Computers

It may seem hard to understand how one could go bankrupt selling iPads and MacBooks in one of Europe’s richest countries, but that is what happened Tuesday to iCentre, the largest Apple reseller in the Netherlands, writes Matt Steinglass in Amsterdam.

A judge in the Dutch town of Haarlem proclaimed the 34-store chain bankrupt on Tuesday, after a week of negotiations between the company, its creditors and potential buyers failed to produce a rescue plan. And on closer inspection, iCentre’s fate is not so hard to explain. Like other Apple resellers, iCentre was coping with a long-term shift from notebook and desktop computer sales towards smartphones and tablets, which have lower profit margins. Read more

The Google Glass isn’t even on sale yet but it may already have a Chinese competitor, writes Henry Mance.

Baidu, the company that now dominates Chinese internet search after Google’s partial retreat in 2010, has said it is developing its own “ocular wearable interface”, provisionally called the Baidu Eye, which will allow wearers to take pictures, and search using voice and images. Read more

Richard Waters

Google’s Chromebook laptops have always felt more like demonstrations of the art of the possible than products you necessarily want to use every day. What they do, they do spectacularly well: it’s just that they aren’t quite the finished article.

The new Chromebook Pixel lives up to that track record. Its high-definition screen is a gorgeous bright rectangle you can’t resist reaching out to stroke. But for most users, the love affair will still feel incomplete. Read more

If Microsoft isn’t prepared to take a bet on the PC, then who is?

This explains why the world’s biggest software company is now considering dipping into its $67bn of cash reserves to back a buyout of Dell, a casualty of the fierce wars raging in the hardware industry.

 Read more

Interesting commentary from around the Web on the tech story that made headlines this week.

A mere two weeks after the release of Windows 8, Microsoft surprised many when it announced the departure of Steven Sinofsky, head of Windows. While many tech observers noted a parallel between Sinofsky’s exit and Apple’s recent management shakeup, others pointed out that chief executive Steve Ballmer could be the next target. Read more

Chris Nuttall

While Google has managed to resolve a lot of the bugs and frustrations of its Chromebook, the main issue of having to pay a relatively high price for a fairly limited laptop has remained.

Until now. The launch this week of a $249 (£229) Chromebook makes Google’s vision of computing in the cloud affordable and appealing, with a thin and light machine from Samsung that is $200 cheaper than its previous model released in May. Read more

Will Windows 8 turn out to be Microsoft’s “New Coke”?

Messing around with one of the world’s most familiar everyday products is hardly something to be undertaken lightly – and with the new version of Windows, which goes on sale on Friday, there has been a lot of messing around. That almost guarantees some degree of user backlash. But it would be wrong to judge the outcome of what amounts to a bet-the-farm gamble by Microsoft on its initial reception.

 Read more

Chris Nuttall

Lenovo is bending over backwards to come up with enticing products to coincide with the launch of Windows 8 later this month.

On Tuesday, it released details of two versions of the backwards-folding Yoga laptop-cum-tablet running Windows 8, as well as the ThinkPad Twist – another convertible with a rotating central hinge – and the IdeaTab Lynx – a tablet that will snap into a special keyboard dock. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Ultrabooks are not coming to the rescue of the PC industry in this “post-PC” world, according to the latest forecasts from IHS iSuppli.

The research firm on Monday slashed its prediction for global shipments this year by more than half, from 22m to 10.3m. It estimated they would rise to 44m in 2013, but that is down from its earlier outlook of 61m. Read more

Bill Moggridge Obit pFEATURES©Rex Features

Bill Moggridge’s awakening to the downside of the electronic age came at 4am one day in 1983. After buying a digital watch at a Japanese airport on the way home from a business trip – it boasted a radio and an earpiece on the end of a strand of wire – he had lost the instruction booklet. Programming its alarm then became pure guesswork. Hence the rudely beeping reveille.

 Read more

Chris Nuttall

Intel will give developers something to shout about, wave their hands in the air and roll their eyes at its annual conference for them next week. More mundanely, but just as important, it is expected to unveil details of its fourth-generation Core processors, including a new line of ultra-low voltage processors drawing just 10 watts of power.

