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The poor economy has put the computer industry in quite a bad place over the last year or so. Many of the quarters in 2009 had some of the lowest sales levels in years. Over the last few months, the industry has started to turn a corner.
IDC reports that the computer industry is set to return to growth and is predicting in 2010 that portable computers will grow 18.1%. In Q3 2009 the industry grew 2.3% after three quarters of decline. Portable systems grew the most with a 33.5% gain from the same quarter of 2008.
The netbook market grew the most increasing to 28% of the consumer portable market from 14% the previous year. Net growth for 2009 is predicted to be 1.3%.
So the winners of the Intel Custom Desktop Challenge have been announced. The competition was open to modders around the world from October 5th to December 14th. Each contestant was required to build either a Core i7 or Core i5 system. This idea behind this was to show the range of possibilities open with the new Intel CPUs.
The overall winner was one called "Duck" it looks like a Liquid Nitrogen cooled system with a rather overabundance of high gloss red paint. Still this was a very interesting entry. PCGames hardware has a nice gallery of some of the top builds. My favorites are; "The World's End" and "Project COOL"
eBook readers are huge right now with an unprecedented demand for them this holiday season meaning that many of the new devices are unavailable. As eBook adoption grows, the demand for more content is growing as well.
Borders has announced that it is investing in Kobo, an eBook store, and will be investing in a new eReader. The eBook service will be built into the Borders.com website starting in 2010.
So far, Kobo plans to offer about 1.8 million books from the Internet that are available free. It will also have 200,000 other books starting at $9.99 each. What the eReader itself will look like is unknown, but Borders said that it hopes to reach the reader who only buys a few books each year. The device would have to be cheap to do that.
As you might have expected; Intel has just released their comments on the suit filed against them by the FTC. Intel claims that this suit will cost the tax-payers money and that the FTC failed to work with Intel towards a settlement.
"Intel has competed fairly and lawfully. Its actions have benefitted consumers. The highly competitive microprocessor industry, of which Intel is a key part, has kept innovation robust and prices declining at a faster rate than any other industry. The FTC's case is misguided. It is based largely on claims that the FTC added at the last minute and has not investigated. In addition, it is explicitly not based on existing law but is instead intended to make new rules for regulating business conduct. These new rules would harm consumers by reducing innovation and raising prices."
Intel senior vice president and general counsel Doug Melamed added, "This case could have, and should have, been settled. Settlement talks had progressed very far but stalled when the FTC insisted on unprecedented remedies - including the restrictions on lawful price competition and enforcement of intellectual property rights set forth in the complaint -- that would make it impossible for Intel to conduct business."
"The FTC's rush to file this case will cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars to litigate issues that the FTC has not fully investigated. It is the normal practice of antitrust enforcement agencies to investigate the facts before filing suit. The Commission did not do that in this case," said Melamed.
The suit also comes on the heels of Intel's announcement to invest $7 billion dollars in their US manufacturing operations earlier this year.
So it finally happened. The US Federal Trade Commission is suing Intel for anti-competitive practices.
What is surprising is that they are not just saying that Intel abused its market dominance to injure AMD, but also to injure NVIDIA. This last one comes as an interesting surprise to me. Although I will not say that Intel has been nice to NVIDIA. The claim that they are being anti-competitive there is something of a stretch. After all I believe that NVIDIA opened the war by refusing to sign a new licensing agreement with Intel for their CPUs with integrated memory controllers, then went on a rant about how the CPU was dead amongst other things.
But hey, I suppose all of that will come out in the trial. One thing the FTC was careful about was to make sure no one will try to piggyback on their suit by making it only an accusation of violating monopoly and competition laws. If the suit is successful the FTC wants to prevent Intel from unfair bundling, offering incentives, and exclusory licensing. The last one is a tad ridiculous to me as it is like telling someone they have to share all their hard work for free or at least very little.
The suit comes at an interesting time and with an odd angle to me. If it was a real anti-trust complaint then why lock private companies (like AMD and NVIDIA) out of it? On the surface this looks like an attempt to replace some government money at the expense of Intel. After all Intel just enriched the EU for $1.45 Billion and also dropped $1.25 Billion into AMD's bank account. I suppose the bean counters in Washington DC are thinking they need a cut too.
Despite the fact that open source software is free, the software does have limitations on how it can be used. Best Buy, Samsung, and Westinghouse along with 11 other companies have been named as defendants in a copyright infringement suit.
The suit was filed in New York City by the Software Freedom Law Center. The SFLC is a pro-bono firm that offers legal assistance to developers of free and open source software. The firm alleges that it has tried to contact the firms named in the suit several times and has been unsuccessful.
The suit alleges that the companies are violating the copyright on the Linux BusyBox software. Best Buy uses the software on its Insignia Blu-ray player, Samsung uses it on HDTVs, and Westinghouse uses the software on one of its TVs. Exactly what the plaintiff is after in the suit is unknown.
If you are looking forward to those new Intel Arrandale Core i5 and i7 mobile CPUs with the integrated graphics and are a Mac fan, we may have some bad news for you. A new rumor is floating around that claims the processor will not make it into Mac notebooks.
According to the rumor, Apple has passed on the Arrandale processors because they feature an integrated GPU. The rumor claims that Apple is asking for a version of the processors that has no integrated graphics.
Presumably, this request is to make things easier on its discrete GPUs like the NVIDIA 9400. Apple has used custom Intel CPUs in the past the MacBook Air used one.
NAND chips find their way into all sorts of computer accessories and storage devices. The NAND memory is often used in flash drives and memory cards. Samsung has announced that it is first to go into production with a new class of NAND chips.
The NAND chips are built on a 30nm process and use 3-bit per cell MLC technology. The 3-bit design offers up to 50% more efficient data storage compared to the 2-bit NAND chips commonly used today.
Samsung reports that the new NAND chips will be first used in USB drives and in microSD cards for data storage. There is no word on when we can expect to see products using the new NAND on the market.
Both Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) and eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) have come out for the better after Cyber Monday with both companies share pricing heading north thanks to word that online retail sales were on the rise when compared to the same day last year. There's also no doubt that word on the Kindle and its success for Amazon helped a lot when it came to the bump in share price.
Cyber Monday has been around since 2005 when used by Shop.org, who are part of the National Retail Federation. It's the following Monday after Black Friday, which is one of the most important shopping days for American retailers and marks the launch of the holiday shopping season.
Not all online retailers felt the increase in share prices though with overstock.com (NASDAQ: OSTK) and Blue Nile (NASDAQ: NILE), another two large online retailers, not getting any movement with both prices falling slightly.
My fascination with computers and hardware came out of a fascination with video games. I started on consoles and migrated to gaming PCs as time went by. Eventually the PC and its related hardware were as interesting to me as video games, such is the evolution of many a gamer and hardware enthusiast.
Of all the video games I have played over the years, some of my most favorite have been in the Call of Duty franchise. The latest game in the franchise, Modern Warfare 2 launched this month and racked up over $500 million in sales during its first five days of availability.
Activision has now announced that the entire Call of Duty franchise has surpassed $3 billion in sales around the world. That is a lot of video games sold and makes the franchise one of the most successful ever. It should also guarantee that fans have new CoD games to play for the foreseeable future.