Target Corp announced an overhaul of its information security processes and the departure of its chief information officer as the retailer tries to re-gain customers and investors after a massive data breach late last year.
CIO Beth Jacob is the first high-level executive to leave the company following the breach, which led to the theft of about 40 million credit and debit card records and 70 million other records of customer details.
Jacob, who comes from a sales background and has been CIO since 2008, will be replaced by an external hire, according to sources at Target.
“It’s a decision that should have been made by the CEO on January 1, not through the resignation of an employee that overlooked critical weakness in the operating model,” Belus Capital Advisors CEO Brian Sozzi said.
The breach at Target was the second largest at a U.S. retailer, after the theft of more than 90 million credit cards over about 18 months was uncovered in 2007 at TJX Cos Inc, operator of the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls chains.
Hacking has become a major concern for retailers in the United States. In the latest reported breach, beauty products retailer and distributor Sally Beauty Holdings Inc said on Wednesday its network had been hacked but no card or customer data appeared to have been stolen.
Target Chief Executive Gregg Steinhafel said the company would elevate the role of chief information security officer as part of its plan to tighten its security.
The company will also look externally to fill that position as well as the new position of chief compliance officer.
Steinhafel said Target would be advised by security consultant Promontory Financial Group as it evaluates its technology, structure, processes and talent.
“I believe this is definitely a measure in restoring faith and really showing that they are taking the breach seriously,” Heather Bearfield, who runs the cybersecurity practice for accounting firm Marcum LLP, told Reuters.
Target, the third-largest U.S. retailer, said last week customer traffic had started to improve this year after falling significantly toward the end of the holiday shopping season when news of the cyber attack spooked shoppers.
The change, which will be rolled out gradually according to a Yahoo spokeswoman, will require users to register for a Yahoo ID in order to use any of the Internet portal’s services.
The move marks the latest change to Yahoo by Chief Executive Marissa Mayer, who is striving to spark fresh interest in the company’s Web products and to revive its stagnant revenue.
“Yahoo is continually working on improving the user experience,” the company said in a statement, noting that the new process “will allow us to offer the best personalized experience to everyone”.
The first Yahoo service to require the new sign-in process is Yahoo Sports Tourney Pick’Em, a service focused on the NCAA college basketball tournament which begins later this month. News of the change to Yahoo’s Tourney Pick’Em sign-in process was first reported by the technology blog Betanews.
Since Mayer took the reins in 2012, the company has rolled out new versions of many of its key products, including Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Finance. Last year, Yahoo announced a program to recycle inactive Yahoo user IDs, letting new users claim email addresses that have not been used for more than 12 months.
In eliminating the Facebook and Google sign-in features, Mayer, a former Google executive, is effectively reversing a strategy that Yahoo adopted in 2010 and 2011 under then CEO Carol Bartz.
The change to the Tourney Pick’Em sign-in process began on Monday, the Yahoo spokeswoman said, noting that users could still access other services with Google or Facebook IDs.
The sign-in buttons for Facebook and Google will eventually be removed from all Yahoo properties, the Yahoo spokeswoman, though she declined to provide a timeframe.
Worldwide sales of tablets to end users totaled 195.4 million units, fueled by sales of low-end, smaller screen devices, and purchases by first time buyers, the company reported.
Android has become the biggest tablet operating system with 62% of the market. In 2012, Google’s OS trailed Apple’s iOS by a margin of about 8 million tablets, but by the end of last year had turned that into a 50 million-unit lead.
The Android camp led by Samsung sold almost 121 million tablets, for a 61.9% share, compared to 53.3 million units and a 45.8% share in 2012. Apple’s tablet sales increased from 61.5 to 70.4 million units, but because the overall market grew faster, the company’s share dropped from 52.8% to 36%.
Microsoft’s Windows tablet sales improved but the share remained small at 2.1%, with shipments growing from 1.2 million to 4 million units. To compete, Microsoft needs to create a more compelling ecosystem for consumers as well as developers across all mobile devices, Gartner said.
Apple’s strong fourth quarter helped it maintain the top position among the manufacturers. Samsung, ranked in second place, had the biggest growth of the worldwide tablet vendors, at 336 %. The expansion and improvement of its Galaxy tablet portfolio, together with a lot of marketing, helped Samsung shrink the gap with Apple.
Samsung sold 37.4 million tablets for a 19.1% slice of the market.
