No one likes a laugh more than I do, (insert long Monty Python skit here). I really did have a clever intro, but in the end what one person thinks is clever ends up being just plain stupid.
However, one person's stupidity is usually great humor for the rest of us.
The UK flavor of GameSpy has a great read posted that I could not resist sharing with everyone. They took the time to cover the best PR Blunders in the world of gaming. I suppose that in some way this could have been inspired by the recent announcement of the inclusion of a pair of working night vision goggles in Modern Warfare 2 Prestige Edition. After all when presented with an example of how to do something right I imagine that you think about how not to do something.
Take a break and give these a read. I think my favorite is still the beheaded goat by Sony.
Have a good laugh here.
Ah the days of hanging in the Mall, with nothing to do but get free refills at the food court. Just you and your friend Brodie...Um wait no that was a movie. Ok never mind.
No matter the Mall will not be the same as now there will be opposing boutique stores. Microsoft has announced that they will open their answer to the Apple store starting this fall.
The announcement was made at the Worldwide Partner Conference (seems like a lot of interesting things are happening there) by Kevin Turner Microsoft Chief Operating Officer.
Tuner said that some stores would open this fall with more to open in 2010. Tuner is a former Wall Mart Exec and has more than a few years of retail experience under his belt.
Turner even made the statment "And stay tuned, because we're going to have some retail stores opened up that are opened up right next door to Apple stores this fall," he said. "Stay tuned, just stay tuned."
Them's fightin words I think
While checking the news tonight I found something both interesting and highly entertaining.
Despite running a very dirty and misleading ad campaign against Microsoft and the PC in general Apple may have quietly asked for the Laptop Hunters ads to be discontinued.
According to Ars Technia, Kevin Turner told the Wolrdwide Partner Conference that Apple's Lawyers called him and stated that Microsoft needed to stop running the Laptop Hunter Ads because Apple had reduced prices on the Mac Books.
Now bear in mind that this is coming from an MSFT exec at a "pep-rally" but if this is true it is one of the funnier stories I have heard.
I do think that the ad campaign has Apple a tad worried as their recent commercials are leaning pretty far over the credibility line as it is. Add to that the success of the netbook and nettop and things can get worrisome.
More information here.
In a surprising case of Anti-Microsoft FUD there are reports on a survey conducted by ScriptLogic that people are using to claim 60% of businesses will not be upgrading to Windows 7.
The Survey is interesting. Here are some of the facts behind it. ScriptLogic sent out 20,650 questionnaires. Out of this 20,650 they received 1,100 back. This represents about 5.3% of the sampling.
Out of this 5.3% 59.3% said they had no plans to migrate to Windows 7. Now this is a misleading result as the question was:
"Which below represents the most accurate statement about your plans to deploy Windows 7?"
Possible responses were:
We have no plans to deploy Windows 7
We will likely deploy Windows 7 by the end of 2010
We plan on deploying Windows 7 by the end of 2009
We have already deployed Windows 7
Looking at the responses, if you are undecided you get lumped into the "We have no Plans" category and are part of an inaccurate data sampling.
A portion of the 59% may change their minds in the next month, we cannot know. As such this survey gives a misleading impression that a majority do not want to move to the new OS.
The very next question asked what was the biggest barrier to deploying Windows 7 with 42.7% saying Time and Resources, while 39.1% said application compatibility.
Now I am sure you would think these are very telling, but if you asked the same question about ANY upgrade you would get the same answers. This is where the survey fails. To make it valid they would need to ask if the companies in question have any planned upgrades and what are the reasons for/ for not doing them. If they correspond to the same reasons for not upgrading to Windows 7 it is likely that the cause is not the OS but maybe the fact that many companies are on spending holds. In thin economic times it is usually the IT budget that is the first thing to get cut. This could account for more than a few companies not upgrading anything at all in the next few years.
In the final analysis, the ScriptLogic Survey is misleading to say the least and is being used by many websites to show a lack of desire to use Windows 7 in the business community. It is further being spun to show a lack of confidence in MS products in general. Yet these articles often fail to point out that 39.4% plan on upgrading to Windows 7 within the next two years and that pre-sales of Windows 7 were sold out in many areas the same day they were made available.