A keynote speech by Dadi Perlmutter, Intel executive vice president, will suggest ways these new processors will be put to work with Ultrabooks, new tablet/laptop hybrids and with “perceptual computing” – Intel’s term for the use of voice commands, gestures and eye-tracking to control PCs – the next advances after the touch features being introduced with Windows 8 next month. Read more

Interesting commentary from around the Web on the tech story that made headlines this week.

Apple’s patent win against Samsung in the US courts last week prompted a wave of reactions from across the tech sphere. While some found that Apple’s victory would slow down technology development, others argued it could be the driving force behind a push to innovate more in the smartphone industry. Read more

PC-maker Acerhad said that it could post as low as zero per cent annual growth in the number of computers it ships this year.The announcement sent its shares tumbling 3 per cent, even though news that PC sales are freezing should hardly be surprising given the global economic slow down.Acer, the world’s third-largest computer vendor, had previously forecast 10 per cent annual growth in the number of computers it ships. That has now been trimmed to zero to 5 per cent growth, according to a company source.

 Read more

Chris Nuttall

Apple has announced another stunning quarter, with revenues of $39.2bn earning net profits of $11.6bn or $12.30 per share. That compares with analyst expectations of $36.5bn in sales and $9.94 a share in profits.

The company sold 35.1m iPhones -up 88 per cent on the year-earlier quarter – but is expected to sell fewer in the current quarter, with revenues declining 13 per cent sequentially.  Tim Cook, chief executive,  and Peter Oppenheimer, chief financial officer, spoke to analysts after the announcement – our live blog is after the jump. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Intel told its “Ivy Bridge” launch event in San Francisco on Monday it had  more than 670 PC systems lined up to use this third-generation Core processor family.

That’s an unprecedented number of design wins for the world’s biggest chipmaker. It signifies that either this is one hot processor, or lengthy delays to it have created pent-up demand, or maybe the PC industry is gearing up for a big year, with Windows 8 launching. It could be all three, or something else, but Intel stuck to the silicon’s merits in its presentation. Read more

Spring cleaning was in the air for Apple this week as the company announced its plan to pay a dividend and institute a share buyback programme. The announcement had many tech commentators putting themselves in the shoes of Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, to ask: what else could Apple have done with its cash? Read more

Chris Nuttall

Apple has announced plans to pay a dividend and institute a share buyback  programme as it deals with a cash mountain that has grown to more than $100bn.

The maker of the iPhone and iPad said it would begin with a quarterly dividend of $2.65 a share, sometime in its fiscal fourth quarter, which begins on July 1.  A $10bn share buyback would begin in its next fiscal year, starting September 30 and be executed over three years.

Apple held a conference call to discuss the moves (it also revealed a record weekend of sales for the new iPad). Our live blog on that, and the reaction to it, is after the jump. Read more

Acer and its former chief executive Gianfranco Lanci may have parted ways for almost a year now, but it is apparently not quite water under the bridge between the two sides.

The Taiwanese company said on Tuesday that it has initiated legal action in Mr Lanci’s home country of Italy, alleging that Mr Lanci violated non-compete clauses in the contract he signed with Acer upon leaving in Febuary 2011 – Mr Lanci joined Lenovo as a consultant in September, and the Chinese company last month announced Mr Lanci would head its Europe, Middle East and Africa operations, effective April. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Apple has finally named a successor to Ron Johnson as head of its retail store operation, choosing John Browett, chief executive of the British electronics retailer Dixons.

Mr Browett (pictured left) will join in April as senior vice president of Retail, reporting to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Mr Johnson was named last June as the new chief executive of JC Penney, the US department store chain. Read more

Apple has done it again. For a brief moment last week, following the announcement that it beat quarterly forecasts with record numbers, the Silicon Valley company once again became the world’s most valuable company.

This time, though, things were different, with Tim Cook, who took over as Apple’s chief executive from co-founder Steve Jobs, now at the helm. Read more