Saturday, September 12, 2009

Will Twitter permit ads on website?

Twitter, the fastgrowing microblogging site now seeking ways to make money, expanded its terms for users to allow advertisers to reach the site’s more than 45 million monthly visitors.

Twitter, that lets people send an unlimited number of 140-character messages, is just now beginning to ramp up efforts to monetize, or gain revenue from, its popular site.

On Thursday, it revised its “terms of service” to specify that it may run ads. “We leave the door open for advertising. We’d like to keep our options open, as we’ve said before,” founder Biz Stone wrote on Twitter's official blog.

Advertising revenue is the time-honored way for websites to generate revenue while remaining free for users. Explosive growth in social networking is attracting interest: worldwide unique visitors to Twitter’s site reached 44.5 million in June, up 15-fold year-over-year.


IBM, Google, Oracle, Microsoft suggest newspapers ways To generate net revenue

Some of the world’s most prominent technology companies are offering suggestions to publishers on how they can charge readers for news online.

IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and Google — a company some newspapers blame for helping dig their financial hole — responded to a request by the Newspaper Association of America for proposals on ways to easily charge for news on the web.

But building the infrastructure for charging readers is one part of the equation. The other part looks more challenging: getting publishers to make the leap and stop giving news out for free on the web.

Randy Bennett, the senior vicepresident of business development at the newspaper association, said his group initiated the process after a meeting of publishers in May near Chicago. A report that was posted online on Wednesday by the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University includes 11 different responses from technology companies. Google’s proposal may be the most eyebrow raising, if only because the company — which aggregates thousands of articles from media outlets on its news pages — is so closely associated with the freewheeling ethos of an open internet.

Google proposed offering news organizations a version of its Google Checkout system, which is used for processing online payments. It would give readers a place to sign in to an account and then pay for media from a variety of sources without having to punch in their information over and over. And the company says it could offer publishers several pay methods, from basic subscriptions to socalled “micropayments” on a perarticle basis.

Along with the technology heavyweights offering ideas are tiny startups. CircLabs, run by just four people and incubated at the Missouri School of Journalism, is developing a program that would feed news from different sources into a bar across the top of web browsers. Martin Langeveld, the company’s executive vicepresident, said the application will offer both targeted advertising and the option of charging.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Will MindTree foray into China shortly?

Mid-sized software services firm MindTree will be making foray into China, having bagged a significant outsourcing contract from China’s biggest telecommunications equipment maker Huawei Technologies.

For the Bangalore-headquartered company, China marks new geography entry, besides already having presence in US and Europe. Confirming the development , Parthasarathy N S, CEO, testing & IMTS, MindTree, said, “We will be doing independent testing in the telecom space. This project has different phases and has potential to become large. The contract also allows us to move up the value chain as China has emerged a big growth market”.

However, he declined to name the customer as he is not allowed to do so. The contract deals with R&D and involves managing and supporting independent testing for Huawei’s different product line, where employees of MindTree will do the work at customer location, a person privy to the development said.

“Four companies were bidding for the contract, including an Indian firm and it was given to MindTree after complete evaluation of capabilities ”, the person said on conditions of anonymity. The company, which counts steel-maker Arcelor Mittal, Swedish truckmaker Volvo and insurer AIG among its top customers, will now be opening a subsidiary in China. Mr Parthasarathy said that they have sent techies from its India centres to China and will also look at option of hiring local talent there.

“China is an important market and we are evaluating to set up a development centre, but nothing will be decided till 12-18 months,” said Parthasarathy.

Economic Times

Infosys set to acquire consulting firm for $200 million

Infosys Technologies Ltd, India’s second-largest provider of computer-services technology, may buy consulting businesses for as much a s $200 million to attract more clients, the finance chief said.

Infosys also may buy similar-sized businesses that process transactions, or information technology companies, Chief Financial Officer V Balakrishnan, 44, said in an interview in New York. The company isn’t in serious discussions with anybody, he said, declining to name potential targets.

“Acquisitions are a lot like love,” he said. “We’re not in love. We haven’t even started dating anybody.”

Infosys, which is projecting it’s first-ever decline in sales this fiscal year, is turning to new services to increase revenue in the worst recession since the 1930s. Building the consulting division will help the Bangalore-based company compete in the US against International Business Machines Corp, the world’s largest computer-services provider.

Infosys will look primarily in the US and Europe for purchases, said Balakrishnan. The company gets almost 90 per cent of its sales from North America and Europe. It aims to more than double domestic revenue to 5 per cent of total sales, he said.

