Channel keeps its head above flood waters and is awash with money

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The UK may well have been dealing with its worst floods since 1947, but the only thing flowing through the IT industry was cash - and plenty of it.

First, sat nav company Tom Tom made a €1.8bn cash offer for Tele Atlas, the company that supplies map data to the sat nav firm's 10 million GPS devices.

Then HP announced it was splashing out $1.6bn for data centre software company Opsware and paying $214m for thin-client specialist Neoware.

Avnet buys HP and IBM distribution from Magirus

The channel was also awash with money. Avnet announced plans to buy the European enterprise infrastructure division (EID) of HP and IBM distributor Magirus Group.

The agreement with Avnet will see Magirus handing over the distribution of IBM and HP servers, storage systems, software, and services to resellers in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and Dubai. Acquisition-happy Avnet said the deal will net it an extra 1,300 reseller customers and 140 staff.

Who says romance is dead?

Still on the subject of acquisitions, in a scene reminiscent of the end of The Graduate, iSoft jilted potential takeover partner IBA at the altar and eloped with German health technology group CompuGROUP.

The on-off IBA/iSoft affair, which had almost been sunk because of disapproval from iSoft partner CSC, was back on with IBA looking for court approval of a £125m takeover when CompuGROUP waded in with an offer of 66 pence per share, which valued iSoft at £160m.

CSC is happy with the new suitor because it has taken over iSoft's obligations to the NHS under the National Programme for IT and has been given a licence to develop iSoft's Lorenzo software in exchange for "an undisclosed consideration" to iSoft.

FBI and Chinese police rain on pirates' plans

Meanwhile, the FBI and the Chinese police prevented a flood of a different kind when they seized pirated Microsoft software with a value of more than $2bn which had been produced by a network of Chinese pirating syndicates. Twenty-five people have been arrested in the province of Guangdong in southern China.

Q2 PC sales rising

The flood waters weren't the only things rising. The PC industry was heartened by surging sales in EMEA, up 13.5 per cent in the second quarter, according to IDC. The main driver for the growth was a 31 per cent increase in notebook sales compared to a puny 2.4 per cent rise in desktop shipments.

Karine Paoli, research director for IDC's EMEA Personal Computing group, said the gradual replacement "of a large consumer notebook installed base in Western Europe clearly contributes to the continued momentum".

Surge in public sector spending expected

More good news in the shape of predictions that public sector spending on ICT and business process outsourcing (BPO) is ready for a surge in 2008.

In its latest report, ICT and business process outsourcing in the UK public sector to 2012, Kable estimates contracts and renewals will produce a 10 per cent increase in business to £5.79bn in 2008. With growth rates of 6-8 per cent over the next four years, the total is expected to rise to £7.53bn in 2012.

Kable admits 2007 is a slack year for new business, but it is proving critical for beginning the sales and buying process for future outsourcing.


Elsewhere, Dublin-based firm Heavey RF decided to pour cold water on radio frequency identification (RFID), claiming it was a technology bubble ready to burst, despite being a provider of the technology itself.

"History is littered with large technical blunders; RFID in the supply chain is potentially one of the biggest," said Ronan Clinton, managing director of Heavey RF. He claimed there were "worrying parallels between RFID and the dotcom hype".

Wireless USB reaches port

While we're on the subject of technology (IT's what we're here for after all), the first devices have been approved for Wireless USB certification and four will be in the shops in the US by the end of the summer. They include laptops from Dell and Lenovo and hubs and adaptors from IO Gear and D-Link. Wireless USB allows any USB device to become wireless instantly using an adaptor, without changes to the drivers or configuration.

Cheap as chips

Intel has slashed the price of several desktop and mobile processors, but the reductions aren't as extensive as expected. The highlight was a 50 per cent cut in the price of the four-core, 2.4GHz Core 2 Quad Q6600.

I lost my site in San Francisco...

Power interruptions in San Francisco disrupted operations at co-location facility 365 Main and knocked out websites for Craigslist, Typepad, Yelp, Livejournal, Redenvelope, and Sun.

While 365 Main managed to restore operations at the co-location site using emergency generators, Redenvelope continued to be unavailable on the same day its PR department decided to issue a press release celebrating the site's "two years of 100 per cent uptime at 365 Main's San Francisco facility".

Welcome on board

There were a number of significant appointments during the week. Ron Rittenmeyer was appointed CEO of services giant EDS, two years after he joined the company as vice president of service delivery.

Senior independent director David Clayton was named as Sage's new group strategy and mergers and acquisitions director. Given Sage's acquisitive history, he should be a busy man.

BT Wholesale filled the chief executive space left by Paul Reynolds, who is off to become CEO of Telecom New Zealand, with Sally Davis. She has been with BT since 1999 and was previously chief portfolio officer.

Man overboard!

Executive director Didier Herrmann has been asked to step down with immediate effect from the board of LogicaCMG. Herrman had joined the board after LogicaCMG acquired Unilog in 2005 but, according to the Financial Times, he did not get on with newly-appointed interim chief executive Jim McKenna and was asked to resign. McKenna will replace retiring CEO Martin Read in September.

Things we forgot to mention...

Tesco has announced plans to sell its six own-brand software packages, which are developed by Formjet, in another 200 stores. The company claimed to have sold 25,000 titles in 150 stores since October last year. The titles include a complete office suite, two anti-virus products and a photo editing tool for school and home users, all of which retail at under £20.

Carphone Warehouse is tempting customers to sign up for a 24 month contract for its AOL Broadband service (at £19.99 a month) with a free Dell Inspiron laptop and wireless router.

Google's second quarter revenue rose 58 per cent to $3.87bn and profits were up to $925m.

Amazon reported a 257 per cent jump in second quarter profits to $78m on a 35 per cent rise in sales to $2.88bn.

EMC's second quarter profits were up 20 per cent to $344m on sales of $3.12bn.

AMD's revenue also increased, but it turned in a loss of $600m.

...and a couple of things we had to include

The UK government refused to cave in to the likes of Cliff Richard and Roger Daltrey, opting to reject calls to extend music copyright beyond 50 years. What were the words to the song, Roger? "Hope I die before I get old..."

Researchers investigating the health effects of mobile phone masts have found sufferers report symptoms regardless of whether the equipment is switched on or off. According to the researchers, the trial results showed that "exposure from mobile phone technology is not related to levels of well-being or physical symptoms in [mast-sensitive] individuals".

In space, no one can see you dumping

While the rest of us are being exhorted to recycle and reuse and warned not to dump our waste, NASA has revealed astronauts have thrown an old refrigeration system weighing 1,400lb off the International Space Station. Listen guys, you don't throw fridges out the window, you throw TVs! ®

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