Check out the survey here
After the announcement of Chrome the US FTC (Federal Trade Commission) began looking even harder at the relationship between Apple and Google.
As it stands it is possible that Google and Apple are in violation of Section 8 of the Sherman Anti Trust Act. This section covers shared directors and notes that it any companies that shares directors and have competing products that account for more than 2% or their revenue will be in violation of this section.
Apple and Google compete on many levels but most people do not realize it. They compete in the internet media market (YouTube and iTunes) the Phone OS market, the browser market and now the OS market.
This has sparked new concerns and has even opened up an investigation into whether or not they are in violation of Section 5 for unfair marketing practices.
Today Eric Schmidt has announced that he plans on talking to Apple's board about his role. This is a very timely announcement indeed because if Schmidt leaves the investigation gets dropped and no one gets in trouble.
There is a slight chance that the Section 5 investigation would continue but that is very doubtful.
First it was Norton now CA is having issues where their latest AV profiles are targeting Windows system files as malicious code.
It is simply not a good thing when your Anti-Virus starts listing off system files and says they are quarantined. It can really ruin your day.
According to posts at CA's Forum many people were receiving these false positives and causing systems to crash.
File infection: C:\WINDOWS\system32\net.exe is Win32/AMalum.ZZNPB infection. Quarantined
CA users we certainly upset and were told that a fix was on its way when they contacted technical support. Unfortunately the "fix seemed to make things worse.
CA has posted an official statement apologizing for the incident and says that they are working to fix the issue caused by an errant file.
CA's statement can be found here
During our visit to the Foxconn headquarters in Taipei today, besides looking at new products which the Taiwanese company has been busy developing in recent times, we had to ask a couple hard hitting questions.
We spoke with Andrew D. Ouyang and Sidney Tsai from the channel sales team - that's the folk who are responsible for marketing and selling its range of retail motherboards and othe products.
We asked Foxconn about the rumors floating around that Foxconn is going to quit the channel business of Foxconn branded and marketed products - and the question wasn't met with surprise. The answer we got that was that Foxconn are not quitting the channel business and that "we're still here", from Sidney Tsai.
And indeed they are still here - we had troubles believing the rumors when they first started a couple months ago or so. If Foxconn was quitting the channel business, why would they still be developing and selling new motherboards? Wouldn't they just fire all of their sales, marketing, product managers, engineers and so on, and be done with it?
The Foxconn channel sales group is purely focusing more on sales than marketing at this stage. More effort is being placed into direct sales, and as a result, it might appear as if Foxconn is going under from the outside. Foxconn had a surprisingly small presence at the large Computex Taipei trade show and according to Andrew and Sidney from Foxconn, it was because the head honchos decided to cut down on expenses and only personally invite its customers (distributors) to its private suite at the Grand Hyatt for a more targeted showing, while also keeping some of its upcoming technologies under its belt.
The channel sales group are also in the process of moving from their current office in Tucheng City to Nei Hu City in the next couple of weeks. And yes folks, they will keep making new products there. How about we rest these rumours?
Those seeking to make hi-def backups of their Blu-ray videos will have to wait a little while longer, but the option is in fact coming.
Last week the final specification for the AACS (Advanced Access Content System) for Blu-Ray was released, bringing provisions for making legal copies of Blu-ray content. While many have been waiting for the spec to be finalized, they are going to have to wait a little longer for the hardware that supports it.
In order for everything to work, three pieces of the puzzle need to fall into place. First is that the AACS center needs to get their authorization severs fully functional. Every copy that is made will have to receive authorization, making sure that only one copy of each individual Blu-ray is permitted.
Second, you will need the software to make this happen. Expect the big names like Ahead and Roxio to be on top of this ASAP and either make it available as a free update or include it with their next version of their software.
Finally you will need a BD play that supports Managed Copy. These aren't expected until mid-2010 and Managed-Copy enable hardware is not something the hardware industry will be forced to incorporate. It is optional for them to include the feature so expect some manufacturers to ignore it completely while others will more than likely only enable it on higher end hardware.
