MediaFile

Tech wrap: Microsoft presses pause on Web TV

Microsoft has put its talks with media companies about an online subscription service for TV shows and movies on hold, according to people familiar with the discussions. The company had been in intense talks with potential programming partners for over a year and was hoping to roll out the service in the next few months. But it pulled back after deciding that the licensing costs were too high for the business model Microsoft envisaged, the sources said.  Microsoft is still working to distribute TV shows over the Web, focusing on delivering programming via its Xbox gaming system to existing cable subscribers.

Dell intends to launch its first consumer tablet computer in late 2012, marking its entry into a hotly contested arena that has already claimed arch-foe HP. The Texas company had dipped its toe in the waters with an enterprise-focused, “Streak” tablet. Chief commercial officer Steve Felice was coy about which operating system Dell might adopt — Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 or Google’s Android — saying both were viable options. But Felice did say he liked the feel of Microsoft’s touch-enabled OS, which would be well-timed when it emerges later this year.

According to an Ipsos/Reuters poll, more than 10 percent of parents around the world say their child has been cyberbullied and nearly one-fourth know a youngster who has been a victim. The online poll of more than 18,000 adults in 24 countries, 6,500 of whom were parents, showed the most widely reported vehicle for cyberbullying was social networking sites likes Facebook, which were cited by 60 percent. Mobile devices and online chat rooms were a distant second and third.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s command center routinely monitors dozens of popular websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, WikiLeaks and news and gossip sites including the Huffington Post and Drudge Report, according to a government document. A DHS official familiar with the monitoring program said that it was intended purely to enable command center officials to keep in touch with various Internet-era media so that they were aware of major, developing events to which the Department or its agencies might have to respond.

Two Dutch cable companies were ordered by a court to block access to the website The Pirate Bay to prevent the illegal downloading of free music, films and games in case brought on behalf of the entertainment industry.

Tech wrap: Groupon rethinks IPO

Groupon called off an IPO roadshow slated for next week because of market volatility, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Internet coupons site is reassessing the timing for an offering on a week-by-week basis, the newspaper added, citing an unidentified source. Some on Wall Street have questioned Groupon’s financial disclosures, while others are concerned the company’s rapid growth is starting to slow in North America. Groupon CEO Andrew Mason sent a memo to employees recently that was widely reported in the media, in which he blasted critics in the press and on Wall Street.

Sprint filed a lawsuit to stop AT&T’s $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA in the same federal court that is to hear the Department of Justice’s case opposing the buyout. Sprint said the combination would lead to higher prices for consumers and create a duopoly between AT&T and Verizon Communications. Also, Sprint argued that if the deal goes through, a combined AT&T and T-Mobile would have the ability to use its control over roaming and spectrum, and its increased market position to exclude competitors.

Dell and China’s top search engine Baidu plan to jointly develop tablet computers and mobile phones, targeting the Chinese market dominated by Apple and Lenovo. Dell declined to give a timeline for the launch of the devices, but local media quoted sources saying that it may be as early as November. Baidu launched a new mobile application platform last week and offered a glimpse of its upcoming mobile operating system, which it hopes will serve a growing number of users accessing the Internet from smartphones and tablet computers.

Tech wrap: Blame game at HP

What is responsible for Hewlett-Packard’s bleak profit outlook? Ask CEO Leo Apotheker and he’ll blame it on “missed opportunities” in a troubled division under his predecessor Mark Hurd.

Apotheker, who took over in September, plans to spend heavily to revamp the beleaguered unit to focus on consulting, cloud computing and higher-margin businesses.

Dell reported profits that blew past Wall Street estimates and raised its fiscal 2012 outlook for operating income for fiscal 2012, sending shares in the No.2 PC maker up in after-hours trading.

Michael Dell: We’re hiring, but show me your skills

USA/Michael Dell says — in no uncertain terms — that his company, which shed thousands of jobs over the past few years, is hiring. There’s only one problem: it can’t find enough qualified people.

“I’m amazed at this,” he said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday at the company’s Round Rock, Texas headquarters. Dell employs around 100,000 people.

“We go in our meetings and we need more of these, and more of these people –hiring, hiring, hiring. And then you look at 9.7 percent unemployment and you say: ‘whats going on here?’ The people and skills we’re looking for, they’re not there. And so, the educational institutions need to do a better job creating these new skills.”

from Summit Notebook:

Dell: stay tuned for “Streak”

It's hard to tell how much anticipation there is out there for Dell's upcoming "Streak" micro-tablet. The No. 3 PC maker's latest foray into a consumer arena that Apple's iPad has essentially helped create is set to hit stores this summer in the United States.

