Category: Business

Amazon and Macmillan bury the hachette on prices

Book publisher Macmillan and Amazon settled their differences over the weekend over pricing, setting the tone for future e-books sold online.

Lass reading from Amazon Kindle - image from Amazon web siteMacmillan books started re-appearing on over the weekend. Macmillan had wanted Amazon to allow it to price e-books in a similar way proposed by Apple with its iPad.

Amazon had pushed for best sellers to be sold online at $9.99 but the book publishers fear for margins with pricing at that level.

Apple’s iPad and the associated publishing pricing model threatens Amazon’s attempt to achieve hegemony and make its Kindle e-reader the standard.

Last week Hachette said that it too wanted to follow the Apple trail. The Apple trail, on the face of it, isn’t brilliant for book publishers either. Apple gets 30 percent of the price of an e-book per title.

It also, no doubt, makes a heap from sales of the iPad gizmo and in usual Apple style buys the components low and sells high.

Google is waiting in the wings to make its own foray into the book publishing market too.

Intel defendant in latest scandal to plead guilty

Intel’s treasury department manager, Rajiv Goel, may plead guilty to his recent charge of games piracy worth $20 million, says eWeek.

Goel has been in trouble over an alleged insider trading scandal, believed to have netted profits of $20 million. He was the managing director of Intel’s treasury department at the time.

He is alleged to have given another defendant, Raj Rajaratnam, information regarding a company Intel had recently invested in, Clearwire. He is also said to have handed over private information about Intel’s fiscal reports before they were published.

Raj Rajartnam is said to have made approximately $579,000 in profits from the leaked data.

It looks likely that the 51 year old exec could admit guilt as early as this week. Goel was placed on “administrative leave” after he got nicked in October 2009 – following this, he left Intel just before the end of last year and was waiving indictment.

eWeek claims that this is a key step before a defendant is able to opt for a guilty plea.


Fake Steve Jobs returns to bash a Farrell

Nick Farrell wrote a story on my old organ,, having a go at Mac OSX.

And that’s so inflamed the Fake Steve Jobs that he’s taken up his pen again.

As the world+dog knows, the pen is mightier than the sword.

Fake Steve lights out at Farrell and has a nice pop at Windows, comparing it to a waiter who keeps bugging you while you’re trying to enjoy your fish+chips.

Nick Farrell, the best coder in the worldBut the best bit is at the end. He obviously knows Nick Farrell better than most, because he suggests that he’s probably the best programmer in the world, “way smarter than all the engineers who work at Apple“.

Fake Steve is here. Nick Farrell is over here on the right.

Carly Fiorina has some trouble with her demon sheep

It seems an old favourite of ours, former HP dictator, Carly Fiorina, is making headlines again, this time for her demon sheep and badly rendered computer generated lightning bolts from above.

In a most bizarre political smear ad aimed at Fiorina’s senate seat rival, Republican Tom Campbell, the former HP head takes a stab at FCINOs – or “Fiscal Conservatives in Name Only.”

Starting out with pastoral imagery of sheep frolicking happily over hills as a narrator speaks of “purity,” “piety,” ”wholesome,” “honorable” and “true believers,” the dream soon turns to night-meh as a red-eyed cuddly toy resembling demon sheep elevates above the rest atop a cartoonish faux Greek column.


But the sky suddenly darkens and lightning strikes the sheep’s precarious podium, sending it hurtling to the ground. Hopefully for a soft lambding.

Carly’s campaign goes on to lamb-bast Campbell for being an odious and unpronounceable FCINO, as images show a creepy looking figure dressed in a sheep outfit with glowing red eyes. An anti-sheep. A wolf in sheep’s fake clothing. A demon sheep from the depths of hell. Scary stuff.

The ad is in fact so silly it hasbeen dubbed “the attack ad so bad nobody wanted to believe it was real,” with TV commentator for MSNBC, Rachel Maddow [Shurely Meadow? – Ed] commenting “it looks like it was made by Monty Python.”

In response to Carly’s bleating, some republicans have changed their twitter avatars to demon sheep, whilst Chuck DeVore set up his own website at establishing the creation of his “Society for the Eradication of Demon Sheep from our Political Discourse,” or the catchy acronym S.F.T.E.O.D.S.F.O.P.D.

Of course, Carly, famous for her carlyfornia political dreaming, is also a board member for Taiwanese chip maker TSMC. Her and Morris Chang must make for a heck of a stand-up act at board meetings. Shear genius.


Can you smell the stench of online journalism?

I want to tell you a sordid tale about an industry run by hypocritical corporate fat cats, overpaid salesmen (PR reps), itinerant hacks and lazy bloggers.

