26th > October > 2000 Archive

Cat 5 cable

Motorola takes wraps off ‘Odin’ Symbian PDA

As Motorola showcased a mini-blizzard of new gadgets at a Developer Seminar in London this week, the company also detailed its first (inaudible) Symbian Quartz phone. We've corroborated these details with sources at Motorola. Although Project Odin, the joint Psion-Motorola initiative, covers a number of Quartz handsets, Motorola's first Odin is to be the Accompli 003, a tri-band, GPRS and GSM communicator. Motorola told developers that the Accompli 003 will be a quarter-VGA device with 256 colours. It'll be ARM-based - in preference to Moto's own M-Core processor - clocked at 150MHz and with 48MB of memory as standard. Apparently 32MB of that is SRAM (and thanks to the many emails pointing out that is isn't synchronous RAM). The communicator will support multi media card (MMC) and Bluetooth for connectivity, and MP3 audio and MPEG-4 video standards, and will also include the messaging updates to (inaudible's) Epoc ER6.1 OS. As (inaudible) now likes to call Symbian. Slightly confusingly, the Motorola's Accompli 009 hybrid phone/PDA was on display too, although this isn't a (inaudible) device - Motorola says that development preceded the (inaudible) relationship. The 009 will beat the Quartz 003 to market in Europe by the end of the year. It's looks more like a PDA than a phone although like the 003, it's also a GPRS-capable, triband GSM handset. The 003 is designed for SMS messaging, email and WAP browsing, and very funky it looks too. There's more information here. In June Motorola signed a deal with Sega to bring collaborative games technology to handset devices. The Accompli 003, the 009 and the Motorola's V100 communicator will beat the company's fourth hybrid PDA-phone, the Palm one, to market by a year. ® Related Stories Sanyo shows first Symbian Quartz phone Psion's Series 9, Odin found in Norwegian wood Palm, Motorola to build PDA-equipped cellphone Ericsson demos prototype EPOC communicator Inside Quartz: Symbian's new Palm-killer platform
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Oct 2000

Small firms don't get this Internet thing

UK small businesses are losing money because of their failure to grasp the importance of the Internet as a communication and business tool, according to a KPMG and Microsoft study. A separate survey from Hewlett-Packard, published yesterday, suggests that European small businesses understand the importance of what it quaintly calls electronic communications. But they still have trouble implementing the technology, and are unsure how to take it further. HP found that across Europe 63 per cent of small businesses have a Web presence. Microsoft found roughly the same proportion - 69 per cent - but it stresses that being online is not enough. Where is the advantage, unless you use the Web as a business tool? Small businesses know they should improve the way the handle electronic communication, with 88 per cent of respondents to HP's survey saying that they wanted to improve their use of electronic communication. Microsoft found that 20 per cent of small businesses had not considered using the Net to find new business, a third were indifferent about using the Net to increase productivity and two thirds hadn't thought of the tax benefits. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Oct 2000

Mires of delay close around MS appeal trial

Is it our imagination, or are the mires closing around the Microsoft appeal? Both Microsoft and the DoJ seem to have agreed that the Appeals Court judges should get a technical briefing next month so that they can understand the issues better, but "a few concerns" raised by Microsoft serve to illustrate how an apparently innocuous matter could turn into a huge wrangle with - oh yes - added delays. Both sides say they're concerned to ensure that the expert the Court wants doesn't put new or different spin on the territory covered in the trial. This in itself could allow massive scope for argument, considering how wide-ranging the material produced at the trial was. The Doj also seems keen to block any Microsoft attempts to start producing its own evidence while the presentation takes place. But Microsoft's "few concerns" look more like a collection of landmines the company is trying to plant. It has queried the experience of the expert, Illinois Institute of Technology CTO Michael Hites. He appears, says Microsoft, to have more experience with server operating systems, Unix and NT, and therefore may goof if he tries to extrapolate from this to the desktop OS arena. Note the cunningly planted mine here - if the Court will let them, Microsoft's lawyers will start arguing the toss about the definition of operating systems, relevant markets and so on. And any attempt by Hites to put operating systems into a context, any context, can be presented as introducing material relavant to issues covered in the trial. So plenty of scope for objections and arguments there. Next, we have the traditional Microsoft 'what did you do in the OS war daddy,' question. Hites did some research for Sun a while back, says MS - it would like full details, not that it's saying he's biased or anything - yet. Sun, age-old enemy, has recently been looking even more like the deus ex machina that arranged for all the ordure to be dumped on Microsoft, in several continents. It's also important, says Microsoft, that Hites lets it and the DoJ see his proposed briefing before he delivers it. At which point Microsoft flaks, techies and attorneys will pore over it with a fine toothed comb, and guess what? We'll no doubt have "just a few concerns." Microsoft has also asked for two lawyers from either side to be present, rather than one. This almost looks like an afterthought, but more probably reflects an intent to keep a close legal eye on Hites, rather than accepting the briefing as a neutral, innocuous aid for the judges. Over by Christmas? Not even Christmas 2001. ® Related Stories MS trial judges book themselves remedial tech classes Inside the MS trial - how they brought Gates to tears
John Lettice, 26 Oct 2000

