Thursday, September 22, 2005

LBHub TechAlert for September 23, 2005

IM continues steady climb in workplace despite risks
We are just wrapping up our twice-yearly tracking survey of instant messaging in the workplace. The results are not particularly stunning, but they reflect the maturation of the IM market and its continued growth.

Here are some of the results from the research:
- Twenty-six percent of e-mail users in the workplace use IM on a regular basis while at work, up slightly from 24% as we found in the March survey. This figure continues to creep up consistently as new users realize the benefits of using IM in the workplace.
- Fifty-two percent of organizations are using IM for real-world business applications, identical to what we found in our last survey. While this figure is impressive given that consumer IM clients dominate the use of IM in the workplace, we expect this figure to climb significantly as organizations roll out their own enterprise-grade IM systems and/or provide enterprise features to the current base of IM clients, instead of relying solely on the viral nature of IM to expand its use.
- Two-thirds of organizations are concerned or very concerned about the potential for viruses, worms and other threats to enter their networks through IM. This is the highest percentage of respondents that are this concerned since we added this question to the tracking survey last year. I suspect that this concern is due, in large part, to the well-publicized nature of the growing number of IM threats that have affected IM systems - the number of IM threats so far in 2005 is dramatically higher than for all of 2004.
- The three leading consumer IM clients - AOL Instant Messenger, MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger - continue to be the three leading workplace IM clients. Lotus Instant Messaging and Web Conferencing (Sametime) continues as the leading enterprise IM system in use, although Microsoft Live Communication Server continues to increase its penetration. Surprisingly, Google Talk is already present in a significant percentage of the organizations we surveyed, despite the fact that it was introduced only recently.

Microsoft Turnover
Microsoft, the largest software maker in the world, said that it had realigned into three divisions and said that James Allchin, the Windows chief, planned to retire at the end of next year. Ray Ozzie, who joined the company this year as chief technical officer, will expand his role, Microsoft said in a statement. Microsoft will divide into a platform products and services unit including Windows for PCs, servers and tools and MSN, run by Kevin Johnson and Allchin. The business division, which will include Office products, will be headed by Jeff Raikes. Robbie Bach will become president of the entertainment & devices unit.

Google tests Wi-Fi
The Internet search leader Google is preparing to release its own wireless Internet service, Google WiFi, according to several pages found on the company's Web site on Tuesday. The Google site refers to a product called "Google Secure Access," which is designed to "establish a more secure connection while using Google WiFi," according to a page of frequently asked questions. Another page, offers a free download of Google Secure Access. Google declined to comment.

Baidu plans appeal
The Chinese search engine plans to appeal a court ruling that it violated copyrights held by a local affiliate of the music company EMI, Baidu's lawyer said. The Haidian District Court in Beijing found Baidu guilty on Monday, saying that it provided access to Web sites offering illegal MP3 files of music belonging to the recording company Shanghai Push, also known as Shanghai Busheng Music Culture Media. Baidu argued that it provided a search function, not downloading services, and therefore was not violating copyrights.

ITunes battles over prices
Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple Computer, vowed Tuesday to resist music companies' "greedy" demands for price increases on the iTunes music download site and warned that such a move would encourage piracy. The company also updated its online subscription service, quadrupling the storage space available over the Internet.

DJ ditty’ from Dell
Dell, the largest maker of personal computers, introduced a smaller version of its digital music player to help tap a market dominated by Apple Computer's iPod. The Dell DJ Ditty music player will sell for $99. Separately, Kevin Rollins, the chief executive of Dell, said greater sales to China would help the company meet its goal of making about $80 billion in annual sales within four years.

Outlook improves
Mitsubishi Electric, the Japanese electronics conglomerate, raised its net profit estimate for the business year ending in March by 10.7 percent on strong sales of factory automation equipment and cost cuts.

Browser without Ads
The Norwegian group Opera Software said it would offer its Web browser Opera free and without advertising banners, in a bid to outdo a rival, Firefox, and become the world's second-most-used browser, after Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Tèlècom France sells shares
France Télécom sold new shares Tuesday for €898 million, or $1.09 billion, to help finance the purchase of 80 percent of the Spanish mobile company Amena.

Cellphones on flights
Two European airlines - TAP Air Portugal and the British carrier BMI - will allow passengers late next year to use their own cellphones on flights within Western Europe, according to OnAir, a Swiss technology company.

Net Phone service
Qwest Communications International and Microsoft said they would offer Internet phone service to small and midsize businesses, starting in 2006.
Time Warner also said that its America Online unit would introduce a Web phone service called TotalTalk early in October.

