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Archive for October, 2011

GCHQ chief warns of disturbing cyber attacks on UK

October 31, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Cyber Security, data security, Ecommerce, internet, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

The UK has been subject to a “disturbing” number of cyber attacks, the director of communications intelligence agency GCHQ has said.GCHQ chief warns of disturbing cyber attacks on UKSensitive data on government computers has been targeted, along with defence, technology and engineering firms’ designs according to Iain Lobban the GCHQ chief.

There was a “significant” unsuccessful internet based attack on Foreign Office computer systems this summer, he added.

Tomorrow the government hosts a two day conference on the issue.

Foreign Secretary William Hague convened the London Conference on Cyberspace after criticism that ministers are failing to take the threat from cyber warfare seriously enough.

It aims to bring together political leaders, such as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU digital supremo Neelie Kroes, with leading cyber security experts and technology entrepreneurs such as Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Cisco vice-president Brad Boston.

Mr Hague believes a “global co-ordinated response” is required to forge policy on cyber development.

Writing in the Times, Mr Lobban said such an inclusive approach was vital.

“The volume of e-crime and attacks on government and industry systems continues to be disturbing,” he wrote.

“I can attest to attempts to steal British ideas and designs – in the IT, technology, defence, engineering and energy sectors, as well as other industries – to gain commercial advantage or to profit from secret knowledge of contractual arrangements.

“Such intellectual property theft doesn’t just cost the companies concerned; it represents an attack on the UK’s continued economic wellbeing.”

Mr Lobban added that government online taxation and benefits services could be targeted in future, and said a black economy had already developed which saw UK citizens’ credit card details offered for sale.

The Ministry of Defence foiled more than 1,000 cyber attacks in the last year from criminals and foreign intelligence services.

The Foreign Secretary William Hague revealed in February that computers belonging to the government have been infected with the “Zeus” computer virus after users opened an e-mail purporting to come from the White House and followed a link.

He said cyberspace was providing “rich pickings” with UK defence contractors also being targeted.

A leading think tank, Chatham House, has said there is a reluctance by government to share information with the private companies that might be targeted.

It also criticised those same companies for putting up with an “unacceptably high level of risk”.

The government says it ranks cyber security as a top priority.

Last year it announced £650m of additional funding to help tackle computer-based threats.

Around £130m, or 20%, is specifically earmarked for critical infrastructure projects.

Nokia reports loss in the third quarter

October 28, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Customer Service, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, smart phones, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Mobile phone company Nokia has reported that it made a loss in the third quarter as it continued to come under pressure from other phonemakers.Nokia reports loss in the third quarterIt made to a net loss of £132 million in the three months to September, from a £289 million profit in the same period.

Net sales fell 13% to £8 billion.

Nokia has lost ground to competitors such as Apple’s iPhone and phones using Google’s Android operating system.

Shares in the Finnish phonemaker have plunged 41% so far this year.

Nokia said it sold 16.8 million smart devices in the quarter – 38% less than the previous year.

But the volume of mobile phones Nokia sold in total rose 8% to 89.8 million – reflecting its strength in cheaper and simpler so-called “dumbphones”.

The company’s new range of smartphones will use Microsoft’s operating system instead of Nokia’s legacy Symbian software.

“I am encouraged by our progress around the first Nokia experience with Windows Phone,” Nokia boss Stephen Elop said.

“We look forward to bringing the experience to consumers in select countries later this quarter.”

Earlier this year, Nokia announced thousands of job cuts as part of a 1bn-euro cost-cutting programme.

In April, it said it would cut 7,000 jobs – with 3,000 of the posts being transferred to consultancy group Accenture – as part of a strategy to focus on smartphones.

“The planned changes we have initiated are difficult, but necessary in order to align the company to our strategy,” Mr Elop said.

New ARM chip means cheaper smartphones

October 27, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apple, Computers, Customer Service, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

UK chip designer ARM has launched a new processor, which should allow manufacturers to make cheaper smartphones.New ARM chip means cheaper smartphonesThe company hopes the Cortex A7 will enable a mobile computing revolution in developing countries where current technologies are often unaffordable.

Consumers in developed countries should also see a benefit.

The ultra-efficient chip can be paired with more powerful processors in a “hybrid” model to reduce power use.

ARM’s designs are used in approximately 95% of the world’s smartphones.

A range of big name manufacturers have already signed-up to use the A7 processor along with the company’s “big.LITTLE” architecture.

Samsung, LG, NVidia and Texas Instruments were among those to throw their weight behind the technology.