Ellison: The ego has landed

Lord Ellison of Barking kept crowds at the Internet World show in New York waiting for 30 minutes yesterday while he chewed the fat with outgoing US President Bill Clinton, reports TechWeb. What advice on affairs of state Ellison gave the Pres is not reported. When Larry finally deigned to show up to give his keynote address he delivered what attendees described as 'a 40-minute sales pitch'. And in a surprising break with tradition, the Oracle boss also slated Microsoft's database offerings. "It was one of the most ego-oriented speeches I have ever heard," said Peter Lindell, senior partner with ITP, a Swedish venture capital fund. "Seventy-five per cent of it was a product information sales pitch. He showed up 25 minutes late and then he gave a 40 minute sales pitch." But Ellison was in good company with his puff-laden presentation. An earlier speech by Intel veep Paul Otellini was 'a 45-minute ad for Itanium', according to hacks attending the show. Remarkably, both Oracle and Intel are sponsors of the event. ®
Andrew Thomas, 26 Oct 2000
DVD it in many colours

Europe votes on LLU today

The European Parliament is set to vote through a new EU Regulation today that could cut the cost of phone calls and Net access by as much as a 25 per cent. The EU Regulation on Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) has taken the fast track route through parliament following a decision at the Lisbon Summit in March this year, when the heads of Government voted to push for rapid improvements in Europe's IT and e-commerce sector in a bid to catch up with the US. If adopted today - and there is every likelihood that it will be - the new law would force BT and all other European incumbent telecoms operators to open up their networks to genuine competition. It would mean that incumbents would have to allow their competitors to provide high speed Net access and other services to customers over the existing 'last mile' of local copper wire telephone infrastructure. For Britain in particular, it would also mean that that rival telcos would be given a legal stick with which to beat BT and the winged watchdog, Oftel, if they failed to make LLU work or dragged their feet. In a statement ahead of today's vote Nick Clegg MEP, said: "All available evidence suggests that unbundling of the local loop will provide a sharp boost to the take-up of high speed internet services in Europe, lower costs and vastly increased choice of services for consumers. "This is good news for the consumer and it is good news for Europe's businesses. Today's vote shows that the European Parliament is determined to transform the promise of the new dotcom economy into reality. This is a major step forward allowing Europe to catch up quickly with the US," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 26 Oct 2000

Oversexed chipset strikes again

Chipzilla must have been forcing Viagra tablets down the throat of its 815E chipset, for no sooner do we learn it has spawned a mobile offspring (Story: Son of Intel 815E arrives), than do we discover a second ankle-biter is on the way. Chinese hardware site PCPop has details of the forthcoming 815EP chipset which supports more memory at the expense of losing the on-chip graphics. The new baby will initially use ICH2 (6 USB ports, ATA/100), but will later be upgraded with ICH3 to offer USB 2.0 support. Like its Dad, the new arrival supports 66, 100 and 133MHz FSB, but will support up to 1.5Gb of SDRAM compared with the 815E's 512Mb. AGP 1x, 2x and 4x are supported and the removal of the Intel 752 graphics subsystem brings the cost down from $33 to under $30 in 1K quantities. Mobo makers thought to be developing products based on the new chipset include ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI and Abit. Intel will also build mobos using the chip. More family announcements Son of Intel 815E arrives
Andrew Thomas, 26 Oct 2000

