31 May 2012
Last updated at 11:40
Intel and Orange are backing the device with a big marketing campaign
Europe’s first “Intel Inside” smartphone has been unveiled by the telecoms firm Everything Everywhere.
The handset is powered by Intel’s single-core Atom Z2460 processor and runs Google’s Android system.
It was manufactured by the Chinese firm Gigabyte, but will be marketed under EE’s Orange brand.
The launch marks Intel’s entry into a market dominated by chips based on designs by British firm Arm Holdings.
It will go on sale on 6 June in the UK – where it will be called San Diego – and will be released in France shortly after. There has been no announcement as yet for other markets.
The handset is the third Intel-based smartphone, following the launch of Lava’s XOLO X900 in India in April and the Lenovo LePhone K800 in China on Wednesday.
Intel has also partnered with Google’s Motorola Mobility division with devices scheduled to launch in the second half of the year.
Sales of mobile devices are growing at a much faster rate than PCs and some analysts believe the dividing line between the two sectors will blur, so success could be critical for Intel’s future.
“This is part of our strategy to grow into what we refer to as adjacent markets, whether that be premium high performance smartphone products in the mature markets or lower cost solutions in some of the emerging markets, and everything in between,” Graham Palmer, Intel’s country manager for the UK and Ireland told the BBC.
“This is absolutely a core part of Intel’s strategy to allow us to take our technology into these new growth sectors.”
He added that his firm had worked closely with Google and other developers to ensure apps designed for ARM-based phones would be compatible and run at desired speeds on the Atom chip.
“Our intent is that all applications will run seamlessly on the Intel-based phone,” added Mr Palmer.
“A huge amount of effort has been put in already to make that completely transparent to consumers.”
Intel and EE are co-funding a multimillion pound marketing campaign – the first to promote an Orange’s own-brand device on television.
Despite the big budget the handset is not targeting the top end of the market.
It has a 4.03 inch (10.2cm) screen – smaller than HTC and Samsung’s top-end Android models – and runs the Gingerbread version of the system software, rather than the newer Ice Cream release.
Intel said the single core CPU (central processing unit) on its chip outperformed many dual core models on the market, but admitted it would be beaten by recently released handsets featuring quad core technologies.
However, it also sells for a cheaper price: £200 for the pay as you go option.
“It’s not about going head-to-head with a [Samsung] Galaxy S3,” said Paul Jevons, director of products and devices at Everything Everywhere.
“In targeting those customers who may be new to smartphones and are at a different point in the market we are able to meet an unsatisfied need.”
One tech industry watcher expressed surprise at the move.
“In the PC world Intel’s brand is associated with the high performance,” said Malik Saadi, principal analyst with Informa Telecoms and Media.
“Yet San Diego is positioned as entry level. I don’t understand why they have done that, it seems like the wrong decision.”
Unlike most mobiles, the chip designer’s branding features heavily.
An Intel Inside logo appears after Orange’s when it starts up, and the US firm’s insignia also features at the top of the device’s screen, its rear and on a screensaver.
Although this might appear unusual, Mr Saadi said this could soon be the norm.
“At the moment there is a rush towards multiple core processors – consumers are aware that more cores means more power and are asking for that,” said the analyst.
“Chipmakers have noticed this trend and are now becoming keen to promote their brands.
“Last year Qualcomm announced a branding strategy to promote its Snapdragon chips, and Intel obviously now wants to migrate its campaign from PCs to mobile devices. So expect chips as brands to become more important over the next few years.”
Ex-Microsoftie Bill Veghte was just getting comfortable in his dual roles as chief strategy officer and general manager of Hewlett-Packard’s software business, and was just given the job of running HP’s Autonomy big data business after last week’s restructuring and the departure of Autonomy founder Mike Lynch. And today, Veghte was elevated to the position of chief operating officer and HP is bringing in an outsider from venture capitalist Silver Lake Partners to run HP Software.
The new executive vice president in charge of HP Software is none other than George Kadifa, an operating partner at Silver Lake as well as a venture partner at Arch Venture Partners. Kadifa has three decades of experience in the IT racket, and has a BS in electrical engineering from American University in Beirut, an MSEE from the California Institute of Technology, and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
Kadifa was a software development manager at Xerox, a management consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, and a senior vice president in charge of the industrial sector at Oracle. He was CEO at application hosting company Corio when it was founded in 1999 and made his way to IBM when Big Blue bought Corio, when lost a staggering amount of money up to that point, in 2006 for $182m.
