Opinion

The Great Debate

Computer industry hopes lie in the clouds

ericauchard1– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

No one can easily define it.

But the next phase of the computer revolution is busy being born out of the ashes of the current economic crisis. The new approach delivers computing power as a service over the Web, like an electric utility, instead of making customers buy computers they manage themselves.

It goes by the hazy term of “cloud computing.”

Forget your tidy distinctions between hardware and software, networking and storage, the Web and the desktop. Most disappear as they merge into the cloud.

Clouds are located in centralized data centers that can house thousands of pizza-sized boxes, networked computers that can each process millions of transactions. They take advantage of the latest software that go by buzzwords like Web 2.0, virtualization and open source.

Always in search of the next big idea, the technology industry has latched onto the cloud as its big new organizing principle, once more normal corporate spending patterns return.

The CEO is the latest endangered species

ericauchard1– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

The revolving doors are spinning ever faster in the executive suites of corporations.

CEO turnover has reached an all-time high, according to figures kept by recruiting firm Challenger & Gray. Last year, 1,484 U.S. CEOs resigned, stepped down or were fired — six casualties every business day.

The Black Hole: How the Web devours history

ericauchard1– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Academics, family researchers and even baseball history nuts have noticed recently how some important archives of older newspapers from around the world have vanished off the Web.

The problems have surfaced since PaperofRecord.com, a collection of more than 20 million newspaper pages of papers ranging from the Toronto Star to Mexican village periodicals to newspapers as far as Perth, Australia, merged into Google News Archive.

Ad strategy at root of Facebook privacy row

ericauchard1– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Social networking phenomenon Facebook has beaten out arch-rival and former market leader MySpace by most measures of popularity, except the one that pays the bills.

While Facebook has outpaced MySpace in bringing in members — it has 175 million active users at the latest count, compared with around 130 million for MySpace — it has struggled make money from them. While MySpace is closing in on $1 billion in revenues, Facebook generated less than $300 million in sales last year, reports say.

The case for a broadband bailout

ericauchard1- Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

By Eric Auchard

LONDON (Reuters) – With world economies fast running out of steam, it may seem an unlikely time for cash-strapped governments to discover universal broadband access as an urgent national funding priority.

Yet in this financial plague year, the Great Broadband Bailout of 2009 is rocketing up the political agenda as the global economic crisis deepens further.

Outsourcing faces new era of scrutiny

ericauchard1– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Outsourcing, Indian-style, is challenged as never before by an erosion in business confidence that makes corporate spending, even to generate quick cost-savings, harder to justify.

“No New Investment” is the order of the day; cost avoidance, the mantra; zero percent, the growth target in the current era of uncertainty.

What Apple loses without Steve

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– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

“There’s probably no God” runs the slogan of an advertising campaign humanists are running on buses across Britain. But if the supreme being has his doubters, few question the importance of Steve Jobs to Apple Inc.

In a letter to employees on Wednesday, the Apple co-founder said he would take himself “out of the limelight” for six months after learning in the past week that his still vaguely defined “health issues” are “more complex than I originally thought.”

Do tough times draw TV-viewers to Web?

— Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

In the first global recession of the Internet Age, budget-conscious consumers are showing they no longer have an endless appetite for every new gadget or media service.

Many users are looking to eliminate overlapping services that offer more of the same old formula entertainment in a different package or on another device.

Cleantech stock implosion yields gems

– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Cleantech, with its intoxicating mix of high-tech promise and save-the-world bloody-mindedness, has fallen harder and faster in the destruction that has visited growth stocks in 2008.solar

Underscoring the sector’s risks, German solar cell maker Q-Cells cut its 2009 outlook on Tuesday, saying slack demand could linger until the middle of next year amid a growing industry price war. The stock lost nearly a fifth of its value in trading and the news sent down shares of rival companies.

Ecommerce loses immunity to economy woes

— Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

For years, Web retailers have touted their convenience and efficiency over conventional retailers, and enjoyed surging double-digit sales growth, especially in the crucial year-end holiday shopping season.

But the steady draining of consumer confidence reflected in recent government data and the latest market research reports suggest the online retail industry is bracing for a humbling first-ever year of flat or even contracting holiday sales.
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Ecommerce, for reasons tied to both the global economic crash and Web-specific factors, is poised to fall harder than the much maligned retail store industry, itself struggling with recent high-profile bankruptcies and widespread signs that consumers are looking to sharply curtail their spending.

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