AOL-MSN hype war starts

By a bizarre coincidence Microsoft mounted a "$1 billion" marketing campaign for the new MSN yesterday, while AOL retaliated with the launch of AOL 6.0. Microsoft will be blitzing the US retail channel with free MSN CDs, while AOL will be giving away CDs in about 50 retail chains. AOL gazumped the MSN announcement by claiming 25 million users worldwide the day before, thus emphasising that MSN is the challenger, with just 3.5 million. But all is not quite as the spinmeisters would have you believe; the Microsoft $1 billion is not quite what you'd think of as $1 billion, and both companies' announcements seem not to mention the satellite broadband services they'd each promised for Q4. As with the $500 million promo campaign for Xbox, the Microsoft billion includes a large quantity of marketing spin. Xbox, incidentally, has also figured in the coincidences department this week - you can't have helped noticing that members of the press appear to have been granted interview rights with various Xbox luminaries who told them nothing new about next year's model. But it's helpful spin against Playstation 2, which is really rolling out. MSN actually has a global marketing budget of $150 million for the new MSN, the billion being what total spend on the service will be over the next year. There's plenty of scope for fuzz in there, but at least some of it will consist of retail partnerships (deals with retail outlets where virtual money moves back and forth), cross promotions (ditto) and rebates (which are intended to be clawed back from consumers via fixed-term contracts). Most of this "spend," we can assume, will actually be in the US, where MSN has been forging its retail partnerships most diligently. At the moment MSN seems to be largely silent on the broadband satellite service it's supposed to be rolling out this year in conjunction with Gilat. Gilat itself reiterated its intention to launch the StarBand two-way high speed satellite service in the US this quarter, when it announced its IPO earlier this month. Earlier this year Hughes Network Systems (HNS) filed suit against Gilat claiming patent infringement. And here comes another one of those coincidences. HNS and AOL actually did announce a broadband satellite service this week, but AOL seems to have been too busy with AOL 6, AOL by phone and whatever to get around to mentioning it yet. But a joint release is available from HNS, if not from AOL. AOL Plus Powered by DirecPC "creates new online possibilities for all of AOL's 25 million members," which is puzzling, considering it's priced in dollars and "is available at Circuit City and independent satellite dealers nationwide." DirecPC is available elsewhere in the world, but it's not at all obvious that the AOL-branded version is. Search AOL for satellite and you get redirected to the Direcpc site, where it becomes apparent that it isn't. A further diligent search of the FAQ reveals that DirecPC and AOL Plus Powered by etc are separate services with separate software, running off different satellites. Something else that may or may not be available is two-way satellite broadband, as promised by HNS for Q4 this year. As the company said in April: "The two-way product and service will also offer new capabilities to support the announced AOL Plus Powered by DirecPC service." The actual announcement this week is however of a 'broadband one way, modem the other' service. It'll consist of a satellite dish and a USB modem, priced at $149. Oh, and it's only available for Windows right now. So two way broadband delayed by both parties? You wouldn't know it from the marketing hoopla... ® Related stories: Writs in space: Hughes lawsuit spanners broadband MSN N's next big heave -- broadband access from space HNS AOL Plus FAQ
John Lettice, 26 Oct 2000

System on a chip sales boom

Sales of systems on a chip are booming, a trend which shows every sign of continuing according to a report from market researchers at Cahners In-Stat. Communications chips are the driver behind the market, and will account for 576 million units by 2004, the company said. In-Stat is forecasting a 31 per cent average annual market growth, which will reach 1.3 billion units by 2001. It found that total unit sales more than doubled in 1998 to 345 million, from the 160 million units sold in 1998. Shrinking die sizes have meant that more can be squeezed on to the chip, which in turn has fuelled growth in the market. Max Baron, a principle analyst at In-Stat said that SOCs would become increasingly important in many industries, as the challenges facing engineers became more complex. "They [the engineers] must have efficient access to designs that have been previously tested. SOC projects typically encompass several technical disciplines, so the more designs that can be reused, the more efficient the process," he said. ® Related Story Micron and MIPs licensing
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Oct 2000

