. Interestingly, Larry's choice of winged steed is also a Gulfstream V. Jobs salary will continue at $1, said Apple. But since $40 million of aircraft over the two and a half years Jobs has been Apple CEO translates to $16 million a year, if you figure that in salary terms he's not doing at all badly. And don't forget the paycheque he picks up every month from Pixar, which should keep the vegetarian CEO in mung beans and tofu for the foreseeable future. To be fair to the lad, Jobs has turned Apple round from a position that few pundits believed it could recover. But why maintain the 'comedy salary' routine? Like the 'interim', does Apple really think it's fooling anyone here? ®
There were some funny moments at an Intel press conference held in the gruesome Edwardian Suite at Le Meridien the other night. But not that many. At the presentation, which was well attended, with a clutch of analysts and a gaggle of British hacks, Intel started to show a brief video which seemed to be suggesting that using SpeedStep mobile technology would allow you to spend more time with your kids. This one made us giggle a bit, because senior executive VP Pat "Kicking" Gelsinger has quite a few kids, and even though he must be worth millions upon millions, does not spend nearly as much time with them as he wants to. After the giggles started, the video was hastily brought to a close. The combined masses of hacks, however, did not spot the real SpeedStep story, which instead was scooped by our own managing director, who came along to the press conference with us. He's a user of notebook technology, and afterwards chatted to some of the third party vendors, who were showing off their wares to the press. He was prepared to pay for a machine using SpeedStep technology there and then. While many vendors will sell notebooks using SpeeStep, he was told by one vendor to wait for another three months, at which time Intel will intro a new and much better and faster version of the technology. He was told to wait for this newer rev. One small curiosity emerged from the press material. Intel appears to have re-named the front side bus (FSB) to the processor side bus (PSB) as part of this announcement. What can be the meaning of that, we ask ourselves. ®
Intel is investing £90 million in a 10,000 server farm which will come online in Q2 this year. The sever farm sited at Winnersh, Reading will employ 170 people and offer server space for small businesses who have little resources for supporting e-business. Intel chose the site over Amsterdam and Frankfurt, the decision being influenced by the site's proximity to Heathrow Airport, according to today's Financial Times. Intel vice president Mike Aymar said: "Our location in the Thames Valley will offer fast access to an established internet infrastructure that services the continent, international financial institutions and global carrier points." Intel estimate that of the number of servers required by 2005, only four per cent have so far been deployed. Ecommerce minister Patricia Hewitt said that the investment would "provide [a] vital infrastructure and support for UK businesses." Hewitt's comment was echoed by the head of the south east England development agency, Anthony Dunnet, who said: "South-east England is the world's most important region outside the US for the IT and telecoms industry." ®
The movie industry's battle against the DeCSS continued this week with the launch of two lawsuits against website owners providing the DVD decryption utility online.
The government is passing the buck over a string of embarrassing IT failures in the direction of the private sector. Many of them were implemented under the private finance initiative, which gives the government an exit route away from the flack it has been taking. Among the high profile system failures have been in the Passport Office, immigration, National Insurance, the Benefits Agency and as we reported yesterday, £30 million spent by the MOD on junk projects. The Computer Software and Services Association has said it will conduct a study into the government's large scale IT projects to identify common causes of failure and whether these are common to the public and private sectors. Cabinet Officer in charge of the review Ian McCartney said in the Financial Times: "Suppliers share responsibility for ensuring that projects are delivered on time, on budget and provide the promised services improvements. Both sides suffer when things go wrong." See also: MOD blows £30m on junk projects
Updated RealNetworks has won the latest round in its legal tussle with streaming media 'video recorder' software specialist Streambox. Following a setback ten days ago, when US District Judge Marsha J Pechman refused to grant RealNetworks a preliminary injunction against Streambox products on the grounds she needed more time to decide the issue, RealNetworks has now been granted that injunction. RealNetworks had already been granted a temporary ban on Streambox's Streambox VCR, which converts realtime streamed RealMedia data into discrete files that can be played back at a later date, Ripper, which converts RealMedia files into MP3 format, and Ferret, which locates streaming media channels. RealMedia is a proprietary file format. But the victory was mixed -- the Judge threw out a request to ban Ripper, which Streambox is now selling again from its Web site. The latest ban prevents Streambox marketing and selling VCR and Ferret product until RealNetworks' copyright infringement case against it comes to trial and that trial is completed. That point is unlikely to be reached before this time next year. RealNetworks alleges Streambox's software is harmful to its business, and infringes both its copyrights and intellectual property rights. Streambox claims its software is legitimate and doesn't violate any of RealNetworks' RealPlayer licensing terms. ®
Linux support and services specialist - and one-time supposed Red Hat acquisition - Linuxcare this week registered its decision to IPO with the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).
