Friday, June 30, 2006

Apple has a dayus horribilus!

What an awful day Apple had today.

First of all they were forced to announce that they had some stock option granting irregularities a few years back (which tech company hasn't) and the slightly dodgy grants were offered to Apple deius supremo, Steve Jobs.

Now the reality is that Apple reported this odd behavior a while ago and, like Microsoft, seems to have behaved above the ball since then. So, on the face of it Apple seem to be OK. But, that's not the point, for their stoick nosedived 3% because anything that negatively effects Mr Jobs is a major baseball bat in the face for Apple - proving that the company is dangerously reliant on him.

Mind you, as if this options scandal was not enough, then the Frenchies decided to approve probably the daftest piece of anti-capitalist legislation ever created by saying that Apple must open up their iPod so that it can play any music service on it (and not just iTunes) and if they do not - they could get fined up to $700M!!!!

Or they have to get permission to run a closed system from the owners of the music!!! I know that the French government is desperate to raise money right now - but I mean, isn't this a little far fetched?

Mind you, if Apple walk out of the French market, they may at least trigger yet another revolution from the streets. Oh God, not more fires!

CNET on digital music player trends - check it out!

Check out this CNET article on digital music market trends.

Most interesting to note is that the market for buying music to own on your digital music player isn't teens but adults in their mid 20's to mid 40's.

Most of the younger generation have MP3 players - more than half the teens do, but they generally use their players to download music they already own on CD rather than buying new tunes from services like iTunes.

Oh, and funnilly enough Apple's iPods own nearly 80% of the US digital music player market. Of course that won't be the case in France much longer!

Orange launches its own push email service - what?

Orange, one of Europe's leading mobile phone operators owned by France Telecom, has decided to go it alone and launch their own answer to the Blackberry and Microsoft Mobile push email offerings.

They are rolling out their own propietary email push service for Orange users across all their European markets between now and the end of the year. They seem to be targetting the small and medium size business sector in particular, citing that only 10% of that market use mobile email.

The numbers I do not disagree with, but why Orange thinks they are best suited to meet these needs completely defeats me. After all, companies like Microsoft and Research in Motion (owners of Blackberry) have been at this stuff for ever.

Mind you, given that the French government have just stuffed things up for Apple's iPod, maybe Orange know something we don't. At least the technology is made in France, which means they may actually allow it to remain legal!

Flock launches social social networking browser

Flock, a Silicon Valley start-up, received a great deal of media hype last Autumn over their soon to be launched social networking take on a browser that would be designed to help us all with the coolest things you can do on the web such as uploading and sharing photos, making photo albums (no surprise) and blogging.

So far so cool! Unfortunately Flock then went extremely quiet and did not deliver their browser. Well, today they finally launched a Beta browser which you can download at

There are also a bunch of previews that are pretty good at telling you what key features the browser offers. The Flock team come from good pedigree, many debunking from Mozilla (makers of the Firefox browser).

So if you're into the social networking revolution going on in the Web (i.e. under thirty), then it could be hip to download Flock. For the rest of you, wait for it to get out of Beta and read the reviews. Which means keep reading TechBoard - sorry!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Google launches rival to PayPal and its called Checkout!

If you believe Reuters, the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal plus a legion of other tech news sites and worthy blogs, Google will finally today launch their answer to PayPal and its not called GBuy or GoogleWallet, its gonna be called Google Checkout!

Google said Checkout stores names, shipping and credit card information and eliminates the need for consumers to resubmit that data with each purchase. Google is responsible for processing the credit card payments and keeping data safe. Sounds like PayPal to me!

"We think we're making e-commerce a lot more efficient and easier to use," Salar Kamangar, Google's vice president of product management, told Reuters.

Google charges merchants 2% of the value of each sale plus 20 cents per transaction - a fee that early users said was in line with other options. The company rewards its advertisers by offering them $10 in free sales processing for every dollar they spend on its advertising program, AdWords.

Google plan to link AdWords with Checkout and Google Analytics so that you can trace the success opf your ads all the way through clicks, to ordering and through to the purchase.

Google Checkout may do more for website marketing and tracking than for e-payments - or at least at the beginning. If I was Ebay I'd still be nervous.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Why Blog cynics are short sited and sadly missing the point!

The world seems divided between those that are deeply cynical of the blogging revolution and those that are passionate that blogging will change the media world. Blog cynics rant about the fact that citizen journalism is merely a childish fad and one that will peter out as Internet users return to their senses and only consume traditional media content.

They argue that professional journalists cannot just be replaced by a vain horde of amateur writers seeking their one minute of fame through catchy and edgy digital posts. Of course many of these arguments are seeded by the professional journalists who have the most to lose from the blogging revolution proving them wrong.

And in the mean time another new blogsite is created somewhere in the world every second. Now there must be well north of 50M blogsites and, in America at least, the younger generation of newspaper readers are reading blogs as much as traditional newspapers.

So what's really going on here? And is there a real blogging revolution unfolding?

Yes, there is a fundamentally important media revolution going on, but not perhaps the one that everyone thinks. Because I do not see blogs killing media conglomerates anytime soon, but I do see us looking back at the user-generated content revolution and pointing to blogging as being the technology that got it off the ground.

And user-generated content is an undisputed media trend and possibly the most important shift in the creation, presentation and distribution of media since the Guttenberg Press.

But even more essentially, Blogging is the first step in an even more fundamental shift that is going on right under are feet and is all about anyone being able to become a technology entrepreneur.

For today anyone can launch a blogsite, but tomorrow anyone will be able to launch their own spreadsheet package or search engine with no technical skills whatsoever. The next Microsoft or Google could be created by a complete non-techie. Perhaps even by me!

So, Blog cynics throughout the world, that is the real revolution that blogging is kicking off. Get your teeth round that one!

Apple's new iPods delayed?

Those of you wanting the next generation iPod Nano or wide-screen video iPod will likely have to wait, cos according to American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu the new versions will now ship in the fourth quarter, rather than the third quarter, due to Apple's switch of suppliers.

At least this proves that Apple is as capable as Microsoft of product delays - after all you're not cool in the tech world unless you're fashionably late with hot launches.

Mind you at least it looks like Apple's delays mean that they will still hit the shelves for the key holiday season. And I was so looking forward to my new iPod. Mind you, they should have done a deal with Hollywood by then, so at least I'll get to watch movies as well!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

How YouTube plan to go commercial!

The Wall Street Journal have just been given an interesting scoop by leading video site YouTube which demonstrates how the free online video business plans to make money.