PlayStation plunders Sony profits

Sony's profits continue to slide, dragged down by the titanic forces of the PlayStation 2 development and marketing budget. The profit fall this time round was 57 per cent, taking the Japanese giant's earnings down to ¥19.8 billion ($183 million), or ¥21.7 per share. For the same period last year, Sony posted earnings of ¥46.5 billion, ¥113 a share. The scale of the PlayStation 2's contribution to the fall is highlighted by Sony's rising sales in other sectors. Overall, sales rose nearly four per cent, to ¥1.69 trillion. Digital cameras and VCRs proved particularly profitable for the company, but its PC and PC storage products formed the bulk of its sales - some 80 per cent of the total. Their sales grew 19 per cent year on year, the highest increase in sales of any Sony product sector. Despite that, Sony's games division sucked out ¥2.8 billion in losses, down from a ¥28.1 billion net contribution to Sony's profits this time last year. Sony maintains it will meet its forecasts for PlayStation 2 shipments, but it's going to have a tough time what with the current global component shortage. That has already forced Sony to limit sales in the US, where the PlayStation debuts today, such as halting online sales to ensure resellers get kit to sell. There's no sign that this will improve much, and with the Christmas sales period looming, it couldn't have come at a worse time. Sony is clearly banking on demand for the console being sufficiently keen that punters will wait until the new year to buy one. We shall see... ®
Tony Smith, 26 Oct 2000

Motorola set to ship 600MHz G4?

Motorola reckons it will be able to ship a 600MHz PowerPC G4 processor by early 2001, if alleged leaks from Apple-Motorola negotiations are to be believed. If the reports are accurate - they come from MacOS Rumors, so all the usual caveats apply - it will be about time. Motorola was looking at shipping 600MHz PowerPC 7400s - the first-generation G4 - in January 2000, but then stumbled when it found it couldn't get decent yields on chips over 500MHz. The upcoming 600MHz part is a 0.18 micron PowerPC 7410, Motorola's recently launched chip for the embedded market. Apple is interested because the 7410 consumes less power than the 7400 - a 500MHz 7410 draws the same power as a 400MHz 7400 - making it a better choice for notebooks. However, there's a snag, and it's yields again. They're low - not as low as before - but sufficiently so to bump up the price by a claimed 15-20 per cent. That may not be an issue if the chips are destined for Apple's PowerBook line, which is pretty expensive anyway, thanks to the cost of LCDs. Whatever, Apple is desperate for faster G4s, and it may well fell the need to swallow the cost in order to remain competitive with the Wintel world. ® Related Stories Motorola upgrades PowerPC G4 PowerPC G4 Plus taped out
Tony Smith, 26 Oct 2000

Spice Girls tune in to Napster

The Spice Girls - remember them? - saw their new album released two weeks early this week, when its eleven tracks made an unauthorised appearance on controversial MP3 sharing service Napster, we hear. Terrible stuff, we're sure, but there are enough pre-pubertal girls and spotty, adolescent males who like this stuff [Damn, he's provoked a flame war - Ed] and will be grabbing the likes of Holler, Get Down With Me, If You Wanna Have Some Fun and the aptly-named Wasting My Time, even as we speak. But the question remains: how did the album get onto Napster. Spice Girls fan sites allege that no one is to blame but the Girls' own record company, Virgin, and its online music partner, RealNetworks. The RealPlayer Network apparently showcases four tracks as part of a RealAudio 8 promo here. Alas someone at Virgin appears to have uploaded all the album's tracks, and clever users figured out their URLs from the promo'd tracks locations and the album's already-published tracklist. A number of downloads and a Real-to-MP3 conversion later, and the tracks appeared on Napster. ® Related Stories Full Coverage: The Napster Controversy
Tony Smith, 26 Oct 2000