Kadifa managed IBM’s application-on-demand services and was a vice president in its Global Technology Services unit until he joined both Silver Lake and Arch in 2007. Kadifa was part of the Silver Lake team that managed the 24 largest companies in its large-cap portfolio.
“George brings a wealth of experience gained at traditional software companies, service providers, and startups,” explained HP CEO Meg Whitman in a statement announcing the appointments. “His ability to manage multiple business models will prove extremely valuable to HP as we extend our software offerings in cloud, information and security.”
Kadifa is now a member of the HP executive council, the ruling body that advises Whitman on what to do and not to do. Veghte is also a member of this council, and will “help further accelerate the execution of the company’s strategy by working across HP to drive innovation and customer satisfaction,” according to the statement. “With Bill’s additional responsibilities, I am confident we can accelerate progress across our portfolio of assets,” Whitman added.
It sounds a bit like Veghte went from thinking up strategy and running a software business to being the implementer of a restructuring of HP that includes 27,000 layoffs over the next two and a half years. This could make Veghte a hero and the next in line to run HP or a fall guy if this doesn’t work out.
Veghte, who spent two decades at Microsoft, joined HP back in May 2010. Before coming to HP, Veghte was senior vice president in charge of Microsoft’s $15bn Windows and Windows Live Division, the crown jewels at Microsoft, and as soon as Windows 7 was out the door, Microsoft was saying Veghte was exploring other options.
Veghte was part of a Microsoft reorganization where Steven Sinofsky was named president of the Windows group and was supposed to get another leadership role at Microsoft at a later date – something that never happened and is the reason why Veghte came to HP.
Veghte is no slouch in the software department, with Windows 98, Windows Server, and Office being his babies. It would seem that HP would do better to keep Veghte running the software biz, but maybe HP is positioning Veghte as the next in line to run the company, just in case?
Both Kadifa and Veghte report directly to Whitman.
In a separate development, HP has appointed Jan Zadak to be president of Enterprise Services in the EMEA region, effective immediately. Zadak was appointed to the top sales job for the Enterprise Business unit at HP back in April 2011, when Leo Apotheker was CEO and Tom Hogan decided to leave.
Zadak had previously run HP’s EMEA unit and came up through the Compaq side of HP in various management positions. Zadak reports to John Visentin, executive vice president and general manager of HP’s Enterprise Services, who was appointed to that job during Apotheker’s August 2011 restructuring – when HP also decided to shell out $10.4bn to buy Autonomy. ®
30 May 2012
Last updated at 18:58
The Pirate Bay has created a site with a new IP address to circumvent bans
Sky Broadband has begun blocking access to file-sharing site The Pirate Bay.
It follows Virgin Media and Everything Everywhere which have already taken similar action.
The High Court had demanded the move after complaints by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) that TPB facilitated copyright infringement by providing magnetic links to movies, music and other media.
O2 and Talktalk said they were still working to implement the ban.
A sixth operator, BT, has been given extra time to make the necessary arrangements. It is expected to act within the next fortnight.
A statement from Sky said: “We have invested billions of pounds in high-quality entertainment for our customers because we know how much our customers value it. It’s therefore important that companies like ours do what they can, alongside the government and the rest of the media and technology industries, to help protect their copyright.”
A spokesman noted that it had acted ahead of a 1 June deadline.
This is the second court order of its kind that Sky has complied with following its block on Newzbin 2 in December.
The High Court issued different time limits to the different ISPs.
O2 has until 13 June to act, by which time it said it would block access to TPB’s main site as well as other IP addresses that the BPI successfully claimed had been set up to enable access to the service.
However, the Torrentfreak news site has reported that TPB has since set up a new IP address giving access to its contents. It added the site was willing to play “an extended game of whack-a-mole” in which it would publicise new locations every time the courts ordered one of its addresses to be blocked.
A spokesman for the BPI said it was working with ISPs and the courts to ensure that existing orders were effective, but would not comment on whether it would seek to block further addresses.
Golden Eye wants O2 customers who illegally watched its movies to pay £700
Meanwhile, O2 is set to return to the High Court on Thursday for a hearing into a separate copyright complaint.
A judge will hear evidence in a dispute with Golden Eye International, a limited company which trades as Ben Dover Productions making pornographic films.