And its alll about selling online ads alongside their free content. So YouTube want to become the Blockbuster of online, downloadable video. I guess that leaves iTunes as the worlds number one movie download retailer.

You use iTunes to build your digital video library as an asset you own and YouTube to watch the latest shows like a giant on-demand TV network. Nice one!

Time Warner sells movies online - its just the beginning!

Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. has made a deal to distribute movies and TV shows online via Guba's search engine and video-sharing community,, in one of the first moves by a major studio to embrace user-generated content. Gube is a small but potentially powerful competitor to YouTube and MySpace.

Until yesterday, Guba displayed videos submitted mostly by amateurs, along with some professionally created material such as music videos posted illegally on the site. Now, the site will sell movies such as "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" along with TV shows such as "Babylon 5."

This move proves that the studios are embracing small rollouts of movies over the Internet. Once they feel comfortable that launches such as this one with Guba work, then they will embrace the prime time distributing movies through Google Video, Yahoo Movies, MSN Movies, iTunes and MySpace.

Expect deals with all the above sites to distribute online Hollywood movies within 12 months.

Is Google's launch of GBuy stalled?

Google is apparently set to launch GBuy this week. There has been a large amount of speculation about the entry of this new competitor to PayPal and the launch seems to be delayed which may prove that Google is finding it harder than expected to sign up their first bunch of marquis merchants.

Having myself launch Beenz, the leading Web Currency of the '90's, I fully understand their challenge, for e-payments systems are the ultimate chicken and egg business model. Until you have a critical mass of merchants you will never attain a critical mass of users.

And to get a critical mass of merchants they want to see a system tested ('cos its about getting paid!) and a critical mass of users!! Go figure that one out.

This time round Google will have to use all their goodwill and persuade their (AdWords) clients (merchants) to trust their new GBuy system and probably give it away from the getgo, plus they will have to convince them that Google users will adopt it.

This is one launch where they cannot just hang their technology out in the wind and hope it takes off. But, they have some innovative features - like linking GBuy straight into an ad so you can buy a product from the ad rather than switching to the site.

If Google do get this more challenging launch right - there's a big fat opportunity at the end of the rainbow - that's the beauty of electronic payment systems.

Intel starts restructuring and dumps mobile phone unit

Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel, promised a 90 day review of the company and a subsequent reorganisation. Well, I guess it has started because Intel have just announced dumping their mobile phone unit and selling it to Marvell Technology (no dummy, not the superhero dudes!) at fire-sale prices.

Intel will instead focus its communications market strategy on Wi-Fi and WiMax, which sounds wise. That leaves the mobile phone chip market to Qualcomm, TI, Broadcomm and Freescale.

Intel and Microsoft sure rule the PC, but are still struggling to make their technologies succeed on other platforms. I wonder whether larger acquisitions might not be a better way forwards for them.

Yep, that means Microsoft buying Sony and Intel buying TI. Ooooh, yeah!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Microsoft attacks office communications! Oh God!

Microsoft has decided that they are not diversified enough and have launched yet another business unit. This time they are going after Cisco's lunch 'cos they feel like pissing off another tech giant.

This strategic meander into corporate malfaisance will see them enter the office Internet telephony game. They are planning to work with telecomms equipment makers to launch Microsoft office phone systems that hook into your PC's and their (Microsoft - of course) applications so that at a click of a mouse (presumably a Microsoft one) you can add a colleague to a call.

They are also introducing a video confereencing device that will point at the latest voice to speak so entering you into the call with a movie pan! Nice one!

Cisco is doing a lot of this kinda stuff already, but Microsoft may for once in their life actually speed up convergence and interoperability in the office comms space proving at least that we can come up with long words here as well as anyone else.

Now this all sounds dandy but leaves me wondering yet again why Microsoft is heading off into another diversification jaunt when they seem to be struggling enough with the plethora of existing divisions. Oh well!

Intel finallly strike back at AMD - big time!

Intel has launched its opening gambit in a triple-play to win back market share from its biggest rival AMD, introducing its first chip based on a new architecture in five years.

The world’s largest chipmaker today released its dual-core Xeon Processor 5100 Series, formerly codenamed Woodcrest, which is targeted at the server market where AMD has made the biggest inroads into its business.

And they need it 'cos Intel’s server chips have underperformed those of AMD over the past two years and their market share has slipped from 95% to 78%, according to Mercury Research.

But the new architecture, which focuses on energy, or performance per watt (Zzzzzzzzzz...), will be rolled out this summer across over a hundred server types starting with Dell and then across PC's and laptops.

Intel had better cross their fingers that this move's gonna work and AMD had better go like mad to take their next technological leap! It would be a shame to see them lose momentum now - Intel need the competition.

It looks like the EU's about to rule against Microsoft

The EU's top antitrust regulator is poised to issue a formal ruling that finds Microsoft guilty of breaking EU competition rules. The ruling is likely to be accompanied by fines for the US software group of up to €2m ($2.5m) a day.

Oops, nice start to the week Microsoft. Its been coming for a while, but yet again leaves you wondering when Microsoft's shareholders will get some good news. I guess not for a while - or at least not until they do something bold like buy Yahoo!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Google launches free Internet movies supported by sponsors

Google is now becoming a driver in the move toward free online TV and movies as they launch a bunch of free movies at Google Video supported by advertising.

Videos now accessible for free include movies such as Charlie Chaplin classics that previously cost 99 cents, episodes of the Mr. Magoo cartoon series that had cost $1.99 and wrestling matches that were $4.95.

Small graphical ads for advertisers including Burger King and Netflix appear above the videos, with short video commercials for them at the end of featured video content. Google said that fewer than 10 advertisers were currently involved in the test.

But this will take off, so assume this is just the tip of the iceberg and the first steps in a world where in very short order online viewers will access most TV programs and movies for free, while watching ads. The sponsors will pay the fees, not us. Watch out iTunes!

Google dump investment in - why?

Google has sold its 2.3% stake in Chinese online search engine, clearing the way for the two companies to compete head-on for the country's 111m internet users.

This has been on the cards for a while. Their investment in Baidu was done purely as a hedge to ensure they could play in the Chinese market even if the government banned direct involvement.

But since Google have given into China's notoriously restrictive policies they got their ticket to the market - so who needs Baidu? Mind you its pretty popular with Chinese Internet users!

Will Microsoft buy Yahoo?

CNET and Reuters have just reported that a Merrill Lynch analyst has written a report suggesting that Microsoft should part with a ton of its $34bn stock pile and save itself from online humiliation by buying Yahoo or Ebay?!