‘Niche’ markets

The company’s American depositary receipts advanced 0.8 per cent to $47.21 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading yesterday. The shares have gained 92 per cent this year. Each ADR is equivalent to one ordinary share.

The company plans to invest in “niche” markets, such as health care, Balakrishnan said. Infosys isn’t interested in so- called captive units, processing divisions within a specific company, he said.

Infosys is in talks with five to six clients to buy their technology units, B G Srinivas, a senior vice president who heads the software provider’s operations in Europe, said in June. The company is in discussions with two customers in the US and three to four in Europe, he said at the time.

Sales will range between $4.45 billion and $4.52 billion in the year ending March 31, Infosys said on July 10, marginally increasing the lower end of its annual forecast for at least a 3.1 per cent revenue decline made in April. Infosys won’t be able to predict fiscal 2011 demand until clients complete their budgets in January, Balakrishnan said.

Infosys and top-ranked Tata Consultancy Services Ltd won orders from BP Plc, Europe’s second largest oil company, the Indian software providers said last month, signaling clients may be resuming spending on computer services. Infosys declined to give financial details while Tata Consultancy said it may receive as much as $100 million a year from the BP contract.


Seven-year IT services deal signed by IBM, Qantas

According to a report the outsourcing deal is valued at up to $200 million which could cost up to 178 Qantas workers their jobs

IBM Corp. said that it has signed a seven-year outsourcing contract with Qantas, Australia's largest airline, for the provision of project delivery functions, as part of the airline's improved business efficiency goals.

David Hall, Qantas executive manager of corporate services and technology, said the agreement with IBM will enable a fast transformation, increased efficiencies, and improved customer experience.

"Qantas believes the partnership with IBM will give us access to IBM's scale, strength, expertise, and the latest tools and technologies available in the global marketplace. We are confident that IBM will deliver significant benefits to our business," he said.

Under the contract, Qantas will gain access to IBM's deep research, analytics and business optimization capabilities.

"Qantas' partnership with IBM represents a major step towards the airline's mission to lead and innovate in the competitive airline industry," said Katie Bambrick, IBM Global Business Services Managing Partner for Australia and New Zealand.

"Drawing on IBM's advanced technologies and the airline industry expertise IBM has built over the last half-century, this partnership has an exciting future," said Ms Bambrick.

According to Australian IT the outsourcing deal with IBM is valued at up to $200 million which could cost up to 178 workers their jobs.

Staff at Qantas's project delivery team are set to transfer to IBM as part of the deal. Those who do not accept new employment terms from IBM will be forced to take redundancy, the report said.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Highest software budget for 2009-10 comes from APJ firms

Asia Pacific companies plan to increase their software budgets by 4.4 percent on average in 2010, while overall IT budgets was expected to decline by 3.1 percent on average, according to the latest survey by Gartner. More organizations in Asia Pacific (38 percent) expect to increase their software budgets in 2010 than their overall IT budget (31 percent).

"For most organizations, the budgeting process happens once a year, but adjusting the IT budget is a continuous exercise that is driven by economic conditions and changes in the business," said Gartner Research Director Yanna Dharmasthira. "In the midst of economic volatility, hardware budget allocation remains the top priority in most countries, but software budgets are a real bright spot and continue to demonstrate a positive outlook, although more cautious when compared with last year's survey."

The survey showed that the average expected increase in software budget of 4.4 percent in Asia Pacific is higher than all other regions surveyed including Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), North America and Latin America. India-based respondents are consistently the most optimistic, with the highest number of respondents intending to increase their IT budget in 2010 (42 percent), followed by China (32 percent). On the other hand, Malaysia-based respondents remain pessimistic, with the largest number of respondents intending to decrease their spending (52 percent), followed by Singapore (48 percent of respondents).

The respondents of this survey were asked whether they expected their 2010 IT budget to be below, the same or exceed their IT budget for 2009. Gartner surveyed 323 IT managers in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, China, India and Hong Kong, as part of a worldwide survey of 982 respondents, to help business and IT managers compare their enterprise IT spending with peer organizations.

Software is expected to represent the second-largest portion of the IT budget in most countries, with the exception of India (where software and hardware spend are roughly equal) and Australia (where spending is notably higher on IT staff). India is the most aggressive with the highest software budget allocation (26.9 percent), followed by Singapore (25.8 percent), Malaysia (24.1 percent) and China (23.1 percent).

India is also the most optimistic in software spending, with the average expected change in software budget of plus 10 percent. Dharmasthira said that vendors should revisit their potential customer list, as they may have shifted in terms of geography, as well as market segments. "Software vendors should not only focus sales efforts on traditional hot spots such as India and China, but look at opportunities in mature markets too. The intentions to increase software budget have become more varied among different countries and organizations, presenting good opportunities in a mix of developed and emerging countries," said Dharmasthira.