In March the firm won an order demanding O2 release details of thousands of its customers whose IP addresses it said had been linked to illegal downloads of Ben Dover’s films.
At the time O2 said it had no option but to “co-operate fully”.
The ISP said the hearing is for the court to “approve the form of a letter” that Golden Eye wishes to send to its customers.
Golden Eye has previously said it wanted £700 for each infringement – a sum watchdog Consumer Focus described as “unsupportable”.
BlackBerry-maker RIM faces having to make a third huge writedown on unsold stocks of smartphones and PlayBook tablets when its financial quarter ends on Saturday, analysts say. It would be the third large writeoff in three quarters.
Analysts also expect to see falling revenues and profits as the group struggles against Apple’s iPhone at the high end and Android devices in the rest of the market, as well as a resurgent Nokia, which has begun to attack the western smartphone market in earnest.
RIM said on Tuesday night it had engaged JP Morgan Securities and RBC Capital Markets to help with a review of the business, confirming reports earlier in the week that there would be “significant” job cuts.
Canada’s Globe and Mail had reported at least 2,000 posts would go while Reuters cited a source saying cuts could hit up to 6,000. The company said financial performance would “continue to be challenging” for the next few quarters.
RIM took a $485m (£310m) writedown against unsold stock of the PlayBook for its third fiscal quarter, ending in November 2011. For the fourth quarter, ending in February 2012, it wrote off $267m on unsold BlackBerry 7 handsets which it had launched the previous summer.
Wall Street consensus forecasts are for the company to have shipped 10.5m handsets, down 20% from 13.2m a year ago – at the same time as the smartphone market has grown by 50%. Revenues are forecast at $3.7bn, a 24% fall compared with a year ago. That would be in line with the 24% fall in the previous quarter, but smaller than at any time since summer 2009.
Mark Sue of RBC Capital Markets was even gloomier, suggesting that the company will only have shipped 9m handsets – a 30% fall year-on-year as its share erodes in the US – with revenues of $3.2bn, lower than at any time.
RIM’s chief executive officer Thorsten Heins said: “These advisers [JP Morgan Securities and RBC Capital Markets] have been tasked to help us with the strategic review we referenced on our year-end financial results conference call and to evaluate the relative merits and feasibility of various financial strategies.
“RIM is going through a significant transformation as we move towards the BlackBerry 10 launch, and our financial performance will continue to be challenging for the next few quarters.”
Neeraj Monga, an analyst at Veritas Investment Research in Toronto, said the writedowns were inevitable in the face of consumer and business indifference, notably to the PlayBook tablet.
“Clearly this stuff isn’t selling,” he told Bloomberg. “Despite all the writedowns they’re taking on the inventory, these inventory levels are not dropping.”
Monga maintains a buy recommendation on RIM’s stock – currently at an eight-year low – in anticipation of the company being sold.
RBC’s Sue said the promise later in the year of the new BB10 software was not obviously a “silver bullet” for the business to return to growth, and that it might even have to withdraw from some markets as cheap Android phones undercut margins.
Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Partners LP in New York, told Bloomberg that it was hard for customers to show interest in older phones when there was the promise – but only that – of the new one: “Until you have a new product, there’s nothing to transition to,” said Gillis, who advises selling RIM’s stock. “It’s still very much in the early stages.”
Though RIM did not specify whether its previous writedowns have been to zero value or to expected sale value, at the start of the current quarter in March 2012 it still had $1bn in inventory, which is stock in its own warehouses and not shipped to suppliers. That compared with just $618m at the same period a year ago, in February 2011.
• RIM is losing another senior executive. Its chief legal officer is retiring after 12 years, joining an exit roster that includes the global head of sales Patrick Spence earlier this week, and the former co-CEOs and co-chairmen Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie who departed in February.
29 May 2012
Last updated at 16:25
The sophistication of Flame helped it avoid detection by security software
Iran says it has developed tools that can defend against the sophisticated cyber attack tool known as Flame.
The country is believed to have been hit hard by the malicious programme which infiltrates networks in order to steal sensitive data.
Security companies said Flame, named after one of its attack modules, is one of the most complex threats ever seen.
Iran says its home-grown defence could both spot when Flame is present and clean up infected PCs.
Iran’s National Computer Emergency Response Team (Maher) said in a statement that the detection and clean-up tool was finished in early May and is now ready for distribution to organisations at risk of infection.
