Monthly Archives: November 2007

Michael Dell spent an hour and a half on the phone yesterday with Wall Street analysts outlining his plan to put Dell back on track. It was Dell’s first strategy call since it resolved the accounting problems that forced it to run on radio silence for more than a year, so analysts jumped at the chance to re-connect.

Dell’s new strategy is to "simplify IT" while focusing on on five key areas: Consumers, emerging markets, notebooks, big companies, and small and medium businesses.

Dell went on to outline specific initiatives in each of these broad areas – a new emphasis on design in notebooks; a continued focus on finding new ways to let consumers "see, touch and feel" Dell computers before buying them; and a focus on new devices specifically designed for small businesses, for example.

While Mr Dell was keen to outline his plans for the company, he avoided getting into specifics of how those plans are unfolding thus far. For example, when asked about the progress of Dell’s retail push – a fair question given the fact that the introduction of Dell computers into Wal-Mart and other retail stores seems to have done little to revive the company’s flagging US consumer sales – Mr Dell dodged the question by reciting a list of previously announced retail partnerships.

After more than two years of struggles, investors will no doubt be glad to hear that Dell has begun to identify possible solutions to some of the problems facing its business model. Still, they could be forgiven for hoping for a clearer picture of the progress that has been made to date.

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So says Chris Sacca, who has been leading Google’s attempt to shake up the wireless industry.

In a post on his blog, Sacca has just paused to take stock. It was almost exactly a year ago, during a talk at Oxford University, that he first openly attacked the mobile operators for restricting the applications their customers can use. The result:    Read more

Mario The Nintendo Wii continued its dominance of next-generation console sales in the first week of the US holiday shopping season.

Nintendo says it sold 350,000 of the $250 Wiis in the Thanksgiving week beginning November 18 – its biggest seven-day sales figure since that of the week it launched a year ago. Read more

Pdf_advertising_2  Are there any corners of the Web that won’t end up plastered in advertising?

Today comes news of a plan by Adobe and Yahoo! to attach ads to PDF documents displayed inside a browser. Given the A4 size, PDFs leave space for a column of adverts to be attached in the right hand margin of the screen: they will be supplied dynamically by Yahoo, using its standard keyword bidding system and contextualisation engine. Read more

Aolreturns Google Finance, launched in March last year, has failed to put a dent in Yahoo Finance’s lead as the most popular web source of financial news and data.

Google’s service is not even in the top 15 of financial sites and has yet to break 1m unique visitors a month. Read more

Infosys_campus Here’s food for thought. The average Infosys employee produces roughly the same amount of profit for his or her company in a year as the average worker at Accenture. And that’s in absolute terms, not relative: an engineer hacking out code in Bangalore is adding as much to the corporate bottom line as a consultant in Manhattan, at around $14,000-15,000 a year.

This was pointed out to me by Infosys chief financial officer V Balakrishnan, who stopped by while visiting San Francisco recently. It’s a sign of the considerable leverage in the business model of the Indian services companies (at around $50,000 a year, revenues per employee for Infosys are only 40 per cent those of Accenture, so the parity on profits looks impressive.) Read more

Game_over It’s beginning to look like the Search Wars are over, at least for now: Google has won.

Despite everything Microsoft and Yahoo! have been able to throw at it, Google’s share of the search business has just kept going up, to the point where it finally seems time to declare this contest done (though with two caveats – see below.) Whatever the next front in the battle for online dominance, it looks like it won’t be in search. Read more

Mc_hammer_at_ft MC Hammer may have left his 90s chart hits and wide pants behind, but the rap star is still capable of some nifty dance moves, notably the launch of, a new online video site.

While YouTube is the home of everything from stupid pet tricks to movie trailers, the explosion of online video means new video “verticals” are emerging – such as the comedy clips on Will Ferrell’s and now DanceJam, still in a closed beta stage. Read more

Leaky_bucket The junior staffer at HM Revenue and Customs who just mislaid personal data concerning 25m people is in good company. He/she can draw solace from the experience of Jared Ilovar, the Ohio state intern who earlier this year mislaid 800,000 social security numbers.

Funny how cases like these always follow the same pattern: Read more

Did Google just dodge a bullet in the Senate as it moves closer to acquiring DoubleClick? It depends on how you look at it.