The rest of the top 5 was made up of Asus, Amazon.com and Lenovo. Of those three companies, Lenovo did particularly well with tablet sales growing by 198% to 6.5 million units, or a 3.3% market share. The company’s success was due to a combination of new tablet models launched during the second half of last year, and sales of its Yoga model and its Windows tablets doing particularly well, Gartner said.
However, Lenovo is still behind Asus, with 11 million units sold, and Amazon, with 9.4 million. Asus’ market share grew from 5.4% to 5.6%, while Amazon’s share declined from 6.6% to 4.8%.
As the tablet market becomes even more competitive, this year it will be critical for vendors to improve user experience, technology and ecosystem value beyond just hardware and cost, Gartner said.
Dell has become the first major PC OEM to join the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) group, joining over 80 existing members Broadcom, Gill Electronics, IDT, Intel, Qualcomm and Samsung.
Dell’s membership means it could soon be developing mobile devices that do not require a wired power adapter to charge.
The A4WP aims to standardise wireless power transfer using near-field magnetic resonance technology called “rezence”, which seeks to liberate mobile devices from wired chargers, charging multiple devices simultaneously without the need to dock the devices.
“Power levels and charging speed will meet the expectations of today’s ‘always on, always connected’ user,” the A4WP said. “Users can simply ‘drop and go’ their devices onto a charging surface without the hassle of accurate positioning or alignment.”
Along with the news that Dell will jump on board to unshackle users from the curse of wired chargers, A4WP is also introducing a secondary, higher-powered project focusing on wirelessly charging electronic products from 20 to 50 watts, like ultrabooks, laptops, and mid-powered appliances.
“Dell’s addition to the Alliance signifies the importance of defining a wireless power standard that spans these higher power levels thus expanding the range of electronics beyond smartphones,” the group added.
A4WP said it believes the development of magnetic resonance technology will improve the customer experience when it comes to charging and will bring the capability into more homes and businesses over the next few years.
It also said that its development of wireless charging technology will help benefit both industry and consumers as the specification powers broadly adopted wireless technologies such as Bluetooth Smart, “which simplifies development and manufacturing”.
GPU shipments in the fourth quarter of 2013 were in the green. Shipments were up 2 percent year-on-year and 1.6 percent sequentially. However, AMD did not have a stellar quarter. According to Jon Peddie Research, AMD’s overall unit shipments were down 10.4 percent last quarter. Intel gained 5.1 percent, while Nvidia was up 3.4 percent.
The attach rate was 137 percent and 34 percent of all PC’s sold in Q4 featured discrete graphics, while 66 percent relied solely on embedded graphics. The research firm pointed out that the overall PC market grew 1.8 percent quarter-on-quarter, but it was still down 8.5 percent compared to a year ago.
“The one bright spot in the PC market has been the growth of gaming PCs where discrete GPUs play a significant role. The CAGR for total PC graphics from 2013 to 2017 is -1.3% in 2013, 446 million GPUs were shipped and the forecast for 2017 is 422 million,” Jon Peddie Research said.
AMD’s shipments of desktop APUs were up 15 percent sequentially, but they dropped 26.7 percent in notebooks. AMD’s discrete desktop shipments increased 1.8 percent, while discrete notebook shipments were down 6.7 percent. Overall AMD’s PC graphics shipments were down 10.4 percent.
“Notebook build cycles are specific, and AMD was late with its new parts,” the researchers pointed out.
Nvidia’s desktop shipments were up 3.6 percent quarter-on-quarter and its notebook discrete shipments increased 3.2 percent. Overall Nvidia’s PC GPU shipments were up 3.4 percent.
China’s anti-monopoly regulator on Wednesday said Qualcomm Inc. is under suspicion for overcharging and abusing its market position, allegations which could see the U.S. chip giant slapped with record fines of more than $1 billion.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) also said it was in talks with another U.S. technology firm, InterDigital Inc, about a possible settlement to a separate anti-monopoly probe as the regulator focuses on the rapidly evolving information technology market.
Foreign firms from drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline to Apple Inc are facing tougher scrutiny in the world’s second-biggest economy as China targets key industries to protect consumers from bloated prices and second-rate products.
In its first public statements about the Qualcomm investigation, the watchdog said it began making inquiries after receiving complaints that the San Diego-based company was charging higher prices in China than it does in other countries.
“We received reports from relevant associations and companies that Qualcomm abuses its dominant position in the market and charges discriminatory fees,” Xu Kunlin, who heads the NDRC’s anti-monopoly and price supervision bureau, told a press conference in Beijing.
The NDRC dual investigations are part of a focus on information technology providers, especially companies that license patent technology for mobile devices and networks.