Gaming developer 3D Realms has closed up shop, following news that publisher Take-Two will no longer fund the development of Duke Nukem Forever.
Many remember 3D Reams for the FPS hits Wolfenstein 3D and Duke Nukem, two games that can arguably be marked as laying the foundation of first-person shooters. In 1997, the company announced that it was working on a third installment for the Duke Nukem series.
Many have criticized the aptly named Duke Nukem Forever as its 12 year development left most skeptical that it would ever reach the market. As sad as it may be, it appears the skeptics were correct.
All hope hasn't been lost quite yet however. Take-Two says that while they have pulled funding for the game they still hold the rights to the title, leaving the possibility of another developer letting the title see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Apple just posted its financial results for the second quarter of 2009 and it appear Apple is one of the few companies that are beating the recession.
Apple posted revenue of $8.16 billion and a net quarterly profit of $1.21 billion. That works out to be $1.33 per diluted share. Compared to last year, both revenue and profit were higher making this Apple's best March quarter in the history of the company.
Apple success can easily be attributed to its continued success with the iPod and iPhone. The iPod sold 11.01 million units during the quarter which is a 3% growth. However the big winner is the iPhone which sold 3.79 million units which represents a 123% growth over the same quarter last year.
"We are extremely pleased to report the best non-holiday quarter revenue and earnings in our history," said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's CFO. "Apple's financial condition remains very robust, with almost $29 billion in cash and marketable securities on our balance sheet. Looking ahead to the third fiscal quarter of 2009, we expect revenue in the range of about $7.7 billion to $7.9 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share in the range of about $.95 to $1.00."
It appears that things have come to an end for abit. Last year the company said that it would no longer manufacture motherboards, but would shift to the consumer electronics market. That seems to have changed now with the struggling global economy and parent company USI says abit will be no more.
The entire company is already in the process of liquidation and should be done in about a month. Marketing director Thore Welling emailed Hexus saying, "After 20 years in the market the abit brand now bids farewell, so it's also time for me now to lock the doors of the marketing department. That's it for good now."
We also rang abit's office in Holland and were told there was no marketing department. We did speak to someone in the finance department who didn't want to reveal her name. She confirmed that not only has abit not been selling mainboards since the start of the year, but has stopped selling any products whatsoever and the office is only being kept going to handle warranties.
It looks like nVidia's latest round of rebranding might come back to hurt them. In a move that many are saying is very misleading nV is rebranding the G92b (same chip that is going into the GTS240/250) as the GTX260 and GTX280 mobile.
Now it is nothing new for companies to rebrand, ATi, nVidia, Via just about everyone does it to some degree. Where the problem starts is that nVidia is labeling the G92b with the same naming convention as a much more advanced part. (GT200). This means that people searching for reviews or information on the GTX280M will also get reviews of the desktop part which is miles above the 55nm chip that will be used in the mobile part.
As of this writing there are rumblings of class actions suits and even legal action from states over this.
Read more here at Theo Valich's Blog.
If Nvidia labeled their mobile parts as GTS240/250, nobody would notice - because it would be a case of rebranding (in all honesty, ATI isn't a saint there either, branding some Mobility Radeon 2000 parts as 3000 series and then rebranding some 3000 chips into 4000). But in this case, the company is deliberately naming GTS240/260 as already shipping desktop parts - GTX260 and 280, both based on GT200 chip.
The list of differences doesn't stop there - we have a GTX280 consisting out of 128 shader processors (GTX280M), or 240 (the original GTX280), different memory controllers (256-bit vs. 512-bit) and the list goes on.
The potential legal part lies in the fact that if consumer types something like "GeForce GTX 280 notebook" in "accepted way of finding information relevant to consumer" such as search engines - consumer will find information and glowing reviews about desktop parts and potentially form a wrong opinion/expectation about the product itself. This is a slippery slope that none of IT companies slipped on, but as computers became a commodity, you can expect more and more watchdogs looking into the land of (rebranded) silicon.