Big CRT flat screens do the biz for Samsung

Sales of larger-sized flat-screen monitors has helped Samsung SDI boost its profits by 59 per cent. Net income for the three months to 30 September rose to 162 billion won ($142 million) from 102 billion won the same period last year. Sales increased 12 per cent to 1.05 trillion won ($920 million). Samsung SDI makes the cathode ray tube (CRT) based display products for Samsung. It is enjoying good business from TVs with tubes longer than 25in and computer monitors longer than 17in horizontally. TFT display technology was spun off to affiliate Samsung Electronics. Samsung SDI reckons CRT displays will make up 72 per cent of its sales until 2002 and only fall to half by 2005. By 2005 SDI is forecasting the display industry will be worth $66 billion, with CRT making up $35 billion of the market and TFT LCD screens $23 billion. Samsung Electronics is launching a 24in TFT monitor on 7 November. NEC is back in profit in the first half thanks to rising sales of PCs, cell phones, and chips. Net income was 20.5 billion yen ($189 million) for the six months to 30 September, compared with a loss of 51.2 billion yen ($472 million) for the period a year earlier. Profits from computers, software and services more than doubled to 29.8 billion yen. ®
Robert Blincoe, 26 Oct 2000

Korean DRAM makers ‘want to force down prices’

Samsung and Hyundai, the world's two biggest DRAM makers, are trying to persuade Taiwanese competitors to work with them in cutting DRAM spot prices, according to a peculiar story in the Commercial Times, of Taiwan. The newspaper quotes "a widespread rumour" that the Korean companies want to stimulate demand by lowering the 64Mb DRAM spot price to below $4. And we thought cartels were supposed to raise prices. Apparently, Micron's manufacturing unit costs are $3.50, so any lowering of prices - we infer - would avoid anti-dumping action. However, Taiwanese DRAM maker Nanya, quoted in the very same Commercial Times article said that it had no intention of selling DRAM at "such irrational prices". Furthermore, the company confirmed that the Koreans had visited the island to discuss the DRAM industry, but had put forward no ideas to cut prices. Which makes sense. With 40 per cent or so of the world DRAM market, Samsung and Hyundai (how friendly are they, anyhow?)have no need to co-opt the Taiwanese into forcing down prices. And what would be gained in any case? With inventory levels falling at last and demand beginning to rise, why would DRAM makers deliberately force down prices from what are already low levels? According to the Commercial Times, DRAM spot prices (presumably yesterday) "fell to US$4.50-US$4.60 per unit, and failed to test US$3.90 due to a lack of sellers. In the US, the DRAM spot price remains stable above US$5." ® Related Link Asiabiztech: DRAM Chip Spot Prices Likely to Recover in Early 2001
Drew Cullen, 26 Oct 2000

iMac-style Sony PDA debuts on Web

We don't read Japanese, so we're not entirely sure what Sony's clear Clié actually is - a next-generation system, a low-end version or merely an internal concept design? Whatever it is, there it is, for all to see on a Japanese Web site, which has posted a series of pictures of the critter. Any of the above suggestions are possible, though we suspect it's a low-end model, designed to take on the likes of Handspring's Visor and Palm's m100. With its translucent turquoise and white two-tone casing - bit early iMac, that - it certainly lacks the serious, corporate feel of the shipping Cliés It also has a youth-friendly flip-cover. That said, it could equally be a design Sony tried and rejected, or simply someone's attempt to give their standard Clié a rather more trendy look and feel. Any ideas, folks? ®
Tony Smith, 26 Oct 2000

RSA encryption could have been British

The British government missed out on the billions generated by the sales of public key cryptography, because it didn't realise an algorithm could be patented. The technology that led to the formation of RSA Data Securities, now thought to be worth around $2.5 billion, was independently developed some years earlier by British researchers working for GCHQ. But because the work had been carried out by the secret services, it was kept under wraps for years. When the MIT researchers Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adleman - who went on to found RSA Data Securities - developed the same kind of technology in 1977, GCHQ maintained its silence. The organisation now concedes that had it had any idea how much money the algorithm would be worth, it probably would have acted differently. The full story is told in this Sunday's edition of "The Science of Secrecy", the Channel Four serialisation of Simon Singh's "The Code Book" at 6:45pm. ® In keeping with the cryptographic mood of the moment, El Reg is running a competition to win a copy of The Code Book. All you have to do is decipher the true meaning of the passage we've posted, and no, we didn't just type stuff in at random. Go here for the contest details. Related Stories Code Book code setters reveal crypto cock-up Swedes mash 512-bit Code Book crypto challenge to get £10,000
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Oct 2000

