Oracle is building a third data-center in the UK, to service the British administration’s G-Cloud plans right next to the sweet smelling Mars Chocolate factory.
According to the company, the new data-center, opening in July, is located in Slough. It will offer cloud services and infrastructure as a service, to government bodies as well as to independent software vendors working on state contracts. Oracle president Mark Hurd said in a press release that the new Equinix Slough data center, will supplements the existing facilities at Linlithgow near Edinburgh and in Slough.
“As this whole cloud evolves and develops, you’ve got a lot of issues that come up. You’ve got security concerns, you’ve got data-sovereignty issues, you’ve got regulatory issues, you’ve got various issues that come up about the location of data — some of those are the physical location of data,” Hurd said.
The new data-center is specifically for government projects. It will meet the specific requirements of G-Cloud, including the IL3 security protocols as well. Hurd claims that it will be ring-fenced data-center, specifically to serve UK government, which is one of Oracle’s biggest clients in the UK.
Hurd said the company now has more than $1bn in cloud subscription revenue and claimed the company was now the second biggest player in the cloud.
“We’re globalising our capability. We have a very broad distribution capability so we sell close to the customer and we move our capabilities close to the customer as well,” Hurd said.
Dell’s profit for the quarter, ended May 3, was $130 million, down 79 percent from $635 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue declined 2 percent to $14.07 billion.
Dell’s PC division was particularly hard hit. Sales for the quarter were down 9 percent to $8.9 billion, Dell said, and the group’s operating profit skidded 65 percent lower to $224 million. Laptop sales were hit especially hard.
Its enterprise business showed mixed performance. Sales of servers and network gear were up 14 percent but storage was down 10 percent. Dell’s services division reported a 2 percent increase in revenue.
Dell is trying hard to build an enterprise software business, which it hopes will eventually generate higher profits than its PC division. The software group reported an operating loss for the quarter, however, as Dell invested in new sales and R&D staff.
Dell’s earnings for the quarter on a pro forma basis, which excludes one-time items, were $0.21 a share, well off the analyst forecast of $0.35 a share, according to Thomson Reuters.
In a statement, CFO Brian Gladden said Dell’s profits were affected by steps it took to improve its competitiveness. “We’ll also continue to make important investments to support our strategy and drive long-term profitability,” he said.
Michael Dell announced in February that he planned to take the company private in a deal with Silver Lake Partners valued at $24.4 billion. The company founder has said he wants some breathing room to focus on long term investments without the constant scrutiny from Wall Street.
Google also announced several APIs that will let developers add more capabilities to their Android apps, including in the areas of location and improving battery life.
“It’s been an amazing year for Android developers,” said Android and Chrome vice president Sundar Pichai.
Google has sent more money to developers through their Play Store sales in the last four months than it did in all of 2012 and revenue per user is now 2.5 times higher than it was a year ago, the company said.
Showing a map of the world where Android penetration is less than 10 percent — which encompassed most of the world outside North America and Europe — Pichai said Google’s next focus is “bringing the next 4.5 billion online.”
To date, Google has seen more than 48 billion Android application installs, and 2.5 billion in the last four months alone, said Hugo Barra, vice president and product manager of Android.
Google announced an update to Google Play Services, a layer of software managed by Google on top of Android, which includes APIs for Google services like Google Maps and Google Now.
Google Play Services is updated independently of Android, to give developers access to the latest Google APIs, helping to solve the Android fragmentation problem.
Google launched new location APIs as part of Google Play Services. The first, Fused Location Provider, includes a low-power location mode that should extend battery life by using less than 1 percent of battery per hour, Barra said.
The second, Geofencing, let’s developers define “virtual fences” around geographic areas that are triggered when a user enters and leaves those areas. “This has been a big ask from you guys,” Barra told the developer audience, who cheered the news.
The last is Activity Recognition, which uses accelerometer data and machine learning to figure out when the user is doing things like walking, driving or cycling.