Telefònica stake grows
Telefónica, the Spanish phone service, bought €917 million worth of shares in Cesky Telecom, raising its stake in the largest Czech phone company to 69 percent from 51 percent as part of an offer for all of Cesky.

Chirac questions H-P plans
President Jacques Chirac of France called on the European Commission to examine plans by Hewlett-Packard to cut 5,900 jobs in Europe. Chirac also asked ministers to ensure that Hewlett-Packard "fully respects" its obligations under French labor law. The French labor minister, Gérard Larcher, said he would meet with the head of Hewlett-Packard's European operations next week to discuss the computer company's plans to cut jobs in the country. Larcher, who met Wednesday with labor union representatives of Hewlett-Packard France, will meet Francesco Serafini on Monday, the Labor Ministry said in a statement. Hewlett-Packard, the largest maker of printers in the world, said on Sept. 12 that it planned to cut 1,240 jobs in France as part of a worldwide plan to shed 10 percent of its work force. Larcher wants a "clarification of its strategy and concrete assurances about the continuity of its operations and its development in France," the statement said.

AOL to Roll Out VoIP in the U.S. in October
AOL will launch TotalTalk, its VoIP service, in the U.S. on October 4. The service, which will not require an AOL subscription, will be offered in multiple calling plans including an unlimited national calling plan for $29.99 per month. AOL plans to have its phone service interoperate with email and its instant messaging client.

Ingenico costs rise
Ingenico, a leading maker of electronic payment systems, reported a first-half loss as costs rose and its chief executive of three months, Amedeo d'Angelo, took charges to reorganize the business. The company, based in a Paris suburb, posted a net loss of €24.6 million, or $30 million, compared with net income of €2.9 million a year earlier. Ingenico took a €24 million charge to cover inventory writedowns and the costs of fixing a faulty product. Operating profit sank 87 percent to €1.1 million. D'Angelo has replaced a third of the top executives and plans to reduce the range of products, cut costs and sell some businesses.

Esmertec posts loss
Esmertec, a Swiss maker of software for mobile phones, posted a loss for the first half on costs from two failed public offerings and a bad debt provision. The company posted a loss attributable to shareholders of $1.9 million, after a loss of $4.1 million a year earlier. It also said its chief financial officer, Arno Waschkau, would step down on Nov. 1 for personal reasons and would be replaced by Deborah Choate, former chief financial officer of Wavecom.

Nokia milestones
Nokia, the biggest cellphone maker in the world, delayed the introduction of its N91 music phone to the first quarter of next year to improve the phone's features. The company, which originally planned to start selling the phone in the fourth quarter, will add features to enable music downloading from services using Microsoft technology, a spokesman said. Nokia also said it was expanding its range with a new cellphone to sell cheaply in emerging markets. The folding 2652 model will have an estimated retail price of €100 and will be sold starting next month in China, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. The company reported selling its one-billionth cellphone and estimated that more than two billion people use mobile phones worldwide. The phone was sold in Nigeria this summer, a Nokia 1100 model that retails for less than €50.

Solar offering
Q-Cells, a German maker of solar cells, and its owners plan to raise as much as €280.3 million in a share sale, one of four planned initial public offerings of solar-power companies in Germany this year. Q-Cells plans to sell as many as 6.66 million shares for €29 to €34 each.

Shares in commerce
Rue de Commerce, the largest French Internet retailer of electronics, plans to raise as much as €69 million in an initial share sale to increase its after-sales services and expand in Italy and Spain. The company, based near Paris, started selling 3.85 million shares on Wednesday at €13.42 to €15.60 each, it said.

Inkjets disappoint
Seiko Epson cut its operating profit forecast by 46 percent for this business year, underscoring a slide in prices and sales of display panels and inkjet printers. Seiko Epson, the second-largest maker of inkjet printers after Hewlett-Packard, forecast a group operating profit for the year ending next March of ¥44 billion, down from the ¥82 billion it estimated in late July.

IBM in Poland
International Business Machines will open a software center in Poland to benefit from Polish government aid for new employers. IBM plans to hire 200 people in the next two years for a new center in Krakow. The government will support it with 800,000 zloty, or $250,000, from a fund for raising employment among people with university degrees.

Anti-pornography in Italy
Police officers conducted raids in Italy, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Britain, detaining up to 30 people and placing 80 under investigation, to crack a child pornography ring that shared abusive images over the Internet, officials said. The Carabinieri paramilitary police of Rome, who led the operation, said in a statement that the suspects had created a secure network that let them use the Internet to anonymously share pornographic images of children 11 and younger.