Flame was discovered after the UN’s International Telecommunications Union asked for help from security firms to find out what was wiping data from machines across the Middle East.
An investigation uncovered the sophisticated malicious programme which, until then, had largely evaded detection.
An in-depth look at Flame by the Laboratory of Cryptography and System Security at Hungary’s University of Technology and Economics in Budapest, said it stayed hidden because it was so different to the viruses, worms and trojans that most security programmes were designed to catch.
Continue reading the main story
Flame is not a widespread threat”
In addition, said the report, Flame tried to work out which security scanning software was installed on a target machine and then disguised itself as a type of computer file that an individual anti-virus programme would not usually suspect of harbouring malicious code.
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at security firm Sophos, said the programme had also escaped detection because it was so tightly targeted.
“Flame isn’t like a Conficker or a Code Red. It’s not a widespread threat,” he told the BBC. “The security firm that talked a lot about Flame only found a couple of hundred computers that appeared to have been impacted.”
Mr Cluley said detecting the software was not difficult once it had been spotted.
“It’s much much easier writing protection for a piece of malware than analysing what it actually does,” he said. “What’s going to take a while is dissecting Flame to find out all of its quirks and functionality.”
It is not yet clear who created Flame but experts say its complexity suggests that it was the work of a nation state rather than hacktivists or cyber criminals.
Iran suffered by far the biggest number of Flame infections, suggest figures from Kaspersky Labs in a report about the malicious programme.
Kaspersky said 189 infections were reported in Iran, compared to 98 in Israel/Palestine and 32 in Sudan. Syria, Lebanon, Saudia Arabia and Egypt were also hit.
In April, Iran briefly disconnected servers from the net at its Kharg island oil terminal as it cleared up after a virus outbreak – now thought to be caused by Flame.
In the same statement that announced its home-grown detection tool, Iran said Flame’s “propagation methods, complexity level, precise targeting and superb functionality” were reminiscent of the Stuxnet and Duqu cyber threats to which it had also fallen victim.
Stuxnet is widely believed to have been written to target industrial equipment used in Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme.
It may take a while but eventually any good technology embraced by large enterprises trickles its way down to small and mid-sized businesses in some appropriately modified and re-priced form.
It will be no different for modern business analytics tools. The time could be ripe for mid-range customers to start thinking about either modernising their data warehouses or data marts if they are lucky enough to have any, or come up with a plan to install a business analytics platforms if they don’t.
One of the reasons for the success of Microsoft’s SQL Server relational database a decade ago is that many of the customers buying the database – as much as a third of all sales by some estimates – wanted the relatively inexpensive SQL Server to set up an online analytical processing (OLAP) server.
That initial OLAP server bundled in SQL Server 2005 opened up a new world of business intelligence.
Today’s tools are not only much more sophisticated but are affordably priced for mid-market customers. The level of performance they offer gives these smaller companies what they need to compete in the global marketplace
Everybody is talking about big data these days, but the term is really a misnomer. Fast data is probably a better term. Companies of all sizes are wrestling with making sense of diverse structured, semi-structured and unstructured data sets to help them make quick decisions.
Dell, which does not usually get into markets if it doesn’t think it can make a good profit, particularly from the small and medium businesses that it still peddles a lot of its gear to, is cooking up the Quickstart Data Warehouse Appliance. It is based on Dell’s new PowerEdge 12G servers and Microsoft’s SQL Server 2012.
Dell says this will be the first data warehouse appliance out the door running the Denali SQL Server 2012. It will also depend on Dell’s Boomi service for integrating transactional systems and other data sources into Quickstart.
Not much else is known about this appliance, except that it is in beta testing and is due to be launched in the second quarter of this year.
Place your bets
Meanwhile IBM is betting heavily on business analytics as a key driver of revenue over the next five years. The company is beginning to see some traction with various products in the mid range, according to Nancy Kopp, programme director for data warehousing and business analytics at IBM.
Depending on the type of data and analytical applications that hit against it, mid-market customers tend to go with one of two IBM machines right now, in the wake of Big Blue’s $1.7bn acquisition of Netezza in September 2010.
In July 2009 IBM launched its Smart Systems, which are clusters of Power or x86 server nodes equipped with operating systems, IBM’s General Parallel File System and Tivoli System Automation to manage each node.
Some of the nodes ran Cognos modules, including BI Server, Go Dashboard and BI Samples, and others ran IBM’s InfoSphere Warehouse variant of its DB2 database, merging data warehousing and analytics all in one cluster.