Google Inc unveiled a music service on Wednesday that allows users to listen to unlimited songs for $9.99 a month, challenging smaller companies like Pandora and Spotify in the market for streaming music.
With its new service, announced at its annual developers’ conference in San Francisco, Google has adopted the streaming music business model ahead of rival Apple Inc, which pioneered online music purchases with iTunes.
Google’s “All Access” service lets users customize song selections from 22 genres, ranging from Jazz to Indie music, stream individual playlists, or listen to a curated, radio-like stream that can be tweaked. It will be launched for U.S. users first, before being rolled out to several other countries.
At the conference, Google also unveiled improvements to other services, including new mapping features and a voice-activated search. The focus was on giving more options to users of mobile devices using its Android operating system.
Google’s shares jumped more than 3 percent while Pandora Media Inc shares were down more than 1 percent on Wednesday afternoon.
The entry of the world’s largest Internet company amps up the competition in the nascent market for subscription-based, streaming music. Amazon.com Inc and Apple are among the Silicon Valley powerhouses sounding out top recording industry executives, according to sources with knowledge of talks.
Pandora is spending freely and racking up losses to expand globally. Even social media stalwarts Facebook and Twitter are jumping onto the streaming-music bandwagon.
All these companies see a viable music streaming and subscription service as crucial to growing their presence in an exploding mobile environment. For Google and Apple, it is critical in ensuring users remain loyal to their mobile products.
Music has been integral to the mobile experience since the early days of iTunes, which upended the old models with its 99-cent-per-song buying approach.
Now, as smartphones and tablets supplant PCs and virtual storage replaces songs on devices, mobile players from handset makers to social networks realize they must stake out a place or risk ceding control of one of the largest components of mobile device usage.
At $9.99 a month, Google’s service is costlier than the $3.99 required for Pandora, but on par with Spotify.
Google executives said their new service takes the work out of managing massive music libraries, noting the streaming model can be endlessly customized.
Outlook.com, which replaced Hotmail and offers a similar feature for chatting with people on Facebook and Skype, will roll out this Gmail capability over the next few days to its 400 million users worldwide, according to Microsoft.
People will also be able to engage in IM chats with Gmail users from the interface of their SkyDrive cloud storage and file sharing application.
“With this feature, the next time you’re reading an email from someone who uses Gmail, you can reply with a quick chat right from your Outlook.com inbox. And if you’re working together on an Office document in SkyDrive, you can send an instant message to a Google contact with just a click,” wrote Microsoft official Douglas Pearce in a blog post on Tuesday.
Pearce also took a dig at Gmail in the blog post, saying that the new feature is “one more reason to make the switch” and that part of the motivation was to help Outlook.com users chat “with friends stuck on Gmail.”
Microsoft launched a preview of Outlook.com with much fanfare in July 2012,positioning it as a re-imagining of webmail from the data center to the user experience, and as a better option to Gmail and Yahoo Mail.
Microsoft has also been attacking Gmail for months via its Scroogledcampaign, in which Microsoft accuses Google of disrespecting the privacy of Gmail users by matching ads to the text of their messages.
Earlier this month, Microsoft announced it had completed migrating all users from Hotmail to Outlook.com, whose improvements include a redesigned user interface, broad syncing capabilities, improved message sorting and native integration with Facebook, Twitter and other sites.
Analysts regarded the move — announced today at BlackBerry Live — as mostly positive, since it could help an improving BlackBerry expand its reach beyond its own new Z10 and Q10 smartphone customers.
Today, there are 60 million BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) customers, a tiny fraction of the number of messages sent via Facebook or Twitter. But BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said BBM users are very active, sending 10 billion messages a day, and half the messages received are read within 20 seconds.
Opening up BBM to iOS 6 devices and above and Android Ice Cream Sandwich devices and above will expand BBM’s reach, Heins said.
“BBM is so great that it’s too good to keep only to ourselves,”Heins said during an upbeat keynote presentation at the event, which is mainly for BlackBerry developers and partners. “Why now? It’s a statement of confidence, that BlackBerry 10 is strong and the response is so good that it’s time that BBM become multi-platform.”