Will they? Probably. The new team led by Ballmer and Ozzie know that to lose the Internet war to Google or an independent Yahoo would be strategically disastrous as well as likely to hamper their ability to grow for a considerable time.

And without Gates there to shield them day to day investors may well put untold pressure on the team to make bold moves - unless they just want higher dividends and stock repurchases.

But if they also want capital growth and a rising share price they will have to buy their way into it. Either Yahoo or Ebay could make a good strategic fit. Mind you they will have to seriously pay up to convince the Internet leaders shareholders, for Microsoft stock ain't the currency it used to be!

French lawmakers approve watered down bill against Apple's iTunes

French lawmakers passed a contraversial bill which threatened to dismantle Apple's grip on the French digital music market. But the bill approved has been watered down enough that Apple's iTunes should be able to continue operating in France without decoupling from its iPod only stance.

Now the bill gives Apple and its rivals a "get out of jail free card": While interoperability is still mandated, it doesn't have to be enforced if the online song shops have the permission of the rights holders - musicians and record labels, for example - to use DRM.

The French are almost being sensible and the bill now just a big fat waste of everyone's time. At least Apple may not leave the French market, but goodness knows what this amended bill achieves other than consuming a few more rainforests worth of paper!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Nokia's new CEO strikes again - this time dumping Sanyo

Nokia's new CEO, who's name I cannot pronouce, strikes again! Only a couple of days ago he was making honeymoon waves at the Finnish mobile phone giant buy dumping their telecomms networking division into a merger with Siemens so that Nokia can focus solely on flogging more mobile phones.

Now he's at it again this time dumping a recently agreed deal with Sanyo to sell Qualcomms CDMA -ready phones for emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil.

But operators in those countries seem to shunning Qualcomms technology and going with the more popular European standard GSM, which Nokia dominates. (Wow that was one big mouthful).

This is good for Nokia as they don't have to get into new technology with Sanyo or pay royalties to Qualcomm who they don't exactly love - this is terrible news for Sanyo who are as stuffed as your average Turkey and not great for Qualcomm who just keep losing out to GSM.

Phew! I finally go that lot out!

Oracle goes up and Novell comes tumbling down

Today is a tale of two fortunes in the business software market as Oracle bounces back to growth with a solid set of results for their latest quarter. Their revenues pinged up 25% and they saw growth in both their core database business as well as their applications division cobbled together via a string of acquisitions.

Novell on the other hand has dumped their Chairman, CEO (the same guy) and CFO. Their strategy to try and take on Red Hat and lead the Linux market seems to be failing - so they've brought in an ex-IBM guy to try and get Novell back to growth. Poor guy, God only knows what he should do with Novell.

The irony of it all is that Oracle may have their sites on buying Red Hat for themselves. It just goes to show that in the softwarte sector almost more than any other you had better be damned careful who/what you buy.

Oracle still have a huge amount to prove, but so far so almost good!

AT&T revises their privacy policy and says they will share more data!!

The Wall Street Journal has just announced that AT&T have revised their privacy policy and plan to share more data!. I quote from them:

"AT&T Inc. said it clarified its privacy policy for Internet and television customers to state explicitly that subscriber information is a business record belonging to the company and may be turned over to law enforcement in some cases.

AT&T also indicated that under its revised policy, which takes effect tomorrow and is being emailed to its more than seven million Internet customers, the San Antonio company plans to track customers' TV viewing habits. Some privacy advocates said they were troubled that the new policy appeared to be an attempt to give the company broader control over customer information."

Ooooh Mama, that's gonna light up a storm from consumers and privacy advocates in the US. AT&T may be right revising their privacy policy to protect themselves - its just a shame they are not willing to protect their customers as well.

Their approach is sailing way too close to the wind in our humble opinion and will likely lose them both customers and good will. Shame.

Google launches affiliate marketing network

Google is testing a new online advertising network that will let merchants pay a fee only when an internet user performs a specific action, such as buying a product or registering for a service.

If successful, the so-called “cost per action”, or CPA, network would extend the search engine company’s range of advertising activities and reduce its reliance on the “cost per click” model that has been at the heart of its early success.

This offering, popularly known as affiliate networks, is the first major step in Google's switch away from search based advertising monetised via cost per clicks (ooh, that sounds techie!). It'll work for them as it already does for other major affiliate network poroviders such as Amazon and DoubleClick.

Ebay launched a form of CPA network of its own last week, offering to pay affiliate websites that carry its auction listings a share of the sales commission if the adverts result in a sale.

The Google machine is switching on light bulb after light bulb - expect banner ads up next!

US kicks off the process toward cross media ownership

The US Federal Communications Commission has just launched what is expected to be a fierce battle over whether to relax media ownership restrictions on television, radio and newspapers, a move that could spark consolidation in the industry.

A top priority of Republican FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's agenda has been to allow a company to own a newspaper and a radio or television station that serve the same market and he repeated his desire to revamp the 1975 ban preventing such cross-ownership.

The UK put such cross-media ownership rules in place a couple of years ago and it has sparked consolidation in the sector, but ultimately I believe it has been good for the market and cross-media convergence is becoming ever more important in the digital age.

It makes no sense to ban it any longer and in anycase, how can physical media companies effectively compete against the cross-media Internet powerhouses such as Google, Yahoo and MySpace if they are not allowed to cross the media divide?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

US cellphone start-ups struggle as multimedia services slow to catch on

A wave of US cellphone start-ups that were counting on TV, music and other premium services to attract users are floundering.

Among the companies struggling to sign up customers: Mobile ESPN, a venture backed by Walt Disney, and Amp'd Mobile, a youth-oriented wireless start-up backed by Viacom, Vivendi and a bunch of venture capital jocks.

They should all read the tea leaves more carefully and examine the European market, which is more similar to the US. Europe, unlike Japan and South Korea, has been slow to adopt to mobile data services as the US is proving.

And until hi-speed mobile networks are widely spread across the US and Europe multimedia services will be chronically slow to take off. Plus mobile operators of all kinds need to figure out how to deliver all you can eat data plans - no one wants to pay a fee every time they use advanced services and mobile data services in general are way too expensive.

An ad based free to view model is the only hope for mass market take-off and until it is in place operators may as well get used to a long, slow haul.

Priceline dives into lower cost airfares

Priceline has just announced a deal with G2 Switchworks which should see it compete more effectively in selling lower cost airfares.

