Hewlett-Packard reclaimed its server crown from IBM last quarter as the overall market contracted and Taiwanese vendors made big gains selling directly to Internet giants like Google and Facebook, according to an IDC report.
HP expanded its share of the market only modestly from a year earlier but IBM’s portion declined 4.5 points despite solid mainframe sales, to leave HP in the top spot. HP finished the third quarter with 28.1% of worldwide server revenue to IBM’s 23.4%, IDC said.
But the strongest growth was for the “ODM direct” segment which IDC broke out for the first time this quarter. It stands for original design manufacturers, which are Taiwanese firms like Quanta Computer, Wistron Group, Inventec and Compal, which sell partial and fully-built servers to the big cloud providers.
It’s a growing segment and one that threatens the incumbents. ODM’s accounted for 6.5% of server revenue last quarter, up 45.2% from a year earlier, IDC said. If the ODM category were a single vendor, it would be the third largest ahead of Dell.
Almost 80% of the ODM’s server revenue came from the U.S., primarily from sales to Google, Amazon, Facebook and Rackspace.
Overall, the server market declined 3.7% from a year earlier to $12.1 billion. It was the third consecutive quarter of declining revenue but IDC predicts improvement with a refresh cycle early next year. In terms of units shipped, volumes were about flat year over year, meaning average selling prices dropped.
Volume systems — mostly x86 servers — picked up slightly from last year, with 3.5% revenue growth. But sales of midrange and high-end systems dropped 17.8% and 22.5%, respectively, IDC said.
IBM fared worst of the top 5 vendors, with revenue down 19.4% due to “soft demand for System x and Power Systems,” IDC said. Dell retained third place with 16.2% of revenue, about flat from last year, while Cisco Systems and Oracle tied for fourth.
Cisco saw the most growth of the top vendors, with a nearly 43% revenue jump, IDC said.
Sony is looking to make $250 million worth of cuts in its entertainment business, including shifting movie investment to TV production and media networks, and reducing the output of Columbia Pictures.
The company’s largest investor has suggested Sony should consider selling-off parts of its business, but at a meeting of investors yesterday CEO Kaz Hirai made the case for keeping its entertainment divisions as one.
“I know that the whole of Sony is greater than the sum of its parts,” he said, as reported by Bloomberg. “Sony Entertainment is a core part of Sony and is crucial to our future growth.”
He pointed to the introduction of exclusive Sony content for the PlayStation 4 and the adoption of Blu-ray in the PS3 as examples of synergy in the business.
But according to CEO of the entertainment division Michael Lynton, “no cost is too sacred to cut”.
The business is currently looking at $150 million of overhead and operational efficiencies and $100 million of procurement savings, according to the report.
Continuing the trend for announcing that your dot com startup is worth a horrific amount of money, remote access filesharing service Dropbox has announced a new round of venture capital funding applications that values it at an extremely ambitious $8bn.
Dropbox, which recently refined its service to allow a more obvious divide between work and home files, has announced that it is seeking $250 million in venture capital over the next few weeks, which would put the valuation at double that of its previous estimate in 2011, which valued it at a still hefty $4bn.
Despite coming under heavy competition from rival services including Box and Sugarsync, as well as big players like Amazon and Google, Dropbox has managed to not only to hold its own, but become an eponym for most of its competitors.
The news follows Twitter’s recent IPO and the revelation that nudie selfie app Snapchat turned down offers of up to $4bn for the service from Google and Facebook.
In the middle of one of the biggest economic downturns since the 1930s, information technology firms have indulged in escalating acts of corporate chest puffing that many fear might become a second dot come bubble, ripe for bursting in a similar fashion to events following the millennium.
In the meantime, as Dropbox recently claimed to have 200 million users and is introducing both remote wiping and split “storage lockers” in an attempt to attract big business, it is clear that the company has raised its ambitions.
Amazon and HTC are jointly developing three smartphones, with one at an advanced development stage, according to a report Tuesday in the Financial Times. The report did note that Amazon might not release the device that’s furthest along.
Earlier reports had indicated that Amazon has already delayed the launch of a smartphone.
Amazon didn’t respond to a request to comment on the latest report. The company has not responded to similar reports in the past other than saying it had no plans for a phone this year. It has also said it doesn’t plan to offer a free phone, as some had speculated.
