IBM’s CEO Virginia Rometty has taken to her web cam to blast her be-suited staff who are “too slow.” Rometty sent off a five-minute internal video message which was so grumpy they did her the favour of sending it to the Wall Street Journal. She moaned at the company’s sales staff for failing to get ink on the page for a number of potential deals.
“As the quarter ended, hundreds of millions of dollars of software and mainframe opportunities, they didn’t close and that was because we didn’t move fast enough,” she snarled.
Rometty said that in at least one case IBM was too slow to understand the value and then engage on the approval and the sign-off process and it didn’t get done. If a client were to have any requests or questions in the future, IBM had better have a response ready within a day.
“And if anything slows you down, call it out. Engage management, engage leadership and let’s deal with it,” she growled. She has already given her “under-performing” storage crew a dressing down and said she will be taking “substantial actions” to sort out that area of its business and Rometty has also switched the head of corporate strategy with the head of systems and technology in a bid to shake things up.
But on the plus side, she confessed that her strategy was “the right one” and “fundamentals are strong”. So in other words she is right and those lazy suits are wrong. Big Blue missed its first quarter targets after expected income from mainframe systems and related software deals, along with patent licences, had to be rolled over into the second quarter.
IBM, a bellwether for the IT industry, is in the midst of a drive to boost profits by 2015 against an uncertain global economic backdrop.
Local management has yet to officially outline whether there will be a formal job-cuts plan approved by U.S. headquarters, the union representatives said, but said the numbers had already been communicated.
“Management is set to present a plan to cut between 1,200 and 1,400 staff over the next two years,” said Pierry Poquet, secretary general of the UNSA union, who said a meeting was planned for April 25.
“For now it is only a target…we’ve heard such announcements before but they don’t always come to pass.”
The CFE-CGC union’s representative, Evelyne Heurtaux, confirmed the figures. “We’ve been told a figure of around 1,300 jobs cut over two years,” she said.
IBM currently employs around 8,000 people in France, Heurtaux said.
An IBM spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.
According to the company’s Chinese e-store, the Surface Pro will go on sale April 2 at 9 p.m. local time.
The Chinese debut will be the tablet’s first market expansion since its U.S. and Canadian launch on Feb. 9. Microsoft first announced the Surface Pro’s availability on the Chinese-language Weibo social networking service.
LiveSino.net reported earlier in the day that Microsoft was introducing the tablet in China on Tuesday.
It’s been no secret that China was on the short list for the Surface Pro. Three weeks ago, Microsoft said the Windows 8 Pro-powered device would go on sale in several more markets in the second quarter, including Australia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the U.K.
The Microsoft Store does not show prices for the Surface Pro, but another Chinese website,WPDang, said the 64GB model would cost 6,588 yuan, equivalent to $1,061. The higher-priced 128GB Surface Pro, meanwhile, will be priced at 7,388 yuan ($1,190).
U.S. prices for the Surface Pro are $899 (64GB) and $999 (128GB).
Microsoft has to hope that the Surface Pro does better in China than the lower-priced Surface RT predecessor: Research firm IDC pegged shipments — which are different, usually higher, than sales — of the latter in China at just 30,000 units during the last two months of 2012′s fourth quarter. Worldwide, Microsoft shipped approximately 900,000 Surface RTs in the same period, IDC said.
Microsoft’s Chinese move hints that stock shortages have been solved. While the Surface Pro is now ready to ship from Microsoft’s U.S. e-store, last month the 128GB configuration’s availability was spotty for several weeks following the tablet’s launch.
Yahoo Inc is in discussions to purchase a controlling interest in Dailymotion, one of the world’s most popular online video websites, in what would be Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s largest deal since taking the reins in July, the Wall Street Journal is reporting.
Yahoo could acquire as much as 75 percent of Dailymotion, which is owned by French telecommunications firm France Telecom-Orange, according to the newspaper report, which cited anonymous sources.
Dailymotion could be valued at roughly $300 million, according to the report, which noted that the deal is not imminent and could fall apart.
“We are unable to confirm, deny or comment on speculation regarding potential talks between Yahoo and Orange at this time,” Dailymotion Managing Director Roland Hamilton said in an emailed statement.
Yahoo and France-Telecom Orange declined to comment.
France Telecom-Orange acquired Dailymotion for $170 million through a two-phase deal, with the most recent transaction closing in January. Dailymotion’s editorial and executive management operate independently of France Telecom-Orange.
Dailymotion is the No. 12 ranked online video Web property in the world, according to industry research firm comScore. It says Dailymotion has 116 million unique monthly visitors and more than 2 billion videos viewed. Google Inc, which owns YouTube, is the world’s No. 1 Web video property while Yahoo’s various websites ranked 10th on the list.
