SILICON VILLAGE

Friday, May 22, 2009

Is HP set to layoff 6,400 employees in 2010?

US computer giant Hewlett-Packard reported a 17-per cent fall in quarterly net profit and said it plans to cut two per cent of its workforce, or nearly 6,400 workers, over the next year.

HP said net profit fell to $1.7 billion, or 86 cents per share, in the second quarter of its fiscal year from $2.1 billion, or 87 cents per share, a year ago, in line with the expectations of Wall Street analysts.

The Palo Alto, California-based company, the world's largest manufacturer of personal computers, said revenue was down three per cent in the quarter which ended on April 30 to $27.4 billion.

Chief financial officer Cathy Lesjak announced the planned layoffs in a conference call with analysts after the release of the results.

“We will be taking some targeted action to structurally change and improve the effectiveness of our product businesses,” she said.

“These actions will result in the elimination of approximately two per cent of the HP workforce as we further streamline and simplify our organization and supply chain. These actions will be implemented over the next 12 months.”

The only bright spot for HP in the quarter was in its services business, which notched up an operating profit of $1.17 billion in the quarter due to its purchase last year of EDS. “Our services business continued to deliver strong profitability with an increased deal pipeline and the EDS integration tracking ahead of schedule,” said HP chairman and chief executive Mark Hurd.

HP said revenue from its enterprise storage and servers division fell 28 per cent to $3.5 billion while software revenue declined 15 per cent to $880 million. Computer shipments were flat in a “challenging environment” and the division saw revenue fall 19 per cent to $8.2 billion. Revenue from laptop computers was down 13 per cent while desktop computer revenue fell 24 per cent.

Operating profit for the division fell to $374 million from $544 million a year ago. The imaging and printing group saw revenue decline by 23 per cent to $5.9 billion and operating profit fall to $1.1 billion from $1.2 billion a year earlier.

HP said revenue grew nine per cent in the Americas to $12.1 billion and declined by 11 per cent in Europe, the Middle East and Africa to $10.6 billion. Revenue fell 10 per cent in Asia Pacific to $4.7 billion.

HP said it expects third quarter revenue to be flat and full fiscal year revenue to decline by four per cent to five per cent with full-year earnings per share of between $3.76 to $3.88.

Agencies

AT&T outlets to sell netbooks across USA

AT&T Inc plans to expand sales of netbook computers to all its stores in an effort to expand wireless services beyond cell
phones.

Ralph de la Vega, the head of AT&T's consumer business, said on Tuesday that the US phone company would directly sell netbooks from Dell Inc, Acer Inc and Lenovo Group Ltd starting this summer.

Until now, only AT&T stores in Atlanta and Philadelphia, and consumer electronics retailers RadioShack Corp and Costco, have been selling the netbooks, which come with AT&T mobile data connections.

"We're taking broadband and really making it mobile," de la Vega said at the Reuters Global Technology Summit in New York.

While sales of netbooks are expected to be boosted by promotions from carriers, some analysts have said that consumer enthusiasm could be muted by the requirement to sign up for two-year wireless service contracts and the $60-a-month data connection fees that come with the devices.

AT&T said in April it was testing a $40-per-month fee for 200 megabytes of data downloads to netbooks, or about 1/25th of the downloads allowed under the $60 service.

AT&T's bigger mobile rival Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group Plc, started selling netbook computers from Hewlett-Packard Co earlier this week.

Agencies

Technology can pull US out of crisis, says Bill Gates

Technology can pull the United States out of recession and help the world's ailing financial markets work better, Microsoft Corp
Bill Gates Chairman Bill Gates told a high-level business summit at the company he co-founded.

"The drug companies will get back in high productivity mode. The software, IT revolution -- we're just at the start of that," said Gates at Microsoft's annual CEO Summit at the company's campus near Seattle.

"What we can do for education, communication, and what that looks like for the efficiencies of world markets, we are just at the beginning of that."

Gates, who focuses on health and education issues at his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation since giving up his day-to-day role at the world's largest software company last year, made the remarks at the private event.