Ben Ho, Amazon’s chief of marketing, told the Financial Times that the company is open to co-branding and collaborating with other tech firms.
Amazon is late to the smartphone game, but could benefit from tying future smartphone hardware to sales of products and services on Amazon.com.
Asus and LG build Google’s Nexus smartphones and tablets.
The HTC First smartphone, released earlier in 2013 and embedded with the Facebook social network, hasn’t sold well. HTC had a net loss of $101 million in the third quarter, the first loss since the company went public in 2002, which may indicate it may not be an ideal partner for Amazon.
Reports citing unnamed sources had surfaced in early October that Amazon was building two smartphones, including one with 3D eye-tracking ability.
Amazon last month unveiled a third generation of two new Kindle Fire HDX tablets, which makes a smartphone seem highly likely, perhaps in 2014.
The tablets run a modified version of Android, called Fire OS 3.0 Mojito. Any Amazon smartphone would likely follow suit.
The laptop runs on Chrome OS, and is designed for people who do most of their computing on the Internet. It has an 11.6-inch screen and weighs 1.04 kilograms, making it one of the lightest laptops available.
In a laptop first, it only requires a micro-USB power adapter. That means any charger used to power an Android tablet or smartphone can be used with Chromebook 11.
“When you’re traveling, you don’t need to throw an extra charger into your bag,” wrote Caesar Sengupta, vice president of product management at Google in a blog entry.
The laptop can run for 6.5 hours on a single battery charge. It has a Samsung Exynos processor running at 1.7GHz, 16GB of solid-state drive storage and 2GB of low-power DDR3 RAM. The storage capacity may be small, but Google is offering 100GB of cloud storage for two years at no additional charge.
The screen displays images at a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. Other features include a webcam, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
Chromebooks vary in price from $199 for Acer’s low-end C7 Chromebook to $1,299 for Google’s high-end Pixel. This is the second Chromebook running on an ARM processor besides Samsung’s Chromebook. Chromebooks with Intel processors were shown by Toshiba, Hewlett-Packard and Acer last month and are expected to ship by the end of this year. Lenovo also markets a Chromebook intended especially for schools.
Chromebook 11 will be available on Oct. 20 through Best Buy andAmazon.com in the U.S., and through retailers like PC World in the U.K. It will become available in other countries during the holiday shopping season, Google said.
Apple Inc is planning on introducing its latest line-up of iPads on October 22, tech blog AllThingsD cited sources familiar with the company’s plans as saying, meaning Apple would be updating its tablets in time for holiday shopping.
New versions of the iPad, which will go up against Amazon.com Inc’s latest Kindle Fire tablets and other gadgets made by Samsung Electronics, are expected to feature lighter, thinner designs and more powerful processors.
Supply chain sources told Reuters last week that Apple may run into a shortage of so-called “retina” displays for the iPad mini, a smaller version of the tablet that helped popularize the product in 2010. That could in turn limit supply of the gadget during the crucial season.
Apple declined to comment about AllThingsD’s report, which added that the company may also devote some time to detailing new Macintosh computers.
The iPhone-maker has come under pressure over the past year to preserve market share and bolster sales against rivals that are rapidly raising specifications and lowering prices.
Amazon’s new 7-inch Kindle Fire is priced from $229 for 16GB wifi-only models, while Google Inc’s second-generation Nexus 7 offers a similar screen size and storage capacity at the same price.
In comparison, the cheapest model in Apple’s current 7.9-inch iPad Mini lineup with 16GB of storage starts at $329.
Quite a few new tablets, including the new Kindle Fire HDX, are marketed as ways to create documents and other content for productivity related tasks, instead of purely for home consumption of video and games.
Even with the focus on workplace productivity, a new survey shows that only 8.7% of tablet buyers want to use the tablet as a replacement for their laptops. The same survey by IDC found that 58.5% of respondents bought a tablet to use in addition to a laptop, and not as a replacement.
The online survey was conducted in April and included 299 U.S. consumers. All of them were 18 or older.
The results might have been different if the survey included younger tablet users, ages 17 and under, since that group has grown up with tablets since the first iPad went on sale in 2010, said Tom Mainelli, an IDC analyst and author of a report on the survey.
“The younger generation has different sentiments about phones and tablets and how useful they are,” Mainelli said in an interview.
