Monthly Archives: October 2008

Chris Nuttall

Nettop and netbook at Intel Developer Forum in ShanghaiIn a sign of the current economic uncertainty, Intel is bringing back mid-quarter updates on its financial progress after a three-year absence.

The last one it issued was in the fourth quarter of 2005. After that, Paul Otellini, chief executive,  said it was abandoning them because they were “increasingly irrelevant” to the company’s long-term growth. Read more

Robin Harding

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lHhBQJ4gYE[/youtube]

One Namco Bandai engineer I spoke to had a decided view on this year’s Tokyo Game Show: “Capcom were the winners.” Read more

We wrote last week about some of Silicon Valley’s  savviest investors warning of a coming shakeout among Web 2.0 companies. This slideshow from Sequoia Capital, which is doing the rounds in the tech blogosphere today, sums up the bear case: Plunging house prices, debt-laden consumers and a banking crisis that threatens to make an already slowing economy worse – these are the things sharp downturns are made of, and Web 2.0 will not be immune. Sequoia points to data showing year on year declines in online advertising and web retail spending – the basis of many Web 2.0 companies’ revenue streams (those that have them, at least).

The bottom line? It’s time to get cracking on those business models. In a bull market, it’s fine to talk about eyeballs. In a bear market like this one, the companies that survive will be those that can demonstrate an ability to turn those eyeballs into cash, and then use that cash wisely to ride out the storm.

Chris Nuttall

Virtual goodsIf online advertising is under pressure, perhaps branding virtual goods can help make up a greater proportion of revenues.

At least that is one idea being propounded at the Virtual Goods Summit in San Francisco today. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Fitbit TrackerIf we’re heading for lean times, the Fitbit Tracker, a product aimed at making America healthier, may be having a well-timed launch.

San Francisco-based Fitbit, the company, announced its first funding round today, a month after it first demonstrated the Tracker at the Techcrunch50 conference here. Read more

Robin Harding

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uToBarLr_U[/youtube]

If this was the Tokyo Game Show without the general public then there are going to be crush injuries on Saturday. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Memory lane, courtesy MicronMicron’s decision to cut 15 per cent of its workforce and slash production of Nand Flash is symptomatic of the dire predicament of memory-chip manufacturers.

The iSuppli research firm today lowered its forecast for revenue growth for semiconductors in general to 3.5 per cent in 2008, down from its 4 per cent prediction in August. Industry revenues grew just 3.3 per cent in 2007 as memory chip prices collapsed in the fourth quarter with demand weakening. This caused Intel to miss its forecasts in January. Read more

Chris Nuttall

apple eventIs Apple about to jump on the netbook bandwagon and come out with its first sub-$1,000 notebook, powered by an Intel Atom microprocessor?

We have to confess the question is entirely speculative, but no less so than the usual rumours surrounding an Apple event. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Sony US HQThe Tokyo Game Show is one of the highlights of the year for the video game industry, which spreads its major announcements between this event, the Leipzig Game Convention and a diminished E3 show in Los Angeles in the summer, and the Game Developers’ Conference in San Francisco in the spring.

Tokyo is more about games and gamers, with nearly 900 games on display and up to 180,000 people expected to attend over the next four days, rather than the limited industry professional events of E3 and GDC.

The console makers are therefore emphasising new titles, with Microsoft announcing a new version of HaloHalo 3: Recon, to debut in a year’s time.

It also gave a launch date of November 19 for the “New Xbox Experience” – an update to its interface that allows the creation of animated avatars and new community features.

The “Experience” is designed to compete with Sony’s Home, a much delayed virtual-world interface for the PlayStation 3.

While Sony has yet to set a date for its official release, Jack Tretton, its US president, confirmed it would debut in November, in a recent interview at Sony’s US headquarters in Silicon Valley.

Extracts from that interview after the jump: Read more

Symantec made its fifth acquisition of the year on Tuesday, continuing a spate of consolidation in the IT security sector with a $695m deal to buy MessageLabs of the UK. 

