Last year, York-based telecoms firm SkyLINC said it would build a network of base stations in balloons, tethered 1.5km high, as a platform for delivering broadband to rural communities. SkyLINC predicted it would launch services this month (January 2004). So where are SkyLINC's broadband blimps? How are its plans progressing? Company executives aren't prepared to take questions on this; they simply say the company wants to wholesale high-speed telecoms access through ISPs. SkyLINC is a partner in an ambitious €5.6m project into building High Altitude Platforms (HAPs), airships or solar-powered aircraft, which are permanently located in the skies at an altitude of 20 kilometres, for the delivery of Net access at speeds of up to 100Mbps. The Capanina research project, targeted at providing high speed Net access to rural areas, is been led by The University of York and backed by the European Union's Framework Six programmr. Capanina is something for the future and complementary to SkyLINC's own services, Neil Daly, chief executive at SkyLINC, told The Register. Daly, and other SkyLINC execs, declined our requests to explain its current services line-up or future plans. It was a different story last May when the company was only too happy to chat to El Reg, The Guardian and BBC, among other outlets. From SkyLINC's Web site we find a statement that the company will launch its first LIBRA (Low-Cost Integrated Broadband Radio Access) communications platform "within the next 12 months". SkyLINC's LIBRA platform could be used to provide symmetrical broadband connections of 1Mbps and above to the vast majority of UK small businesses from a network of 18 helium-filed balloons. "The first users of this system will be online during the second quarter of 2004," SkyLINC states in its FAQ here. Since SkyLINC first floated its plans in public the competitive landscape has changed with wireless broadband and community schemes for remote rural places becoming increasingly commonplace. Against this, each LIBRA super-cell could have coverage of 2,000 sq miles and be capable of supporting 30,000 subscribers each, according to SkyLINC. SkyLINC's basic concept is sound, but it's up in the air whether it will be able to establish it successfully as a business. ® Related Stories Airships to deliver broadband to rural areas Broadband by blimp idea floated Conference tackles rural broadband issues Ofcom frees radio spectrum for rural broadband Lack of rural broadband still a 'challenge' – e-minister
T-Mobile and Virgin Group have resolved their long-running legal fight over the future of their 50:50 joint venture Virgin Mobile. Dogged by legal action, relations between the two companies were so bad that they were described as being "irretrievably broken down". Now, though, the two companies have kissed and made up with both sides insisting that "disagreements of the past are well and truly behind us". As part of the settlement, both sides have agreed to end the payment of a monthly "Marketing Support Contribution" paid by T-Mobile to Virgin Mobile. This had proved a sticking point since Virgin received the payment even if the account was inactive. Instead, Virgin Mobile will receive a share of call revenues. Separately, it was confirmed that Virgin Group is to acquire T-Mobile's stake in the Virgin Mobile joint venture, in a move that could pave the way for a possible floatation of the mobilephoneco. "The three organisations have settled all outstanding litigation, and established new agreements, paving the way for a new era in relations between T-Mobile and Virgin Mobile," the companies said in a statement. Brian McBride, MD of T-Mobile UK, said: "It's also been a pleasure dealing with the Virgin team. "Any disagreements of the past are well and truly behind us, and we all look forward to a long and mutually rewarding relationship." This week Virgin Mobile reported that it had signed up more than half a million new customers at the end of last year, making it the most successful three months ever for the mobile telco. Cheap texts and a bundle of other offers helped increase Virgin Mobile's customer base to more than 3.6 million punters. ® Related Story Virgin and T-Mobile to co-habit after divorce
London businesses are improving the security of their wireless networks, but drive-by hacking and information leakage still remains a real concern in the capital. One in four (25 per cent) of London's Wi-Fi networks are still fundamentally insecure, according to the results of RSA Security's third annual WLAN security survey out today. Security has improved dramatically with only 34 per cent of 1078 access points surveyed lacking WEP encryption, compared to 63 per cent in 2002. Of these WEP-absent access points, some employ VPN protection while others have MAC Address Screening (802.1X), or other undetectable security methods. But that still leaves an estimated one in four access points which fail to meet best practice security guidelines. RSA Security reckons these businesses are often at risk simply because they are failing to reconfigure default network settings. The survey also found the number of wireless networks in London had more than trebled over the past year. The research, commissioned by RSA Security, and undertaken by independent information security specialist CISSP, quantifies the extent to which companies' wireless networks in London leak data traffic into the street, providing potential access to hackers from their cars or nearby buildings. ®
AMD has quietly taken legal action against Intergraph, the graphics company's Q4 results statement, released this week, reveals. Earlier this month, it filed a Declaratory Judgment Act (DJA) patent action against Intergraph claiming that the latter's so-called 'Clipper' patents are invalid and, at the very least, not infringed upon by AMD's chips. The move appears to have followed attempts by Intergraph to persuade AMD to license its patents, numbers 4,860,192, 4,884,197, 4,899,275, 4,933,835 and 5,091,846. Intergraph says AMD wasn't willing to do so. The DJA appears to have been filed just in case Intergraph decides to follow the negotiations with legal action of its own. AMD isn't asking for damages. The patents lie behind Intergraph's legal action against Intel, launched in 1997. The case was finally settled in April 2002 when Intel paid $300 million to the plaintiff. In return it was granted a licence to use Intergraph's technology. Later that year, Intergraph began suing Intel's customers, claiming that the latter's licence did not extend to its OEMs. Intergraph's patents were granted in 1993 following the development of its Clipper processor. The initial lawsuit centred on Intel's Pentium chip, but Intergraph also launched a second action targeting Intel's 64-bit Itanium processor. Two of the patents centred on what the company called "Parallel Instruction Computing". Intergraph argued that Itanic's EPIC (Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing) architecture violated those patents. It's not clear if AMD's own 64-bit technology has attracted the attention of Intergraph, or if the action centres on its 32-bit processors. The timing of the negotiations and AMD's legal manoeuvre suggest the former. Could this, we wonder, be why Intel is suddenly keener to discuss 64-bit desktop computing? Here's some idle, unfounded speculation. Intel has a licence to Intergraph's technology, but AMD does not. While AMD is distracted into fighting off Intergraph - with potential injunctions against AMD product - Intel launches its own 64-bit x86 extensions and taps into the demand created by Opteron and Athlon 64. We've no evidence that Intel is considering such a scenario, that Intergraph will realise AMD's fears and lob a lawsuit in its direction, or even that there is real merit in the graphics company's claims. But it appeals to the conspiracy theorist within us. Makes you think, doesn't it? ® Related Story Intel 'likely' to offer 64-bit Pentium
Sony's PSX Playstation-cum-personal digital video recorder is not based on a 90nm processor as is widely believed but a 130nm version of the chip, Canadian technology analysis company Semiconductor Insights has claimed. "Sony claims to manufacture at 90nm, but the design rules are relaxed to 130nm," SI says. "The e-DRAM trench cells are also laid out using 130nm design rules." The company bases its conclusion - to be outlined in an forthcoming report Quick Look I: Sony CXD9797GB Emotion Engine and Graphics Synthesizer - after getting its hands on the chip and opening up the packaging. Certainly, Sony claims the chip is fabbed at 90nm. In this press release of 27 November 2003, detailing the upcoming Japanese launch to the two PSX models, the DESR-5000 and DESR-7000, the machines' processor is stated as being a "90nm EE+GS". When Sony announced last may that it was working on an SoC that combined the PlayStation 2's Emotion Engine and Graphics Synthesiser chips onto a single die, it said that it would fabricate the part at 90nm. Indeed, it referred to the past as the "EE+GS@90nm". The 53.5 million transistor chip would be the first offering of Sony's restructured chip division, the operation's chief, Ken Kutaragi, said at the time. Soon after Sony said the EE+GS@90nm would form the basis for the PSX. SI specialises in reviewing new chip technologies and patents, so it should know what it's talking about. It lists Texas Instruments and Intel among its customers. Does it matter? For PSX users, arguably not, provided the machine performs as advertised, and there's no indication that that's not the case. However, it does show just how hard chip companies are finding the move to 90nm. Witness Intel's difficulties with 'Prescott'. IBM is only now able to announce a 90nm chip, the PowerPC 970FX, already revealed by Apple, but due for an official launch next month. And AMD's cautious release of 90nm product late next quarter looks ever more prudent compared to Sony's bullish claims of last May. ® Related Stories Sony to ramp chip spend to $9 billion over three years Sony to combine PlayStation and group chip operations