Still, he said the finding that only 8.7% found a tablet as a replacement for a laptop was a surprise. “When we ask that question again in a year, I’d expect you will see a growing percentage view a tablet at least as possibly replacing a laptop,” Mainelli said.
“A huge percentage of people still see a lot of value in a laptop for one kind of app or service they use on it,” he added. “Would they want to do their taxes on a tablet? They haven’t quite made the leap to being comfortable with a mobile device like a tablet.”
“But that [expanded tablet] usage is coming, and we see more people doing more things on tablets,” Mainelli added. “Professionals still rely on laptops and a lot of them are just not really even thinking about the possibilities that the tablet offers and instead are concerned that a tablet doesn’t run Flash or can only open one app at a time.”
As time runs out for Intel to bring its Internet-based TV service by the end of the year, the outfit has approached Samsung and Amazon to ask them to lend a hand. Intel has asked about providing funding and distribution for the service. It looks like the set-top box project could be scrapped if a strategic partner isn’t found soon.
OnCue was supposed to allow users to watch live TV, on demand, and other offerings. Intel said it would provide the hardware and services directly to consumers and that the box would come with a camera that can detect who is in front of the TV. More than 300 engineers are working on the project under Erik Huggers, the head of Intel Media. A version of the service running on Intel hardware is testing with 3,000 Intel employees. Goodness knows what content they are running. Intel is having difficulty getting content deals.
Intel has yet to announce any TV programming partners, and Time Warner Cable and other cable TV providers have been pressuring channel owners to shun pacts with Intel and other Internet-based TV providers. Samsung, which ships millions of smart TVs, could distribute the service as a bundle, while Amazon could provide access to its growing library of movies and TV shows.
The new Kindle Fire HDX tablets feature what Amazon has called the ‘Mayday Button’, which instantly brings up a video chat with a tech-support representative who will assist users on how to operate the device or even do it for them remotely.
Amazon said the service is free for HDX customers, is available at all times, and is aiming for a 15-second maximum response time. Users can move the video box around the screen as it suits them and they cannot be seen by the Amazon representative.
The world’s largest Internet retailer takes a different approach to the tablet market than Apple, selling its Kindle devices at close to cost then profiting off the sale of digital content such as video and music, or physical goods like books from its website. Since Amazon took the plunge into the then-nascent tablet market with the Kindle Fire in 2011, the devices have proven to be effective vending machines for purchases.
“This is the kind of feature that we are well-suited to do,” said Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, showing off the new tablets to reporters at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters on Tuesday. “Many of the things we’ve done marry together high-tech with heavy lifting. This is one of those things.”
Amazon would not say how many support staff were behind the Mayday service, but Bezos said the company was training “thousands” and was prepared to hire more people if needed.
“We’ll be ready for Christmas morning, which is always a very big tech support day for us,” said Bezos.
The new tablets, one with a 7-inch (18cm) screen and one with an 8.9-inch screen, are lighter and more powerful than the last Kindle HD line and appear to be aimed at Apple’s market-leading iPad. Amazon’s new HDX tablets come in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage sizes.
The smaller Kindle Fire HDX tablet starts at $229 and the bigger tablet starts at $379, both for 16GB wifi-only models. By comparison, Apple’s 16GB wifi iPad mini starts at $329, and its 16GB full-sized wifi iPad starts at $499. To see comparative prices, click on
Amazon is taking pre-orders immediately for wifi-only models, with shipping scheduled for October for the 7-inch tablet and November for the 8.9-inch tablet. Wireless 4G versions of both will also be available, for $100 extra, later this year.
In addition, Amazon is selling an updated version of its Kindle Fire HD for $139, down from $199 for the last generation.
Together, Amazon is hoping the new offerings will give it a bigger share of the exploding tablet market, currently led by Apple’s iPad, followed by Samsung’s Galaxy range of tablets running Google’s Android system.
To promote profitable cross-selling, Amazon has extended its popular ‘X-Ray’ feature, which now allows users to buy music featured in TV shows and films at the touch of a button.
The new tablets run on the latest version of Amazon’s Fire OS, codenamed ‘Mojito’, which is its own operating system based on Google’s Android.
