IBM

Chris Nuttall

Never mind the money, read the buzzwords: Big Data, Cloud.

IBM is buying Aspera for an undisclosed figure, but this small company is active in areas that Big Blue and investors view as the hottest in tech. Read more

Second is usually not good enough for Larry Ellison, but Oracle is still celebrating a runner-up spot today. Read more

Richard Waters

IBM’s board of directors got nervous recently when they were told that the company had uncovered higher levels of employee expense fraud.

Mark Loughridge, chief financial officer, says he had a response: “There’s nothing going on here: we’re just catching everyone.” Read more

Richard Waters

IBM has a tried and trusted method for turbo-charging its growth in promising new IT markets: rebrand its existing efforts in the field in question, boast about all the investments it’s already made – and then promise to double them.

Analytics, security and ecommerce have all come in for this kind of treatment, making them bright spots in an otherwise low-growth company. Now it’s the turn of mobile computing. Read more

Tech news from around the web:

IBM claim that they have finally broken one of the most frustrating trends in computing history – that the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years, known as Moore’s Law – by creating a memory bit about 100 times more dense than current memory systems. Read more

When Taiwan’s Quanta landed orders from Facebook and Google to help custom-build their data centres earlier this year, it was the first step into a new industry for the world’s biggest contract maker of notebooks.

Quanta chairman Barry Lam’s said on Monday, however, that his ambitions go further than just completing built-to-order projects for tech companies. Quanta will instead look to offer a full turnkey solution for servers, he said for the first time. It is a move that will put it into direct competition with industry leaders like HP, Dell, IBM and Sun Microsystems. Read more

With all the tablets and smart phones that fight for our attention, more traditional tech companies have been pushed to the background. Yet IBM and HP each managed to grab the attention of the tech world this week when IBM appointed Ginni Rometty as chief executive and HP announced it would keep its PC division. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, announced on Tuesday $4.4bn of investments involving chipmakers that would make his state “the epicentre for the next generation of computer chip technology”. Silicon Valley may be surprised to hear it has been dethroned and, cutting through the political point-scoring, the real significance here for semiconductors seems to be a readiness of the main players to cooperate on moving to the next-generation of silicon wafers. Read more

Richard Waters

It was back in 1980 that IBM committed the tech industry’s most famous mistake: hiring a little company called Microsoft to write an operating system for its first PC. Now, with Big Blue’s stock market value once again surpassing that of Microsoft in intraday trading on Monday, it can finally turn the page on a less-than-glorious chapter in its 100-year history. Read more

The computing industry has benefited this year from an unexpected rebound in business spending on information technology in the developed world and continued rapid growth in the emerging markets, according to figures released by some of the industry’s leading names late on Tuesday.

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Tech news from around the web:

  • Yahoo is looking to allow users to create new accounts using their Google and Facebook identities, reports TechCrunch. This follows a successful trial on Flickr last year, where after Google credentials were allowed to be used, the site saw a 20 per cent increase in sign-ups.
  • The Seattle Times says that Starbucks is to expand its “pay-by-phone” program to 6,800 of its US stores, plus more than 1,000 outlets inside Target outlets, following a trial in Seattle. The coffee company’s cardholders load an application onto their iPhone or BlackBerry smartphones which then displays a barcode that’s scanned at the register to pay for drinks.

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IBM said on Wednesday that it will spend $20bn on acquisitions over the next five years as it reaches for $20 EPS by 2015. Big Blue may need some new products, as the FT’s Lex column writes that the company may struggle to hit its ambitious new targets by relying on internal growth alone.

The question, however, is how much further profitability can be improved for a company unlikely to grow sales rapidly. IBM can tout the benefits of automating processes that currently require human interaction, and an improving economic environment should also help to improve consulting margins for the next two years. But operating margins of 15 per cent in outsourcing and consulting are already better than its US and European competitors. Read more

Richard Waters

IBM’s promise five years ago to release 500 of its patents to the open source world was a milestone in Big Blue’s support for community-developed software.