Industry experts say the NDRC, which is also the government’s main economic planning body, is trying to lower domestic costs as China rolls out its faster 4G mobile networks this year.
Earlier this month, the China Mobile Communications Industry Association said it had filed a complaint against Qualcomm for overcharging for use of its patents.
Under the anti-monopoly law, the NDRC can impose fines of between 1 and 10 percent of a company’s revenues for the previous year. Qualcomm earned $12.3 billion in China for its fiscal year ended September 29, or nearly half of its global sales.
Robocoin announced on Tuesday that later this month it will install the first automated teller machines in the United States that will allow users to buy and sell bitcoin, the latest step into the mainstream for the digital currency.
The kiosks, to be installed in Seattle, and Austin, Texas, are similar to ATMs but have scanners to read government-issued identification such as a driver’s license or a passport to confirm users’ identities.
The ATMs will allow people to swap bitcoin for cash, or deposit cash to buy more bitcoin by transferring funds to or from a virtual wallet on their smartphones.
Bitcoin was launched in 2008 and is traded within a global network of computers. It is not backed by a single company or government and has no assets behind it, but its release is tightly controlled, mimicking a central banking system’s control over the minting of money.
Robocoin, based in Las Vegas, installed its first bitcoin ATM in Vancouver last fall and will also start operating one in Calgary, Alberta, later this month. Robocoin also is planning to install ATMs in Asia and Europe.
A bitcoin is currently worth about $636, but its value has fluctuated widely as the currency’s visibility has increased. Last September, a bitcoin was worth around $150. By late December the value was near the $1,000 mark.
Users can buy products and services online on sites including Overstock.com or in a handful of stores.
The currency’s reputation took a hit last week when two of its best known exchanges suspended withdrawals. One of them, Slovenia-based Bitstamp, said Friday it planned to allow redemptions to resume.
Himax executives wouldn’t divulge the identities of the companies they are working with, but said they are big and sales should increase this year.
“We continue to work with multiple customers, quite a few of which are top-notch names in IT or the Internet space,” said Jordan Wu, president and CEO of Himax, in a conference call with analysts. “Let me put it this way, they are all number one of something, and we have customers from all leading countries in the consumer electronics space.”
“These days, people take extraordinary measures to protect the confidentiality of their new product launches,” he said. “It is even more so for head-mounted products, because it is a totally new product category for everybody.”
The displays use a technology called liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) that, as the name suggests, combines a liquid crystal layer on a silicon backplane. They have been most commonly found in projectors until now but are expected to become the dominant technology in head-mounted displays like Google Glass.
“We have made shipments for certain customers’ pilot runs of production,” Wu said. “Our LCOS sales are expected to accelerate in 2014.”
Google purchased a 6.3% stake in Himax Display in July. At the time, the two companies said the investment would be used to expand capacity at the company’s LCOS factories.
Himax says it can produce up to 300,000 LCOS displays per month and its production line is “far from being full.” But it already has a plan to expand production further, up to a maximum of 2 million displays per month.
“We have a very nice piece of land next to our headquarters,” Wu said. He said major customers had already been told the amount of lead time that Himax would need to ramp production and meet their demands.
Intel has been providing more details on its upcoming 15-core Xeon chip code-named Ivytown. Apparently Ivytown, which has 4.31 billion transistors and will go into high-end servers, will be part of the Xeon E7 chip lineup. The chip will likely be announced next week. Further details of the Ivytown were shared Monday at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco.
Ivytown will likely be Intel’s fastest performing server chip. Ivytown will be based on Intel’s microarchitecture code-named Ivy Bridge, which was introduced last year. The Ivytown chips will replace the Xeon E7 chips based on Sandy Bridge architecture that were introduced last year.
The 15-core chip will go into 4- to 8-socket servers, which handle high-end computing tasks such as databases. Ivytown will run at frequencies ranging from 1.4GHz to 3.8GHz, and draw between 40 watts to 150 watts of power. Each core will support multithreading. Having 15 cores is a bit weird. Chips usually have either 8, 12 or 16 cores. The cores are arranged across three columns, and the chip has 40 PCI-Express 3.0 lanes.
AMD has a 16 core chip in the form of its latest Opteron 6300 parts. AMD’s first 16-core x86 Opteron chips code-named Interlagos shipped in 2011, but the company has not added any more for ages..
Now shipping estimates for new orders stretched into April in several foreign markets, including China, France, Germany, Japan, and the U.K., as first reported by MacGeneration, which is based in France. Soon after, Apple’s U.S. and Canadian online stores followed suit, showing April as the estimated ship date.