Priceline's multiyear partnership with G2 Switchworks, a private distributor of air fares, gives the company access to G2's fares and bookings platform. Because of G2's low-cost business model, Priceline could increase the number of air fares it publishes on its Web site.

It is the first such agreement between an online travel agency using an older global distribution system and one using the new-generation GDS. GDS is the means by which travel suppliers send bookings information to travelers.

And it could be the start of an increasing proportion of Internet sites offering flight booking as well as related services. This will erode the power of various online travel agancies.

Disney free TV Internet trial huge success!

TechBoard has for a while been banging on about how Internet TV will only truly take off once a free to view ad based model is cracked. And it looks like Disney have finally proved the argument.

CNET has revealed in a recent article that Disney's free TV Internet test is so far a massive success.

Now all network TV companies need to follow the model as well as Internet portals and mobile operators if the latter ever expect to see mobile TV take off.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Apple courts Hollywood to get movies on iTunes!

Apple is in talks with most of Hollywood's studios to offer movie downloads via iTunes, show business newspaper Daily Variety reported today.

Apparently movies could pop up on your video iPod via iTunes as early as this fall. But a major kink yet to be ironed out is pricing. Steve Jobs wants a flat fee per movie of $9.99 (smart cookie) but the Hollywood studios are haggling for a range of prices similar to DVD's ranging from a few dollars to $19.99 (proving they may be less smart cookies).

One of the key success factoirs for the massive uptake of iTunes is the simple pricing at 99c per tune in the US, 99 Euro cents in Europe and 99p in the UK (tough luck the UK!).

This is such a key move for Jobs and iTunes and one which could move the iPod device ever closer to its real goal as the ultimate mobile computing platform. The challenge will lie with iTunes, which may even require a brand makeover - why would I think of buying movies from a site called iTunes??

Veriaon sues Vonage for patent infringement and their stock tanks yet again!

Verizon Communications has filed a patent infringement case against Vonage and as a result their stock has tanked yet again and is now fifty percent below where they IPO'd!

In the lawsuit, Verizon Services Corp and Verizon Laboratories allege that Vonage infringed on seven patents related to voice over Internet protocol, the technology that powers Internet calling. Sprint Nextel filed a similar lawsuit last fall against Vonage and two smaller Internet phone providers.

Verizon said it has patented technology to help route calls from the Internet to traditional telephone networks and enable billing and fraud detection for VOIP networks. The phone giant says it also has developed novel ways to integrate popular phone features such as voicemail and caller ID into Internet calling.

Poor old Vonage they just can't catch a break. More worrying may not be the outcome of the lawsuit, which they plan to vigorously defend, but the endless bad luck and stock market thrashing they have received since going public just a few weeks ago.

I'm no longer sure they will ever fully recover and their ability to remain independent must come into question yet again.

Warner Music in deal with Chinese mobile operator - who isn't?

Warner Music has signed a deal with China Unicom, the Chinese mobile phone operator, to sell music to Chinese wireless users, potentially opening the path towards profitably distributing music in a market dominated by physical and digital piracy.

Yeah, good luck to them! Mind you with a population of 1.3bn you can't exactly blame them - that's one massive amount of potential music downloaders. Even though most still live off the poverty line and are about as likely to get into mobile music as fly to Mars.

But, good ol' Warner Music leads the industry yet again when it comes to digital distribution.

MySpace on an international romp!

MySpace charges at international expansion with a plan to open up in 12 countries in the next few years. Surprise, surprise the roll out starts with a beach head in the UK , closely followed by the usual suspects of Europe's larger markets including France, Germany, Italy and Spain, with the tech friendly Scandinavia in for good measure.

Once MySpace blankets Europe they will move onto China and India. So, another US Internet company goes on an expensive international romp. And who said the dotcom days were over? I just wonder if MySpace's strategy will prove as successful as AOL Europe's (not a lot) or Yahoo's (a little better).

They need to rely heavily on the advice and guidence of parent News Corp who get the UK and Italy in particular and they should move cautiously. Charging across Europe is never wise, they should open each country based on past successes - not market potential alone.

And partnering aggressively with content companies and mobile operators for both product and distribution is a wise move, if one that is extremely hard and time consuming to execute on. Oh, and I thought MySpace was about user generated content?!

Siemens and Nokia get together and form new telecoms networking giant

Siemens and Nokia have just announced a next step in the consolidation of the telecomms networking equipmant market as they merge their two divisions and create Nokia Siemens Networks which is clearly an inspired piece of branding (not!).

At least the strategic sense behind the move is solid - leaving Nokia to focus exclusively on making handset - which isn't a bad business after all, and leaving Siemens to, well, make light bulbs I guess.

A bunch of jobs will go in the Nokia led merger, but the telecomms networking industry is forced into consolidation since Alacatel and Lucent married. Now expect Motorola and Ericsson to look at a tie up as well.

For anyone that does not have major scale going forwards will struggle to win the leading deals in a space that increasingly looks to fuller service contracts and larger ourtsourcing of mobile networks in particular.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Microsoft readying to launch an iPod killer?

Reuters has just announced that Microsoft is apparently close to launching an iPod killer.

Oooh, Mama! I guess now that Ray Ozzie is in charge Microsoft can go after Apple as well as every other tech company on the planet. Mmm... Right when Apple are going after Microsoft by allowing you to run Windows on Macs.

Microsoft may be finally accepting that certain consumer electronics devices run better if you own and build both the hardware and software. They aknowledged this in the games console space with the launch of the Xbox, and now look set to agree this is the best approach for the music player market as well.

That just leaves the TV and PC. Will Apple force Microsoft to accept that they need a single vendor as well. Lets see how big a market share the Intel based Apple Macs can grab. And lets see if Apple launch an Internet enabled intelligent TV?! I would not like to bet against Apple right now!

Are Apple Macs ready for prime time?

Are Apple Macs ready for prime time? Since Apple launched Intel based computers staerting February this year there has been a continuous run of new Macs announced. First the MacBook Pro, then the new iMac and finally the MacBook.

All have had glowing reviues and all are now being pushed nationally in the US through Apple's hot new advertising. But perhaps the biggest coup of all is has been the speed at which software has been produced to enable Mac users to run Windows as well.

Apple launched a software download called Bootcamp that allows you to boot up Windows on a Mac, but now comes software from a startup called Parallels.

While Boot Camp is essentially a tool for letting a Mac run either Windows or the Mac OS, Parallels makes both operating systems available at the same time. To do this, Windows runs as what is known as a virtual machine - essentially acting as if it was a separate PC.