A joint letter today from the Democratic chairman and the ranking Republican member of the Senate’s Anti-trust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights committee seems to find little fault with the acquisition. Addressed to the Federal Trade Commission, the letter urges the regulators to think long and hard about the implications of the deal – but it concludes that the politicians haven’t reached "any definitive conclusion" themselves on the matter. An open invitation for the FTC to issue the green light? Read more

Kindle Amazon’s new e-book reader has kindled a blaze of blogging reaction to the $399 device.

Reviews of Kindle have been mixed, to say the least. A selection: Read more

Chen_at_newteevee_live There was a palpable atmosphere of dissatisfaction with YouTube this week at an online video conference where it should have been the star of the show.

An interview with Steve Chen, co-founder, at NewTeeVee Live was preceded by panels where YouTube’s business model and popularity were questioned. Read more

It seems that BEA Systems can juggle numbers just as much as Oracle can (see note below.)

Announcing earnings on Thursday, CEO Alfred Chuang wanted Wall Street to overlook his gigantic stock option backdating charge (which virtually wiped out reported profits for the past decade) and focus instead on the software company’s rebounding profit margins. And not just any profit margins but pro forma figures which, among other things, excluded the costs of hiring all those lawyers and bankers to keep the barbarians (in the form of Larry Ellison and Carl Icahn) from the gates. Read more

Larry_ellison Growing a company through acquisitions can feel a bit liking eating Chinese food. Two hours after you’ve had a meal you’re hungry again.

Larry Ellison must be starting to feel that way. When he bought PeopleSoft, he promised it would put Oracle on course for earnings per share growth of at least 20 per cent a year. He’s more than met that promise (that is, if you care to overlook the little matter of amortisation – more on that below.) Read more

Newteevee San Francisco and the Valley are hardly the heart of the television industry, but that has not stopped the techno tyros here influencing the move of video and TV onto the internet.
I’m at the NewTeeVee Live conference in San Francisco’s Mission Bay where a host of online media companies and venture capitalists are discussing the future of TV on the net. Steve Chen, YouTube co-founder, and Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive, are among the speakers and a number of new companies are launching.
A panel of experienced venture capitalists has just put something of a damper on the hopes of the start-ups demonstrating their services in the foyer.
Asked whether the comedian Will Ferrell’s FunnyorDie site made sense to him, Dennis Miller of Spark Capital said: "The  die part does."
"There’s too much money chasing too few ideas. There is already roadkill and there will be massive roadkill ahead."
Mike Hirshland of Polaris Venture Partners, a backer of and JibJab, said there was a place for original video content being produced online, but admitted: "It is very scary, but I think a small number of companies are going to make it."
George Zachary of Charles River Ventures disagreed: "I think it’s a humongous mistake to invest in content," he said.
He said the real money was to be made in aggregation and distribution of existing content with social networks in a good position to do this. He highlighted Bebo’s Open Media announcement yesterday in which it opened up its site for broadcasters including the BBC and CBS to distribute their content freely.
Video coverage of the conference is available on the NewTeeVee website.

Ca_logo_2 An interesting first from CA. The software maker has just handed over all the R&D and future product development for part of its security portfolio to Indian company HCL. CA keeps control of the brand and handles all the sales and marketing.

It’s one thing for a bank or an industrial concern to outsource its software development, but something else entirely for a software company. CA already has 1,200 developers of its own in India, but this takes things a big step further. Read more

Black_friday Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the US, falls this year on its earliest possible date – November 23.

The big day of store sales when retailers are supposed to go into the black for the year also signals the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. Read more

By Michael Steen, FT Netherlands Correspondent

You’re sitting in a traffic jam, late for a meeting, watching the estimated time of arrival on your satnav’s display creep later and later as it takes account of the fact that, right now, you’re not going anywhere. Do you cancel, try another route, or wait it out?  Read more

Bingo_2 The use of bingo competitions to win readers marked a particular low point in the UK’s newspaper circulation wars. It showed a fundamental lack of belief in the core product. In a mature market, the newspapers ran out of ideas for ways to set themselves apart.

So what should we make of Microsoft’s latest gimmick to drum up traffic for its search engine? It seems the order has gone out to try just about anything that might persuade people to switch from Google and Yahoo! According to this story on Marketwatch, Microsoft is testing the idea of giving away prizes like T-shirts and videogames to get people to use its search engine more. This comes after Live Search Club, which temporarily boosted Microsoft’s market share this summer by getting people to search while playing online word games.   Read more

Glugame The mobile gaming industry has hit a bump on its road to growth.

Revenues for publishers declined by 9 per cent in the second quarter, compared to the first, when revenues were up 11 per cent on the fourth quarter, according to the iSuppli research firm. Read more