Though just a concept, the idea has been put forward as part of the IC Tomorrow’s Digital Innovation games contest, a program launched by the UK Technology Strategy Board, which is offering five businesses up to £25,000 each to develop innovative digital applications and meet the objectives of five prolific technology companies, including Crytek, Sony and Google.
Crytek’s technical director of research and development Jake Turner spoke at the programmer’s launch event on Thursday, challenging developers to help integrate the free map data with existing games engines such as Crytek’s Cryengine 3 Sandbox.
Turner said, “We had probably spent a year making a city in America of our games and it’s taken a year to before we could actually start to play the game and experience it, involving how big that city should be, how detailed that city should be, so one of the challenges here is ‘how can we do this instantly?’”
“Why do we have to use people to make a city when there’s consistent open source street data out there which is very detailed, it’s got buildings, lights, it’s got streets – material data. Why can’t we just press a button and instantly see that?”
The challenge Crytek is putting forward is for developers to built an app so that we can “instantly drop into any part of the world” and see, in 3D, data being streamed in from the open source street map data.
“One of the ultimate goals, we would like to start an office in the UK and be able to fly at the press of a button all the way to the office in Frankfurt, and drive around Frankfurt, or any place in the world,” Turner added.
“Aimed primarily to purpose-make these virtual worlds based on real world environments, opened instantaneously without processing, we’d be able to see it instantly streamed over the cloud.”
Turner revealed that if successful, the project could be made part of future games, where users themselves can decide which city in the world they would like to play in, simply jumping from one to another with the scenery being generated instantly for the player.
However, he did add that this is still “a very long way away”.
The disclosure comes after a test of the service found that several “.doc” files were opened after being uploaded to Dropbox.
Dropbox’s behavior was detected using HoneyDocs, a new Web-based service that creates a log showing when and where a document was opened, according to a blog post at WNC InfoSec.
The experiment involved uploading to Dropbox “.zip” HoneyDocs folders with embedded “.doc” files. HoneyDocs lets users set up a “sting,” or a notification that is sent by SMS or email when a file has been viewed. Where the file has been viewed from is plotted on a map.
The callback, or as HoneyDocs calls it a “buzz,” is an HTTP Get request with a unique identifiers assigned to a sting. The data on when and where the file has been opened is sent over SSL port 443, according to HoneyDocs.
WNC InfoSec wrote the first buzz came back within 10 minutes after a file was uploaded with the IP address of an Amazon EC2 instance in Seattle. Dropbox uses Amazon’s cloud infrastructure.
Of the submitted files, only “.doc” files had been opened, WNC Infosec wrote. HoneyDocs also pulled information on the type of application which accessed the document, which in this case was the open-source productivity suite LibreOffice.
“So now I’m curious,” WNC InfoSec wrote. “Are the files being accessed for de-duplication purposes or possibly malware scanning? If so, then why are the other file types not being opened?”
Despite the strange behavior, the explanation is straightforward. What WNC InfoSec picked up on using HoneyDocs is automated backend processing that Dropbox does on certain kinds of files.
Dropbox allows users to see previews of some kinds of documents, included “.doc” ones, but it must build a preview of those documents, according to a Dropbox spokeswoman. To do that, the document must be opened.
According to Dropbox’s website, users can open Word, PowerPoint, PDF and text files from directly within their browser, which saves them from needing certain software programs installed on their computer.
Still, the behavior may make some people nervous. Security experts generally recommend that for stronger privacy, users should encrypt documents before transmitting those files to Web-based storage providers.
Dropbox forbids all but a small number of employees from accessing user data. Its technical support staff may in some cases have access to file metadata, or the data identifying a file rather than its content.
“We have strict policy and technical access controls that prohibit employee access except in these rare circumstances,” according to its policy.
Intel has scored a marketing coup by getting Amazon to admit that it runs Xeons in its AWS EC2 compute cloud and sticking its logo on its cloud computer screens.
Intel has been trying to increasing its visibility in the cloud and now it seems it will have a hand from Amazon Web Services. Amazon released a list of the processors it uses with Xeon used for everything but its smallest, micro servers. Ariel Kelman, Amazon’s head of global marketing based in San Francisco told the Intel Developer Forum that AWS’ was adopting the Intel branding.