So the news that it now plans to assert its legal rights in the case of at least two of those patents could mark an unfortunate watershed. And, to borrow an accusation often directed at arch-rival Microsoft, it is certain to sow FUD in open source circles.

The apparent inconsistency has been unearthed by European open source advocate Florian Mueller, who recently led the quixotic and ultimately unsuccessful effort to persuade Brussels to prevent Oracle from assuming control of MySQL when it bought Sun. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Android phones loomed large at the CTIA show in San Diego this week, while the FCC chairman made the trip to the West Coast to warn the wireless industry’s convention of a looming spectrum crisis.

AT&T and others blamed heavy-duty data users and smartphones like the iPhone for a 5,000 per cent increase in data traffic over three years.

It has also been a big week for antitrust cases, as Europe finally ended its battle with Microsoft and the US began one with IBM.

We discussed all of this and more in our weekly FT techtalk – a live, multimedia chat with the FT’s tech correspondents. Read the transcript below and  join us again next week – at 0800 Pacific time (1500GMT, 1600BST) here on Friday. Read more

Richard Waters

As the Department of Justice gets further along with its investigation into how IBM maintains its dominance of the mainframe market, Lacy Edwards is certainly someone it will want to talk to.

Mr Edwards is the boss of Neon Enterprise Software, a small Texas company that is trying to make a living around the edges of the mainframe business.

Big Blue, however, is having none of it. It has written to some of Neon’s customers warning them that if they buy the company’s software, they could be in breach of their licences from IBM – even though it confesses it has yet to get a close look at Neon’s technology.

Does that sound like a case of FUD, designed to scare customers away from a rival’s product? That’s certainly the way Mr Edwards sees it. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Due to the enormous cost and technology involved, less than a dozen people have had their DNA fully decoded, or “sequenced”, to date.

But IBM has come up with a method that could make this affordable for everyone – DNA sequencing could be more than a million times cheaper using chips with holes just three billionths of a metre wide, it says. Read more

David Gelles

It is perhaps with good reason that Larry Ellison does not speak in public that often. Whenever he does, the famously bombastic Oracle chief executive seems certain to trash his rivals, make bold predictions about Oracle’s future, and wander off topic.

Last night at a meeting of the Churchill Club, Mr Ellison said that Sun Microsystems was losing $100m a month as European regulators scrutinise Oracle’s proposed takeover of the struggling hardware maker.

On the economy, Mr Ellison said it would be at least another five years before the US begins to recover. He said it would not be a V shaped recovery with a sharp rebound, or a W shaped recovery with a double dip, or a U shaped recovery with a pause before an uptick, but an L shaped recovery — “down and not coming back up.” Read more

David Gelles

Chris Nuttall

  • Twitter is facing death by a thousand cuts – well, at least 310, anyway. That is the number of confidential internal documents that Mike Arrington of TechCrunch says he has been supplied with by an anonymous hacker, who obtained the information from a Twitter employee’s account with Google. The leak has caused red faces both at Twitter, which also revealed that personal internet accounts of co-founder Evan Williams had been hacked before, and Google, which defended the security of its Gmail and Apps services.
  • The PC market is looking up. Sales were stronger in the second quarter than industry analysts had predicted, suggesting that the industry could be bottoming out as consumers begin to spend more. Worldwide PC sales slipped only 3.1 per cent by volume from a year earlier, about half the retreat expected by market researcher IDC and less than half of the first-quarter’s 6.8 per cent drop.

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  • IBM chief executive Sam Palmisano told invited analysts and investors Wednesday that the tech powerhouse was still on track for 2009 earnings of $9.20 a share and that it intends to keep spending on acquisitions, developing-world markets and research through the downturn. He singled out risk analysis and other analytics as a major growth opportunity, saying it would be “as big as” enterprise resource planning software in five years.
  • Facing mounting pressure from law enforcement agencies around the country, Craigslist said it would remove the “erotic services” section of its massive classified advertising website. In its place will be a new “adult services” section, where ads will be vetted by a Craigslist employee before being posted.

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