Toshiba announced plans to acquire Fujitsu's hard drive business. The aquisition would make Toshiba the fourth largest global HDD manufacturer, behind Hitachi, Western Digital, and Seagate. Toshiba would still have to increase worldwide sales after the merger by at least 3% to topple Hitachi as the third largets HDD manufacturer.
Toshiba said it plans to purchase about 80% of Fujitsu's storage division in the first part of its 2009 fiscal year and that Fujitsu will continue to hold less than a 20% stake for "a certain period of time."
This should give Toshiba a huge leg up in the 2.5" and 1.8" hdd markets, both with conventional hard drives and SSD's. The purchase price has not been disclosed but it has been estimated the purchase will set Toshiba back at lease $1 billion.
Transmeta is once and for all a thing of the past as they were finally purchased by a Novafora.
This Israeli based Novafora has been around since 2004 and, according to their website, is devoted to delivering highest quality video on any display device, at anytime and anywhere. To do this they plan to build a family of video processors that are optimized for video and networks.
Having acquired Transmeta, the failed brain child of Linus Torvalds, they have some unique IP at their disposal. Looks like the system-on-chip market got some new competition.
Yesterday we published an article titled "BFG, A sinking ship?" and today spent a great deal of time following up with industry sources to uncover a tail spun out of deception and unethical business practices. For many months now a steady yet quiet flow of information has passed through the insider world of the industry, all leaving a negative impression of BFG and where the company is headed. At this point it is too early to draw a definitive line back to the sources of misinformation because it looks more like a draw by numbers picture than a clear snap shot.
Today we touched base with John Malley, Sr. Director of Marketing at BFG Technology Inc. John was very open to discussing both public and private information about the company and many of the sources he believes started this flow of negative information.
"We have caught a few of our competitors trying to compete on unethical grounds in the past and even confronted one individual." More disturbing is that the current bad press appears to come from BFG's own back yard. "Two former BFG employees left on terms left than ideal and have taken it upon themselves to contribute additional misinformation."
This explains the many months of behind the scenes chit chat that has been passing around the industry. To be fair BFG is not the only company that has been the target of the rumor mill in recent months and with the economy is a state of disarray they will not be the last.
When asked about the Best Buy Galaxy press release that was published yesterday John informed us that Galaxy will only carry a couple of low priced SKUs in the retail giant. He went on to say that since BFG focuses on the high end the Galaxy / Best Buy deal should not affect BFG and that Best Buy has been very satisfied with the company. This was later verified at Bestbuy.com and we only see GeForce 8400 GS and 7200 GS cards listed as of today. This is a far cry from the Galaxy invasion we heard about yesterday from sources close to Best Buy.
John went into further details about BFG's 2008 profits, "2008 brought the highest profits to date for BFG and we are not going away anytime soon."
We are certainly glad to hear it and wish BFG the best of luck in 2009.
Despite statements to the contrary earlier in the quarter AMD has now issued a warning that its revenue will be lower than expected.
The warning states a possible 25% drop in revenue due to the slow market. This includes a comment that AMD is missing out on the netbook market due to a lack of participation in that segment.
Read the more here.
On Dec. 4 the chipmaker drastically cut its sales outlook, saying fourth-quarter revenue will drop about 25% from the third quarter's $1.59 billion.
AMD blamed a cratering in demand for chips used in personal computers and servers, the machines that run corporate networks. The company cited "weaker-than-expected demand across all geographies and businesses, particularly in the consumer market." The company is scheduled to report quarterly earnings on Jan. 22. Its warning comes three weeks after a similarly dire outlook from rival Intel (INTC), which cut the low end of its revenue forecast by $1.4 billion on Nov. 12 (BusinessWeek.com, 11/12/08).
More iPhone legal woes are popping up. This time it is the browser that is being subjected to litigation.
EMG Technologies is seeking damages as well as future royalties from the fruity company. All this over the way Safari Browses around the internet.
As the title of the EMG Technologies' patent suggests "Apparatus and Method of Manipulating a Region on a Wireless Device Screen for Viewing, Zooming and Scrolling Internet Content" it seems they have a lot of ground covered.