"The opportunities for innovation are stronger today than ever," Gates told the audience, which included billionaire investor Warren Buffett -- the world's second richest man behind Gates himself -- alongside News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch and Amazon.com Inc Chief Executive Jeff Bezos.

Despite the fact that Microsoft is laying off 5,000 employees, Chief Executive Steve Ballmer also struck an optimistic note, saying the business world is only "coming into halftime" of the Internet revolution.

He downplayed fears that the recession would choke off investment in technology start-ups from venture capital (VC) firms. "The VCs are pulling back," said Ballmer. "The seventh, eighth, and ninth copy of the idea won't get funded today, but most good propositions are still going to get funded. There's plenty of venture capital out there, relative to ideas."

He said research and development spending was also strong. "I don't know anybody in our industry actually who's cutting their R&D budget," said Ballmer. "I know people who are doing a lot of different things, but most people are not slashing their R&D budget."

Microsoft's research chief Craig Mundie said in February the company was not cutting back on its $9 billion R&D budget this fiscal year.

Agencies

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Potential market in India -- Gaming and E-Commerce

"We have seen big uptake in digital entertainment and people spend more time now playing online Games. Gaming market is growing at 20 percent," said Patrick McGovern, Founder and Chairman of IDG at annual Global review meeting of IDG ventures family of funds from across five countries - China, India, Vietnam, South Korea and U.S. IDG has already invested in 3D solid compression, a mobile gaming company and Kreeda Games India, an online gaming company.

Apart from gaming, e-marketing, healthcare, telecom, are few of the possible ventures that IDG is planning to invest in. "With the launch of 3G technology in India telecom industry will have many opportunities," said McGovern.

But can E-commerce be really a potential market in India? "We do realize that the market is not the same here as compared to U.S. but people can still shop with the debit card or shopping cards. The reluctance to use cards for online transactions is disappearing slowly. People used to think that online travelling won't work but look how successful it is in India right now," says Manik Arora, Founder and Managing Director, IDG ventures India.

IDG has already invested in nine companies in India and all these companies come from different sectors like mobile applications, security services, media electronics, online games and advertising. Aujas Networks, ConnectM Technology Solutions, Perfint Healthcare, Ozone Media and Myntra.com, are few of the nine companies which have all been successful so far and few have even managed to open offices outside India. IDG has been investing in such small companies because they believe that small companies will create much better products and opportunities. "People should have more choices in technology related products so we invested in small companies. We thought they can come up with breakthrough products and make an impact in global technology market," said McGovern

India is not only an attracting outsourcing destination but also has a large domestic market and a faster GDP growth rate than majority of the world. This is the reason why IDG feels that the technology sector in India has a great potential. "Now with the markets improving and stable political environment we feel it's a very good time to invest in India. We have already committed Rs 300 crore to our existing investments across software, telecom, mobile, security and digital consumer markets. We intend to commit our Balance Rs 300 crore over the next 24 months" says Sudhir Sethi, Founder, Chairman and Managing Director, IDG Ventures India.

SiliconIndia

Can messaging technology attracts rural mobile users?

India has emerged as the most favorable market for telecom players with the rate of mobile users growing at over 10 million per month. By end of 2008, there were 340 million active mobile users in the country. After focusing the needs of the enterprises, urban users and the youth, the spotlight is now on the rural users with most players looking at avenues to expand in the rural markets. Even though mobile phones have reached the rural areas, simple applications such as messaging is still a foreign mode of communication; the most common reason being unfamiliarity to English.

Realizing the needs of rural people, Noida based Luna Ergonomics, a texting technology company has come up with a software, which will help people send text messages in 11 major Indian languages by using only 'ek angootha' (one thumb). One just needs to upload the company's Panini software in his/her mobile phone and start using the texting facilities. But this technology can only be used only in mobiles that have java applications pre-installed.

The company has made available four versions of the software - Panini Basic, Panini Clever, Panini Premium, and Panini Touch. Specifications have been done according to the usage of every version. Panini Premium would offer a superior version of CleverTexting and different modes of Ergonomic typing on the phone than Panini Basic and Panini Clever. Major Abhijeet Bhattacharjee, Founder, Luna Ergonomics says, "Panini software also offers SMS compression, first of its kind in the world, increasing the payload of an SMS in an Indian language by over 300 percent. Once a message is compressed, it is sent in encrypted form."

