Sir Alan Sugar makes more than Ingram, and Eminem takes second bite at Apple

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Let's imagine someone's talking, making a pitch. This is what they're saying: "Here's the deal. We set up a distribution company, call it Ingram Micro, and turn it into the biggest IT distributor in the world. Good plan, right? And once we're the biggest in the world, the sky's the limit.

Massive sales - $8.19bn in the second quarter – and an, er, 0.6 per cent profit margin with net income of $52.4m." How could anyone resist?

Gee, more Evesham speculation

By the time you read this, Evesham Technology may well have been bought. Then again, it may not have. It's all a question of timing. Anyway, the finger is being pointed at TimeUK as the most likely buyer after Evesham's founder and chairman, Richard Austin, became director of Geemore Technology, a company which lists The Elite Logo Company as its secretary, on 20 July. The Elite Logo Company is owned by Tahir Mohsan and Tariq Mohammed, the founders of TimeUK. Now there's a coincidence.

How far is near?

On the subject of things that could happen, or maybe not, we draw your attention to remarks by Cisco CEO John Chambers last week to the effect that the Linksys brand was set to disappear. Speaking to journalists at a European roundtable last week, he said: "The reason we kept Linksys' brand because it was better known in the US than even Cisco was for the consumer. As you go globally there's very little advantage in that."

He suggested integration was almost complete and Linksys stock was being run down. Not long afterwards, Linksys president Charles Giancario released a statement stressing that the Linksys consumer and SMB products would co-exist with Cisco-branded products "over the near term". Maybe there's more stock to run down than Chambers thought.

Fancy an old PC guv?

Speaking of irresistible ideas, how about this one from the National Audit Office: the government could make £70m if it resold its old computer equipment (hey, that's better than Ingram). We're trying to picture civil servants setting up stalls on the street outside Whitehall to flog their old PCs, but we just can't see it.

Sky's the limit for Amstrad

News that BSkyB had made a £125m bid for Amstrad, the company founded by Sir Alan Sugar, had a lot of people struggling to make a link with The Apprentice, but as he isn't going to be fired, they didn't succeed.

VAT's a lot of money

There was a huge increase in the number of fraud cases worth more than £100,000 passing through English courts in the first six months of the year. A total of 107 fraud cases, with a value of £594m, were brought, equating to an average fraud value (AFV) of £5.55m - we're not sure if that figure includes VAT or not. But with four cases accounting for £440m - and the largest coming in at £250m - the actual AFV for the other 103 cases is £1.49m.

Intel refutes EC charge sheet

Meanwhile, Intel found itself in the firing line after the European Commission accused it of abusing its dominant market position in at least three separate ways that could be linked together as "a single overall anti-competitive strategy". The chip giant responded by claiming the microprocessor market was "functioning normally" and its conduct had been "lawful, pro-competitive and beneficial to consumers."

Unsurprisingly, AMD did not agree. "The EU [European Union] action obviously suggests that Intel has, once again, been unable to justify its illegal conduct," said AMD legal affairs executive vice president Thomas M McCoy.

Sun shines through the clouds

It's been a summer where a strong showing by the sun is definitely a surprise, and the same is true for the IT world. Shares in Sun Microsystems jumped almost 10 per cent after it reported a fourth quarter profit of $329m, compared to a loss of $301m a year ago. But the turnaround was mainly attributed to cost-cutting measures and better gross margins as sales remained static at $3.84bn.

French firm blames perfidious Albion...

Looks like les ros bifs have let the side down at Atos Origin. The French service outfit reported revenues up 7.2 per cent at €2.9bn and operating income up over 80 per cent to €108m.

Good news, you'd think, but no, they had to go and single out the UK for special treatment, blaming les ros bifs for a 6.5 per cent decline in consulting revenues. Systems integration revenues were also down in the UK and things weren't great in managed operations either. Oh, and the Department of Health terminated its diagnostics services contract.

...but another French company buys British

Still, whatever Atos Origin might think about the UK, it hasn't prevented fellow French IT services company Groupe Steria from agreeing to buy Reading-based Xansa for £472m.

Steria said the agreement reflected its desire to step-up its presence in the UK IT services market and it hopes to be among the top 10 leading outsourcing companies in Europe, post-acquisition.

Xansa has about 4,000 staff in Britain and more than 5,000 employees in India. It has contracts with both private and public sector organisations in the UK, including the likes of Barclays, the NHS, and the BBC.

HP's load of old Bull

It was a very busy week for the French. If they weren't buying, they were being bought. Allegedly. According to reports, HP was preparing to buy venerable French computer maker Bull for $1bn. The company would fit well with HP because of its focus on high performance and high end computing. And like HP, Bull has based its top product around Intel's Itanium processor.

Ballmer bets Microsoft future on ads and devices

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was talking a lot about bets at the company's recent annual financial analysts' summit.

He told Wall Street it had "no choice" but to accept "big bets" on software plus services as a way of sustaining growth and the industry's "highest" operating income levels. Ballmer said the return on "bold bets, big bold bets, big bold bets" would go "beyond your typical investment horizon".

Right, let's start with a million quid on Reading to win the Premier League. Microsoft's bets were more about becoming an ad company and a device company. Microsoft announced popular news ranking site Digg has dumped Google Ads in its favour and it has purchased online advertising exchange AdECN.

Ballmer dance revived for iPod spoof

Still on the subject of Ballmer, what are the bets on the joker at the company who used an internal website to direct people to a re-interpretation of his fabulous monkeyboy dance on YouTube as an advert for the Zune with heavy stylistic borrowings from the iPod ads, keeping his or her job?

Windows might be big, but Coke is bigger

The good news for Microsoft is that it is the second most valuable brand in the world, behind Coca-Cola, according to Business Week magazine. Shareholders must be hoping it stays that way after Steve makes his bets.

Forget the worm, Eminem publisher bites Apple

Reports surfaced during the week of a virus that attempts to delete MP3 files from infected Windows-based computers.

The imaginatively titled Deletemusic worm is not to be confused with the more focused Eminem lawsuit which has been unleashed against Apple iTunes downloads of the rapper's songs.

Eminem's music publisher is demanding "Apple cease and desist its reproduction and distribution" of his music. This is the second time Eight Mile Style has taken Apple to court. In 2004, the rapper sued Apple over using the song "Lose Yourself" in a TV spot for the iTunes music store. The lawsuit was settled out of court in 2005.

We couldn't leave this one out

The rehabilitation of the mainframe continues apace with IBM stressing the green credentials of its big boxes and announcing plans to consolidate 3,900 Unix and x86 servers onto 30 Linux-based mainframes. IBM claims the move will save enough electricity to power a small town. The big question is: which small town will IBM give the power to? ®

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