Apple is also known to make use of ARM-designed chips in its mobile devices, although it has historically been reluctant to say so publicly.

Used as the sole processor in a smartphone, the A7 is said to offer comparable power to current chips at a fraction of the price, while consuming much less battery power.

Its silicon core is only one-fifth of the size of existing technologies, allowing a reduced production price, according to ARM chief executive Warren East.

“You typically make chips on a silicon wafer and it costs roughly the same amount of money for each wafer. If you can get 2,000 devices on a wafer or 1,000 devices on a wafer it makes a huge difference to the cost per device,” he told BBC News.

“We can see the developed world moving on and mobile being the nexus for all sort of consumer electronics. In the Bric countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) we are seeing catch-up.

“As we look forward these smartphones are going to be totally ubiquitous and in the much less developed areas, such as Africa, you will see smartphones becoming tools that people use to make their lives easier.”

Mr East said that the trend would happen regardless of intervention, but cheaper devices would greatly accelerate that, enabling smartphones to be produced for under $100 (£60) by 2013 or 2014.

In countries where price is less of an issue, the Cortex A7 may be combined with high end mobile processors to offer a powerful, yet energy-efficient package, ARM said.

For less demanding tasks such as checking in the background for email and social networking updates, the A7 processor would handle the work.

Using a technology known as big.LITTLE, the phone would instantly switch over to chips such as the Cortex-A15 when more horsepower was needed.

Although ARM currently enjoys a dominant position in the smartphone and tablet markets, the Cambridge-based firm is facing the prospect of stiff competition from Intel, which plans to enter the mobile processor business.

Its forthcoming Medfield and Clover Trail processors are aimed at the smartphone and tablet markets.

Office sales boost Microsoft’s profits

October 26, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Microsoft has reported a 6% increase in it’s last three month profits.Office sales boost Microsoft's profitsThe technology company said net income for the three months to the end of September came in at £3.63 billion  compared with £3.38 billion in the same period last year.

The results were helped by strong sales of its Office software package and a small increase in sales of Windows operating systems.

Microsoft reported record quarterly revenue of £10.87 billion.

With the growth of the tablets and smart phones markets undermining the PC market growth these top line growth figures are still pretty impressive.

Equally the growth of the free Open Office suite of business software must also be hitting Microsoft’s sales.

However, Microsoft shares fell 0.5% to $26.87 (£16.79) after reporting tehir quarterly results as the profit figures failed to impress investors.

Steve Jobs vowed to destroy Google’s Android

October 25, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apple, Apps, Customer Service, Google, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Steve Jobs said he wanted to destroy Google’s Android and would spend all of Apple’s money and his dying breath if that is what it took to do so.Steve Jobs vowed to destroy Google's AndroidThe full extent of his animosity towards Google’s mobile operating system is revealed in an authorised biography which is released today.

Mr Jobs told author Walter Isaacson that he viewed Android’s similarity to iOS as “grand theft”.

Apple is suing several smartphone makers which use the Android software.

According to extracts of Mr Isaacson’s book, Mr Jobs said: “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

He is also quoted as saying: “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong.”

Apple enjoyed a close relationship with Google prior to the launch of the Android system. Google products, including maps and search formed a key part of the iPhone’s ecosystem.

At that time, Google’s chief executive, now chairman, Eric Schmidt also sat on the board of Apple.

However, relations began to sour when Google unveiled Android in November 2007, 10 months after the iPhone first appeared.

In subsequent years Apple rejected a number of Google programs from its App store, forcing the company to create less integrated web app versions.

Android has subsequently enjoyed rapid adoption and now accounts for around 48% of global smartphone shipments, compared to 19% for Apple.

But its growth has not gone uncontested. Apple has waged an aggressive proxy-war against Android, suing a number of the hardware manufacturers which have adopted it for their tablets and smartphones.

Motorola was one of the first to be targeted, although it is Samsung that has recently borne the brunt of Mr Jobs’ law suits.

The South Korean firm is currently banned from selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia and Germany because of a combination of patent infringements and “look and feel” similarities. A smartphone ban is also pending in the Netherlands.

Samsung is counter-suing Apple for infringing, it claims, several wireless technology patents which it holds the rights to.

Yahoo quarterly profits fall 26% with shrinking revenue

October 24, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, data security, Email, Online Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, search engines, SEO, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, YouTube

Yahoo has reported a quarterly profits fall of 26% as it struggled to boost earnings from online advertising.Yahoo quarterly profits fall 26% with shrinking revenueNet profits in the third quarter were £188 million compared with £247 million during the same period last year.