KnowledgePool Limited - which provides training and learning development programmes to European blue chip companies - has been placed in administration. Joint Administrators from Menzies Corporate Restructuring (MCR) were called in last week following the firm's failure to achieve sufficient turnover for 2003. The business is currently up for sale and MCR reports that it has already received a "number of enquiries" from interested parties. At this stage MCR doesn't expect "significant redundancies" among the firm's 200 employees, who are based at the company's offices in Bracknell, Brighton, Stockport, the US and Canada. However, this has brought little comfort for the 30 or so people made redundant in November last year. They were forced to receive their payouts in monthly payments because the firm told them it couldn't afford to pay the cash in one lump sum. Many of the senior staff axed last year, including consultants and project managers, had long careers spanning back to when KnowledgePool was part of ICL. They only received one month's payment before the company was placed in administration and are unlikely to receive their full entitlement. In the case of Paul Doherty, he's owed more than £90,000 after spending 25 years at the company. He's angry that less than a year after being sold by Fujitsu, KnowledgePool has gone down the pan, leaving long-serving and loyal employees like him with next to nothing. Paul told The Register: "We felt we were still Fujitsu employees and we feel that we've been offloaded by Fujitsu. "The position is so bad some people won't be able to pay their mortgage this month. "We've already written to the Fujitsu chief executive to appeal to Fujitsu's better nature. We want Fujitsu to make good this perceived injustice," he said. A spokesman for the IT giant wouldn't be drawn on the matter except to say: "KnowledgePool is no longer our company therefore we are unable to comment." A spokesman for MCR said: "Regarding staff made redundant from KnowledgePool in November 2003, we can confirm that they will be paid their statutory entitlement to redundancy and that this will be paid by the Government. "Under UK law, contractual redundancy is treated on an unsecured basis, therefore, there is no guarantee that this will be paid if a company is in administration. "We would urge anyone who has been made redundant to get in touch with the administrators by writing to the following address: Menzies Corporate Restructuring, 17-19 Foley Street, London W1W 6DW." ®
Intel will finally come clean on its oft-rumoured 'Yamhill' 64-bit extensions to the x86 instruction set and demonstrate its entry into the 64-bit desktop processor market next month at its Developer Forum. So claim sources "familiar with the company's plans" cited by CNET. Earlier this week, Intel's President and COO, Paul Otellini, confirmed in a web-cast interview that a move into the 64-bit desktop market was certain, but that the company would nevertheless wait for the arrival of operating system and application support. "You can be fairly confident that when there is software from an application and operating system standpoint, we'll be there," he said. CTO Pat Gelsinger has gone on record in the past as saying that 64-bit computing on the desktop won't be needed for several more years yet. CNET's sources suggest that the announcement will come much sooner than the delivery. IDF kicks off on 17 February, and will include a mention of 'CT' - the name Intel is giving to its 64-bit x86 extensions, they claim. Might CT stand for 'Competitor's Technology'? asks one Register reader. Whatever, it's not expected to surface in product until 2005 - the same timeframe as the arrival of 'Tejas', the follow-up to the next generation of the Pentium 4, 'Prescott'. Prescott is expected to be launched as shipping product on Monday, at long last, the day after Intel takes the axe to the prices of its current P4 line-up. The Tejas-based Xeon DP is codenamed 'Jayhawk'. Prescott may also contain Yamhill/CT - certainly most analysts believe that's the case - but in an unusable form. Prescott-based Xeon server chips, including the 'Nocona' Xeon DP and 'Potomac' Xeon MP should also sport the technology, but whether it will be enabled isn't yet clear. It the technology follows the same path as HyperThreading, it will be enabled in Xeons first, followed by Pentiums later. Arguably there's more need for 64-bit technology in the server and workstation arenas than in mainstream desktop computing. Does the launch of CT - or whatever Intel's 64-bit technology will be called - spell the end of Itanic. Not necessarily. Itanium will continue to be pitched at big iron applications, traditionally the province of 64-bit Risc chips. Yes, in such environments 64-bit computing is a key requirement, but it's not the only one. Fault tolerance, error correction and a range of other features are in demand too. While a 64-bit Xeon will pull more customers out of the Unix domain and into the commodity server realm, many other users will need a more reliable processor than that, and those are the folk Intel will target with Itanium. The volumes may be small in the big iron market, but the revenues are many times greater than the commodity arena. The arrival of a 64-bit Xeon simply moves the border between the two markets a little - it doesn't eliminate one, at least not for the foreseeable future. After the Internet bubble, the commodity server market isn't what it was. With a presence in both markets, Intel wins either way. ® Related Stories Intel 'likely' to offer 64-bit Pentium Intel delays next Xeon DP but one - report AMD sets defence against possible Intergraph legal action
In the dim and distant past we would have described Vignette as a “personalization engine,” to create web sites that mutated depending upon who was looking at them. Somewhere in the last decade Vignette has shifted over to a generalized all singing, all dancing content management firm. Now lured by potential “Sarbanes Oxley” class revenues due to content compliance, it has acquired Tower Technology and completed the transformation to include full blooded, traditional document and recods management. Tower will cost the company $125m and appears to have been originally based in Australia but now runs from its Boston US headquarters although we couldn’t find confirmation of that on its web site. Back in September Vignette acquired Intraspect Software, a collaboration software specialist to go with the bigger purchase of Epicentric, that it was still digesting from the previous year. Intraspect had been in a deep partnership with Epicentric and Vignette paid $20m for it. But even after the deal Vignette remains cash heavy and hell bent on transforming itself through acquisition, with $238m in the bank after the Intraspect deal, with its revenue firmly stuck at just under $160m, not moved for a few years, but profitable for this last quarter and break even for the year. Epicentric and Intraspect took Vignette into collaborative business portals and now Tower Technology will take it into enterprise document and records management. There is no record of how much revenue this will add to Vignette, but we would expect it to pay no more than twice revenues for such an acquisition which would indicate an upswing in the order of $15m a quarter. Upon completion of the transaction, Vignette reckons it will be able to mix it with the big content management players, EMCDocumentum, Filenet and the freshly inflated Open Text, itself just completing several acquisitions to double its size and ready to offer compliance management related initiatives such as Sarbanes-Oxley 302 and 404, HIPAA, SEC 17a4, DoD 5015.2, GLB and Basel II. Thomas Hogan, Vignette CEO, said: “The acquisition of Tower Technology, when combined with our past acquisitions of Epicentric, Revenio, and Intraspect, will transform Vignette from the recognized leader in Web content management to the industry's only combined suite of enterprise content management services.” Vignette will inherit its Tower IDM, a webenabled, document processing system, Tower Seraph, a comprehensive records management system that is DoD 5015.2 compliant and Tower WebCapture which enables capture and aggregation of content from an online transaction. © Copyright 2004 News IS News IS is a weekly newsletter published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. News IS covers the news announcements, business transactions and financial statements of the top 150 or so IT vendors, along with other news of interest to the modern senior IT manager working within data centre technologies. Subscription details here.