Yes, this dusty little patch of paradise known as “online journalism” has become corrupt enough to discourage even Rudy Giuliani from strapping on a flame thrower and burning away the musty, dripping rot that permeates every pathetic word we type.

Ah, now you smell it. Your nostrils twitch in disgust, your face contorts involuntarily, your legs spasm uncontrollably.  

“What is the horrible odour?” you cry out in horror as shocked olfactory glands beg for mercy.  

Well, says I, look over there at that shadowy, yet familiar figure. He crouches ashamedly, shading sensitive eyes from the glare of sickly yellow light cast by thousands of flickering street lamps.

Slowly, you become aware that he is a nondescript, middle-aged man dressed in a three-piece suit, wearing shiny, polished black shoes. He seems curiously occupied, delicately wiping a sweaty brow with his perfumed Armani handkerchief in what appears to be a frantic attempt to soak up the overwhelming stench of desperation.

Another man crouches in the cold twilight, his young poker face illuminated by the soft glow of a laptop as he silently types every word uttered by the   heavily perspiring excuse for a salesman.

“This new chip runs circles around the competition,” he bellows in a booming voice. “It has an infinite number of doohickeys, is optimised for  every known widget, supports DX100, is 3D capable and can even simulate sex on 1,000 monitors. You don’t need a woman anymore, I swear, this chip does it all. Forget about the Kama Sutra, this is the next-gen digital age on crack!”

The salesman pauses, allowing the young journalist-blogger hybrid to transcribe every word as if it were gospel preached by a dying Saviour nailed to a bloody, virtual cross.  

“Now son, we are reaching out because the team and I believe you understand the importance and capabilities of this magnificent processor which defies and even exceeds – there is no other way of putting it – the laws of modern engineering.

“Of course, we will be sending you the chip, pre-loaded and pre-configured by our best minds in a specially designed gaming rig. It will – quite literally – blow your mind away, I swear.

Your review means a lot to us, you know, and I am not just saying that. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out and give us a call. Day or night, it makes no difference to us. We’re here for you!”

The journalist – unperturbed by the shameless carnival barking – blinks twice and submits the story to a site that cares little about quality and even less about the truth. Sadly, he has already learned what matters most to his incompetent superiors: hits, unique visits and bounce rates.   

Have no fear, this journalist is not alone. He has joined the growing ranks of a pathetic, oppressive industry that pisses on the truth while proudly chasing ethereal streams of advertising revenue.

Digital TV Group speaks out over Project Canvas

The Digital TV Group has slagged off the BBC’s next generation telly venture called Project Canvas, saying there’s a lack of clarity and engagement with the rest of the industry.

The trade group spoke out after The BBC Trust said in December that would give the BBC permission to go ahead with Canvas but wanted the views of the rest of the industry before making a final decision. However the BBC Trust’s final consultation closed on Tuesday.

Project Canvas, which is being lead by the BBC, but also involves BT and ITV, plans to release a £200 set-top box later this year to bring internet services – from the the likes of the BBC, Amazon and NHS Direct – to the television set.

The DTG said that there is “widespread concern” that several important set top box amnufacturers and technology providers were not involved in the project. It also says that the consortium who are backing and creating the IPTV project failed to create an open, industry-wide technology standard for the service, which it promised that it would.

“Feedback… indicates that the consensus among our members is that only a mandatory requirement for the Canvas JV to engage with industry to deliver an agreed specification can achieve widespread market success and represent the best interests of the UK consumers and TV licence fee payers,” the DTG told the BBC Trust.

Canvas said in a statement to the FT: “We intend to continue our extensive work with the DTG’s connected TV working group with a view to better understand the reasons why the DTG have raised these concerns in this way, and work to resolve any concerns.”

It added: “We have been encouraged by the wide range of consumer electronics companies who have expressed an interest in manufacturing canvas-compliant devices.”

The DTG represents over 100 companies including Samsung, Sony, Pace and Dixons.

Nothing says 'love' like an iPod or a Kindle

While the meaning of Christmas has been submerged under a giant coke advert for the last 50 years, Valentine’s Day has been mostly just marketing from flower sellers and tacky greeting cards.

Until 2010 when the great love feast, which was instituted by the Roman Catholic church to ‘convert’ the believers of a popular bishop with heretical leanings, has now become the domain of the electronics retailers Apple and Amazon.

If you read the Apple adverts, nothing says “I love you” better than giving the person of your dreams the same gizmo you bore her to death by forcing her to share headphones while you listen to Coldplay and U2.

Amazon thinks that love is giving her an expensive Kindle ebook reader. Its marketing teams searched through all the feedback emails they got about their Kindle and “noticed” that the word ‘Love’ was used a lot.