Disties, no – agents, yes

Ingram Micro and Computer 2000, the world's two biggest disties, want to move from a wholesale to a fee-based model of doing business. And they in turn want to impose a similar model on their customers, Microscope editor Billy McInnes reveals. It makes sense. The classic wholesale IT channel model - distie buys stock from manufacturer and then sells on to reseller looks pretty unsustainable. IT distributors take on board inventory risk, credit risk and for what - seven or eight margin points gross, if they are lucky - one or two points, if they're dealing in high volume commodity products. (That's why you sometimes hear disties talking about "transaction" margins.) And from that margin, topped up with a bit of co-op, they have to fund marketing, pre-sales, post-sales and -sometimes - tech support. That's why IT distie don't make as much money as, say, UPS or Exel Logistics . The fee-based model is coming to IT distribution. Only question is when - the manufacturers have got the better side of the deal right now - they'll be in no hurry to change. ®
Drew Cullen, 26 Oct 2000

HWRoundup Creative's Annihilator2 Ultra clocked

So, Creative got hold of a video chipset, and they made a new card. The called it the Annihilator2 Ultra, and then they handed one over to Anandtech to review. Click here to see the resulting outpouring of verbiage. The new VT82C686B, which will work with both the KT133 and Apollo Pro 133A chipset, from VIA now has an UltraATA/100 interface for AMD and Intel platforms. Tom's Hardware had a look at it to see how it stacked up against Intel's ICH2. System Logic has posted a rather apologetic review of the Abit BF6 mobo. Of course, any board will have good bits and bad bits, but the feeling is that this one missed the mark a little, but scrubs up pretty good anyhow. Check out the review here. Should you be one of the fortunate few with a bit of extra cash (and I mean around four grand of your US dollars) you could spend it on a Dell notebook, as reviewed by the folks over at Sharky's. This one is shipping in November, but if you absolutely must have one, you can order it now. GamePC took Nvidia's Geforce2 Ultra for a test drive, and once they'd finnished, they were kind enough to write up their thoughts for your education. Click here to see how much fun can be had with around 1.1 gigapixels/second. The "...And finally..." for today? Well, this was sent in by a thoughtful reader. I'm not sure about the hardware angle on it, and it does sound like a radioactive prophylactic, but the all-round weirdness factor was high enough to get it included. ® after all that you probably never want to see another motherboard again...what? You still like hardware? Well, OK then. Go forth and rummage in thearchives.
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Oct 2000

Transmeta board makes room for Cisco CFO

Transmeta has elected Cisco CFO Larry Carter to its board of directors, the low-power x86 chip maker told world+dog today. Carter's experience will no doubt come in useful to Transmeta as it begins to move beyond its early set-up and development phase into a period of supplying and servicing real customers. Carter has been Cisco's CFO since 1995, but his background is the semiconductor biz - albeit on the money side - with stints at AMD, VLSI, Motorola and STMicroelectronics. Carter was promoted to Cisco's own board last July. He's also on the boards of Network Appliance, QLogic and eSpeed. All in all, he provides plenty of brain-picking material for Transmeta's bosses. ®
Tony Smith, 26 Oct 2000