Why would SAP, which has its own Business Warehouse software, sign a partnership with Teradata this week, a company that might be considered a competitor to its software? The truth about the continued success of Teradata, in the face of challenges from Microsoft, Oracle and IBM in the business intelligence market, is that the company is selling something entirely different from most of those other companies. That’s the attraction that has made SAP sign up with Teradata, and you might say that the devil is in the detail. Because it is the fact that the approach Teradata brings to data warehousing and analytics is about retaining detail of all of the data it acts as a window on. As Stephen Brobst, CTO for Teradata explained to us this week: “None of our competitors keep data at the basket level of detail. Because their systems aren’t designed to cope with as much data as our hardware software combination, most of our competitors don’t even try to keep the original data to drill down to. They just keep summaries. This sometimes seems more efficient but it rarely ends up that way. “Clients always say they know what summaries they want from a data mart, but when you give them those summaries they find that they have more questions and pretty soon you are building out a new data mart that will hold a new summary.” “This leads to data mart proliferation and it’s short sighted. We have found that on average customers end up with an extra 70% cost when they approach data warehousing this way. Accenture has made a great business consolidating all the data marts, as a part of budget tightening exercises, these last few years. “In the end this approach is a false economy, and they should retain all the data and then new views can be created at will without the need to go through the effort of defining a new set of canned reports on a new data mart.” In essence what SAP and Teradata have agreed to do is join the Teradata engine to SAP using its Netweaver application integration software, so that Teradata held data can either be available to SAP applications or through its own Business Warehouse interface. Teradata reckons the market splits with Microsoft taking business intelligence databases of under 50 gigabytes, Oracle lording it in the 100 to 300 gigabyte range, and above that Teradata and IBM fighting it out. Above 1 or 2 terabytes it reckons it has the field to itself and is moving onwards and upwards to build out databases in the petabyte range. Teradata uses a massively parallel, Intel based, hardware server to drive its hash based file system, which it says would give a write time overhead if used for transaction processing, but which gives blazing speed in finding data. The first step with SAP will be easy and completed by end of the first quarter, making Teradata data available to Netweaver. The work was almost already done by the time the deal was struck and will go to Beta in three months. The two companies have swapped engineering teams to tweak what they’ve already done. Secondly it will deliver full basket level drill down from Business Warehouse, delivered 3 months later. The two companies will initially focus on letting Teradata into the strong manufacturing base of SAP and getting SAP into the strong retail base of Teradata, and once they feel their way through the relationship, begin looking at telecommunications, financial services, pharmaceuticals and aerospace and defense. Teradata is part of NCR which announced revenues for the year yesterday of $5.6bn, with Teradata revenues making up over $1.2bn of that with licenses down slightly and total revenues off 1 per cent. But it finished on a high with revenues for the fourth quarter up 6 per cent over this time last year, and an operating profit of $61m compared to $34m this time last year and $145m net income for the year. © Copyright 2004 News IS News IS is a weekly newsletter published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. News IS covers the news announcements, business transactions and financial statements of the top 150 or so IT vendors, along with other news of interest to the modern senior IT manager working within data centre technologies. Subscription details here.
ATI nosed past Nvidia last quarter to retake its long-lost leadership of the graphics chip market, according to figures from market watcher Mercury Research cited in a Goldman Sachs customer report. Nvidia needn't worry too much, and ATI has no room to get cocky. The latter's Q4 2003 market share was 24.9 per cent - Nvidia's was 24.7 per cent. Those figures cover the wider graphics hardware business, in which both were behind Intel, which took 31.7 per cent of the market, thanks to strong sales of its integrated-graphics chipsets. Intel's share was down 3.3 percentage points on the previous quarter. ATI's was up 3.9 points. Nvidia's overall share remained static, dropping a mere 0.3 per cent. However, the company did lose share in the standalone graphics chip arena, largely to ATI. ®
Announcing Vodafone’s strongest customer growth figures for three years, CEO Arun Sarin refused to rule out a bid for AT&T Wireless. With the US carrier setting a deadline of February 13 to submit any bids, the UK giant has limited time to make two important decisions – whether to pursue the US or its other mega-bid possibility, Vivendi’s SFR in France; and if it prioritizes on the US, whether to go after AT&T Wireless or another operator. The number of cellcos in the US is almost certain to fall this year, with some market watchers predicting that the six national players will be reduced to three within the next 18 months. This should give Vodafone several options should it decide, as seems likely, that complete ownership of a carrier is a better bet than its 45 per cent stake in Verizon Wireless – especially with the existing dividend arrangements, which are generous to Vodafone, expiring next year. Sarin told a conference call this week: “It is very hard for me to have a judgment at this point of time as to whether it is shareholder value creating or not” (to have full control of a US operator). The main problem, of course, is that Vodafone would be unlikely to get a good price for its Verizon Wireless stake. It would be selling under time pressure and forcing sale on its partner, and would also need to ensure that sale was conditional on it succeeding in acquiring AT&T Wireless. All these factors suggest that it would be underpaid for its Verizon Wireless share, while having to pay a premium to secure AT&T Wireless in a bidding war. Strategically, a Vodafone purchase of AT&T Wireless would be strong for both parties but in terms of short term shareholder value for the UK company’s investors, the deal looks decidedly unattractive. The CEO himself is thought to be very keen to pursue talks with Vivendi about acquiring full control of SFR, and he has even hinted at an outright bid for the parent company in order to win a French operator. However, even the rich and daring Vodafone could hardly consider that in tandem with a US buy. Sarin does have some smaller expansions on his mind too, saying that his company is interested in increasing its minority stake in Polish operator Polkomtel and in other possible takeovers in the eastern Europe region. Vodafone said its customer base rose from 103m to 106m in the last quarter of 2003, and revenues from mobile data are now 16 per cent of its total, up from 14 per cent in 2002. Other bidders The only confirmed bidder for AT&T Wireless remains the second US mobile carrier, Cingular. A letter notifying potential bidders of the February 13 deadline was sent by AT&T’s bankers Merrill Lynch to Nextel, Vodafone and NTT DoCoMo, although the Japanese company, which owns a 17 per cent stake in AT&T Wireless, has agreed to waive its rights as a shareholder to hear about any proposed transactions. This is to avoid conflict of interest and enable the company to develop its own bid – it is understood to have submitted an informal proposal. Should other bids materialize, Cingular will almost certainly have to sweeten its $30bn - $11 per share - cash offer. Since AT&T Wireless’ shares have leapt in value by 50 per cent since December, this offer currently represents no premium on the stock price, which was $11.02 on Wednesday. One possible bidder that has decided not to run is Deutsche Telekom, which said this week that it was “not in acquisition mode”. Some take this as a sign that the German telco will exit the US mobile market. Although its T-Mobile subsidiary has seen impressive growth in the US and has margins of nearly 22 per cent - approaching Nextel’s legendary levels – it is the smallest of the national six, which means it is stuck with capital expenditure in excess of 20 per cent of revenues just to stay current – one factor behind its aggressive expansion into the cheaper network option of Wi-Fi hotspots. © Copyright 2004 Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.