So you can now run Windows apps at the same time as running Apple apps. This is potentially a huge leap forwards and one that could see Apple computer sales leap forwards.

Research has shown that in the US, some 8% of home PC owners would switch to a Mac if it could run Windows. An increase of this magnitude would almost triple Apple's share in the home market and could increase it 75% worldwide.

Time to start thinking about buying an Apple Mac!

Gates to step back from Microsoft and hand over to Ray Ozzie!

Bill Gates has just announced that he will hand over his day to day role as Chief Software Architect at Microsoft to Ray Ozzie. The same Ray Ozzie that invented Lotus Notes and licensed it to Lotus Development which was ultimately sold to IBM.

So they guy that created a core piece of infrasturcture software at Microsofts largest competitor is to lead their software and product strategy going forwards. Is this a wise move?

Yes, it is, for Ray Ozzie is probably more the visionery that Microsoft needs going forwards. He may even prove to be the only man big enough to go up against the Google team and does seem to get software as services.

Will it mean that Microsoft will change faster? - probably. I can see Ozzie forcing the company too take the threat from Google more seriously than ever and help them reshape corporate compouting as Google is reshaping consumer computing.

And as consumer software is increasingly about the Internet, corporate software must be about software on demand, on the move and off the grid, at the edge! And Microsoft still have a chance to lead that charge before steal it from under them.

Bill Gates has perhaps never been more visionery than today in recognizing the need for change - every other company leader should take note. We could not applaud Gates more.

Oracle shocks with improved forecasts!

Orac le today preannounced stronger-than-expected 4th quarter earnings and revenue, as growth across its businesses prompted a rare upwards earnings revision for the software maker.

Oracle also said it expects its revenue totaled $4.85 billion, up 25% from $3.88 billion a year ago, exceeding previous guidance of 13% to 17% growth.

Oracle said it expects to post strong growth in both its core database business and its newly expanded business of selling application software. The company predicts sales of new software licenses grew 32% to $2.12 billion, exceeding the company's previous guidance of 8% to 18% growth.

This is a real shocker announcement and one that has caught most analysts on the hop. It will no doubt put a bunch of pressure on SAP. Maybe corporate customers are starting to buy into Oracle's strategy - and that would be an early turn-up for the books!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Can bloggers make money?!

Blogging or Video Blogging (Vlogging) is still growing fast with more and more blogs and Vlogs popping up day after day. But, what is the right business/succes model for these social networks emerging like rashes.

A very small percentage of them make some money from running Google or other ads as well as getting sponsorships, but in a world where there will likely be millions of blogging channels and certainly hundreds of thousands of Vlog channels it seems as though the vast majority are destined to make no money whatsoever and ultimately end up on the scrap heap of life.

So which ones are likely to win in the short term?
1. Blogs that talk about other blogs (because most avid blog readers are bloggers themselves).
2. Celebrity bloggers (cos they already have a following).
3. Super-niche blogs that search engine's are likely to pick up on.
4. Blogs linked to existing media companies (and they could still remain independent).

You see the problem today is that other than word of mouth which is naturally insestuous, it is extremely hard to get a (newish) blog (or even Vlog) noticed today. And search engines do not help. Plus no sensible blogger can afford to advertise.

So until the world creates a trusted site that selects blog channels for everyone else (as cable companies and TV networks do for TV channels), reviewing , ranking and promoting only the best - consumers will find it a hit and miss affair finding new blogs and will end up sticking with the ones that they are used to/have time for (i.e. the already existing ones).

In fact the best blogging idea of all may be he who comes out with a simple promotional tool for blogs/Vlogs that could work for any quality site. Until then stick to the above blog niches that will work today and expect to make little or no money until you land a large audience (at least a few hundred thousand page views per day!!).

Ebay about to trial "Skype Me" callback feature in US

Next week Ebay will finally start testing their Skype callback feature which lay at the heart of their justification for coughing up over $4bn for the London based VOIP company.

Meg Whitman, the company’s CEO, said that Ebay will launch a pilot programme to test Skype with 14 categories of goods on its US site, starting Monday.

Ebay has already tried out Skype tests in a limited number of other countries, including China.

Certain Ebay merchants (probably with higher priced items such as cars or property) will place a "Skype Me" button when listing their good for sale. This will then allow the buyer to call the seller and chat about the product in more detail before they transact - or not.

My concern is what happens if the seller is not available when the buyer calls. After all the Internet is largely about instant gratification!

Fingers crossed for Ebay, cos it'll make them look a bit dumb paying so much for Skype if the callback feature isn't a big hit.

Mobile operators try to boost take-up of 3G - will it work?

A global trade association for mobile operators has approved a new program called "3G for all" that could help bring third-generation multimedia services and mobile Internet access to more people in developing countries.

Currently there are only 72 million uusers of 3G - which is a miniature fraction of nearly 3 billion mobile phone subscribers worldwide. And nearly half the 72 million are Japanese.

So in an effort to get the cost of 3G and particularly 3G handsets down the GSM Association plans to come up with a set of common features for a standard 3G device that they can then feed out to all handset makers. The handset that wins will get broad rollout across all the operators.

Mmm, that should do it! Not. For 3G to really take off operators have to think like broadband Internet commpanies. They need to give devices away in larger numbers, or get their prices down to below $100 on desirable handsets.

Then they need to get 3G subscription costs down and most importantly they need to figure out how to crack an advertising model for mobile Internet useage. Mobile subscribers are not doing enough Internet stuff on their phones because it costs too much and they do not like one off fees. They want an all you can eat package with advertising to suppport most extra services.

Then 3G users will flourish and one day even get over 500 million worldwide.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Best Buy shines on back of flat panel TV and digital music sales

Best Buy, the US' largest electronics retailer announced a 38% jump in first quarter profits and sales up 14% on the back of a huge surge in flat panel TV sales and a further bounce in digital music sales. Oh and they cut costs too - go figure!

Revenue jumped almost 14% to $6.96 billion from $6.12 billion, helped by the net addition of 117 new stores in the past 12 months.

Sales at stores open 14 months, a key retail measure, grew 4.9%. Best Buy said the gain was driven by an increase in the average size of each transaction. The company also said consumers bought more at its Web site, and online revenue grew more than 30%.

But the big question on everyone's lips is will sales of such big ticket items slow as interest rate hikes bite and gas remains so expensive. Probably!

Sony bets future on network products

Sony today talked with the FT today about how they have fared since Howard Springer took over as Chairman a year ago. And it looks like an impressive start.