BBM’s interoperability with Android and iOS is now in beta, and will launch commercially this summer, Heins said. At first, only text messaging will be available to individuals and groups on other platforms. Features already available in BlackBerry 10 on BBM such as voice and video and screen sharing will be added later this year, with updates every two to four weeks.
On Tuesday, Verizon, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA joined the “It Can Wait” campaign that AT&T began last year. Next Monday, the campaign will kick off TV, radio and online ads warning consumers about the dangers of texting and driving, and a driving simulator will tour the country to demonstrate how dangerous the practice can be.
Recent studies have raised concerns over the growth of texting while driving and its dangers, especially for teenagers. Almost 43 percent of high school students of driving age had texted while driving in the past month, according to a recent survey by the Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York.
The co-branded summer campaign, scheduled to run through Labor Day on Sept. 3, was timed for what the carriers called the most dangerous season for teen driving. It will also include messages in Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Radio Shack stores as well as the carriers’ retail shops.
More than 200 organizations are also joining in the campaign. On Sept. 19, just as they did last year, backers of the program will ask consumers to take a pledge not to text while driving.
“They are doing the right thing,” said mobile analyst Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates. “I don’t think anybody, including the carriers, wants people texting while they’re driving.”
At the same time, the carriers may also be trying to head off further regulation of mobile use in cars. Texting while driving is illegal in many states, as is talking on a phone without a hands-free system. However, regulation might someday go further to outlaw mobile use even with hands-free systems, he said. Carriers may also fear being named in lawsuits over texting-related accidents, so they’re taking strong steps to warn against it, Gold said.
The improvements include a new “all photos” view that displays thumbnails of all the pictures, organized in a monthly timeline grid.
Microsoft also tweaked both the SkyDrive desktop app and its server counterpart to increase upload speeds, achieving a 2X to 3X improvement, according to the company.
In addition, Microsoft said it has improved “the readability” of files and folders stored in the service, remaking the thumbnail format for PowerPoint and Word files to make it easier to identify and find them.
Photos are the most common files stored in SkyDrive “both in sheer number and in total storage consumed,” Omar Shahine, group program manager of SkyDrive.com, wrote in a blog post on Monday.
It will take about 48 hours for the changes to be applied to all SkyDrive accounts.
SkyDrive rival Dropbox has also been testing new photo storage, sharing and management features, including the ability to organize photos in albums and to share more than one photo or a folder at a time.
Google Drive, another SkyDrive competitor, also has specific features for managing photo files.
The new tools represent yet another expansion of the Microsoft search site to make it more interactive and useful as the company seeks to distinguish itself from Google search.
In March Bing expanded its center column to incorporate more social information from Facebook, Twitter and Klout into how it displays search results involving people. In January its right-hand Social Sidebar was scaled out to include more content from users’ Facebook friends such as status updates, shared links and comments.
Previously, users could see that content, but could not interact with it without leaving the Bing site. But with the latest expansion, they can.
“Now you can see what your friends might know about what you’re searching for and engage with them directly without leaving the search page,” Bing said last Friday in a blog post.
As an example, if a person is searching for tickets to a Beyonce concert, and a friend posted on Facebook that she has an extra ticket, the person could comment directly on the post on the Bing site to let the friend know that he would like to join her for the concert, Bing said.
The person has to be signed into Facebook for the feature to work. The tool honors the user’s account settings and won’t share any information without the person’s approval, Bing said.
There does not appear to be any restriction on how old the Facebook posts can be.
The feature’s focus is on surfacing the most relevant information for the searcher, but on average the technology looks at roughly two years’ worth of Facebook data for each person, a Microsoft spokesperson said.
For instance, searching for the just-released film “The Great Gatsby” displayed Facebook posts from as far back as 2011, some of which did not even refer to the recent Hollywood adaptation of the book.
