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The European browser elections and other tech news links

Microsoft says the best way to resolve its dispute with European Union competition regulators may be an election.  The software giant spelled out late on Friday Brussels time plans for an election-style ballot to decide the question of which browser consumers use in Windows.

The forthcoming Windows 7 operating system would offer a "ballot screen" that lets consumers turn off Microsoft's own Internet Explorer (IE) and instead use rival browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari Google Chrome or Opera Software.

Microsoft browser ballot proposal

 There are two obvious issues with this approach: 1. Most consumers rely on default settings and rarely change their browsers once they are installed. Will more than a small percentage of users elect to change browsers at the moment they are installing Windows?

2. But the big question is whether the majority of consumers who haven't had much choice of using Internet Explorer over the past decade will find that their favourite Web sites work with other browsers. Sure, all the major browser alternatives are designed to support Web standards. But the issue will be the degree to which Web site developers themselves have played along and supported alternatives to IE. Of course the latest modern Web sites will work. But what about the hundreds of thousands of sites built for lazy IE users?

EBAY COURTS BIG RETAIL
eBay is set to announce on Monday plans to make the online auction site a more attractive place for large merchants to dispose of unsold or out-of-season inventory in another move away from its roots as an online flea market or garage sale, AuctionBytes says. EBay isn't commenting directly on the plan. But last week, Mercent, an indepenent developer of marketing systems for retailers, appears to have jumped the gun by saying it was offering a product listing platform for large merchants selling on eBay.

Dell and Palm – Who needs whom?

When Dell hired Motorola’s cell phone president Ron Garriques in 2007, the talk was that the PC giant was preparing to enter the smartphone market.

More than two years later, Dell is still without a handheld gadget.

Instead of trying to build its own smartphone, Dell should simply acquire Palm, said Collins Stewart analyst Ashok Kumar in a note to investors on Friday.

Kumar posits that a Dell acquisition of Palm would help both companies, giving Dell a hot new product in Palm’s recently-released Pre, while giving Palm the deep pockets necessary to hang with the big guys.

iSuppli Breaks down the Palm Pre

We know that Palm built the Pre phone, but who made its guts and brains? According to research firm iSuppli that distinction goes to Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, Sony, and Samsung Electronics Co,  the leading component suppliers for the device.  iSuppli cracked up the phone to see what’s going on inside.

Among the highlights:

* The Pre uses an advanced Low-Temperature Polysilicon LCD display. The display, made by Sony (although Palm may get such displays from others too) is a 16-million color LCD.
* The touch screen controller chip is an integrated circuit from Cypress Semiconductor.
* Its applications processor portion centers on TI’s OMAP3430 applications processor
* Its wireless interface portion revolves around the Qualcomm MSM6801A baseband processor.
* Elpida was identified as the supplier of its SDRAM.
* Pre makes use of Samsung’s flash memory.

Andrew Rassweiler, director and principal analyst of iSuppli’s “teardown services” said Palm took a more expensive approach to build the Pre than other iPhone-like smartphones.

When it comes to Apple, what’s a bargain? Its stock, maybe

The audience at Apple’s Worldwide Developers’ conference seemed pumped about the new high speed iPhone — and the price cuts. So, too, do everyday consumers, at least the ones I’ve spoken to. Bloggers? They also seemed pleased, for the most part. Silicon Alley Insider said that compared with the new iPhone, “the competition is nowhere in sight.”

But what about analysts and investors? After all, Apple is running a business here and whether the price cuts (and perhaps lower margins) and new iPhone features will make a difference in the bottom line is not to be overlooked.

Well, rest easy. Wall Street numbers crunchers had the same reaction as just about everyone else. J.P. Morgan in a note to clients raised its price target on Apple shares to $155 from $135; Barclays upped its target to $173; Caris raised its target to $170; Credit Suisse raised its taget to $165; and Susquehanna increased its target to $170.

Guess what? People are loving the Pre

The verdict is in: The Pre smartphone from Palm is a hit, at least with the reviewers. Sure, there are dissenters and everyone noted some problems with the device, including battery life, limited applications, and the fact that some programs simply loaded too slowly.

Still, for the most part, reviews were of Pre were positive. In fact, all the big names out there — Mossberg, Pogue etc — predicted it could be an real challenger to iPhone. That alone is saying something.

Since we’re here to save you time, we offer a review of the reviews…