Nokia is poised to make acquisitions this year to bolster its new Enterprise division and its ambitious bid to bite into the markets of both Microsoft and Cisco. CEO Jorma Ollila told analysts last week that “when we are looking at building our enterprise sector, we will be looking at smaller acquisitions”, although he claimed no deals were currently on the table. The most likely areas where Nokia might want to boost its corporate platform rapidly through acquisition are broadband networks – WLan and beyond – and back end software, as well as platforms for convergence of cellular and IP, and PDA functionality for the smartphones. Convergence To date all Nokia’s major offerings are focused on cellular networks, even though it has fervently embraced the converged, multi-standard network concept as the future for its operator-focused business. Handsets supporting Wi-Fi and WiMAX alongside 3G, WiMAX base stations for developing markets, adaptable radios that use the most appropriate available connection – all these are firmly on the Nokia agenda. They are sure to be applied to the enterprise market too, but while the core technologies are there in the Finnish giant’s portfolio, ready to be adapted for new sectors, there will be various hardware and software gaps that need to be filled in. Perhaps the most valuable technology Nokia could snap up would be a multi-network enterprise platform that allows companies easily to mix and match wireless protocols for best performance and cost-effectiveness. The best known of these is RadioFrame, although that company is tightly tied in with Nextel and Ericsson, but a similar product would be a major boost to Nokia, setting it up against Cisco – which it has identified as the key competitor for the Enterprise unit – and furthering its ambition of becoming the vital conduit between the CIO and the mobile operator. Important here could be the intellectual property of wireless router company Tahoe Networks, which Nokia acquired last year. Although mainly focused on carrier networks, its technology concerns what Nokia calls the Intelligent Edge, where cellular systems meet IP, and as such could be applied to corporate networks. The critical technology in the long awaited convergence of cellular and IP networks will be voice over IP, and this is what Nokia will have to master in order to succeed in its enterprise ambitions. It is far ahead of rivals in the vision, with its work on WiMAX handsets a good example, and if it moves swiftly it could put itself in pole position to challenge Cisco, NEC, Siemens and the others as VoIP goes wireless. One start-up in the Nokia investment portfolio is worth keeping an eye on for this reason – Qovia, maker of enterprise voice over IP management systems. NEC has stolen a march by allying closely with Airespace, which makes voice-optimized Wi-Fi gear. Another switch start-up heavily focused on voice is Meru Networks, which claims to have outdone the upcoming 802.11e quality of service standard with its own access points. Enterprise Wi-Fi Certainly, there could be rich pickings among the host of Wi-Fi switchmakers that face inevitable shakeout this year, and this is where most speculation about Nokia’s possible acquisition targets has centered. So far, Nokia’s broadband wireless initiatives have been targeted at its traditional carrier base – the Operator Wireless Lan hotspot kit and various smart antenna pilots, plus its prototype WiMAX products, are all operator focused, while to date the company has largely ignored enterprise networking. Like rival Motorola, which is also just starting to get serious about corporate Wi-FI and WiMAX , Nokia is likely now to adapt its technologies to the enterprise. “It is vital to encourage the mobile corporate sector to use broadband data and applications, as this is the same segment that will use 3G data services,” said the company in a recent statement. This could well involve acquisitions or partnerships in the switch community. Companies such as Vivato and Trapeze have innovative technology but increasing competitive pressure and financial difficulties, and could be an easy target for cash-rich Nokia. So could start-ups focused on IP routing, which is likely to prove a better match for Cisco’s WLAN strategy in the larger enterprise – companies such as Chantry Networks spring to mind. Nokia has already demonstrated interest in smart antenna technology for extending the reach of Wi-Fi, which can make enterprise WLans more powerful and cost-effective, and a buy in this area could bolster carrier and corporate product lines. Nokia’s own investment unit has a stake in Airgo, a pioneer of voguish MIMO antenna technology. Nokia’s investments Of course, it is always worth looking at companies’ own VC investments when speculating on promising acquisition or partner targets, and Nokia has a history of adopting the technology of the companies in which it invests. Nokia Venture Partners is the world’s largest mobile- specific investor, with $650m under management, and it also runs Innovent, an incubator fund. Interesting portfolio members from an enterprise point of view include @Hand, which makes field service software, Qovia for enterprise voice over IP, TailWind, which makes mobile workforce software and R-Objects, for virtual workgroups based on mobile clients. Innovent was an investor in Eizel, the first acquisition that Nokia made specifically for its enterprise business. Nokia spent $21m last spring on Eizel, one of the most innovative of the mobile software start-ups, making the smaller company’s Amplifi mobile email server the centerpiece of its planned corporate middleware and back end product range. Palm partnership? As well as fleshing out WLAN systems and back end software, it is probable that Nokia will have to accelerate the introduction of PDA capabilities to its smartphones in order to make them the client of choice rather than Palm and PocketPC devices – especially as these start to acquire better telephony. The PDA makers lack the history of carrier relationship building to succeed in the consumer phone sector, but in the enterprise they are well established. With speculation mounting that PalmOne will move to an multiple operating system strategy, probably including Symbian OS/Nokia Series 60, it is hardly beyond the bounds of possibility that Nokia could acquire the PDA market leader. It would gain Palm’s brand recognition among business users, its PDA functions and its critical Java developments with IBM, all of which could be incorporated into the Symbian platform. The same argument could apply to RIM, which has an even more extreme version of Palm’s dichotomy – strong brand, contracting market. PalmOne’s European chief, Vesey Crichton, told a Swedish publication last week that PalmOS was “not viewed internally as a religion”, sending a clear signal that the PDA maker could adopt other operating systems now that it has spun off its software arm, PalmSource. The most likely OS would be Symbian. Crichton is a huge admirer of that system and in particular of the Nokia interface and Series 60 developers’ platform. The combination of Palm and Nokia technologies could have huge benefits for both companies. Palm would not be saddled forever with an operating system that, despite its popularity, will decline as newer systems catch developers’ imaginations and as the standalone PDA for which it was designed becomes insignificant. The handheld maker’s survival strategy rests partly on moving to smartphones – particularly after the acquisition of Handspring – and Symbian OS is the strongest contender on the smartphone platform. Symbian, and specifically Nokia, could also benefit from working with Palm. Nokia needs to strengthen the PDA-style qualities in its phones before they will be as appealing in the enterprise as the handhelds that came from a data heritage, and it especially needs to improve its data sychronization capabilities – a key expertise at Palm. Enterprise Solutions may be only 5 per cent of Nokia’s revenues now, but it is the unit targeted for the greatest expansion in 2004. The company believes, with some justification, that it has a small window in which to present itself as the only vendor with “end to end thinking” rather than just attractive applications or devices. To achieve this within such a short timescale – less than two years to gain significant market presence and prove the concept – acquisition or licensing deals will be essential to supplement R&D that, while relevant to the enterprise, remains focused on the carriers as the first priority. © Copyright 2004 Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here. Related Products Buy your next Nokia from The Reg mobile store
Resellers of the Linux distribution Lindows in the Netherlands were ordered today to stop selling the product. Amsterdam judge Rullmann agreed with Microsoft that in many ways Lindows is "profiting from the success of Windows" by infringing the Beast of Redmond's trademarks. Within eight days Dutch resellers have to stop promoting and selling any Lindows product. The Californian company isn't even allowed to advertise in the Low Countries any longer and, even more remarkable, the judge has ordered Lindows to make its Web site inaccessible to Benelux-based web users. Dutch resellers are disappointed by the verdict. However, reseller Mensys said that Dutch consumers will still be able to buy the product from retailers in neighboring countries. "So far, Microsoft hasn't challenged German resellers," CEO Menso de Jong told The Register. "And if Microsoft wants to block access to the Lindows site, I suggest users try the Google cache." Still, the ruling is a major set back for Lindows. Last year Microsoft won a temporary restraining order in Sweden which prohibits Lindows.com from use of the marks 'Lindows', 'Lindows.com' and 'LindowsOS', pending a later decision on alleged trademark infringement. A judge in Finland also barred Linux vendors from using the Lindows name. Microsoft also started legal action in France, Belgium and Luxembourg against Lindows.com and Lindows OS resellers. Lindows CEO Michael Roberson hasn't responded yet to the latest ruling, but told reporters earlier that "Microsoft is using lawsuits as a battering ram to smash Linux, to prevent it from reaching retail stores". ®