Although the Mac Pro — a distinctive-looking black cylinder that’s 10 inches tall and about 7 inches in diameter — went on sale Dec. 19, it almost immediately slipped into back order. The February estimate was later pushed into March before today’s change to April.
The pricey computer starts at $2,999 for the low-end stock configuration and can be tricked out to a top price of $9,599.
At least one analyst predicted that the Mac Pro, while catering to the line’s traditional power users, creative professionals and engineers, would also become a status symbol of sorts for those with the wherewithal to buy one.
The shipping delays continue to hint at low production volumes at the new Apple factory in Austin, Texas, where the computer is assembled. Apple has touted the Mac Pro’s built-in-the-U.S.A. trait, including a rare tweet by CEO Tim Cook at the machine’s launch.
Shortages of the Mac Pro will not materially affect Apple’s bottom line, as the Mac division accounted for just 11% of the company’s revenue for the December quarter. The Mac Pro, while expensive, will make up only a fraction of the unit sales of the line overall, which last quarter reached 4.8 million, the majority of those notebooks from the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro families.
But the extended shortages mean that the revenue the Mac Pro produces is being pushed from the current quarter into the calendar’s second. They also are reminiscent of the fiasco Apple created in late 2012 and early 2013, when it announced a redesigned iMac without an inventory even as it pulled the older models from its stores.
The shortages also spurred profit takers to list their new Mac Pro systems on eBay at prices significantly higher than list.
Mac Pro prices on the auction and sales website today were as high as $6,250 for a configuration that Apple sells for $3,999, a 56% markup. Another of the several listings asked $4,499 for a system that runs $2,999 from Apple, a 50% profit for the seller.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is preparing to launch a U.S. e-commerce website through its subsidiaries Vendio and Auctiva, which are in turn part of the Alibaba.com business group, the company told Reuters on Tuesday.
The 11 Main (11main.com) site is an online shopping business that offers “interesting, quality products” from “hand-picked shop owners” such as fashion, tech and jewelry goods.
Alibaba has been ramping up its international expansion with various acquisitions, including leading a roughly $200 million investment round in U.S. retail site ShopRunner Inc, setting up an investment division in the United States and offering more of its e-commerce and online payment products overseas.
At the same time China’s dominant e-commerce company is gearing up for an expected public offering later this year which will value the company at around $140 billion, according to a Reuters poll of eight analysts.
The foray into boutique e-commerce was conceived and created by Vendio and Auctiva, which Alibaba.com acquired in 2010 and helped businesses sell on eBay Inc’s and Amazon.com Inc’s websites.
“Alibaba is happy to support 11 Main,” an Alibaba spokeswoman told Reuters in an e-mail. “Alibaba is run by entrepreneurs and firmly believes in supporting entrepreneurs with great vision and a strong sense of mission for their companies.”
HTC Corp said new lines of mid-tier handsets will help it return to profitability in 2014, predicting cheaper products may aid them in reclaiming market share and put an end to over two years of sliding sales.
HTC’s optimism comes despite 27 consecutive months of falling year-on-year revenue amid stiff competition from heavyweights like Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co. On Monday HTC said January sales slid 38 percent from a year earlier to T$9.67 billion ($319.23 million).
Chief Financial Officer Chialin Chang told an analyst and investor briefing on Monday that 2014 should see a rise in gross profit margins due to an improved product mix. “What we’re shipping in there, we want to make sure is competitive,” Chang said.
HTC’s decline has been swift, squeezed by cheaper rivals in China as well as Apple and Samsung. Just over two years ago it supplied one in every 10 smartphones sold around the world: in 2013 its global market share had fallen to just 2 percent, according to Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston.
That decline has left its mark on investors. HTC’s share price has shown no signs of recovering from a three-year slide in value to one-tenth of its record high.
HTC has acknowledged the need for action. “The problem with us last year was we only concentrated on our flagship. We missed a huge chunk of the mid-tier market,” said co-founder and Chairwoman Cher Wang, speaking to Reuters in an interview in New York last week alongside Chang.
Amid the decline in its fortunes, HTC’s brand image has suffered, and investors have been desperate for signs of a clear strategy – though the announced push into mid-tier smartphones may offer a glimmer of hope for the company.
The CFO said on Monday that new mid-tier and low-end handsets should provide the majority of revenue, bar sales from its flagship HTC One phone, after the first quarter. For January to March, it expects revenue to fall to T$34 billion to T$36 billion from T$42.8 billion a year earlier.