Most importantly they shared that future business development will include network products. Yep, their gonna launch Internet connected TV's, Camcorders, Music devices and much more. About time.

This sounds to me like a rejuvuinated and potentially visionery company again. Lets see!

MySpace announces auction with Google, MSN and Yahoo over search based advertising

Ebay's announcement a couple of weeks ago that they would partner with Yahoo to include advertising in their site has kicked off a trend that MySpace has now picked up on.

For News Corp's COO, Peter Chernin, (News Corp owns MySpace) has just announced that MySpace will hold an auction with Google, MSN and Yahoo to decide which one of them will provide a turnkey service enabling MySpace to run search based advertising across the site.

MySpace (or perhaps News Corp) are dead keen on whacking up already fast growing revenues at an even headier rate and are prepared to redesign MySpace pages to optimise search based ad exposure. That's good for revenues - they had better make sure that its also good for the customer experience.

And MySpace now have one big customer base to manage as their latest monthly numbers show that they have more visitors than AOL or MSN! - and at 50 million are just behind Yahoo.

Most interesting of all is watching a major corporate such as News Corp managing a hot, once independent property (MySpace - der!) so far successfully. They will need to ensure that they do not over egg the commercial side too early and alienate their young, hip audience.

If they do get it right, News Corp might just be sitting on the worlds first Internet portal capable of unseating Yahoo for number 1 slot!! Nice deal Murdoch.

Google GBuy to take on PayPal and launch end June

Apparently Google's GBuy, which will rival PayPal in the E-payments world, will be ready for launch at the end of June. Participating merchants will show a Gbuy icon that when you click on it will take you to the GBuy site - then you can pay pretty much like PayPal.

Intially the service will be free - but later Google plans to charge 1-2% to the merchant. And apparently the greatest advantage that Google's GBuy will be able to provide over PayPal will be their ability to analyze data linked back to their online ad system to analyze which ads lead to a purchase.

That's neat for Google and potentially neat for Merchants - but how will that help us users? They'll tell us that as a result they'll be able to serve ever more targeted ads to us. I'd rather hear that Google will then be able to offer cheaper commissions to merchants and as a results Gbuy merchants will be able to charge us lower prices. Now there's an idea!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Microsoft's Vista does more than crash your PC - it can take the Internet down as well!

Microsoft has limited online access to a test version of its next Windows system for fear of bringing the internet to a halt as users download its free Vista software and clog up networks.

Now that's a first, Microsoft's latest piece of software will not only crash your PC - it'll take the rest of the Internet down with it. Nice one boys!

Microsoft gets sued and bottom smacked by Symantic!

Microsoft has been smacked about the cheeks by a lawsuit from Symentic attemting to prevent them from selling Vista - and its hardly like Mircrosoft need any external help in getting Vista out late for, they're doing as good enough job of bungling that one up for themselves.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Symantic’s claim concerns volume management software, which is used to manage the storage of large amounts of data on discs. The software was developed by Veritas, a company bought by Symantic last year, and was earlier covered by a licensing agreement with Microsoft that dates back to 1996.

According to the complaint, Microsoft has rewritten the volume management software for its next version of Windows in ways that were not allowed under the licence between the two companies. Symantic is accusing Microsoft of having built a rival product.

Of course if Microsoft have been naughty again they'll no doubt pay Symantec off and continue to build software that will stuff the poor security leader even more in the future!

Yahoo launches custom IE7 beta - so what?

The search/browser wars are heating up like a hot dog on a barbie as Yahoo has launched a customized version of Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2, which has Yahoo search built into the browser. Yahoo and Microsoft are clearly squaring up against Google and Firefox (yep, its a cat fight).

The customized browser sets as the default home page on the primary tab, while Yahoo Mail automatically loads in the secondary tab. And IE7 takes Microsoft's browser a lot closer to the functionality available in Firefox.

Of course changing the favories is a breeze - but I bet fewer no how to do it than we might all imagine. Microsoft getting closer to Yahoo is good for Yahoo and a move Google needs to watch closely. All this publicity is of course good for Firefox who will now need to launch the next version of their increasingly popular browser to step ahead of IE7!

And if all this is making you dizzy then just stick with

Friday, June 09, 2006

Apple's iTunes faces fresh legal attacks from Europe

Apple's iTunes music download service is facing fresh legal attacks in Europe.

Government consumer protection agencies in Norway and Sweden want Apple to remove restrictions that prevent consumers from playing songs they bought through iTunes on devices made by other companies.

And free market Britain may also be getting in on the act as the British recording industry's trade association, told a Parliamentary committee that iTunes music should be made compatible with other portable music devices. It was the first time the group had taken a public stance on the issue.

The UK is already partly agrieved as UK iTunes users have to pay 75% percent more than US users and 25% more than other European users to download songs.

The French Senate has already ruled against iTunes.

Apple will need to move cautiously over these challenges and there is a slim chance that the EU could pick up on this and legally challenge Apple for all of its 25 nations. I guess Steve Jobs has a plan: keep the monopoly complete for as long as possible and only open iTunes up as a real last resort - by which time iTunes and the iPod will have such a dominant position that they will remain hard to shake..

Me, I'm happy with my iPod for now!

Screen technology from Qualcomm can make mobile phones true 'media devices'

CNET today looks at new mobile phone screen technology that will enable phones to become contant broadcast type devices - add this to mobile TV networks to be launched later this year and the mobile phone can finally move to its next phase as a 'mobile media device'.

I quote from CNET:

"Qualcomm and others are promoting new screen technology for handhelds and mobile devices that can stay on all day without sapping battery life, thanks to the sun or liquids. As a result, a cell phone equipped with such a screen could continually broadcast stock quotes, news stories or show a music video to go along with a built-in MP3 player. Currently, phone screens stay dark--mostly by necessity.

The difference is that the new screens don't need to be backlit, as do current screens. Instead, they are primarily illuminated by light from the sun or the movement by liquids inside the screen."

This could prove a fabulous breakthrough!

US newspaper industry continues the decline - they need to grab hold of the Internet!

The US newspaper industry is likely to face a "somber" second half of the year, with circulation and advertising revenue remaining under pressure, according to an analyst's report released on today.

The report casts doubt on any hopes of a major recovery for an industry that has seen share prices fall by 15% in the last 12 months amid declining readership and a migration of advertising dollars to the Internet.

And it will not get better any time soon - for as younger readers grow, newspaper readership will merely decline further. Plus, the trend towards consuming news on mobile phones still has not kicked in. But in the next couple of years it will.