MessageLabs, which has offices in Gloucester, uses a software-as-a-service model to deliver security for online chat, email and web applications. The company’s software allows customers to block malware, prevent access to certain web sites, and stop the unauthorised transfer of sensitive information. It claims to be the number one such company in the world, with more than 19,000 customers. Read more

Downbeat news about the technology sector is getting to be a regular feature around here. Today’s instalment comes courtesy of Citigroup, which published a note this morning slashing its forecasts for PC shipment growth in 2009.

Citi’s IT hardware analysts expect PC shipments to grow just 5 per cent next year, down from a previous estimate of 10-12 per cent. They also trimmed their guidance for this year, to 13 per cent from 15 per cent. hpq-chart.jpg Read more

Richard Waters

howling-dog.jpgOn Thursday it will be two years since Google shelled out $1.65bn for YouTube, and sometimes it feels like all it’s had in return are escalating legal bills and bandwidth costs that would have bankrupted any other company.

So it was sobering today to talk to Shishir Mehrotra, the former Microsoft executive whose job it is to find ways to make money out of YouTube, and hear him say that the video site is “early in the experimentation process.” Read more

Richard Waters

I feel I’ve been overly negative for too long (about the decimation about to hit Silicon Valley’s start-ups, about the coming slump in tech demand, about the fundamental bankruptcy of the Web 2.0 economy.) Really, it’s high time for a positive thought.

AMDRead more

Chris Nuttall

FusionKeeping pace with a giant entails taking large steps and AMD’s hiving off of its manufacturing plants is its second major bound in two years. It is far less risky than its last one.

AMD is being outspent 10 to one by Intel this year on increasing the sophistication of the manufacturing process for semiconductors. Read more

Technology is usually seen as empowering, allowing us to do more with less, whether it’s money, time or effort. But we tend to forget the restrictive side of technology. This week two great examples have emerged.

The first is a setting for Google email, which is called Mail Goggles, and stops you emailing people late at night on specific days by setting you some arithmetic questions. You can configure it for any time or day of the week, but the defaults are Friday and Saturday between 10pm and 4am, so it’s clearly aimed at social drinkers. Get one of the 5 questions wrong or fail to complete in the time allowed, and it says: “Water and bed for you.” Ouch. Read more

Richard Waters

sap-one-day-chart.png It is only two and a half weeks since Oracle reported robust quarterly earnings – but of course, that was before the fear engendered by the financial collapse had had a chance to eat its way into the executive suites of its biggest customers. To judge from the news from SAP today, things have got a lot worse – and other tech companies will already be feeling the brunt of it as well.

This is what Henning Kagerman, CEO, had to say about the latest quarter at SAP, which ended last Tuesday: Read more

Richard Waters

It’s no longer unthinkable to compare the coming financial pain in Silicon Valley with what happened in the dotcom bust. These are two of the Valley’s more successful venture capitalists:

Prior to the financial crisis I would have not anticipated this downturn to be as pronounced as 2001 because we didn’t fly as high. Now it’s hard to say. (Bill Gurley, Benchmark Capital) Read more

Blink and you’d have missed it. Apple’s shares briefly fell 10 per cent Friday morning after a CNN-owned website published a false report claiming that Steve Jobs had suffered a heart attack.

Apple quickly denied the report, which appeared on iReport.com, a CNN-owned website that allows citizen journalists to publish “unedited, unfiltered news.” Shares in the company later recovered to trade down just 3 per cent on the day. The SEC is investigating, according to CNN, which called the report “fraudulent.” Read more

Paul Taylor

Sony PRS-700Third time lucky for Sony? The Japanese electronics group was an early convert to electronic ink and e-books, but sales of its first e-book reader, like most of the competition, were disappointing.

Undeterred, Sony pressed on, launching a second generation device – the PRS-500 – in the US in September 2006 ( a slightly thinner but otherwise similar model, the PRS-505, replaced the PRS-500 last October in the US and went on sale in the UK a month ago). Read more

Robin Harding

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amVqnCw55n4[/youtube]

This week’s CEATEC show in Tokyo showed that, while the Japanese mobile handset market may be in a slump, it is still the world’s most innovative. Read more