Dr Spinola's TV preview

Saturday Carly's Angels Check out the new series of action adventures as the feisty female scraps products, shrinks cubicle sizes and goes on a shopping spree for executive jets. Watch out for the hilarious cameo appearance by a lone Windows 2000 driver writer. Sunday Tom's Midnight Hardware Page A new dramatisation of the children's classic in which young Tom discovers a doorway into a mysterious world of his own. Monday Star Trek: Millennium Edition More adventures for the Seattle crew as they battle a deadly Borg nanoprobe email virus. In an unusual plot twist, this episode sees all the female crew members abducted by Species 8479, and it is left to the men to strip to their vests and crawl through the Jeffries tube carrying large weapons whilst sweating in a rather decorous manner. Tuesday The Jerry Springer Show This week Jerry's guests include Scott, a top IT executive with a guilty secret - he secretly spends all his money on cosmetic dentistry. Wednesday When Rambus lawyers attack! Normally lawyers are shy, retiring creatures, but after intensive RIMMing sessions they can turn into blood-crazed fiends, suing anyone within reach. (Contains strong legal jargon unsuitable for children) Thursday Who wants to be a billionaire? Team captains Bill Gates and Larry Ellison are joined this week by guests Paul Allen and Gordon Moore, who reply, "We do". Friday Crash David Cronenberg's harrowing film about a group of sick misfits from Adaptec, Microsoft and Apple who get their kicks from watching computers crash. Saturday The Simpsons Homer's plans to appear in another series of Intel TV ads come to a nasty end when he is repeatedly stabbed by his distant relative, OJ. Or is he? And whose glove is Maggie playing with? ®
Dr Spinola, 26 Oct 2000

WinME sales surged in first week – then crashed horribly

The strong sales performance for Windows Me cited by Microsoft in its last quarterly report was apparently confined to just one week, according to Onechannel.net Channelmetrics data. Onechannel reports that online sales jumped over nineteenfold, to more than $1,000,000, in the first week, but promptly fell back to almost pre-launch levels. That's sales of Windows 98 before WinME's launch, of course, not sales of WinME - that would be silly. Onechannel monitors online sales, but the numbers for the first week seem broadly in line with PC Data's estimate of 250,000 copies of WinME sold in that period. The rapid fall-off however makes it pretty clear that the initial sales were a combination of pent-up demand, Microsoft and partner promotional activities, and pre-selling. Once that had washed over the numbers went straight back to where they were before. Clearly there has been no mad, sustained rush to buy Windows Me, and Microsoft's optimistic noises for the analysts will not be reflected in the company's bottom line. The Register traditionally points out whenever Microsoft ships a new OS into the retail channel that people don't buy operating systems at retail. The Register is traditionally right, no matter how much marketing money and co-op deals Microsoft chucks at the matter. Microsoft's words on WinME sales may to some extent be justified by how they shored up sales in the quarter. Microsoft's software sales fell overall by 6.5 per cent in the period ended 30 September, but Windows operating systems sales went up 24 per cent. Software sales as a whole dropped nine per cent, so one would presume that Microsoft managed to partially resist the tide by promoting WinME like crazy. But what's it going to launch this quarter? (Nope - MSN Explorer is free, remember?) ® Related Story WinME sells 250,000 in first four days Related Link Onechannel's report
John Lettice, 26 Oct 2000

eMachines slashes PC production

eMachines, the Korean-owned, American-operated cheap PC maker, is cutting fourth quarter production by 20 per cent in anticipation of a tough time for PC sales in the US retail channel. eMachines may be more cautious than most - the company messed up big time over unsold inventory earlier this year. (The company grew like a rocket on the back of bundling deals with ISPs, but sales fell, when the promotions ended). However, eMachines' pessimism does not bode well for other hardware suppliers - if eMachines can't sell PCs at its rock-bottom prices in the run-up to Christmas, who can? eMachines says it expects to offset the decline in the US, as it ramps up its supply deal with Dixons, the big European electronics retail chain, which took on the line for the first time this year. ® Related Story eMachines turns up in Europe with Dixons
Drew Cullen, 26 Oct 2000

Europe votes in favour of LLU

The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favour of introducing legislation to speed up the process of Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) in Europe. The new legal framework - widely tipped to be carried - only needs the go-ahead from the member Governments of the European Union to become law. Although the new regulation could still fail at this point, many see this final phase as a mere rubber stamping exercise. So, we can all rejoice that Europe's taken a positive step forward towards greater competition in the telecoms industry. Now, anyone fancy trying to rescue Europe's miserable excuse for a single currency? ® Related Story Europe votes on LLU today
Tim Richardson, 26 Oct 2000