Newspaper groups need to grab hold of web based business models like a drowning man grabs a life line.

US politicians reject net neutrality - shame on them!

US politicians have rejected attempts to enshrine the principle of net neutrality in legislation.
This could mean that Internet providers start deciding on behalf of customers which websites and services they can visit and use.

The vote is a defeat for Google, eBay and Amazon which wanted the net neutrality principle protected by law. And they were right - freedom of access and information on the Internet is a key principle upon which it has been built.

And I thought that governments were trying to protect the Information have nots - this will only hasten a two tier Internet and a multi-class information society. Shame on the US House of Reps! We will all lose on this careless vote.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Apple hit three balls out of the park today!

Apple had one cracking day today.

First Apple's iPod music player surpassed beer drinking as the most ‘in’ thing among undergraduate college students, according to the latest biannual market research study by Ridgewood, New Jersey-based Student Monitor. Nearly three quarters, or 73%, of 1,200 students surveyed said iPods were ‘in’ — more than any other item in a list that also included text messaging, bar hopping and downloading music.

Second Apple's newest Intel laptop, the MacBook was names Gadget of the week by Time - and they were even quoted saying that Microsoft should look out!

And third (and by no means least) CBs's CSI and Survivior are now available for download at your nearest iTunes. Yep, go get 'em!

Cisco preparing for life after John Chambers

Cisco today announced that John Chambers would become Chairman as well as CEO, but would relinquish the title of President. In a corporate world that is increasingly splitting the role of Chairman and CEO this might on the face of it seem a strange slap in the face to corporate good behavior. Mind you they are a company with no independent board members as well!!

But, ah no, this is in fact corporate voodoo, mumbo jumbo for John Chambers planning his succession. The President role will soon be handed out to the liutenant that he and the board wish to see steer Cisco into the future.

Then in a year or two expect Chambers to become Chairman only and hand the CEO title to the President as well. Silicon Valley is finally growing beyond their swash buckling early stage leaders - just look at Sun Microsystems. Chambers is planning his transition slowly and carefully, as he should with a $25bn turnover company.

Intel discounting to fight back at AMD

Boy have the tables turned. Bloomberg has just announced that Intel customers are seeing unprecedented discounts from them to help them boost market share. And it used to be that only AMD had to discount to try and keep up with the chip industry's long time leader.

Mind you, this is all good for the PC market which has been screaming for some competition for a long time. It is interesting to see the Wintel partnership getting hammered at the same time. Intel by AMD and Microsoft by Google.

Both companies will recover, but life will never be the same for either of them or their respective spaces. And PC component prices will continue to fall and with them both PC and laptop prices.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Chip sales forecast raised again - thanks to consumer electronics and mobile device demand

The Semiconductor Industry Association said that sales of semiconductors would rise 9.8% to $249.6bn in 2006 compared with last year, up from a forecast in February of 7.9%.

And guess why? Well of course its consumer electronics and mobile phones driving demand yet again. Nice if you're TI - need to scrable even faster if you're Intel!!

TiVo jumps on Internet video bandwagon!

TiVo today unveiled broadband video downloads, marking the latest move by the digital video recorder company to expand its Internet-related services.

Through the new TiVoCast service, people can download broadband video clips to their TiVo boxes for free from a handful of Internet sites, such as woman-oriented iVillage, technology-focused (a sister site), entertainment-grooved, The New York Times, the National Basketball Association and Women's National Basketball Association, and news and political video blog site Rocketboom.

Apparently they plan to expand the number of web-sites they cover (boy will they need to!) and they will run ads alongside the videos to drive revenues. TiVo sure is fighting hard to differentiate themselves - and they need to given Cisco Systems and Motorola, are adding digital recording features to their cable set-top boxes.

I struggle to see though how TiVo survive into the future given that DVR will surely just become a feature within all set-top boxes and intelligent TV's. I guess their patents will help them for a while, but just piling into Internet video alongside everyone else will unlikely help them too much.

Oracle fights again to buy Portal Software

Oracle has extended a tender offer for all the shares of Portal Software, its second extension of its bid for the company in two weeks. The last offer expired at midnight Tuesday. The revised offer runs through June 20.

Oracle in April offered to pay $220 million in cash, or $4.90 a share, for Portal, which provides billing and revenue management software to communications and media companies.

Portal, once a multi-billion dollar hi-flying tech company has struggled over the last couple of years, since their founder fought with their ex-CEO and ousted him. A similar fate buckled i2 as well, proving how challenging it can be when techie founders of software companies bring in big company managers to help them expand and develop their business.

For Oracle the move is a sensible torjan horse into the Internet infrastructure layer within telecom and media companies, for Portal provides software which enables both to better manage billing and revenue generating services at high volume websites.

This could become a valuable application to drive more database and application server licenses into the telco/media space. Yet again, Oracle's M&A drive never quite ends...

Google founder fights for Net neutrality! Quite right.

Google co-founder and President Sergey Brin met with US lawmakers yesterday to press for legislation that would prevent Internet access providers from charging Web sites more for faster content delivery.

And he raises a good point - for Internet leaders such as Google would not have a problem paying for higher Net access fees for faster speeds - but all the smaller sites that they link to would appear more slowly when clicked on and so greatly reduce the overall customer experience when searching.

Net neutrality really is a bad idea in the making. The US government should lead the world in this raging debate and push back the telco lobbyers and CEO's. The US stands for open markets and freedom of access and speech - time they stood up for Net neutrality.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

HP on a rip again!

HP today raised its full-year guidance after it announced a beneficial tax settlement with the US Internal Revenue Service and restated its earnings for the second quarter.

HP is on a rip and even back on the aquisition path, particularly in its dominant printing business, where today they added to its stable of digital photography services with the acquisition of Silverwire Holding, a Swiss maker of retail digital photo processing software.

Print and photo services seems to be where HP is headed and they are determined to take on publishers and traditional photo-producers as they dazzle us with plans to enable Internet bloggers and artists to print their own books and pictures - and now they are determined to help us all to print our own photos wherever we are - at home, at a Wal-Mart and presumably in a Starbucks soon.

Then they just need do a deal to photo and image print enable iPods and they'll have the entire market nailed!

Apple launches new U2 iPod

Apple today released a new version of its U2 Special Edition iPod music player, with a 30GB storage capacity and 14-hour battery life for $329.

Like the first version, the black and stainless steel iPod has a red navigation wheel and is engraved on the back with the signatures of U2's four band members. The new model holds up to 7,500 songs, 25,000 photos or up to 75 hours of video, Apple said.