"Other than mobile phones, this software can also be used in other devices like remote and set-top-box," he explains.

"To make this facility available to large number of people, we are in talks with phone handset companies to pre-embed the application on the phone. We are also trying to negotiate with well known retails," says, Bhattacharjee. This technology could be very useful for mobile marketing services, he adds. In the beta version of the launch, the company has witnessed over 50,000 downloads from all across India and world.

With an aim of providing better technology to connect all through regional languages in the country, Bhattacharjee, a retired army officer founded Luna Ergonomics in 2008. Prior to founding the company, he had worked in organization like Gurus Media, Monster.com in different posts. Under the umbrella of Luna Ergonomics, five employees currently work on the development of this technology.

The company plans to unveil its latest product in the siliconindia Start-up City event to be held on June 06 in Bangalore.

SiliconIndia

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

DU set to conduct its first online exam

It is not just the Common Admission Test (CAT) that will go online this year. Delhi University (DU) will become one of the first central universities in the country to conduct an online examination next month for its undergraduate science students.

A.K. Bakshi, director of the Institute of Lifelong Learning (ILL) under DU which formulated the online examination paper, said that for the first time students of the B.Sc course will be taking their environmental science paper online.

"It's just a starter. Students of the B.Sc course will take one of their qualifying papers, of environmental science, online. If a success, it should set a trend for more university exams to go the same way," said Bakshi.

A total of 2,500 students from 27 colleges will take the exam, scheduled in the first week of June. The examination will however be held in just three centres and that too in three shifts.

"For logistical and other reasons, the exam will be held in three centres - in Miranda House, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and Venkateswara colleges. Since it's for the first time that both students and teachers will be facing this kind of an exam, CDs and pamphlets have been distributed where the entire process is being explained.

"How does one attempt a question, how do you skip a question, re-attempt a question, submit the paper but want to make some changes again - everything is being explained. There will also be a timer which will keep telling the student how much time and how many questions are left. There is also a sample online examination paper uploaded on our website," Bakshi said.

The one-hour exam will have 50 multiple choice type questions of one mark each.

"Like in competitive exams, students sitting adjacent to each other will get a different question paper. In all the three shifts the questions will be jumbled; so will the options, so that there is no chance of cheating. Teachers are quite happy with the initiative and have said that the online exam will save them a lot of time in checking the answers," Bakshi said.

The online exam is a part of DU's larger plan to go the e-learning way. ILL has been working on making the entire teaching process, and now even the assessment process, more tech-savvy for a number of subjects. This, Bakshi said, is an attempt to keep up with the changing times and be in sync with youth.

With videos, animation, simulation, online quizzes and virtual laboratory, the aim now is to make learning more fun in DU. It is expected that by the next academic session, the e-learning material for some courses like chemistry, physics, maths, life sciences and commerce will be uploaded in the ILL portal.

"There is something called blended learning. There are times when a teacher can't explain everything on the blackboard. With this initiative of using animation and visuals, the understanding of a subject will become clearer," Bakshi told the media.

Agencies

Is McAfee set to acquire Solidcore systems?

McAfee, one of the world's largest security technology companies, is set to take over Solidcore Systems, a provider of dynamic whitelisting technology.

Both the companies have entered into an agreement with McAfee paying $33 million in cash up front and an earn-out of up to an additional $14 million if certain performances targets are met. Following the agreement, McAfee expects to couple Solidcore's dynamic application whitelisting with McAfee blacklisting or graylisting capabilities to give customers a single security platform for dynamic application control across the enterprise. Solidcore uses dynamic whitelisting technology to protect against vulnerable or malicious applications and ensure that only pre-authorized software and code can run on servers, endpoints, fixed function devices and mobile devices.