The transaction for Dailymotion would represent Yahoo’s largest deal since Mayer, a former Google executive, took charge last year. Yahoo has acquired several small mobile and web start-up companies since Mayer became chief executive last year.
The money will be paid to 37 states and the District of Columbia, which had pursued Google after it admitted that its Street View cars had collected the data inadvertently between 2008 and 2010.
As well as photographing their surroundings, the Street View cars collect data about the location of Wi-Fi access points to help with Google’s navigation services. It was during that process that the company’s cars collected personal information sent over those networks.
As part of the settlement, Google said it would destroy the personal data it collected.
It has also removed the equipment and software used to collect the data from its Street View vehicles and will not collect additional information without prior notice and consent, the Attorney General of New York said in a statement.
It’s a relatively small sum for a company of Google’s size. To put the settlement in context, it’s a little more than the $6 million bonus that Google will pay Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt for his work at the company in 2012, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday.
Google will also provide a training program to its employees for 10 years about privacy and the confidentiality of user data, and will launch a public-service advertising campaign to educate consumers about keeping their personal information secure on Wi-Fi networks.
The disclosure by Google that it collected the information drew attention worldwide. Google paid a $130,000 fine to France’s National Commission on Computing and Liberty, while a public prosecutor in Germany declined to launch a criminal investigation.
Google also paid a $25,000 fine to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for delaying an investigation into the issue.
Amazon.com Inc said on Wednesday it has dropped the price of its largest Kindle Fire tablet, part of an effort by the world’s biggest Internet retailer to get the device into the hands of as many consumers as possible.
The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 inch Wi-Fi tablet will now be priced at $269 in the United States, down from $299. The 4G wireless version now starts at $399, compared with $499 before, Amazon said.
Amazon is launching its larger tablet in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Japan. Dave Limp, president of Amazon’s Kindle business, said the company has increased production of the devices in conjunction with the overseas launch. The cost of making the tablets has fallen with greater economies of scale, letting Amazon cut prices, he said.
“Whenever we are able to create cost efficiencies like this, we want to pass the savings along to our customers,” Limp said in a statement.
Amazon launched its first Kindle Fire tablet in 2011 to compete with Apple Inc’s dominant iPad and other tablets from companies such as Samsung that run on Google Inc’s Android operating system.
Amazon sells its devices at cost, undercutting Apple prices. Amazon aims to make money when customers use its tablets to buy physical and digital products from the company, such as movies, music, games and apps.
However, Amazon’s strategy rests on selling a lot of tablets. This may not be working well yet for its larger 8.9 inch Kindle Fires, according to recent research by Chad Bartley, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities.
Amazon does not disclose device sales numbers. But Bartley said in a research report last month that demand for the larger Kindle Fire tablet was weak, citing checks with contacts in the device supply chain.
Amazon’s price reductions on Wednesday may be designed to try to maintain sales during the early part of the year, which is typically a slow period for retail sales, said Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Partners.
Amazon may also be cutting prices before it comes out with new versions of its tablets later this year, when sales normally increase during the back-to-school shopping season and the holidays, Gillis added.
An Amazon spokeswoman said the price cuts were not driven by weak demand, but rather the cost benefits of increasing production for overseas sales.
Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet will be offered for sale Europe in the second quarter priced approximately at $1,170, while a local telco is now reselling the latest editions of its Office 365 hosted productivity suite, the company announced ahead of the Cebit trade show on Monday.
Microsoft Germany’s CEO Christian Illek didn’t give the Surface Pro’s exact price in euros, but the number will be around the same as the U.S. price in dollars, he said in a news conference at the company’s booth on the show floor in Hanover.
While an $1170 price tag appears significantly higher that the Surface Pro’s U.S. price of $899, a 30% mark-up is not unusual for electronics devices in Europe, where prices are typically displayed inclusive of value-added tax at around 20%. U.S. prices typically exclude local sales taxes. When setting international prices, vendors also tend to allow an additional margin in case exchange rates shift unfavorably.
In addition to Germany, Surface Pro will also go on sale in Australia, China, France, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the U.K. in the coming months, Microsoft said.
Illek also announced a new sales channel for two recent editions of Office 365: Deutsche Telekom.
Office 365 Small Business Premium and Office 365 Midsize Business are now on sale through Deutsche Telekom’s Business Marketplace online app store, said the German telecommunications operator’s head of marketing, Michael Hagspihl.
The Small Business Premium edition, with 25GB of storage, shared calendars, Office Web Apps, Office Professional Plus Desktop Version and support from Deutsche Telekom will sell for $14.90 per user per month for up to 25 users.
The companies announced the distribution deal on the show floor at Cebit, where their sprawling booths face one another across the main aisle of Hall 4. Stands there are still under construction: The show opens Tuesday, and runs through Saturday.