“The more bundling you do, the more favours you are doing”
IBM gradually fleshed out the boxes and even created an entry machine called the Smart Analytics System 5710, which pairs up an IBM System x server with a DS3500 array and the Cognos and InfoSphere software stack, all for a $50,000 price tag and configured as an appliance for companies to dump data into and chew on it.
“The more bundling and integration you do, the more favours you are doing for the mid-market,” says Kopp.
Some mid-range companies have quite large data munching jobs, and for these customers IBM has created the Smart Analytics System 7700. This uses IBM’s Power 740 servers, based on the Power7 Risc processors and similar to the nodes used in IBM’s Watson machine, which competed in the TV quiz show Jeopardy! and won.
The server is configured with IBM’s AIX Unix variant and InfoSphere Warehouse Enterprise Edition data warehouse plus Cognos business analytics tools for drilling into the data warehouse and extracting reports. The Smartie 7700 uses DS3500 storage arrays to house data.
IBM’s Smart Analytics System 7710
There is a variant of this machine called the 7710 designed for data warehouses that are under 10TB In size, which would be particularly useful for mid-range shops. This pairs one Power 740 with three DS3500 arrays with the same InfoSphere and Cognos software stack.
IBM has not yet bundled SPSS’s predictive analytics tools with the Smart Analytics Systems. These are obvious add-ons and explain why Big Blue paid $1.2bn back in July 2009 to acquire that business intelligence software firm.
And of course, IBM Power Systems shops that prefer the IBM i operating system can get the combination of the DB2 for i database and the DB2 Web Query tool, developed in conjunction with Information Builders, to build data warehouses, execute ad hoc queries and generate reports.
In Europe, a fairly large company might only need an analytics system that would qualify as a mid-range box in the US.
That is why Netezza created a cut-down version of its data warehousing appliance, called Skimmer and sold as the Netezza 100 series.
All Netezza data warehouses are based on IBM’s BladeCenter x86 blade servers, but they are goosed for data warehousing and analytics by a special field programmable gate array co-processor.
Netezza created this to speed up the heavily modified PostgreSQL database that runs on top of the iron. (Netezza chose IBM iron long before it was bought by Big Blue.)
The Skimmer machine hit a $125,000 price point for 10TB of user data capacity, which was a bit more than the Smartie 5710 box but considerably less expensive than an entry Netezza 1000 appliance. This has more processing oomph and would cost about $200,000 for a similar configuration.
There is a possible cloudy future to analytics in the mid range, and IBM could be pointing the way. In February, the vendor completed its $440m cash acquisition of retail analytics software provider DemandTec.
Here’s the interesting bit: DemandTec offered its software on private slices of its own cloud, which was backed by Netezza iron, as well as allowing customers who wanted their iron and software on premise, and had the cash to pay for such a luxury, to bring it inside the corporate firewall.
Google has the answer
But mid-market companies that want to do sophisticated analytics may not want to own the iron so much as run the algorithms against their data.
That is certainly what Google thinks will happen for many customers, which is why it has launched BigQuery. It is in beta testing now and available on an invitation-only basis.
Google says the BigQuery engine will be able to scan billions of rows of data in seconds and scale across terabytes of data and trillions of records – and use an SQL-like query language to kick off the data munching.
And if companies don’t want to get their hands dirty sorting out BigQuery, then there will be service providers that sit in front of them, masking the complexity.
Bime me up
We Are Cloud, a startup founded in southern France by Rachel Delacour and Nicolas Raspal, has created a front-end for BigQuery called Bime (pronounced “beam”) as a business analytics tool that runs on Amazon’s Web Services compute cloud and stores data in Google BigQuery.
The Bime service comes in workgroup, enterprise and premium editions, costing a mere $60, $120, or $240 per month, with ten users and varying features on dashboards, connectors, storage and dataset row counts.
The company has 200 customers, most of them are outside of France, and the service is available in French, English, Dutch and Chinese, with other languages in the works. It is designed for sharing data and query results through dashboards and other graphical representations.
“Traditional on-premise business intelligence tools are not inherently collaborative or cost effective,” Delacour said, introducing the Bime front-end at the recent Structure Data 2012 conference in New York.
“Cloud solutions are, even though they are not necessarily good at delivering performance on all data sets.”