Intel is out to accelerate the commoditisation of the notebook market, sources close to Taiwan's manufacturers have claimed. To that end, the chip giant has recruited five key notebook OEMs - Quanta, Compal, Asustek and First International - to help it launch a scheme to encourage resellers to offer notebooks sourced direct from the manufacturers, DigiTimes reports. Taiwan's OEMs already produce almost all of the world's notebooks, for no-name brands as well as the usual suspects. Yet over 80 per cent of notebooks sold are provided by 'name' vendors. That's not the case in the desktop arena, where half of the machines sold come from second-tier and lesser vendors, many of whom buy in stock systems from the likes of Quanta, Compal, Asustek, First International and co., add memory and perhaps wireless options, stick on their own badge and sell the machine as their own. That's been one of the reasons why desktops have become so much cheaper over the years, as many of them sell on price rather than brand name. Not so the notebook market, and that's what Intel and friends apparently want to change. Intel's motivation is to drive sales of higher margin mobile processor, particularly now while the desktop market is stagnating. For the manufacturers, success will depend on whether the margins are better on machines they build for themselves to sell as opposed kit built to the big guns' specifications and sold under their brands. It also depends on end users coming to accept that no-name kit is as safe a purchase as a machine bought from a well-known brand. ®
Just before last Christmas we were delighted to report that Nigerian 419ers had surfaced in post-war Baghdad and had laid their hands on large quantities of gold and cash, like you do. We now have reason to doubt these extravagant claims, because the latest intelligence - courtesy of reader Dave - suggests Saddam's booty had already left the country: Dear friend, Please I need urgent assistance and advice. My name is Jume Hasa Hussein. I am daughter of Sadam Hussein, former ruler of Iraq Islamic Republic now in captivity. I was a student of Environmetal Microbiology at Islamic University Al-Athmia before the United Nations weapons inspectors arrived Iraq and subsequent outbreak of hostilities between my father and the Coalition forces. Eventually, my father was arrested at Ad-Dawr, Tikrit on the 13th day of december 2003. To my understanding, the american soldiers have narcotized my father. There is a saying in Iraq "a lion in a cage is still a lion" All my father's known assets have been confiscated by the united nation's coalition group as illegally acquired at the expense of our country. Three of my brothers where tortured to death by the US soldiers for withholding information of my father's whereabout. Other members of our family have fled our country for fear of persecution. I am presently broke and trapped in a hidden location in our country pending when I secure help from a good samaritan who will assist me to claim a sum of US$30million which my father deposited in my name in a secured vault in Victoria Island in 1995 during my twenty first birthday out of foresight should we his children ever find ourselves in this kind of situation. Most importantly, apart from helping me claim this funds into your custody you will also help me relocate from iraq, to a place where I will conclude my studies with relative peace of mind. For your assistance I am willing to offer you a generous compensation, if you help me. Send your response to my secure email address: firstname.lastname@example.org to enable me further this relationship. sincerely Ms. J. Hasana Hussein email@example.com All of this this will come as a bit of a surprise to Saddam's other daughters, Raghad and Rana. The pair were last seen in Jordan after their cousin Ezzedin al-Majid made an unsuccessful attempt to gain the disgraced Husseins a foothold in the UK at the unlikely venue of Leeds-Bradford airport. We do not have reason to suspect he was carrying large quantities of bullion/diamonds/bearer bonds when UK Immigration sent him packing, so it's entirely possible that Jume managed to slip away with the wedge. Well, it would be if Jume Hasa Hussein were in fact Saddam's daughter and not the figment of some 419er's fertile imagination. The caged former Iraqi leader does have a third daughter, Hala, who disappeared shortly after the fall of her dear old pa. It seems the boys from Lagos have got a bit confused here attempting to give their cunning plan some authentic background detail. Still, the indignant tone of the email is a nice touch. Readers are invited to imagine poor Jume in a hole in the ground somewhere in northern Iraq, alternately sobbing for her murdered brothers, bless 'em, and raging against the narcotization of the Lion of Babylon. For the record, we here in Blighty have a saying too: "A lion in a cage is still a lion, but a skinned lion in front of the hearth is a lionskin rug." Nevertheless, a roaring fire will certainly be essential for anyone venturing out at this time of year to fill their pockets from the secured vault on Victoria Island - that particular landmass lies in the Canadian arctic. They certainly get around a bit these Husseins. So, if you are a Good Samaritan with a thick woolly jumper, fur hat and skidoo and would like to help Jume get back to her studies in "Environmetal" Microbiology (Judas Priest meets anthrax, perhaps?), then you have the contact details. Except, of course, you should never, ever, respond to one of these emails, unless indulging in the Olympic sport of Nigerian 419 fraudster baiting. If this seems a blindingly obvious statement, then read this somewhat disturbing email which arrived yesterday: I'm in the United States, and today I received an e-mail from Mr. Tony Fred Williams. It's exactly like the one you have posted on The Register's web-site in the article entitled "Teen 419er in Trainspotting drug hell" This is one of those opportunities that sounds "to good to be true." Whereas you are obviously familiar with the situation, I thought I'd post an inquiry to you to investigate whether or not this is legitimate. A couple of things strike me as odd to begin with: the first is, how did he get my e-mail address? And, secondly, being from the UK/Scottland area, why is the currency listed in US Dollars? Not that I expect you have the answer to these inquiries. They are obvious reasons for caution. Other than publishing the article, how much do you know about Mr. Williams and his claim? Do you have other references that I might contact to ensure that this is not a scam??? If Tony Fred is, indeed, in need of assistance, I'd certainly be happy to oblige. Your assistance is greatly appreciated. Sadly, our extensive - and frequently facetious - coverage of advance fee fraudsters and their missives has not been sufficiently blunt to warn potential victims of the dangers of dealing with these charlatans. To address our correspondant's queries: this sort of offer really is too good to be true. The "personalised" 419 email - containing the recipient's name - is a new development, and adds a small touch of authenticity. However, email addresses are easy enough to come by, and if they contain your name, it's hardly rocket science to stick that at the top. As far as we are aware, 419ers prefer always to operate in dollars, and usually in multiples of millions. We can only assume they cannot be bothered to do a little local research. Indeed, you'd expect a solicitation from "Scottland" to be in quids. If these pointers - added to the usual, preposterous, tale of African dictators and riches beyond the wildest dreams of avarice - are insufficient to assuage your greed, then this is what will happen next: You will be informed of some impediment to the release of the funds which can only be removed by an injection of (your) cash Convinced that you are about to receive $15m dollars, it seems reasonable to send $5,000 to facilitate said release Sadly, there is then another expense to be met, then another. Once you're in for 25k, you may as well see it through to the bitter end Having been well and truly fleeced, you may even receive a kind invitation to travel to collect the money. Upon arrival, you will be relieved of your remaining funds, passport, watch. You may even be kidnapped, if the 419ers believe that there are people at home willing to pay for the return of someone so thick that they really think that the sons/daughters/cousins of deposed African despots are going to give them a suitacse filled with millions of greenbacks That's a brief summary of how it works, though there are plenty of variations on the theme. Good, solid advice on 419 fraud is available from the US Secret Service guide and the London Met's own Fraud Alert. You have been warned. ® Bootnote The "Lion in cage" reference was in fact uttered by Raghad Hussein in Jordan. She is reported as saying: "A lion is still a lion, even when it is shackled." Raghad also made the Saddam "drugging" accusation.