U.S. companies tend to be far less concerned with the brand of mobile devices in the workplace and more worried about which employees have access to company data, according to a Dell survey of 1,500 senior IT managers in 10 countries. The survey looked at bring-your-own-device (BYPD) trends and plans.
In the survey, employees from Singapore said their companies are the most proactive in using digital rights management rather than device-level access management to control the flow of potentially sensitive company information.The nations included in the survey were the U.S., France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the U.K., Australia, Singapore, India and the Beijing region of China.
Among the questions, Dell asked IT managers: “Should companies focus on users or devices when developing a BYOD strategy?”
Thirty percent of managers in the U.S. said their companies are more likely to focus on users over devices. In Singapore, that number was more than twice as high, with 63% of managers saying they would focus more on users. Forty-one percent of those surveyed in Germany said their companies put users ahead of devices, while 56% said the same thing in the U.K.
Dell’s survey results are supported by past surveys from service providers and research firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
A 2012 global survey of CIOs by PwC found that 28% said their workforce was using personal devices for work-related tasks. That percentage is expected to rise to 35% by mid-2013.
In a survey last year, PwC said U.S. IT managers indicated BYOD is on their radar, yet most businesses have not yet developed appropriate policies. According to PwC, just 43% of respondents said that their organization has implemented a security strategy for the use of employee-owned devices. And only 27% of U.S. respondents believed their mobile security was adequate to pass an audit.
Typically, companies with BYOD policies focus on specific mobile phones, tablets and their OSes, attempting to add each new model into their mobile device management schemes. Instead, a more effective approach is to control data access through digital rights — regardless of the hardware, according to Carol Fawcett, CIO of Dell Software Group.
A French court has ordered Twitter to hand over any data that could help police identify users who posted racist and anti-Semitic tweets on its website.
The case, decided in the 17th Chamber of the Paris Criminal Court, stems from a complaint filed in October by the Union of French Jewish Students. The group acted after an increase in anti-Semitic remarks were posted to Twitter under the hashtag #agoodjew.
The student group wanted Twitter to remove the tweets and to adopt a new system for responding to hateful messages. “We ask Twitter to take responsibility,” UEJF president Jonathan Hayoun said prior to the ruling.
But the court’s decision went further, requiring Twitter to turn over any data that could identify those who posted the tweets. Twitter’s French site must also provide an easy way for users to flag tweets deemed illegal under French law, including racist and hateful messages.
Most of the #agoodjew tweets have since been removed by Twitter.
Hayoun called the court’s order an “historic decision.” “It reminds the victims of racism and anti-Semitism that they’re not alone, and that the French law that defends them must apply everywhere; there should be no exception for Twitter,” he said in a statement (in French).
But John Simpson, a consumer advocate with Consumer Watchdog, said Twitter should resist turning over the data to the extent that it can. “I fear, however, that under French law Twitter ultimately will have to release the information,” he said.
“Twitter can avail itself of appeals processes, but ultimately Twitter must obey the rule of law of sovereign nations, if they want to continue to operate in that country,” echoed analyst Scott Cleland, president at Precursor, a consultancy in McLean, Virginia.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Telecom operators around the globe have suffered as free calling and texting services have proliferated over the past few years. The apps allow users to communicate without using their voice or text allotments, leading some operators like KPN to complain about the hit to their bottom line.
Giles Corbett, who developed the application called ‘Libon’ for Orange, said telecom operators needed to come up with equivalent services.
“The situation is really simple – either you deliver the most compelling service or your users switch to something else. What’s the alternative? We want to be in there,” he said in an interview.
The application can be used by any iPhone user for free, while the company charges for some premium features like transcripts of voicemail or email copies of voicemails.
Libon will be available for smartphones using Google’s Android software in the first quarter of 2013.
Telefonica also launched a similar app, called Tu Me, in May, while Deutsche Telekom has one known as Bobsled.
With other European operators, Orange has also been working on a new technology known as rich communications suite (RCS), which is supposed to update traditional mobile calls by adding chat functions, live video and file sharing across all devices.
The telecoms industry association GSMA has been working on standardizing RCS for use across all telecom operators and all handsets.
Orange, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, AT&T and China Mobile are working on deploying RCS to their customers.
Amazon Wine launched more than 1,000 wines from wineries in the United States, including Francis Ford Coppola, Hall, Mark Ryan, Eden Canyon, Pepper Bridge and Roadhouse.
The world’s largest Internet retailer said customers could order up to six bottles for a shipping fee of $9.99.
The service will be available to California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming and the District of Columbia.
Amazon said more states will be added “soon.”
Indeed, the limited number of states highlights the challenges of online wine sales due to regulations governing the sale and delivery of alcohol across U.S. state borders.