It probably beats trying to do business intelligence in Excel, which is what most mid-market customers are still trying to do. ®
28 May 2012
Last updated at 14:17
The malware is said to have infected over 600 specific targets
A complex targeted cyber-attack that collected private data from countries such as Israel and Iran has been uncovered, researchers have said.
Russian security firm Kaspersky Labs told the BBC they believed the malware, known as Flame, had been operating since August 2010.
The company said it believed the attack was state-sponsored, but could not be sure of its exact origins.
They described Flame as “one of the most complex threats ever discovered”.
Research into the attack was carried out in conjunction with the UN’s International Telecommunication Union.
They had been investigating another malware threat, known as Wiper, which was reportedly deleting data on machines in western Asia.
In the past, targeted malware – such as Stuxnet – has targeted nuclear infrastructure in Iran.
Others like Duqu have sought to infiltrate networks in order to steal data.
This new threat appears not to cause physical damage, but to collect huge amounts of sensitive information, said Kaspersky’s chief malware expert Vitaly Kamluk.
“Once a system is infected, Flame begins a complex set of operations, including sniffing the network traffic, taking screenshots, recording audio conversations, intercepting the keyboard, and so on,” he said.
More than 600 specific targets were hit, Mr Kamluk said, ranging from individuals, businesses, academic institutions and government systems.
Iran’s National Computer Emergency Response Team posted a security alert stating that it believed Flame was responsible for “recent incidents of mass data loss” in the country.
The malware code itself is 20MB in size – making it some 20 times larger than the Stuxnet virus. The researchers said it could take several years to analyse.
Iran and Israel
Mr Kamluk said the size and sophistication of Flame suggested it was not the work of independent cybercriminals, and more likely to be government-backed.
Continue reading the main story
This is an extremely advanced attack. It is more like a toolkit for compiling different code based weapons than a single tool. It can steal everything from the keys you are pressing to what is on your screen to what is being said near the machine.
It also has some very unusual data stealing features including reaching out to any Bluetooth enabled device nearby to see what it can steal.
Just like Stuxnet, this malware can spread by USB stick, i.e. it doesn’t need to be connected to a network, although it has that capability as well.
This wasn’t written by some spotty teenager in his/her bedroom. It is large, complicated and dedicated to stealing data whilst remaining hidden for a long time.
He explained: “Currently there are three known classes of players who develop malware and spyware: hacktivists, cybercriminals and nation states.
“Flame is not designed to steal money from bank accounts. It is also different from rather simple hack tools and malware used by the hacktivists. So by excluding cybercriminals and hacktivists, we come to conclusion that it most likely belongs to the third group.”
Among the countries affected by the attack are Iran, Israel, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
“The geography of the targets and also the complexity of the threat leaves no doubt about it being a nation-state that sponsored the research that went into it,” Mr Kamluk said.
The malware is capable of recording audio via a microphone, before compressing it and sending it back to the attacker.
It is also able to take screenshots of on-screen activity, automatically detecting when “interesting” programs – such as email or instant messaging – were open.
‘Industrial vacuum cleaner’
Kaspersky’s first recorded instance of Flame is in August 2010, although it said it is highly likely to have been operating earlier.
Prof Alan Woodward, from the Department of Computing at the University of Surrey said the attack is very significant.
“This is basically an industrial vacuum cleaner for sensitive information,” he told the BBC.
He explained that unlike Stuxnet, which was designed with one specific task in mind, Flame was much more sophisticated.
“Whereas Stuxnet just had one purpose in life, Flame is a toolkit, so they can go after just about everything they can get their hands on.”
Once the initial Flame malware has infected a machine, additional modules can be added to perform specific tasks – almost in the same manner as adding apps to a smartphone.
Yahoo! Livestand has become a casualty of the Scott Thompson CV row, with new boss Ross Levinsohn killing off the company’s iPad “personal magazine” app.
When it was launched, the mishmash application was supposed showcase Yahoo!’s C.O.R.E. (content optimization relevance engine) to assemble a user-preference-based newsreader from both internal and external media sources. Yahoo! had also said it would launch an Android version during 2012.
In this pig-meets-lipstick blog post, Yahoo! explains that it wants to “focus on opportunities where we lead and where we can create the most meaningful experiences for people using our products, and for our partners, developers and advertisers.”
While its “first-of-its-kind immersive, interactive, and adaptable digital ad that uses video to increase engagement and take full advantage of the tactile and motion-sensing capabilities of tablets” scored a four-star App Store rating, the company now says it wants to “apply its insights” to products that “are better aligned with Yahoo!’s holistic mobile strategy.”