$1.5 billion investments from EMC in India

EMC said it will invest an incremental $1.5 billion in India over the next five years. The plans include for a new campus in Begalaru which will be one of EMC's largest R&D centers outside the US.

This investment plan represents a nearly threefold increase to investments made by EMC in India over the previous five years.

"India offers tremendous opportunities in innovation and market potential," said David Goulden, EVP and CFO of EMC. "EMC's commitment of $1.5 billion over the next five years illustrates the important role India will play in the company's long-term strategic APJ and global growth plans. The India COE will be responsible in helping EMC deliver more innovative, industry-leading products and services in the hottest technology areas in IT that meet our customers' most pressing needs."


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Check out the 'World's 50 safest banks' list

Not a single Indian bank has made it to the 'World's 50 safest banks' list. This is despite the fact that during recession, when banks in the U.S. and Europe needed government support for survival, banks in India were strong enough to sustain on their own.

New York based Global Finance ranks the banks worldwide annually through a comparison of long-term credit ratings and total assets of the 500 largest banks around the world. Germany's KfW Bankengruppe tops the list, followed by France's Caisse des Depots et Consignations (CDC) and Netherlands' Bank Nederlands Gemeenten (BNG). Credit ratings from Moody's, Standard and Poor's and Fitch have been used for this compilation.

A mid-year update was published by the magazine for the first time in March this year, due to the global financial crisis. All the major banks of Canada earned a spot on the list. Among them the Royal Bank of Canada earned the highest safety score, taking 10th place among the international banks. The only major Canadian bank not present in the list was the National Bank of Canada.

According to the magazine, after two tumultuous years that saw many of the world's most respected banks drop out of the top 50 safest banks list, the dust appears to be settling. Those banks that kept an alert before the financial crisis began have consistently topped the table and maintain their standing among the top echelon in this year's ranking. At the same time, the big name banks that lost their safest bank ranking during the credit crunch are still absent from the list as they struggle to rebuild their credit standing. Also, more than ever customers all around the world are viewing long-term creditworthiness as the key feature of the banks with which they do business.


Have IT cos skipped campus recruitment for 2009-10?

With Nasscom, the software industry's apex body advising its members not to go to campuses for recruitment, the placements at engineering colleges has dried up. However, although 2008-09 was a difficult year for training and placement officers (TPO) at engineering colleges, 2009-10 could be the most critical year for campus placements, reports Economic Times.

JN Pitambare, Dean of Sinhagad Institute says, "Normally, 75-80 percent of the placements used to take place by mid-August. However, this year I will be happy if I am able to place even 10-15 percent of our students by December."

SV Dravid, TPO, DY Patil College of Engineering at Akurdi, near Pune said, "Last year, we had placed 150 students by this time. This year, not a single student has been placed. I hope the situation improves by December." Normally the big software companies finish recruitment by mid-August, placing around 75 percent of the college students.The core sector companies used to come from August, but this year they are non-committal.

Companies have been telling TPOs that their placement requirements are yet to be firmed up since things are not planned yet or they do not know how many projects they will get. "Most of the core companies are in a dilemma. They have promised to come for placements by December," said TPO Federation President Professor Shital Rawandale. Not only are there fewer jobs on offer for 2009-10 but the companies are adopting various techniques to defer the joining dates of candidates recruited last year or even to reject them.

Top colleges like the College of Engineering Pune (COEP) are also facing problems. "Of the 576 students placed last year, only 150 have joined till now. For the rest of them, joining has been deferred from July to December," said Assistant TPO, COEP, SA Meshram.

Some of the selected candidates are being asked to take more tests. With the recession, singing of bonds has also returned. "Some small and medium-sized software companies now want the candidates whom they had already selected to enter into two-year bonds," said a TPO.

Economic Times

Monday, September 7, 2009

Make-or-break bet for Motorola as it takes on Android

Motorola Inc needs to spark some serious gadget lust next week when it unveils new phones to convince consumers and Wall Street that it's still a player in the global mobile industry, but the odds may be heavily stacked against it.

After losing market share for years, Motorola has made what is viewed as a make-or-break bet on Google Inc's Android mobile software, hoping the partnership with the giant Web company can help it win back customers.

Shares of the one-time market leader, now ranked fourth in global handset sales, jumped 11 percent earlier this week on investor hopes that the new phones could generate enough excitement to make Motorola's bat-wing logo famous again.