The company in January reported its second consecutive quarter of operating losses, with a slim net profit of T$300 million ($10 million) for the fourth quarter helped by an asset sale.
Chang was optimistic about prospects for its flagship, feature-loaded HTC One smartphone, which won rave reviews last year that have yet to translate into matching sales.
During the investor call, Chang also hinted at a venture into wearable technology. He declined to give details as to the type of product, or when it may be announced.
Intel has decided that some of its budget Bay Trail parts have been out evolved and flung them into a tar pit. According to CPU World the parts first appeared in September. Intel released budget Bay Trail systems on a chip for mobile and desktop markets, under Celeron and Pentium brands.
They were manufactured on 22nm technology, and featured such enhancements as greater number of CPU cores, higher clock speeds, beefed up graphics unit, not to mention an out-of-order microarchitecture, that improved per-clock CPU performance by up to 30 per cent faster compared to their predecessors. With this performance goodness it is a little surprising the Intel has decided that all the all Bay Trail SoCs will be discontinued in a matter of a few months. Details of the planned discontinuation were published this week by Intel in several Product Change Notification documents.
The Desktop Pentium J2850, along with mobile Celeron N2810 and Pentium N3510 are already End of Lifed and its last orders will be in two weeks, on February 11. The chips will ship until April 25, 2014. Also retired are mobile Celeron N2806, N2815, N2820, N2920, and Pentium N3520. Their EOL date is April 11, 2014, and they will ship until May 30, 2014. On August 22, 2014, Intel is going to discontinue Celeron J1750, J1850, N2805 and N2910. The “J” models are desktop processors, and the “N” are mobile ones. There is no word on Z-series Bay Trail-T parts, none appear to be EOL’d at this time.
Furthermore, on the same date Intel will retire Core i7-3940XM Extreme Edition, and boxed and tray versions of Core i7-3840QM and i7-3740QM CPUs. The last shipment date for the Celerons and Core i7s is February 6, 2015.
LinkedIn launched Intro last October, as part of a larger push into becoming a “mobile first” company. The service was made for the iPhone, and was designed to grab LinkedIn profile information and insert it into emails received on phones. The service displayed that information to the recipient from the email’s sender if the sender was also on LinkedIn.
Intro was meant to add more professional context to email and draw more users to LinkedIn.
But it quickly sparked questions from security experts, who were concerned about the way the service routed emails through LinkedIn’s servers. The security consulting firm Bishop Fox said that the service essentially amounted to a “man-in-the-middle attack,” and that it was only a matter of time before someone used it to launch a phishing attack.
LinkedIn, in its announcement Friday of Intro’s closure, did not say anything about security. The decision was about “focus,” LinkedIn said. “We are making large, long-term investments on a few big bets, and in order to ensure their success, we need to concentrate on fewer things,” wrote Deep Nishar, senior VP of products and user experience.
Intro will be shut down as of March 7, LinkedIn said. The company did not say what it would be doing with Intro users’ email data that it might have stored on its servers. LinkedIn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Upon receiving word of LinkedIn’s announcement, Bishop Fox said that it was unlikely that LinkedIn shut down the service for security reasons alone. “Tech products come and go these days and many have short lifespans,” said Vincent Liu, a partner at the firm, via email.
“But this app exemplifies why it’s important to pay attention to privacy and security when installing features, whether short lived or not, on your mobile devices,” he said.
LinkedIn also said it would be shutting down some other services. Slidecast, which let people upload digital presentations with audio, is going away as of April 30. Support for the LinkedIn iPad app on iOS versions older than 6.0 will also be eliminated as of Feb. 18, the company said.
Google said it was partnering with Asus, Hewlett-Packard Co and Dell to offer a specialized version of its Chromebox PC that comes with videoconferencing gear, including a video camera and speakers.
The first Chromebox for meetings to be available is made by Asus and goes on sale in the U.S. on Thursday for $999, Google said. Customers can also pay a $250 annual service and management fee, though the first year is included in the product’s sales price.
The product uses Google’s free Hangouts video chat technology to connect up to 15 separate video streams from users in different locations.
The product will put Google in competition against Cisco Systems Inc and Polycom Inc, which make the video conferencing systems used by many corporations.
The world’s largest Internet search engine, Google makes the vast majority of its revenue from advertising. But Google also sells services to corporate customers, including special versions of its online apps such as email and word processing, as well as Chromebook laptops aimed at business users.