Consumer business unit chief Steve Felice told the Reuters Global Technology Summit that Dell isn't interested in becoming the No. 1 player in the smartphone and tablet mobile devices categories, where Apple and Google are waging a very high-profile war. But the former leader in personal computers fully intends to be a "top-tier player".

streak1"We look at this whole thing as an experience between the computer and the remote device. We still view these as complementary devices," he said.

Dell says it won’t chase Apple in tablet race

dellstreakThe iPad is officially on the market, and here come its rivals. Dell and HP, among many others, are planning to bring their own touchscreen tablets to consumers some time this year.

Dell will launch a 5-inch tablet (said to be called “Streak,” although the company has not officially bestowed a name) in the next three to six months with a yet-to-be-named wireless carrier (AT&T would make a lot of sense, given that it will carry Dell’s first U.S. smartphone later this year).

Neeraj Choubey, general manager of Dell’s tablet division, said the company deliberately stayed clear of the iPad launch so as not to be too closely associated with the device.  The iPad, at 9.7 inches, is nearly twice the size of Dell’s tablet.

Dell tablet rumored for CES

dellThe latest buzz online is that Dell is planning to unveil a tablet PC, possibly using the gala Consumer Electronics Shows in Las Vegas next month for its debut. The details provided by gadget site Pocket-lint are a little bare, but the technology zeitgeist is tablet-obsessed at the moment, so the rumor is raising plenty of eyebrows.

The device is supposed to sport a 5-inch screen (not exactly tablet-esque dimensions) and run on Google’s Android platform. The report said the gadget will be introduced in the U.K. next year.

Dell declined to comment.

Dell recently announced its entry into the smartphone market with its Mini 3 smartphone in China and Brazil. It has also formed a new business unit to focus on developing mobile and communications devices of “various screen sizes,” including mobile Internet devices (or MIDs), as a spokesman said last week.

from Breakingviews:

Tech services deals count on more with less

Xerox button

The U.S. computer services industry is back in favor, after a decade of struggling to cut costs and compete with offshore firms from India and elsewhere. At least that would be the obvious conclusion to draw from a recent string of multibillion-dollar deals.

Xerox has agreed to buy Affiliated Computer Services for $6.4 billion while Dell is paying $3.9 billion for Perot Systems. They are picking up where Hewlett-Packard left off when it paid $13.9 billion to buy Electronic Data Systems in 2008.

But what's driving these deals is not a bet on the improving growth prospects of the services industry. Instead, the buyers value computer services companies more as sales pipelines for their own products.

Apple reveals new data in green effort

Apple on Thursday unveiled an overhauled environmental Web page and green strategy, complete with some interesting new data. Most notably, the Mac and iPhone maker is now calculating what it calls its entire carbon footprint–including emissions generated by its products. As the company puts it, “what happens when we design them, what happens when we make them, and what happens when you take them home and use them.”

The approach is different from that used by PC rivals HP and Dell. Apple puts its greenhouse gas emissions at 10.2 million metric tons–a total that includes energy used by folks typing away on on their Macs.

In fact, by Apple’s calculations a majority of the company’s environmental footprint — 53 percent — comes from users plugging in Apple devices and using them. An additional 38 percent comes from manufacturing, with 5 percent from transportation.

from DealZone:

Pricey Palm attracts attention

If you want to take a bite out of Apple’s piece of the staggeringly huge (but difficult to quantify in $$$ terms) smartphone market pie, you’d better either have the magical new “thing” or be willing to spend to buy it.

As Anupreeta Das reports, Palm – one of the stalwart originals in the mobile handset space -- has remade itself into a terrific target with the success of its Pre. Palm’s stock got a jolt this week on talk that Nokia could be considering a bid. But as she explains, Palm may prove to be too pricey a purchase, even for those with deep pockets.

Since introducing the Pre, Dell, Microsoft, Nokia and Motorola have been mentioned as possible suitors. If one of these cash-rich companies was to bid for Palm today, it would be targeting a stock that has quadrupled this year. Complicating matters, “details on how many units it has sold are skimpy, making it difficult to value the success of Palm's turnaround story,” she reports.