But while no one is expecting an iPhone-killer at the San Francisco unveiling on September 10, analysts say the risk is still that the new phones will not be unique enough to wow consumers, especially when other vendors also sell Android phones. "Early devices will not be significantly differentiated and could disappoint those playing the 9/10 launch," said Macquarie Research analyst Phil Cusick, who expects Motorola to display two new Android phones that day.

Motorola has given few details about the announcement, which will come during Co-Chief Executive Sanjay Jha's keynote at GigaOm's mobile conference. Jha first revealed his plans for creating Android phones in October.

He has said the new phones will be integrated with popular online social networks; but rivals such as Apple Inc, Research in Motion Ltd, HTC Corp and Palm Inc already have features for services like Facebook.

Shareholders have been impressed enough with Jha that they have more than doubled Motorola's share price since May. Still, the stock is down 70 percent from its 2006 peak of $26 and has been trading below $8 per share. "It's going to be extremely significant to the company's future," said Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart. "If the phone does well, they live to fight another day."

Comparisons will inevitably be drawn to Palm's Pre phone unveiling, which was also seen as a last chance for that company. Pre reception was good and caused Palm's share price to quadruple, in part on the perception that the company has become a more attractive takeover target.

Should the initial reaction to Motorola's devices be as strong, the company could have a good chance of luring back consumers, investors and mobile service providers, analysts say.


Motorola turned to Google for phone software because its own strength has been in hardware. This was demonstrated by the Razr, whose slim form inspired imitations for two years before it started to fall out of favor in late 2006.

Analysts expect Motorola's new phones to have stylish enough hardware to secure distribution by mobile carriers, but the question is whether the software will be different enough to spur holiday season sales -- especially when the bar has been set very high by Apple's iPhone and the thousands of apps available for download from Apple's online store.

"Short-term, Motorola needs to win the purchase decision of specific carriers," Greengart said. "Long-term, they're going to need to do something more than selling pretty hardware running an operating system other competitors have access to."

Motorola's Jha has said several times that carriers were impressed with the Android phones. He told Reuters in a recent interview that he was encouraged when one operator executive told him "bat-wings are back."

Analysts expect Motorola Android phones to be sold by Verizon Wireless, owned by Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group Plc, and by T-Mobile USA, owned by Deutsche Telekom AG. But Verizon said it is not involved in Motorola's announcement next week. T-Mobile said it will launch new Android phones this year but declined to give details.

Even if carriers did back the phone, some of Motorola's former shareholders say they would be wary of betting on the company unless it started to show sustainable improvements.

"I wouldn't touch the stock until they've launched three, four or five phones and they've gained market share for at least a year," said Jane Snorek, an analyst for First American Funds, which manages $35 billion in equities that used to include Motorola shares.

Deutsche Bank analyst Brian Modoff said he is impressed by Jha but agreed that investors should look beyond September 10. "If you get to several phones and they're all disappointing, then you have to start writing the obituary. I don't see that," said Modoff. He said he will focus on the reaction from young consumers who crave cool gadgets: "We'll see what the 20-year-olds think. That's what really matters."


Battle hots up for T-Mobile bidding

MOBILE phone operators Vodafone and O2 are understood to be locked in a £3.5bn bid battle for rival T-Mobile UK.

Both Newbury-based Vodafone and O2 - which is owned by Telefonica Spain - are reported to have bid £3.5bn for the group which has been put up for sale by its German owner Deutsche Telekom.

T-Mobile has 16.6 million customers, so success for either group would make it the biggest mobile operator in the UK.

But there are concerns that T-Mobile UK could be withdrawn from sale altogether, as the offers, which were discussed by Deutsche Telekom's board at the end of last month, are below the expectations of the group's chief executive, Rene Obermann.

A sale at £3.5bn would lead to Deutsche Telekom having to make another writedown on the division after the group took a £1.6bn hit on the business in May, as a result of it losing customers to rivals and declining margins.

The auction is understood to be in its final stages and a decision is expected to be announced in the next few weeks.

If Vodafone was successful in its bid, the deal would boost its share of the UK mobile market to 40 per cent of revenues and a near 50 per cent share by customer numbers with 35 million subscribers enabling it to overtake O2 and regain its crown as the country's biggest mobile operator. O2 would see its market share jump to 43 per cent if it is successful, building on the increase seen following its exclusive deal with Apple to supply iPhone handsets.

Telefonica is said to be concerned that O2 would lose its market-leading position in the UK if Vodafone goes ahead with an offer. But both offers are conditional as any deal is likely to be scrutinised by telecoms regulator Ofcom.

Bankers are understood to have given T-Mobile UK a standalone value of £2.5bn, but this could rise by a further £1bn if it was combined with another operator.


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