He said that Amazon will be running some customer instances on new Xeon E5-2600, second generation, Sandy Bridge chips before the end of the year. The E5-2600 is a two-socket CPU. The ES-2600 v2 comes with up to 12 cores per CPU, up from eight in the first version launched in March and will improve performance over the first generation by 35 per cent.
Samsung has predicted that the troubled TV market will recover in the second half of this year, helped by an improving US economy and the launch of new high-end sets.
LCD TV prices have fallen by 15 percent on average every year, mainstream manufacturers are adding new features and going upmarket with bigger screens that boast four times better resolution than lower-priced LCD models from Chinese rivals. Samsung said that the first half of the year was quite tough for the television market. But now that the U.S. economy is recovering, we foresee that the second half will be quite positive or will recover.
Samsung is planning new technology such as Ultra High-Definition. It plans to stay in the premium segment, offering increased model ranges and competitive prices. The South Korean firm has staked its display future organic light emitting diode technology and its success with smaller screens has boosted its smartphone market share and earnings.
Samsung showed off two curved OLED TV models with UHD quality ahead of rivals at IFA. But the big screens are likely to be a bit slower.
Samsung is set to send audiences’ eyes square next week when it launches a whopping 98in 4K TV at the IFA 2013 consumer electronics trade show in Berlin.
Touting a ridiculously sized large format display (LFD) that boasts four times the definition of standard HD TVs, the 98in ultra-high definition (UHD) TV needs to be installed vertically on a wall so it can be watched safely.
At IFA, Samsung will be placing three vertically oriented UHD LFDs side-by-side to create a gigantic 171in high-resolution 4K display board.
4K TV, or Ultra HD as it is called, offers double the resolution of today’s standard full HD TVs, which offer 1920×1080 resolution. Technically speaking, 4K denotes the very specific 4096×2160 display resolution, but these are called 4k TVs because the Ultra HD format includes the next smaller 3840×2160 resolution.
UHD format pixels are so small that they are almost invisible on TV sets and as a result the format has the level of detail seen in 70mm IMAX movies.
However, a 98in TV doesn’t have much use for your average sized living room, or in terms of actual TV watching anyway. You’d need to be sat about 12 feet away from a 98in 4K TV to appreciate its resolution, according to this nifty viewing distance recommendations chart, so it seems a TV of this size and quality would probably be more welcome for events or for commercial use.
Samsung hasn’t given any details about availability or pricing of this stupidly massive TV set, but we hope to find this out during our visit to the IFA event next week.
Alongside the 98in beast, Samsung will also launch a more realistically sized 31.5in UHD monitor at IFA 2013. Being a first for the company, the monitor also supports calibration where the screen is divided into 25 divisions, with each being checked for colour values.
“Calibration is also possible through separate software, which consumers can use to adjust colors,” Samsung said. In addition, it can express richer colors among existing monitors by displaying one billion colors and supporting 99 per cent coverage of Adobe RGB color space.
For 65-inch 4K TVs, Samsung’s asking price recently dropped from $7,500 to $6,000, while Sony cut its price from $7,000 to $5,500. For 55-inch models, Samsung dropped the price from $5,500 to $4,500, and Sony’s prices fell from $5,000 to $4,000.
The price cuts, first spotted by Twice, are available through Sony’s and Samsung’s respective websites, and through Amazon. LG, which also offers 4K TVs, is still seeking higher prices for its 55-inch and 65-inch models.
4K TVs started out much more expensive than their predecessors, largely because television makers were only selling larger-screen models at high premiums. Samsung, for instance, sells an 85-inch Ultra HD TV for $40,000, while LG charges $17,000 for its 84-inch Ultra HD television.
But as screen sizes have come down, so has the entry-level pricing for 4K, which refers to televisions with screen resolutions of 3840 by 2160 pixels. (The Consumer Electronics Association adopted and interchangeably uses the term “Ultra HD.”)
Meanwhile, lesser-known brands such as Seiki and TCL have come out with 50-inch 4K TVs in the $1,000 price range, but reviews have noted that the picture quality and features are not nearly as good as their higher-priced counterparts.
Additionally, given that there’s so little 4K content available, getting a 4K television doesn’t make much sense unless you can enjoy better 1080p picture quality while waiting for more content to come along. Even that’s a stretch, considering that the best large-screen 1080p televisions are about half the price of 4K right now.
Still, it’s always good to see new TV tech become, over time, more realistically priced.