Read more over at TG Daily here.
Since Apple uses technology outlined in EMG's patent and since Apple does not have a license to the technology, EMG claims that it has "has suffered damage in an amount to be proved at trial." EMG also said that "Apple threatens to continue to engage in the acts complained of herein and, unless restrained and enjoined, will continue to do so, all to Plaintiff's irreparable injury."
In the suit, EMG asks the court to confirm that its patent is valid and enforceable and that Apple has infringed on the patent; to prevent Apple from infringing on its patent; to order Apple to report how it will comply with the injunction within 30 days and to award damage, "including a reasonable
royalty and/or lost profits" as well as "pre-judgment and post-judgment interest."
Straight off of the rumor mill comes the rumblings of mergers out of Old Taipei.
According to Digitimes, due to the economic troubles of the past few months many manufactures are having overstock problems. This has caused many to restructure and introduce inventory control measures at the Tier One level. In some Tier Two cases the thoughts of mergers have arisen as a method for survival
The gloomy news can be found here
First-tier makers Asustek Computer, Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS), Gigabyte Technology and Micro-Star International (MSI) have already cut capacity and started inventory control measures.
Some second-tier makers are reportedly considering merging with other makers if performance in the next 3-6 months does not pick up. Some have also stopped production and are currently selling off inventory from the second and third quarters with no concrete schedule for restocking.
It's become apparent that Western Digital are looking to broaden their wings further and are currently in discussion with Fujitsu over the possible acquisition of their hard drive business, which would in turn give them a substantial boost in the mobile HDD market.
According to Japanese news-paper Nikkei, which is quoted by IDG News Service, Western Digital plans to acquire Fujitsu's HDD business unit along with plants in Japan, the Philippines and Thailand for ¥70 billion to ¥100 billion (US$661 million to US$944 million). At present the companies are still in talks, but if everything goes well, the agreement is expected to be reached by the end of 2008.
Western Digital commanded 22.5% of the HDD market in 2007, according to IDC, whereas market share of Fujitsu was 7.1%. Even though the combined company (with 29.6% of the market) would not be able to beat Seagate Technologies, which supplied about 35% last year, but Fujitsu has a lot of experience in making hard drives for mobile computers, which would automatically make WD much stronger overall.
You can read the full story at XBit Labs. Of course, both Western Digital and Fujitsu are yet to confirm its authenticity or likeliness of a deal being made.
Hot off the press, Digitimes is reporting that ABIT may begin phasing out its motherboard business after evaluating the success of its forthcoming Intel 4 series lineup of motherboard products. ABIT shipped three million motherboards in 2007 and while that may sound like a large number, it's a mere fraction of what the likes of ASUS and GIGABYTE ship. It had a goal of shipping six million motherboards this year but has since reduced its forecast.
While the report does mention that ABIT is maintaining it does not know anything about the speculation and will continue to develop motherboard products, it wouldn't be a surprise. ABIT's current batch of new motherboards haven't been that exciting and we even saw a motherboard released recently which didn't even include solid capacitors. ABIT used to be the one setting the trends in motherboard technology but now it is clear they are falling behind the eight ball.
We can partly confirm these claims as we have heard first hand that ABIT is already laying off staff and one long time and loyal staff member was not even phoned but sent a letter with the bad news.
Is this the beginning of the end for ABIT? We'll dig for more news during Computex next week.
Ryan Shrout over at PC Perspective is reporting live from an Nvidia press event in its San Jose HQ that Nvidia has acquired RayScale Software, a startup based out of the University of Utah that has built a hybrid renderer.
Ryan says that "... We are obviously very early into the news cycle and will be trying to get more information on what NVIDIA plans to do with this new acquisition. I can tell you that you won't see these techniques in games for some time - both the software and hardware need time to mature and be optimized; but it is coming.
The RayScale group purchase is brand new, and in fact the press release for this announcement won't hit until later today or tomorrow at the best."
This is a rather interesting turn of events especially with Nvidia and Intel currently at war over current and future CPU and GPU technologies.