Buy a Russian space capsule for $2.2m

If you've got $2.2 million to spare, treat yourself to a Russian space capsule. The Soyuz TM-26 is available at www.thespacestore.com. The Soyuz TM-26 descent capsule was flown to MIR by Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Soloviev and Pavel Vinogradov. They were the cosmonauts who performed emergency repairs to save MIR following the collision with a Progress tanker. "Their heroic efforts saved the station which is still in orbit three years later," says the site. This capsule launched on August 5, 1997 and returned the cosmonauts to Earth on February 19, 1998, logging a total of 198 days in space and flying approximately 79 million miles. Thanks to all our readers who pointed out the site offers gift wrapping for $3.75. ®
Robert Blincoe, 26 Oct 2000

Get to smell Britney Spears online

It may look like a futuristic sex toy, but the iSmell aims to show surfers just how much the Internet stinks. The product, from California-based outfit DigiScents, was today given an airing at Fall Internet World in New York. Although just a prototype, the idea is that surfers will soon be able to click and sniff via the holes in iSmell's smooth shark fin design. It has 128 different basic odors that can be mixed and matched to conjure up just about any smell, according to David Libby, the company's PR director. It will be aimed at the videogame market - gamers should get a kick out of being able to smell the blood of their recently slain opponent - movies, e-commerce sites, such as flower or food e-tailers, advertising and music. "I would think that a lot of people would be interested in smelling the latest Britney Spears video," suggested the blushing Libby. The device is plugged into the USB port of a computer, and the software will be downloadable. The iSmell works via a fan in the bottom - when an image is clicked on a tiny file moves from the server to the device, which it identifies as, say for perversion's sake, Britney's pigtails, and triggers the cartridge inside to emit the right scent mixture. And all before you can say "Hit me baby one more time". Although the iSmell is still being developed - at today's demonstration it was hard to tell the difference between a coffee whiff and a chocolate one, the plan is to start shipping it as soon as 2001. The company launched its ScentWare Web development kit at this week's show, and claims to have more than 3000 software developers signed up for its software development kit, which it launched in March. Of course, it's still a bit of a chicken and egg situation - most punters won't want the iSmell until sites offer the whiffy service, and companies presumably won't want to plough cash into getting the technology on their sites until the iSmells are in people's homes. Libby said the company, which has its R&D facility in Israel, was currently "in talks with companies in varying degrees" to get them signed up. "People today fill their houses with things like surround sound - they want more memorable and lifelike experiences," said Libby. "This takes virtual reality to the next level and makes life a lot more immersive." ® Related Link www.digiscents.com Related Stories Sniff me, I'm yours Dotcom dodo loses power of speech Turkey pong protestors turn cybersquatter
Linda Harrison, 26 Oct 2000

French help impulse e-shoppers spend their dosh

A French company has come up with a nifty idea for impulse e-shoppers. LookThatUP is showing off a service at Internet World that it says will show surfers where to buy any object after they click on its image on the Net. For example, Liz Hurley is caught on camera not quite wearing one of her famed dresses. The surfer sees it, wants (a cheaper version of) it, so copies the image onto one of LookThatUp's partner sites - it acts as an ASP and stores all the data on its servers. The technology will then search for the item, or the nearest thing to it, on the Web and pull up the different options with prices. Alternatively punters can scan in the object they want. Only snag is that the Image-Shopper will only show items on LookThatUp partner sites, not in cyberspace in its e-ntirety. The Paris-based company is aiming to sell the service to e-commerce and online auction outfits, and reckons it could be used to flog anything from cars to clothes. It will launch in Europe within a month, then in the US. It has also developed an image-based filter product to let bosses decide what level of filth gets onto their company computers. Unlike text-based filters, which the company says are not hugely reliable (a porn image called "teddy bear" might not get blocked), LookThatUp reckons its Image-Filter will recognize and analyse what is inside the image itself and give it a percentage rating on naughtiness. Companies can then customize the level of porn allowed through - e.g. no images rated at higher than 60 per cent. The filter is due to launch before the end of this year in Europe and the US. The company, founded by four scientists last year, has netted $4.1 million investment from Galileo Partners and Mars Capital and is in the process of opening an office in California. ® Related Link www.LookthatUP.fr - the site is in French Related Stories Company director jailed for kiddie porn Buy a Russian space capsule for $2.2m Internet 'bigger than industrial revolution Dotcom dodo loses power of speech Sniff me, I'm yours French 'want Freeserve'
Linda Harrison, 26 Oct 2000