Original URL: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/08/03/weekly_0308/

Dancing to the tune of a company-sized cash register

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By Lucy Sherriff

Posted in Business, 3rd August 2007 13:42 GMT

The summer seems to be all about shopping for the tech industry this week. The sun has come out, and with it shareholders have approved takeovers, said yes to investors, and generally got on with the business of buying businesses.

The biggest noise on this side of the pond was probably to do with a little computer firm called Amstrad...

The Sky's the limit

Where were you when you heard the news that BSkyB had agreed to pay £125m for Amstrad, Sir Alan Sugar's set-top box manufacturing firm?

Happily, chairman Alan Sugar will not be fired, although since he is in line for a £35m payday if the deal goes through, he could certainly afford to retire. Truly the end of an era.

BSkyB's acquisition of Amstrad was not the only deal being done this week...

The tech industry's summer shopping spree

We brought you the rumours of an impending takeover at Evesham. Next, there was the sale of Xansa to French IT services outfit Groupe Steria.

Dublin-listed satellite TV and communications equipment firm Vislink has confirmed the acquisition of US company Focus Communications for $5.5m, and Dutch telco KPN is eyeing a €766m bid for struggling IT services company Getronics NV.

More acquisition action as private equity group Terra Firma snaps up music group EMI for a tasty £2.4bn, while Disney grabs itself a piece of this social networking thing buying children's site Club Penguin in a deal which could run to $700m.

Dell has agreed terms on a £340m acquisition of software solutions and licensing services provider ASAP and private investors have ponied up another $20m of funding for Action Engine, self-styled leader in the on-device portal business.

Intel: monopolising headlines

Post the EU's announcement that it would open an anti-trust investigation into Intel's business practises, rivel chip-maker AMD has gone on the offensive. It claims to have a study showing that 43 per cent of Intel's profits are a result of monopolistic practices.

Register here

Post the collapse of domain registrar RegisterFly, and the chaos that ensued, the non-profit organisation "entrusted with the technical stability of the internet we all know and love" (ICANN) has opened its Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) to public comment.

Firey Fox updates

Mozilla has pushed out a new version of Firefox that fixes a brace of security bugs, barely a fortnight after its last update. Are browsers all destined to be software sieves?

More trouble for products starting with "i"

The BBC's iPlayer launch has also struggled, with download limits getting the thumbs down from users, particularly the Free Software Foundation's which launched a venomous attack.

Managing users, BOFHs, and herding cats

Taking a load off the shoulders of busy IT departments trying to keep track of who is doing what on their networks, Facebook this week decided to break itself, so users were forced to get on with their work.

Meanwhile, IT staff at UMG would like some overtime please, for all that server watching.

Is it right or wrong? Ask Google

Google is one of several tech firms to file a complaint about the wording of copyright infringement warnings. Apparently, the terms used are just plain threatening and misrepresent the rights of the, er, rightsholders.

The firm also threw its toys out of the pram about patent trolls, declaring the US patent system "broken". Industry watchers will know this is not the first time this argument has been put forward.

Outsourced to glory

Staff at Xerox's Ballycoolin factory who were to move to IBM when their jobs were outsourced, might be looking at pink slips, after all. Number crunchers at Big Blue plan two rounds of job cuts, each seeing 450 positions further outsourced to central Europe.

Lock ups

A man who pretended to be from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and was charging companies to register under the Data Protection Act has been jailed for 20 months. Christopher Williams of Hoole, Chester, was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court. The judge in the case said the ruse was "a well planned and sophisticated offence led by greed and cloaked in officialdom".

Banking downtime

Intelligent Finance (IF) hit a system upgrade catastrophe on Sunday which left the internet banking service severely disrupted for nearly two days.

A classic case of best-case planning, the firm admitted, with a spokeswoman declaring: "We had huge confidence that the upgrade would go smoothly, so this really took us by surprise." You live, you learn.

Anyone for a game of brand values

Microsoft is the most valuable technology brand in the world, according to Business Week magazine's latest ranking of global brands released Tuesday, but lost out to CocaCola in the overall list. Other tech names we cannot live without are HP and Intel. Google, despite its fears of becoming a verb, made it into the top 20.

Vista service pack on the horizon

Microsoft has said it plans nothing more than a beta for its first Windows Vista Services Pack (SP1) for the rest of 2007, and is not giving dates on a final release date...

Gloomy doom for servers?

Are low end servers under threat from virtualisation? Or will the gadget fiend's desire for more shiny kit just keep burning, and keep an industry chugging along? As ever, it depends who you ask. Shockingly, analysts are less optimistic than low-end server-makers.

Carousel rides

Carousel fraud is the big thing in the UK these days. If you aren't sending your products on tax evading journeys, you just ain't hip.

According to KPMG Forensic, which monitors fraud figures, there was a total of 107 fraud cases in the six months leading up to June this year, which had a total value of £594m.

The quick fire cash flow round

Toshiba raises forecast as profits head north in Q1.

Sun is also in the black. The firm posted healthy fourth quarter revenue of $3.84bn, and said the benefits of its continuing cost cutting programme were starting to show. This very welcome news triggered a 10 per cent jump in its stock price.

Things are also looking good at Telefonica-owned mobile operator O2, which has shown steady growth, with revenues up 10.4 per cent. The UK firm said it was managing to convert more pay-as-you-go customers over to contract deals.

PC manufacturer Lenovo boosted its results some 13 per cent for the quarter, leaving everyone there smiling.

Not such a cheery picture over at Ingram Micro. Sad faces all round, we imagine, as the distie posted a second quarter loss and noted the loss of its COO Kevin Murai, who stepped down.

More bad news from Alcatel-Lucent as the newly merged firm posted continuing losses. It blamed integration issues after the merger, and slow sales for the results.

And finally...

Entertain yourself with a delightful take on the (in)famous Steve Ballmer Monkey Dance, in the style of an iPod advert. Nice. ®