The flow of information between Bing and Facebook goes both ways. In January Facebook announced the beta launch of Graph Search, a social search tool designed to let users discover a wider range of information across the social network. When there are holes in the Graph Search results, information from Bing will be weaved in, Facebook said.
Bing originally rolled out its right-hand Social Sidebar last year, and since then “we’ve been exploring ways to make it more useful,” the site said last Friday.
Nokia will offer a new high-end smartphone through U.S. carrier Verizon Wireless, it said on Friday, hoping to expand its share in the high-margin premium market after years of falling behind Samsung and Apple Inc.
The new Lumia 928, priced at $99 if customers mail-in a $50 rebate and agree to a two-year deal with Verizon Wireless, is similar to the 920 model currently sold through AT&T, but is lighter and slightly different in appearance.
It weighs 162 grams compared with 185 grams for the 920, which some critics had said was too heavy.
The 928′s 4.5-inch screen also extends to the edge of the phone, giving a sharper impression than the curved edges of the 920. The new models also come in black and white compared with the colorful options of the earlier Lumia range.
Most other features, such as a 8.7 megapixel camera and 1.5-gigahertz dual core processor by Qualcomm, are the same as the 920′s.
The 928 is the latest in Nokia’s Lumia range of smartphones which use Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 software.
Nokia switched to Windows in 2011, aiming to compete with Apple’s iPhones and rivals using Google’s Android system. Sales of Lumia phones have grown in recent quarters, but at 5.6 million in first quarter, they still account for only around 5 percent of the market.
The company has recently launched new products in the lower and mid-tier range to protect its position in emerging markets, but analysts have said its success in the high-margin smartphone market will be crucial for its long-term survival.
Nokia is due to unveil its new Lumia strategy at an event in London on Tuesday.
According to latest ABI Research figures, Qualcomm is still top dog in the LTE market. The American chipmaker dominates the LTE market with more than two thirds of shipments in 2012.
Smaller vendors are making inroads in the LTE market, but they aren’t about to erode Qualcomm’s dominance anytime soon. Philip Solis, ABI Research, says the LTE market will grow to over 850 million units for handsets alone by 2018 and he sees challengers on the horizon.
“We expect Broadcom and Intel to be significant challengers to Qualcomm over the next few years,” he said.
Although we often view LTE as a homogenous standard, it is anything but. At the moment twelve vendors offer 23 products supporting Category 3 LTE, while five vendors offer 10 Category 4 products. Nobody has Category 5 products yet, while nine vendors have LTE products designed to support TD-SCDMA, which is used in China.
Anti-virus software for Android is easily fooled, according to insecurity experts from Northwestern University and North Carolina State University. The university tested ten of the most popular AV products on Android, and discovered that they were easily fooled by common obfuscation techniques.
AV software from Symantec, AVG, Kaspersky Lab, Trend Micro, ESET, ESTSoft, Lookout, Zoner, Webroot, and Dr. Web was tested as part of an evaluation of mobile security software. Using a tool called DroidChameleon malware samples were transformed to generate new variants that contain the exact malicious functions as before. These new variants were then passed to the AV products, and much to the surprise of the paper’s authors, they were rarely flagged.
The paper said that the findings showed that all the anti-malware products evaluated are susceptible to common evasion techniques and may succumb to even trivial transformations not involving code-level changes. More than 43 per cent of the signatures used by the AV products are based on file names, checksums (or binary sequences) or information obtained by the PackageManager API.
Minor changes to a virus will render their protection useless for the most part.
McAfee, which is owned by Intel, is one of the biggest security vendors but has so far been focused on end-point products such as anti-virus and firewall software that runs on consumer PCs. Now the firm has made a move to go deeper into the network, buying security software vendor Stonesoft for $389m in cash.
McAfee took the surprising decision to describe its rationale behind purchasing Stonesoft. The firm said network security will become a vital security component and cited analysts’ comments on how the company is positioned in relation to its rivals, adding that Stonesoft’s products will fit with McAfee’s existing intrusion prevention and enterprise firewalling software.