Netproject,, the consultancy whose open source desktop pilot triggered large discounts from Microsoft for Newham Borough Council has formed an "Incubator Club" for organisations considering an open source switch. The membership of the club is being kept confidential, says Netproject's Eddie Bleadsale, because "we don't want the proprietary vendors to approach members before they have had time to fully evaluate open source." This we deduce as a reference to one proprietary vendor in particular, but not (hello Sun, hello IBM) exclusively to that one vendor. Newham itself concedes that it was able to negotiate with some strength because of the pilot, and its willingness to implement it, while Netproject says that: "Reacting to to Netproject's credible and practical approach, Microsoft completely changed their attitude towards Newham. They have made many concessions on licensing costs and support. Newham will benefit significantly from these Microsoft concessions but will keep their options open by continuing to evaluate the use of open source through the Netproject demonstrator." "Whenever Netproject demonstrates an open source solution to a microsoft customer," says Bleasdale, "they suddenly find Microsoft's approach much more amenable." He cites both Newham and West Yorkshire Police as examples of bodies which, after deploying pilots, where "made offers they could not refuse" by Microsoft. Bleasdale also tells The Register that during the summit Bill Gates keynoted on Monday he asked Patrica Hewitt to "give her opinions about an organisation that currently is an effective monopoly using its resources to stop technology innovation." She said she'd get back to him, and we look forward to that. At the moment it's probably impossible for open source to avoid being used as a bargaining chip by organisations seeking bigger discounts from Microsoft, and as it's currently the challenger, all other things being equal (or at least appearing equal), organisations will tend to stick with the devil they know rather than making the leap into the unknown. Assuming the existence of a process that goes pilot, counter attack, discount, Windows upgrade, then it seems rational to presume that the size of discount is in proportion to the maturity of the pilot. That is, the earlier the SWAT team gets to hear about it react, the less you know about open source, the less sure you are about switching, and the less they need to offer you. And of course the more sure you are, the more likely you are to actually do it as opposed to taking the money and running. Netproject is of course seeking something greater than a reasonable business as a Microsoft discount machine, and really wants you to switch. But either way, the secret society aspect of the Incubator Club makes sense. Wonder what they do to stool pigeons, though? ®
PalmOne may no longer be Europe's number one PDA maker, but globally it managed to hold off HP, full-year figures from Gartner reveal. But a 19 per cent decline in shipments saw the company's performance fail to keep up with the industry as a whole. Some 11.5 million PDAs shipped last year, Gartner said - 5.3 per cent fewer than in 2002. By contrast, HP's shipments grew 40.3 per cent to 2.28 million units, yielding a market share of 19.9 per cent, up from 13.4 per cent in 2002. PalmOne's 2003 share was 36.4 per cent, down from 42.5 per cent the previous year. Dell - number five in the chart - experienced the highest growth: 656.5 per cent, as unit shipments grew from 77,000 to 582,500, propelling its market share from 0.6 per cent in 2002 to 5.1 per cent last year. Blackberry creator Lawsuits in Motion - sorry, Research in Motion - also experienced three-figure growth: 121.4 per cent, taking its market share from 2.3 per cent to 5.3 per cent. RIM was placed fourth in the chart behind Sony, at number three. The Japanese giant grew shipments by a modest 5.5 per cent. It took 12.2 per cent of the market. PalmOne's decline was exceeded by other vendors. Toshiba's shipments fell 22.2 per cent year on year. Together, all other vendors' shipments dropped by 35 per cent. In the US, all six vendors retained their global rankings. Over half the PDAs sold ship in the US market, which declined two per cent last year. Shipments in Western Europe fell 12 per cent, and 30 per cent in Asia-Pacific. The weakening dollar and its upward effect on US prices, however, may yield a deeper decline in the US market in 2004, Gartner said. HP's success was driven by an "aggressive" roll-out across all key price points. However, demand is moving toward the mid- to low-end of the market. Certainly that's were the majority of players did best during the last three months of 2003. The trouble is, that's where smartphone manufacturers are at their most competitive, and will bite into PDA vendors' low-end sales throughout 2004, Gartner warned. PalmOne and other Palm OS vendors will be hit hardest, it reckons, because their users are typically those who make most use of their devices' PIM features. HP and other PocketPC vendors will be relatively safe because their devices are favoured more as a host for enterprise applications. However, come 2005, and the smartphone vendors will begin eating into that sector too, the researcher forecast. ® Related Stories Smartphones outsell PDAs 2:1 Euro PDA biz sees first growth since 2000 Related Products Visit our Palm, Sony & Handspring Department
The Society of IT Management has raised "significant concerns" over Whitehall's latest plans for rolling out e-governnment across the UK. Socitm's hackles were raised by recently-unveiled proposals outlined in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's consultation document Defining e-Government Priority Services & Transformation Outcomes. According to Glyn Evans, chairman of Socitm's Information Age Government Group (SIAG), the ODPM's paper marks a change of direction, as in previous discussion rounds it has been possible for proposed plans to reflect local priorities. "Now we're being told exactly what we have to do, half way through the programme, which is going to cause major problems all round. It will come as no surprise that we are seeking an early meeting with ODPM to discuss the all implications in some detail," said Evans. A central tenet of the latest ODPM document is the call for "definition of outcomes for the current investment in e-government", a strategy which Soctim thinks will end up creating a one-size-fits-nobody disaster because prescriptive dictated at a national level will not work locally. Soctim points out that e-government should support local priorities and avoid the danger of potential conflicts arising between local and central government priorities. The society warns that e-government will almost certainly be downgraded or marginialised at the local level, if proposed national priorities do not align with local realities. In addition, Socitm condemned the Government's plans for failing to provide adequate linkage between its stated national e-government goals and the seven shared priorities which it has mandated for local governments. According to Socitm, most of Whitehall's proposed e-gov outcomes are too narrow because they concentrate on Web-based service provision, so reinforcing the misconceptions that making Government functions available on the Web will in itself lead to significantly improved public services. As well as attacking the substance of the proposals Socitm also laid into the proposed delivery timetables, stating that many of the priority outcomes cannot realistically be achieved by the proposed December 2005 deadlines. ®
We salute our generous readers today for the tremendous effort which has seen the total raised for charity by the topless Somerset girl jump from £1,092.50 to £1,754.50 in just three days. One kind-hearted soul, who gave 50 quid, noted: "I found you through The Register. You look gorgeous, I hope you stay healthy for many years to come." Bless. Well, we do like to do our bit, and have just been alerted to a new charitable initiative in which an anonymous young woman aims to raise a cool £2m by running in April's London Marathon. What's interesting about this is that said athlete (an IT professional, our sources confirm) is motivated by the desire to outdo perjuring peer Jeffrey Archer in the sponsorship stakes. The highly-talented Archer, who is variously author, former London mayoral candidate and inside expert on the British penal system, has declared he will raise £1.66m, thereby breaking the record for a marathon sponsorship drive. The so-called "Ms Ordinary" is having none of it: "When we think of the London Marathon, we think of Paula Radcliffe’s magnificent record beating triumph last year; that thrilling 5-way finish in the men's race; the enthusiasm of vast crowds of spectators supporting both the elite runners and those that need 7 hours or more; the massive amounts of money raised for good causes. Do the British people want to include 'disgraced peer' Archer in those thoughts? Surely not. "Why should Jeffrey Archer hijack the London Marathon for his own personal glory? Surely the British people deserve better. He is trying to raise £1.66 million for charity and break the record for the largest charity sum raised for a marathon. If just 1 million people donated £2 each, then we could raise £2 million, and with a bit of luck we'll never have to hear from him again." We doubt that somehow. However, Ms Ordinary is on the right track with her support for Childline, Shelter, Cancer Research UK, Help the Aged and NSPCC. Her total currently stands at £2,538, and readers wishing to boost the charity coffers can do so on the People Vs Peer website. Credit card/cheque donations are accepted for any of the individual charities listed above. ® Bootnote The sponsorship record is held by none other than J-Lo's ex-squeeze P Diddy "who raised approx. £1.2m in the NYC marathon". Blimey, 26 miles on the streets of The Big Apple without pulling a piece on someone? Tremendous effort Mr Diddy.