AOL may have near tripled its quarterly profits but traders fear growth will fall when the Time Warner merger is completed. The world's leading ISP saw profit increase from $86 million to $224 million thanks to the growth in online shopping, rising advertising revenues and increased membership which now stands at 23 million. AOL has grown from making a $499 million loss in the 12 months ending June 1997 to profits of $92 million last year. Analysts reckon that growth in the merged AOL-Time Warner will be around 30 per cent rather than the 80 per cent AOL has enjoyed recently. ®
Lou Gerstner wrote to IBM employees yesterday saying: "As I see it, we have two quarters - 180 days - to prove that the second half of 1999 was an aberration, not the beginning of a trend." His concern about the rather miserable results that IBM turned in this week - revenue down nearly 4 per cent in the quarter compared with the year-earlier quarter and just a 7.2 per cent growth in revenue for FY1999 ($87.5 billion) was in fact better than current expectations. He had made gloomy remarks in October at the end of Q3 about the anticipated downturn resulting from Y2K. Net income was down 11 per cent on the quarter, with net income for FY1999 of $6.3 billion, up 7.7 per cent on the previous year. In the end, the results bettered expectations by six cents, largely because of better expense control. The outlook for Q1 is for earnings to be flat or slightly down, but Q2 is expected to pick up. The forecast for the present FY is that earnings will be up 18 per cent on 1999. Gerstner's remarks probably influenced the pre-trading markup of nearly $4 on Instinet overnight, and an additional $3 in early trading today, to $122. This is still some way below the 52-week high of a shade under $140. IBM seems to be doing well with its e-business, with revenue up 60 per cent for the year. However, revenue for the Americas was down 4 per cent, and for EMEA down 15 per cent, but Asia Pacific was up 12 per cent. Hardware revenue dropped 11 per cent (but was up 5 per cent for the year), although Netfinity, ThinkPads and RS/6000 mid-range increased "significantly". Storage declined as a result of competitive pressure, with the exception of Shark. So far as S/390 was concerned, MIPS shipments declined 38 per cent, and the AS/400 suffered from weakness in the ERP sector. Personal systems revenue and profit declined, partly related to component supply and memory cost. Global Services, after allowing for the sale of the IBM network to AT&T, was up only 2 per cent for the year-earlier quarter, but made 11 per cent for the year. This was clearly Y2K-related, with John Joyce (named as CFO two months ago) noting in the analysts' call that some 10 per cent of global services' work had been Y2K related. The slack is however likely to be taken up with additional e-business services and emerging product offerings. Nonetheless, 35 per cent of IBM's pre-tax profit comes from services. IBM is increasingly running up against HP, Andersen and EDS as it does VC investments in start-ups through its next generation initiative. Software revenue also grew overall by 2 per cent for the quarter and 7 per cent for the year, although middleware was up 8 per cent for the quarter. IBM defines its middleware to be WebSphere, MQ, DB2, Lotus, Domino, Tivoli, and SecureWay. AIX has apparently been doing well on the RS/6000 S80 enterprise servers, and the IBM Linux initiative has been accelerated. IBM's cash at year end was nearly $9 billion, with debt of $1.6 billion. It is always surprising that interest rate fears usually affect tech stocks as much as the others, even though relatively few high-tech companies have net debt, and many stand to gain from higher interest rates. Currency fluctuation had a significant impact in 1999 because of the fall of the Euro against the dollar. ®
AMD's share price soared to the dizzy heights of $47 in after-market trading after the company announced quarterly results yesterday evening. When Wall Street opened this morning, the share price was $441/2 a rise of $31/2 on yesterday's closing price. That is likely to make Friess Associates very happy bunnies. The company signed an SEC form last week showing that it had nearly eight million shares in the firm. Figures about AMD's Q4 market share are hard to come by. Mercury Research estimates AMD took around 17 per cent of the CPU market in Q4, but AMD's own internal estimates indicate it mopped up 20 per cent of the desktop sector in Q4, sources close to the company told The Register today. AMD's medium-term goal is to gain 30 per cent share of the worldwide CPU market on desktops. The server and mobile markets are problematical, the same source said. ® See also AMD upbeat on Q4 sales record Investor snaps up eight million shares