“The Kindle’s up there with Haagen-Dazs and sex”, said one user who is probably doing both wrong. “ I LOVE the Kindle!” shouted another user.

Clearly this was not the sort of love that St Valentine was banging on about.


Schwartz tweets out of his Sun job

Jonathan Schwarz, now the ex-CEO of Sun Microsystems after it was finally acquired by Oracle, decided to end his tenure with a tweet.

Schwarz said on his Twitter account: “Today’s my last day at Sun. I’ll miss it. Seems only fitting to end on a #haiku. Financial crisis/Stalled too many customers/CEO no more”.

Jonathan has, at press time, 7,519 followers on Twitter and regularly updated his bog when he was the CEO of Sun. He’s regarded well throughout the industry, largely because of his open manner. His Twitter account is OpenJonathan.

In his last bog entry at Sun, he wished the combined company the best of luck. And he’s not going to go away, he said.

High tech pay crashes in Silicon Valley

A report issued by the US Bureau of Labor Affairs has examined the employment patterns and investments in Silicon Valley between 2000 and 2008.

And the figures show a steep slump in the average wages between 2004-2008. Before the bubble bust, the real average annual wage in Silicon Valley was $120,064 – that had fallen to $103,850 by 2008 – the last year for which figures are available.

Although between 2003 and 2004 profits rose by 170 percent for the largest 150 companies, that didn’t translate into vigorous job growth. Workers shouldn’t complain too much though – they earned way more than non-Silicon Valley high tech and way way more than people earned in all sectors.
Silicon Valley jobs

And while VC capital investments in Silicon Valley shot up between 1999 and 2000, growth in subsequent years was quite a lot more subdued.

Semiconductor manufacturing showed declining rates between 2004 and 2008. Semiconductor manufacturing lost the most jobs – over 34,000. And between 2000 to 2008, the high tech industries shed over 108,400 jobs – nearly 20 percent of the total workforce with real wages falling by 13.5 percent.

The full report is here.

Open source tops the bill at Gartner BI summit

Open Source business intelligence (BI) tools were the main talking point at the Gartner Business Intelligence Summit 2010 so TechEye spoke to the people that mattered at the show about how OS was affecting the BI market.

Open source were the words on everybody’s lips at the Gartner Business Intelligence Summit 2010. At a panel entitled ‘Where now for BI?’ IBM, HP, SAP and QlikView discussed how open source will affect their businesses and the industry. While HP and IBM took the opportunity to examine their shoes, Anthony Deighton, QlikView Senior Vice President and Head of Products, said that OS could be extremely valuable to companies. But in his opinion, first it needed to become simple enough for people to buy.

He said he envisioned functions such as diskspace OLAP and standardised reporting, as areas that open source can be made in the future, adding that at the moment it was still too complex to do.

Brian Glissman, a Gartner analyst also mentions simplicity. Alhough he feels that OS would be better used for simple functions: “I see open source being used significantly, especially in OEM products,” he says. “It just seems to be by far the best choice for them if they’re not doing anything super complicated.”  

Glissman feels that OS can also benefit specialist sectors: “The firms that are competing in very specialised markets have to make their applications more smart, he says. “Specialised areas such as medicine or specific engineering sectors are where I see OS really taking hold.”

SAP Technology Evangelist Timo Elliot said that open source was part of the computer environment and that the ‘big boys’ like SAP could learn from what the customers wanted from open source.

“Ultimately,” he said. “Vendors are liking the accessibility of OS and we can take a lesson from that by simplifying things and letting our customers buy on subscriptions.”

The interest in open source stems from the lowered costs, making it particularly attractive in the current climate. Cutting costs is the general perception with open source, and it’s biggest selling point.

“The BI market is now mature, with more savvy CIOs trusting stable open source options,” said a spokesperson for Pentaho, which describes itself as a commercial open source alternative for business intelligence and was not showing at the summit. “For the price of a two day event [presumably referring to the Gartner Summit], an IT team can have a working model to show their superiors.”

 Although Open Source is often seen as the cheaper option, according to Gartner, the average size deal for an open-source BI contract remains approximately $30,000 for a year. Some contracts repeatedly exceed $500,000 for a multiyear support subscription, which is in the same ballpark as many commercial counterparts.

 “Open source BI has seen an interesting adoption pattern over the last few years,” said Andreas Bitterer, research vice president at Gartner. “Hardly any organization looked at open-source BI until 2004, let alone deployed it to a significant number of users, but this submarket had developed nicely, having developed consistent growth rates over the last few years.”

Gartner has predicted that the number of businesses using Open Source business intelligence tools will increase five-fold by 2012.

Earlier this month Jaspersoft Corp. announced a new version of its open-source BI software aimed at paying enterprises.