dell

Chris Nuttall

Just in time for the Consumer Electronics Show and the launch of an assault on its mobile strategy, Intel has announced an upgrade to its Atom microprocessor.

Atom has dominated the netbook category but it faces a challenge at CES from smaller, leaner-on-energy smartbooks featuring Arm-based processors. 

Chris Nuttall

Intel, which reports third-quarter earnings on Tuesday, has been talking up the emerging markets prospects for  WiMAX, with the technology it has heavily backed failing to gain much traction so far in the US and Europe.

But, according to a new report by the Ovum consultancy, WiMAX will only be a niche technology in emerging markets as well. 

David Gelles

The FT’s John Gapper says the most influential piece of personal technology to emerge in recent years did not come from Apple, Amazon or Research in Motion. Instead, he points to the Asustek’s Asus Eee PC, which created the category now known as “netbooks”.

Few analysts grasped the significance of the Eee because they did not think that people in the developed world would buy a not-very-powerful device with a tiny screen and a small keyboard. Meanwhile, US companies from Dell to Microsoft and Apple gazed studiously elsewhere. 

David Gelles

  • Intel, the world’s biggest chipmaker, reported its strongest pick-up in business in more than 20 years, giving a major lift to the PC industry and technology sector. Intel reported second-quarter revenues of $8bn, up 12 per cent on the first quarter and well ahead of analyst expectations of $7.23bn. Its profit of 18 cents a share also easily exceeded a consensus of 8 cents. The chipmaker was the first big technology company to report earnings this season, providing a boost to the sector and the wider market.
  • Dell plans to plunge into the crowded smartphone market and invest in other new areas, fuelling investor concerns that profit margins will continue to erode at the world’s second-largest computer maker. Ronald Garriques, president of Dell’s consumer division, said the company would “work with the top three to four” telecommunications carriers “and see what their needs are”.The declaration follows innovations in recent months from other manufacturers of internet-enabled phones such as Apple and Research in Motion, while spending on other computing products is flagging.
  • Microsoft unveiled pricing details and launch plans for Windows Azure, the “cloud” operating system that Ray Ozzie hopes will become the online analogue to Windows on the personal computer – a platform that supports applications on the internet. The formalising of the plans, with Azure services going on sale in November, caps the first stage in an planned cultural and technological transformation of the world’s biggest software company.

 

David Gelles

  • Digital Sky Technologies, the Russian internet group that has invested $200m in Facebook, will purchase up to $100m in common stock from existing shareholders in the social network. The deal clarifies Facebook’s valuation, giving its common stock a value of about $6.5bn. This is higher than the rumoured valuations last autumn when a similar deal was considered, but lower than the value of Facebook’s preferred stock.
  • Microsoft escalated its battle with arch rival Google, reacting to an assault on one of its core businesses with the announcement of a free online version of its widely used Office software, to be launched next year. While likely to take only a small bite out of Office revenues in the short term, the move represents one of the most radical steps yet by Microsoft as it tries to refocus its software business around the internet, according to analysts.

 

Apple’s MacBook Air, Sony’s Vaio P Series and now Dell’s Adamo belong to an elite category of portable personal computers whose appeal owes as much to design aesthetics as it does to technology, writes Paul Taylor:

Sony and Apple have a reputation for such products. But Dell – outside of its Alienware unit, which builds high-performance PCs for games players – is best known for producing solid mainstream desktops and businesslike laptops targeting corporate buyers and penny-pinched students. 

  • The economic slump hasn’t ended yet. That was the word from the executives of Microsoft and Dell, as they countered the recent optimistic views expressed by other big tech companies. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, said: “To think that things would be back in a year seems naive to me.” Brian Gladden, Dell’s chief financial officer, said: “Based on what we see in the marketplace, we’re not comfortable talking about seeing a bottom at this point.”
  • Microsoft and Google took direct aim at each other’s core businesses as they showed off ambitious new services that represent some of their biggest internet development efforts. Microsoft unveiled its new search engine, Bing, to generally positive reviews. Google, meanwhile, stole the thunder by showing-off Wave, a new communication platform that incorporates elements of email, chat and document sharing.

 

  • Three months into her stint at the head of Yahoo, Carol Bartz is seeking buyers for the HotJobs employment site. Other ancillary businesses in Yahoo’s portfolio could also be getting prepared for disposal.
  • Twitter is benefiting from all that attention. Visitors to Twitter.com surged 131 per cent in March to 9.3m, suggesting that more than being just a fad, Twitter could in fact be going mainstream.

 

Joseph Menn

Accel Parters’ Jim Breyer, one of the most highly regarded venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, joined the board of Dell today, fueling speculation about new directions for the computer maker.

Mr Breyer’s other boards include top retailer Wal-Mart, which would be an ideal spot from which to sell computers indirectly, and Facebook, which is a part of many conversations about where end-user trends are heading. 

  • Cisco‘s open secret is a secret no more. After weeks of rumours speculating as much, the networking equipment powerhouse is entering the server market, posing a potential threat to IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Sun. Servers are lower-margin products, but analysts say Cisco will be able to charge more by offering bundled products.
  • Apple is unveiling new iPhone software on Tuesday. Watchers don’t expect multimedia text messaging, but other desired features, including copy and pasting and integrated contact books, seem likely. Don’t expect an appearance from Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, who remains on medical leave, or the debut of Apple’s rumoured 10-inch touchscreen tablet.