McAfee president Michael DeCesare said, “Stonesoft is a leading innovator in this important market segment. We plan to integrate Stonesoft’s offerings with other McAfee products to realize the power of McAfee’s Security Connected strategy. Stonesoft products will benefit from the collective expertise of more than 7,200 McAfee employees.
“Leveraging McAfee’s cloud-based Global Threat Intelligence service will provide our combined customers with unparalleled security.”
McAfee’s parent Intel has said that security will be a key part of its strategy in the future, however coming up to two years after the firm spent $7.6bn to buy McAfee it is still not clear how it will incorporate the firm’s security software into its core silicon products.
Nevertheless, given McAfee’s ability to spend a further $389m to buy another security vendor, it seems that Intel is happy to continue spending large amounts of money to build its security business.
SoftBank Corp President Masayoshi Son may get a less than enthusiastic reception when he comes to the United States this week to meet Sprint Nextel Corp’s major shareholders, as he tries to drum up support for the Japanese company’s proposed takeover of the No. 3 U.S. wireless service provider.
SoftBank’s billionaire founder, who proposed a $20 billion deal for a 70 percent stake in the U.S. wireless carrier, said on Tuesday that he would discuss the deal with shareholders in a bid to fight off rival Dish Network, a U.S. satellite TV provider, which offered Sprint a $25.5 billion bid.
The executive for the Japanese mobile operator may have a tough time selling the deal, as several shareholders have told Reuters that SoftBank would need to raise its bid in order to win their vote at Sprint’s June 12 shareholder meeting.
Two big Sprint shareholders, Paulson & Co and Omega Advisors, have publicly said the Dish offer looks better than SoftBank’s. Other shareholders said on Tuesday that they would go to meet Son during his trip but they were skeptical about his arguments against Dish.
While Dish’s offer would provide more cash upfront to shareholders, Son has argued that Dish would not be good for the company as it would require Sprint to take on a heavy debt load. He also promises a July 1 close for the deal and warned that Dish regulatory approval may not come until 2014.
Robert Lynch, the director of research for Westchester Capital Management, which owned over 14 million shares in Sprint at the end of December, said that the prospect of a quicker deal close would not be enough to win over his company’s vote.
“We think right now that Dish has a better offer on the table. We think SoftBank’s going to have to improve their offer,” Lynch said, noting that SoftBank’s comments about the prospective debt leverage from a Dish deal were overdone.
“We think the leverage is manageable. We think there are synergies here. While raising the leverage is something we looked at we think its not as big of a obstacle as SoftBank is saying,” Lynch said.
A big Sprint investor who asked not to be named said they were happy to meet with Son while he is in the United States but that they were hoping to convince him to raise his bid.
“If Mr. Son wants to own Sprint he will have to raise his bid,” said the person from a top 25 Sprint shareholder who did not want to be quoted by name ahead of the meeting.
A Caesars Palace casino spokesman told Computerworld that people wearing the Google Glass technology won’t be allowed in the casino.
“Gaming regulations prohibit the use of computers or recording devices by persons who are gambling,” said Gary Thompson, a spokesman for Caesars, in an email. “Therefore, individuals wearing Google Glass would not be allowed to gamble. If they attempted to do so, would be subject to arrest under various state gaming regulations.”
Some gamblers have long tried to use computers and recording devices to gain an unfair advantage at the gaming tables.
“There have been numerous incidents around the country in which people have used computers or cameras secreted elsewhere to keep track of cards in blackjack games,” Thompson said. “When they were caught, they went to jail.”
Google said every new technology generates new questions, legal and otherwise.
“It’s early and we are thinking very carefully about how we design Glass. New technology always raises new issues,” said a Google spokesman.
“Our Glass Explorer program, which reaches people from all walks of life, will ensure that our users become active participants in shaping the future of this technology,” the spokesman added. The Glass Explorer program is an early adoper program that lets developers and others use the technology, for a price.
Caesars isn’t the first business to say “no thanks” to Glass.
Seattle’s 5 Points Cafe and Bar in March announced a no Google Glass policy.