Amazon had tried getting into the online wine business a few years ago, but put the effort on hold.
Wine.com launched its own online wine marketplace earlier this week, ahead of Amazon’s move, which had been reported recently.
Wine.com, which has been in the online wine business for 14 years, launched its marketplace with shipping to 20 states and also offered wines from countries outside the United States, including France, Italy, Spain and Australia.
A marketplace approach is better than the traditional wholesale distribution system because it allows smaller wineries to reach consumers more directly.
McDonald’s is piloting a mobile payments service featuring PayPal at 30 of its restaurants in France. Earlier this year, McDonald’s ran demonstrations of a broader PayPal mobile payments service at its franchisee conference in Orlando, Florida.
A McDonald’s spokeswoman confirmed the France tests and said the PayPal demonstration at its conference was part of a booth that features “technology coming within the next 24 months or so.”
PayPal is racing against start-up Square Inc and other technology companies to become the mobile payments service of choice as consumers increasingly use smart phones to make purchases in shops, restaurants and other retail locations.
Square struck what could be its most important partnership to date last week when it teamed up with Starbucks Corp, the world’s largest coffee chain.
The test in France lets McDonald’s customers order food on smart phones through a McDonald’s mobile application, or online, and pay with PayPal. There is a separate line in the test locations to pick up the meals, according to a PayPal spokesman.
PayPal, owned by eBay Inc, has signed up more than 15 retailers, including Home Depot and Office Depot, to accept PayPal payments in their stores.
EU anti-trust watchdogs are demanding that Google makes broad changes to its mobile services. Talks to settle an antitrust investigation are being carried out behind closed doors in the hope of avoiding an expensive trial.
EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia wants to reach a settlement with Google which may face formal charges if concessions about its business practices are not made.
According to observers Google might just say forget it and go to court. Talks are on a “knife-edge” and their future will be decided next week. Google has submitted revised proposals to the European Commission after pressure from the EU watchdog to answer complaints about its business practices.
Powering mobile security for major enterprises such as Barclays, Sainsbury’s and LOCOG, Good Technology claims the releases are the first of a kind for the industry and address security threats linked to the bring your own device (BYOD) procedures being used in most big companies.
The first update announced by the firm is the addition of what it calls “Appkinetics” to its Good Dynamics line, which aims to solve the problem of secure private corporate data leakage.
“Good’s patented AppKinetics technology builds on the company’s proven ‘containerization’ security model to enable business apps from Good, its Good Dynamics partner independent software vendors (ISV), and internal enterprise developers,” the firm said in a statement.
“This is to securely exchange information within and between applications and create seamless multi-app workflows without compromising security or employees’ privacy and personal experience.”
The firm’s second update is the addition of eight new partnered apps to its Good Dynamics ecosystem covering the areas of business intelligence, collaboration, document editing, document printing, file storage/content management, remote desktop management and mobile application development platforms (MADPs).
This update allows developers to integrate the Good Dynamics technology into apps so that companies can create secure end-to-end workflows of protected, mobile applications to drive business processes.
Good Technology’s EMEA GM Andy Jacques explained, “If you download the standard consumer document editing application you can copy and paste from that from that app into another app.”
He continued, “If you were to open a piece of corporate mission critical data you can copy and paste that and put it onto Hotmail for example.”
“We stop that as a company by setting a policy that prevents users from copying and pasting outside of the container. They can copy and paste within and between the apps that sit within the container but they can’t copy and paste outside of it.”
Good technology’s software updates are available from today.
Microsoft said it will issue patches for three critical vulnerabilities in its Windows operating system next week, including one for Internet Explorer.
Microsoft has outlined what Windows users can expect next Tuesday when the firm issues a bundle of patches to cover up security vulnerabilities in Windows, Internet Explorer and its Office suite. Top of Microsoft’s list are three patches for ‘critical’ rated vulnerabilities, two of which are for Windows while one is for both Windows and Internet Explorer.
Microsoft didn’t go into detail about what is going to be patched but did say the three critical vulnerabilities involved remote code execution. Rather curiously one of the three patches is not applicable to Windows XP, with only Windows Vista and Windows 7 being affected.
Aside from Microsoft issuing patches for three critical security vulnerabilities, it will also patch six other vulnerabilities rated as ‘important’, though once again the firm didn’t give much information on what was being secured. However the company did say that Windows, Office, Microsoft Developer Tools and Microsoft Server Software will all be patched against either remote code execution or elevation of user privileges.
Microsoft’s upcoming fixes are part of its Patch Tuesday cycle, where on the second Tuesday of every month Microsoft issues a seemingly never ending array of additional security patches for many of its key software products such as Windows, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office.