London Mayor Ken Livingstone is mulling the idea of public subsidy to ensure that future developments in the capital are wired up for high-speed telecoms services. According to the report, I>Connecting the capital: information and communications technology in London, the provision of telecommunications services in London is "second to none". The Mayor reckons Central London offers one of the "most competitive markets in the world for high capacity connectivity" thanks to the high concentration of international businesses and financial services in the city. Despite this, Mr Livingstone is concerned that London could be left behind. He cites cities in the Far East, for example, where people already have access to residential broadband services offering more than 16 times the capacity of services available in London, and at similar prices. Outlining his policies on ICT, Mr Livingstone states that there "is a need to ensure that investment continues to be made to spread out access to core high capacity networks". At this stage, he just wants to keep an eye on the situation to see how the private sector handles the roll-out of advanced services. However, if the market is unable or unwilling to make the necessary "up front investment in infrastructure", then he is "prepared to examine the case for public sector investment to ensure that major developments are provided with core communications infrastructure from the start, rather than having it built in at a later stage". He also considers the provision of mobile or wireless communications infrastructure as a further key component of London's world city status and will watch the roll out and take up of the new wireless communications systems with interest, said the report. This month the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) called on government to begin thinking about the future of high-speed services in the UK. It pressed on the government to encourage investment in "next generation" broadband infrastructures and services "ahead of the demand curve". ® Related Story Broadband needs new milestones - BSG
Microsoft yesterday put up a $250,000 bounty for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the author of the MyDoom-B worm. The reward follows a similar offer $250,000 offer from SCO for information leading to the capture of MyDoom-A, which is programmed to launch a DDoS attack on SCO's web site from infected computers. MyDoom-B attacks the web sites of both SCO and Microsoft.com. Last year Microsoft issued bounties for the capture of the authors of the Sobig-F and Blaster worms, as part of a $5 million program designed to encourage informants to come forward with info on cyber vandals. Law enforcement agencies will administer the fund which is yet to make its first payment. ® Related Stories SCO posts $250,000 worm bounty MS puts $250k bounty on virus authors' heads AV vendors shun MS bounty hunters
ATI is getting ready to sell up to $500 million worth of shares sometime in the next two years. The graphics chip maker today said it had filed a preliminary sales prospectus with both US and Canadian financial regulators. The filing register's the company's plan to offer (perhaps) a variety of different securities or combinations of them, at any time in the next 25 months. The goal: to provide the company "with the ability to quickly take advantage of cost-effective financing opportunities". If it wants to go ahead, ATI will have to file a final shelf prospectus, outlining what it's selling and how much of it the company plans to offer. "The nature, size and timing of any financings under the final shelf prospectus will be dependent upon ATI's assessment of its requirements for funding and general market conditions," the company said. ® Related Story ATI Q4 market share beats Nvidia - just
Gateway has said it will buy low-cost PC maker eMachines in a bid to boost its market share around the world and in the US market in particular. The deal, announced today, will see Gateway pay $30 million in cash plus 50 million Gateway shares to eMachines' owners, valuing the transaction at $235m. If the deal proceeds as planned, Gateway will become the US' third largest PC maker - with a seven per cent share of the market - and the eighth largest in the world. The combined operation will have revenues of $4.5 billion and drive Gateway's return to profitability, which it expects to happen in 2005. Essentially, Gateway is buying eMachines' retail presence and the low-cost distribution mechanism that backs it up, extending Gateway's reach beyond its own direct sales channel. Gateway-branded machines will continue to be sold direct, and the eMachines brand will survive to be sold exclusively through third-party retailers. Gateway's consumer electronics products will be sold through both channels. Unlike Gateway, eMachines' fourth quarter was profitable - though as a privately held company eMachines has chosen not to reveal by how much. Gateway lost $114 million (35 cents a share) during the three months to 31 December 2003, in line with its own forecast. The loss was almost double the one the PC maker reported this time last year when it was in the red to the tune of $72 million (22 cents a share). Excluding one-off items, however, Gateway's Q4 2003 loss drops to $49 million (15 cents a share) - pretty much what Wall Street had expected, according to Thomson First Call's average figure. Revenue for the quarter dropped 17 per cent on the year-ago period, reaching $875 million from Q4 2002's $1.06 billion. The company's attempt to broaden its coverage into consumer electronics appeared to pay off. But while sales of plasma TVs, DVD recorders, MP3 players, etc. were reported to be strong, PC sales were not. It also admitted that it was not able to meet demand for some of its most popular PCs, in particular its Media Center lines. Gateway hopes that the cost savings it expects to make by merging with eMachines' operation, plus increase sales volumes - with eMachines' PC sales covering its own decline in that arena, along with its successful push into consumer electronics - and the benefits of eMachines' better margins will drive it back to sustained profitability sometime in 2005. First comes the restructure. Gateway didn't say what that would cost, in addition to what its paying to eMachines' owners. But eMachines CEO Wayne Inouye will become Gateway CEO. Gateway founder Ted Waitt will retain his role as Chairman. ® Related Story Gateway revenue warning scares off investors
An agency worker at BT Retail's call centre in Newcastle has been suspended for posting a "for sale" ad on eBay in protest at jobs being exported to India. The ad for "one hard working call centre advisor" challenges the growing trend of companies exporting jobs overseas and the threat it poses to British jobs. Protesting about the threat to UK jobs, the call centre advisor writes: "Take up this once in a lifetime opportunity to have your very own call centre advisor because they're going fast and won't be here much longer." The auction ended a week ago and failed to generate any bids. In a statement the UK's dominant telco said: "BT can confirm that a contact centre adviser has been suspended, pending further investigation into an advert posted on the eBay Web site." The telco said that it remained "absolutely committed" to its contact centre operations in the UK but added: "BT's contact centres in India are working to the same high standards that BT sets for its UK contact centres." Last March BT confirmed plans to set up two call centres in India but insisted that no UK jobs would be lost as a direct result of the move. Earlier this week a report found that punting jobs overseas to countries such as India could "significantly boost" the UK's economic growth. ® Related Stories Sending jobs overseas could boost UK economy BT confirms India call centre move
Microsoft has outlined plans to make phishing attacks more difficult by dropping support for a common Web authentication method. Redmond's plans to remove support for handling user names and passwords in HTTP or HTTPS URLs in IE are designed to protect Web surfers from being lured to malicious constructed or fraudulent sites. The syntax http(s)://username:password@server/resource.ext has legitimate users but is also frequently used in phishing scams. The problem is compounded by an unpatched security vulnerability which could be exploited to display a fake URL in the address and status bars of IE. Rather than fix that specific flaw, which first emerged almost two months ago, Microsoft is ditching an entire approach. This is a radical step that will cause considerable inconvenience to the minority whilst frustrating one particular technique for making password harvesting scams appear more plausible. Microsoft is giving advanced notice of the changes to allow Web designers a chance to review Web site code. Following the update, the following URL syntax username:password@server/resource.ext will no longer be supported in IE or Windows Explorer. Microsoft's advisory explains the issue in greater depth and outlines possible workarounds for Web developers. ®
Following our story "BT scores £40k win over The Number" earlier this week concerning an out of court settlement between the two companies, The Register has been asked to publish the following statement on behalf of The Number. We are happy to oblige In the statement, The Number apologises for a comment that it made about BT and a charitable donation. The statement reads: "In your news story 'BT Scores', William Ostrom of The Number said 'We tried to persuade them to donate the full £40,000 to charity, but they refused.' The Number UK Ltd would like state this is incorrect as no suggestion was made to BT that they donate the full £40,000 to charity. We offer an unreserved apology to BT." ®
Despite the entertainment industry's best efforts to clamp down on peer-to-peer software, the technology appears to be thriving in the world of big business, at least if Sun Microsystems' JXTA software is any indication. This week Sun gave word that JXTA has been downloaded 2 million times. These downloads combine with the more than 16,000 people who have signed on as members of JXTA.org, since former chief scientist Bill Joy first took the wraps off the technology three years ago. According to Sun, a number of large customers are picking up the JXTA code, including Verizon and Nokia. "JXTA is still marching along as an open standards-based protocol for distributed and P2P computing," said Juan Carlos Soto, one of the JXTA leads at Sun. "We're very pleased the vision we've had has been validated." JXTA is the most recent of Sun's J-themed technologies, arriving after Java and Jini. Sun sent Version 2.2 of JXTA into the wild on December 15. The release contains some hardened security features along with several performance boosts. Sun has worked to help JXTA scale across more systems and have better communication throughput between devices. Verizon has used JXTA to set up a P2P program for directing both voice and data traffic. Users can load a client onto their PC, which will display information on incoming calls and then open a pipe for swapping files. It's similar to an advanced version of instant messaging with telephony tools. Users can also have the software route calls to other phone lines. Nokia has picked up JXTA for use in its data center. The JXTA software scans the network for servers that are up and running. If a system goes down, Nokia's JXTA-based software will send a message to other boxes to pick up the processing load and alert administrators about the failure. Sun is hoping to use JXTA to build similar tools into its own N1 server management software. Why Nokia took the lead here instead of Sun is anybody's guess. Sun is also looking into using JXTA as the basis for collaboration tools on its Java Desktop System OS. While Sun does promote JXTA with various marketing exercises, the company is fairly quiet about the technology when compared to some other efforts. This stance is somewhat disheartening given the fuss both Sun and Intel made about P2P technology back when Napster was booming and P2P looked like the next big thing. "We do defend the merits of peer-to-peer technology," Soto said. Soto's personal opinion is that entering the copyright fray with the media companies would be a distraction to P2P's future as a lubricant for large scale data center and device communications. The copyright mess is "outside of the context of P2P, as far I am concerned," he said. This is certainly a shame for end users. Sun could do much to validate the idea that P2P file distribution has many advantages. Moreover, Sun could do its part as an "open vendor" to promote the use of P2P on open PCs, as opposed to leaving users stranded on computers locked down with DRM. But it seems that piggy-backing off of an illegal Napster is only good when it suits the press release and not such a fine idea in more somber times. ®