This acquisition will provide McAfee with an added heft to tackle various security challenges and help users to safely connect to the internet, browse and shop the web more securely. Solidcore's strong foot hold in market will also help McAfee to extend its reach to ATMs, Point of sale (POS) systems, Multifunction Printers (MFPs), Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, mobile and other embedded devices.

Post-acquisition, the Solidcore team will be incorporated into the McAfee Risk and Compliance business unit, headed by George Kurtz, SVP and GM of McAfee.

The acquisition, which is expected to close in the second quarter of this year, is McAfee's third major buy-out since it took over Secure Computing for $500 million in August 2008.

Agencies

Monday, May 18, 2009

Will Seagate layoff 1100 jobs?

Seagate Technology said that it plans to cut about 1,100 jobs from its workforce in a move the computer storage maker expects will reduce costs by about $125 million a year.

The job-cutting move, which affects about 2.5 percent of Seagate's workforce, is aimed at helping the company stay on track toward being cash-flow and earnings positive within its fiscal year 2010. It builds on a 10-percent reduction in jobs announced in January.

As a result of the new plan, Seagate, which competes with storage company Western Digital Corp, expects to take restructuring charges of about $72 million, primarily in the quarter ending in June.

Analysts said Seagate needs to make additional cost cuts like this, which may help it address debt obligations.

"The move will help the company avoid tripping its net leverage ratio debt covenant that was already renegotiated earlier this year," said JP Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz, in a note to clients. "Seagate shares still face hurdles that could test investors' resolve in the slower summer months."

Seagate has been no stranger to restructuring in recent months as it deals with slow sales in the personal computer industry, which most others has seen demand shrink during the global economic downturn.

Back in December it said it would halt some operations during the holiday season and cut some 5 percent of its workforce.
About one month ago, on the same day that it reported disappointing quarterly gross margins, it eliminated its dividend.

The elimination of the quarterly dividend is expected to trim costs by about $60 million annually, the company said.

In January it replaced Chief Executive Bill Watkins, and Chief Operating Officer David Wickersham resigned. Chairman Stephen Luczo, who relinquished the CEO role to Watkins in 2004, has returned to the position.

Agencies

Will restricting of H-1B hurt US economy?

Asserting that "handcuffing" employers from hiring talented workers will hurt the US economy, two experts have criticised proposals
to limit hiring of holders of H-1B visas coveted by Indian technocrats as "misguided."

"In order to grow the American economy and support the American workforce, Congress should expand and improve the H-1B visa programme," said James Sherk and Diem Nguyen.

As adding regulations to the H-1B programme would be a serious setback to US visa policy and would only end up hurting the US economy, the Congress should instead raise the cap from the current 65,000 to the 2001 quota of 195,000 visas a year, they said.

Sherk is a fellow in labour policy and Nguyen is a research assistant for foreign policy studies at The Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank.

Referring to reports that two senators, Republican Chuck Grassley and Democrat Dick Durbin plan to introduce a bill that would limit the ability of companies to hire H-1B employees, the experts said an argument that H-1B visa recipients are a threat to American workers is "misguided."

"Given the current economic climate, handcuffing employers from hiring talented workers will hurt-not help-the economy, further delaying the ability of businesses to restart the national economic engine," Sherk and Nguyen said.

Many believe H-1B workers merely compete with Americans looking for work, the duo said. But "They are wrong. The US workforce is not a 'zero-sum game’, " they said.

"One hired H-1B worker does not mean an American is out of a job. In fact, the National Foundation for American Policy found that employers hired four new American workers for each new H-1B employee they hire."

Additionally, hiring H-1B employees does not lower the wages of American workers. Current law requires that when employers apply for H-1B visas
, they must attest that they will pay the visa recipient the same wage they would pay an American with similar skill sets.

Rather than limiting the ability of employers to hire H-1B workers by adding more rules and restrictions, Congress should ensure the federal government exercises appropriate oversight in enforcing current laws, Sherk and Nguyen said.

Preventing companies from hiring foreign workers harms the US economy's ability to rapidly adapt to marketplace demands, they said suggesting, "Companies must be able to hire persons best suited to fill positions based on their skill sets-not their nationality."

Agencies

Total Pageviews