And when you buy it you get a coupon which delivers 30 minutes of free U2 video footage. Nice device - so when do I get my Red Hot Chilli Peppers iPod?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Google to launch online spreadsheet!

The Wall Street Journal has just announced that Google is about to launch an Internet based spreadsheet called Google Spreadsheet - oddly enough.

This will sit alongside their recent acquisition of a company offering Web-based word processor Writely.

Add recently launched Google Calendar , Gmail and an online presentation application and Google finally have the answer to Microsoft's Office - but free and over the Web.

Look out Microsoft - Google is officially after your consumer applications franchise!

VC's paying dotcom prices for tech and healthcare start-ups again - Oops!

The FT today looked at the price of early stage start-ups shooting up to levels not seen since 2000. Oops!

"Valuations of technology start-ups before investment have soared to their highest levels since the dotcom boom as venture capitalists seek to deploy large amounts of cash in search of the next big thing in the internet, telecommunications and healthcare sectors.

A study released on Monday found that the median value of a pre-investment start-up hit $18.6m in the first quarter, up $3m from last year. The figure is the highest since the fourth quarter of 2000, when the median value of a company before accepting venture capital funding topped out at $23m."

And we know what happened after the last early stage price bubble in 2000?! It makes you wonder whether the value of early stage tech and healthcare startups has gone up or whether VC's have got too much money again (and too little sense!).

Given what's going on in the stock markets currently and the recently ill-fated IPO of Vonage, the deal hungry VC's should move with greater caution. And consider shedding certain partners!

EMI supports ad based peer-to-peer music service - could it one day rival iTunes?

EMI Group announced it will make its music catalog available to the first advertising supported peer-to-peer service as the entertainment industry embraces the same technology that once nearly crippled it.

The new service called Qtrax, developed by New York-based LTDnetwork and slated for launch later this year, will give consumers the ability to download music for free after watching ads, or the option of paying for a premium subscription version.

Ad based Internet music and TV/video services are going to be successful - there is no doubt. The likes of Apple's iTunes should beware. Both ad based services and subscription models could be the hammer that slams the first few nails into iTunes coffin if they do not respond in some measure.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Yahoo CEO paid $1, a fistful of options and scoops a $40M pad in Long Island - its tough at the top!

Yahoo has granted Chairman and CEO Terry Semel an option to buy 6 million company shares as a retention incentive. (You betcha!)

The Sunnyvale, Calif., Internet company said in a filing with the SEC that it also set Mr. Semel's annual salary at $1 for the 2006-2008 period. Semel had received a $600,000 salary for at least the past three years, according to Yahoo's most recent proxy.

In addition, he will be eligible for an annual bonus in the form of a fully vested stock option for up to one million shares, the company said.

And who said option based exec compenstaion was dead. And it seems to be making Semel a pile (as it probably should given his success with Yahoo!) - for he just forked out over $40M for five acres in Long Island. WOW - all that on a $1 salary!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Microsoft and Adobe head for court battle over PDF

Just when Friday was starting to get a little unexciting - of course putting to one side NYSE's acquisition of Euronext to create the first major trans-Atlantic exchange and the fact that US employment is slowing and the US economy stalling - which actually makes it a particularly exciting Friday afternoon.

Anyway - back to the point. Just as Friday....(na, just kidding!).

I'll try a third time - so who heard the one about the Irish man and the Nun/bottle of Guiness. OK, ok back to the business stuff.......zzzzzzzz.

Microsoft and Adobe look set to go to court with eachother over Microsoft's supposed abuse of PDF in Office - where they give it away. (Hey stay awake - this gets more interesting I promise!)

Adobe apparently wants to get paid for people to use PDF, which seems only natural, if against Microsoft wishes, which will see Microsoft straight back through their revolving door at the EU. OK, so its not Enron - but Microsoft and the EU are becoming the Laurel and Hardy of the antitrust universe. Aren't they?

OK, go back to your Friday afternoon nap!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Blogs challenge newspapers for readership - its proven!

Blogs written by so-called citizen journalists are increasingly challenging newspapers for readers. According to a recent study by Forrester Research, blogs and newspaper Web sites now have the same audience share - about 17% - among Internet users between the ages of 18 and 24.

And blog readership continues to gow, while newspaper readers are often flat at best. Newspapers are desperately trying to ride the blog big cahuna wave but with limited success, which is not surprising given that successful blogs are generally popular for their very independence and maverick nature.

Perhaps newspapers should try a different tack and partner with interesting blogsites rather than trying to control the medium themselves. Now there's an idea!

AMD takes the fight to Intel!

AMD is challenging Intel ever more. Today they unveiled their new dual core mobile chip for laptops that should improve battery life and performance. And earlier this week they announced that they will be investing $2.5bn in Germany to boost production.

According to Mercury Research, AMD had 21.1% of PC processor shipments in the first quarter, a sharp gain from the 16.9% share it had a year earlier.

And today, AMD said it expects to increase that share to one third of the micro-processor market by 2008. Now that's one heck of a challenge to Intel - the glove has been thrown down!

HP wants to help digital content creators produce professional print versions without publishers!

HP, like everyone else is throwing themselves at the world of user generated content with a new service designed to help bloggers, digital photographers and others to reproduce their works in print and you don't even need a publisher!

The computer maker has developed tools to allow amateur photographers, small businesses and other customers to connect to an array of printing services using the internet.

HP will take advantage of its sprawling printing technology portfolio to “reconfigure distribution” between content producers and publishers.

By removing the distribution barriers between users who create digital content and those who can turn it into products such as books, calendars and posters, HP hopes to capture a greater share of the more than 46,000bn “pages” of content produced in the world each year.

Now that's the future - one where content creators and artists will be able to control the process from soup to nuts entirely themselves - from content creation, packaging, distribution and marketing. Step, by step - the tools are slipping into place. launches blog search to rival Google and Technorati! last night launched a brand new blog search service available at Bloglines, their blogging service, which competes directly with Google's

Instead of crawling the Web for blog postings to build an index to search like others do, is using the index already created and updated by subscribers to its popular Bloglines site for searching, subscribing to, creating and sharing blogs and news feeds.

Apparently that means that the service delivers more up to date posts (which is vital in the fast changing world of blogging) and keeps blog spam at bay. The latter benefit would be a huge step forwards.

And Bloglines also sorts results and structures your page affectively, it even allows you to sort posts found by relevance (whatever that means!), date or popularity. Of course TechBoard is there in all its glory - mind you we are fast becoming one of the more visited blogsites around!