Campaign 2004Campaign 2004 One of the two founding architects of Howard Dean's Internet campaign has hit back at the traveling circus of "emergent" pundits, authors and opportunists that attached itself to the grassroots campaign. Thanks but no thanks, says Jerome Armstrong, who was blogging for Dean in 2001 and who with Mathew Gross convinced Dean's campaign manager Joe Trippi to use campaign blogs and meet-up software. You can see why. The pundits' mantras about decentralization, "returning power to the edges of the network" and intangible references to junk science didn't originate with the Dean team, and weren't solicited, either. But now they're being used as ammunition back against the Dean campaign. And the only people who've profited are the opportunist pundit army. "The thing is," says Armstrong, "it's a complete myth that things spontaneously 'emerge'. Meetups didn't just happen." "Campaigns have always been decentralized and disorganized. There's always authorization and endorsement behind the scenes. In 2000, McCain's campaign was totally disorganized outside the main little bubble that they had. We were simply able to have more disorganized people!" How Armstrong and Gross established the organization is now the stuff of legend. Armstrong and Gross were advocating Dean's candidacy before it was announced, in 2001. Then in 2002, they established MyDD.com, and it led to the now storied meeting where Trippi blessed their initiative. "A number of things coalesced. Dean was a candidate who had a lot of strong characteristics. He wasn't a liberal you can put in a box," says Armstrong. "He was the only politician outside DC who could feel the anger growing. Dean sensed the message and Trippi saw the potential there. Trippi was a master at strategy and none of the other campaign managers were able to understand what that meant in terms of providing organizing for the campaign." But Armstrong is no techno-utopian. "Technology doesn't interest me ," he says. "It's the words. Republicans have spent thirty years refining that message. Technology is just a means for getting there." Armstrong recognized that the Internet, while useful, wasn’t the mass media play that TV became. "We're not really at the point of saturation that TV had in 1960," he says. The televised Presidential debates of 1960 between Kennedy and Nixon have entered folklore as the turning point in the campaign. Although morning-after reaction judged it a close call, post-facto Nixon's TV image - his five o'clock shadow and sweaty jowels -were cited as reasons for turning voters off. (In fact, not only has Internet usage yet to reach TV saturation, its perceived value has stalled. As we noted last spring, half the US population doesn't want to use the Internet and doesn't care less about what it might be missing, according to a Pew survey. "Internet penetration rates have hovered between 57 per cent and 61 per cent since October 2001, rather than pursuing the steady climb that they had showed in prior years," the researchers discovered.) A-List Blog vendors committed the familiar, egocentric error of assuming that this phenomena was down to their software, rather than the enthusiasm of the supporters, and this was reflected in mainstream media coverage. Dean's success "must be down to the blogs". But as the blog-hype escalated, says Armstrong, the Dean campaign found itself at a disadvantage using blogs instead of more venerable, community-orientated software such as Slash and Scoop. (Both power hundreds of communities: Slash was written for Slashdot, then released as open source, while Scoop powers Kuro5hin.org and DailyKos amongst others). And as the momentum grew, the Dean campaign found itself aligned with plenty of self-interested pundits eager to take the credit: a mixture of A-List bloggers and authors. What, we wondered did Armstrong make of the "recommended reading" list cited by Wired? "How a bunch of books about social networking rebooted the Democratic system," according to the magazine. Armstrong sounds like a man more bemused than rankled. "Loose Ends?" Armstrong is referring to David Weinberger's Small Pieces Loosely Joined, a well-intentioned book that straddles pop sociology and self-help. It professes to disavow the dafter rhetoric of techno-utopianism - "The Web is not the messiah dressed in cables and bits"; and "to say that the web is self-organizing is to under-appreciate organisms" are sanity checks that wouldn't look out of place at, well, The Register. However the book repeatedly claims that the World Wide Web is the truest social representation we have. Which is a risky path to pursue, because it lays a trap that unfortunately, the author then walks into: using computer metaphors to describe society. Another problem is expounded here, and this is what rankles Dean's campaign activists the most. "The common wisdom -- that the Internet is just one more tool in the campaign box -- is wrong…" writes Weinburger. "Are the most important effects of the Internet the ones we expect or are they emergent? Are any of emergent effects apparent yet?" You get the picture. But Weinberger's claim to be a Senior Internet Consultant surprised Armstrong this week. "I've never heard of him," says Armstrong. "After the Wired article I went to Barnes and Noble to have a look at these books. After twenty minutes I eventually found them. They did look quite interesting but no, we hadn't read them." Teach-In Weinberger still cites his credentials as a "Senior Internet Advisor" at an "O'Reilly Digital Democracy Teach-In" - for which the price of admission is a mere $100 "(no discounts available)". "What sort of people go to these?" he asks, rhetorically. The panel on Political Blogging doesn't even include a Political Blogger. We can help answer that one: and sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. (Taken at the $500 a head BloggerCon conference). "These things aren't being done because anyone saw it in a book - the books are written because the authors saw things being done," says a source close to the campaign, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They're about as influential as 'Macbeth' was on Scottish royal succession." "They get a lot of credit for describing stuff that other people are doing. There's this queer mode of writing they all use to describe existing things in the future tense - "KEY POINT: The most powerful information systems of the future will be grown, not made" . Ah, the old Marxist trick: get out of the way before History Will Bury You. Armstrong has enough faith in the campaign's achievement to think that the Internet will provide a medium for even more effective tools in the future. Rather than referring to the emergent pundits, he draws more inspiration from Deleuze and in particular, George Lakoff's Moral Politics. Lakoff's emphasis on language has valuable lessons that progressives should heed, he says. Given how peripheral, to put it charitably, these pundits have been to the Dean phenomenon, then perhaps all the talk of returning "power to the edges of the network" - a vague phrase no one has yet been able to explain - simply means returning power to the self-appointed pundits? At $100 per head per conference, that's a nice little earner. But let's leave it to our old friend James F Moore, of Googlewashing notoriety to have the last word, as it illustrates a more deeper, more problematic issue with the pundits than their mere self-promotion. "If you blog it and you know it clap your hands!" writes Jim. "As bloggers, we're perfectly equipped to address politics as a web app design challenge." No Jim, society isn't a software program. ® Related Stories Techno utopians' Net Candidate falters Dean campaign Waves 'Net guru' Trippi goodbye Who told Dean to scream for lock-down, TCPA computing?
After pounding away at the iSCSI protocol, a university laboratory has deemed the technology fit for public consumption. The University of New Hampshire InterOp Laboratory (UNH-IOL) has teamed with some of the largest storage vendors to put version 1.0 of the iSCSI spec through its paces and found that all is working as planned. This should come as good news for companies eager to ignite interest in the fledgling technology. iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface) promises to help companies of all sizes expand their storage area networks (SANs) by sending large chunks of data over IP. "Over our last two plugfests, we haven't pushed anything back into the standard," said Stephen Schaeffer, the UNH-IOL iSCSI Consortium manager, in an interview. "So from what we are seeing based on the vendors participating, the standard is pretty well baked, and it seems the vendors are implementing the standard pretty well." A long list of vendors sent in software and hardware for the UNH test. ATTO, Crossroads Systems, EMC, Empirix, Finisar, I-Tech, Intransa, iVivity, Microsoft, Network Appliance, Silverback Systems and Xiran were all part of the program. One notable exception was IBM. Big Blue has done plenty of work in the iSCSI specification and was one of the first vendors to roll out an iSCSI box. Then,last year, IBM scrapped the 200i system and said little about where its iSCSI plans would go. "(IBM) seems to have lapsed in their support," Schaeffer said. "It has left me scratching my head." The good news is that the rest of the vendors have backed up their iSCSI hype with solid kit. UNH ran an extensive series of tests on software and hardware products, finding the kit played well together. And what's good for the vendors here is also good the customers. "I think that iSCSI will initially fill two niches," Schaeffer said. "One is for the people who want Fibre Channel but can't afford it. The other is for people that have Fibre Channel in their data centers but want to link these systems over long distances." With questions about the iSCSI spec itself now resolved, vendors can concentrate on building a rich set of products to back up the technology. Schaeffer expects companies to work over the next year on tuning their iSCSI systems and adding some new features into gear for security and better application performance. It has taken a very long time for this iSCSI thing to happen, and it's good to see the vendors are playing nice to help push things along. ®