And, just in case Reg readers haven’t yet reached for an emetic, there’s this gem: “Stay tuned as we continue to reimagine the products Yahoo! delivers across all the devices you choose to use.”
Stay tuned, indeed. ®
Research in Motion, the maker of BlackBerry phones, is preparing for a major restructuring that could cut up to 6,000 jobs from its worldwide workforce of 16,500.
Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper cited several people close to the company saying that at least 2,000 jobs would go in the next round of layoffs that was planned for around Friday 1 June – a day before the smartphone maker’s first financial quarter ends – though some expect the announcement even earlier.
One source close to the company told Reuters that the impending layoffs could hit as many as 6,000 and affect legal, marketing, sales, operations, and HR.
“The strategic question is: are you accelerating into a better future or shrinking to a niche operation?” said the source, who declined to be identified.
The job cuts come on top of 2,000 that were announced last July – reducing the workforce by 11%.
A string of high-level employees have departed RIM recently, including global head of sales Patrick Spence, who is set to take a senior job at networked audio company Sonos.
Several sources close to the company told Reuters that RIM had been letting more junior staff go for several months in what have come to be known internally as “Goodbye Thursdays”, because the cuts typically come on that day of the week.
A RIM spokeswoman declined to comment on the report but pointed to comments that new chief executive Thorsten Heins and chief financial officer Brian Bidulka made on RIM’s last earnings call about plans to streamline operations and save $1bn in the financial year.
RIM is struggling with what looks like a perfect storm of problems.
The BBX 10 software to power a new generation of BlackBerry phones is not expected until autumn, while existing users are abandoning BlackBerry phones for models from Apple or those using Android more quickly than new ones are coming aboard.
Added to that, price competition – also driven by the burgeoning number of Android smartphones – is eroding the prices that RIM can charge, putting extra pressure on its finances.
And its PlayBook tablet, launched a year ago, has sold slowly but cost the company billions first in inventory and then in writedowns.
As a result, RIM’s stock has plummeted. Last week it touched an eight-year low of $10.59 (£6.75). It recovered to $11 by the end of the week, but the company’s value has dropped steadily from $60 in February 2011.
RIM reported a fourth-quarter loss in March, when the new chief executive announced the initial steps in a strategic overhaul. Heins took over from longtime co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie in January.
Horace Dediu, who runs the consultancy Asmyco, has repeatedly observed that mobile phone companies that fall into loss – even once – never recover their former position.
He restated the point on Sunday night on Twitter, pointing out that Motorola Mobility had become the latest to fulfil that trend after being acquired by Google.
In March the BlackBerry maker announced a $125m quarterly loss as it saw revenues fall by almost 25% (and drop in real terms by $1bn) to $4.19bn, below even pessimistic Wall Street analyst forecasts.
28 May 2012
Last updated at 12:12
Facebook already provides apps for various different mobile platforms
Social networking giant Facebook is to launch its own smartphone by next year, reports have suggested.
The New York Times cited unnamed sources, including Facebook employees, suggesting that the network had been hiring several smartphone engineers.
Facebook recently admitted it was struggling to make money out of its growing mobile audience.
The company, which recently floated on the stock market, has also just launched its own mobile app store.
The App Center currently offers links to Facebook-enabled apps within Apple’s iOS and Google Android stores but developers will soon be able to write apps to be placed exclusively in Facebook’s store.
According to the New York Times, Facebook has hired experts who worked on the iPhone and other smartphones.
It quoted a Facebook employee as saying the site’s founder Mark Zuckerberg was “worried that if he doesn’t create a mobile phone in the near future… Facebook will simply become an app on other mobile platforms”.
A Facebook smartphone has reportedly been in the works for some time.
In 2010, Techcrunch reported that Facebook was “secretly” building a smartphone – although this particular project is said to have broken down.
The company’s desire to enter the smartphone market could be a result of increasing pressure to improve the potential of mobile to make money.
In a statement for potential investors ahead of its initial public offering earlier this month, the company admitted it had concerns about more users accessing Facebook through their mobile – a trend which could make it more difficult to sell advertising.
When asked by the BBC, a spokeswoman for Facebook said the company did not comment on speculation, and referred instead to a written statement.
“Our mobile strategy is simple: we think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social,” the statement read.
“We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world.”