Last month, Yahoo sacked chief executive Carol Bartz after its online earnings failed to keep pace with those of rivals Google and Facebook.

However, its performance beat market expectations, and its shares ended 3% higher.

Yahoo’s net revenue in the three months to September was £668 million, compared with £700 million the year before.

“My focus, and that of the whole company, is to move the business forward with new technology, partnerships, products and premium personalised content,” said interim chief executive Tim Morse.

Yahoo has been looking for a new chief executive since firing Ms Bartz in September amid mounting frustration at failed efforts to turn the firm around.

Analysts say that in recent weeks there has been increasing speculation that Yahoo, or parts of its business, might be sold to an assortment of buyout firms.

There have been rumours that Microsoft is considering a second attempt at a takeover. Microsoft last offered to buy Yahoo for £29 billion in 2008.

China’s internet firm Alibaba has already said it might be interested in buying Yahoo- however american political sensivities will complicate any chinese purchase due to data spying senstivities of the Yahoo email system.

Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype is finalised

October 21, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, internet, Microsoft, mobile phones, Skype, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Microsoft has finalised the £5.3 billion acquisition of VoIP service Skype.Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype is finalisedThe deal had to pass regulatory approval in several markets, with Europe being the biggest hurdle for Microsoft. The EU Commission has previously fined Microsoft for it’s antitrust behavior.

Under the terms of the agreement, Skype will become a new business division within Microsoft, and Skype CEO Tony Bates will assume the title of president of that division.

Skype was founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis.

It was bought by eBay in 2005, but eBay couldn’t find a way to integrate it into its business and subsequently sold it to an investment group led by Silver Lake in 2009.

The deal with Microsoft is a very profitable exit for that group of investors, which includes Index Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Investment Board- as they paid £1.71 billion for Skype.

As for the future of Skype and the challenges Microsoft faces, the first and foremost will be the fact that Skype is not yet profitable. However, Skype’s huge user base (more than 663 million users, 170 million of which use the service monthly) and constant growth make it an appealing purchase for a company that knows what to do with it.

“Together, we will be able to accelerate Skype’s goal to reach 1 billion users daily,” said Bates in a statement.

You can watch the video at:

Google+ traffic falls 60% after launch highs

October 20, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Google, Social Media, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Traffic to Google+ spiked 1,200% in the first few days following its public launch on September 20, but has since plummeted by 60%, according to a report from a data analytics company.Google+ traffic falls 60% after launch highsChitika tracked Google+ traffic before and after the social networking service opened its gates to all users.

“The data shows that, on the day of its public debut, Google+ traffic skyrocketed to peak levels. But, soon after, traffic fell by over 60% as it returned to its normal, underwhelming state,”

Google+ hit 25 million unique visitors in its first month of operation, comScore found, making it one of the fastest growing social networks of all time.

Google+ has since released a slew of updates and new features, and opened its doors to the public. It has even had public figures broadcast to fans via Google Hangouts.

But is Google+ a hit or miss? It’s hard to say. In mid July, Google CEO Larry Page revealed they had 10 million users who share 1 billion items each day.

We haven’t heard from the company on how Google+ has grown in users, shares or traffic since. The most recent unofficial count pegged the number of Google+ users at 43 million.

Meanwhile, Chitika’s findings — likely a representation of traffic patterns and not a wholly accurate reflection — seem to suggest Google+ may not be convincing new users (or even Google executives) to stick around.

Apple reports 85pc rise in profits

October 19, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apple, Customer Service, internet, mobile phones, Online Marketing, smart phones, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

The world’s most valuable technology company Apple Inc has reported an 85% rise in its full year results.Apple reports 85pc rise in profitsNet profit for the year ending 24 September was £16.5 billion.

However, its shares fell more than 5% in after-hours trading after fourth quarter iPhone sales were weaker than experts predicted.

Overall revenues totalled £17.66 billion for the three months- which was nearly £660 million less than Wall Street forecasts.

It is the first time that Apple has missed analysts’ sales forecasts since 2008.

During a conference call, chief executive Tim Cook suggested demand for the iPhone 4 had been dampened by rumours that a new model was about to be released.

“The reduction happened largely in the back half of the quarter as the speculation hit extreme highs,” said Mr Cook.

“However, we’re thrilled to be shipping the new iPhone 4S… and we’re very confident that we will set an all-time record in the December quarter for iPhone sales.”

Apple sold 17.1 million iPhones in the last quarter. That was a 21% increase on the same period last year, but analysts had expected sales of 20 million.

The firm said handset orders had also been affected by a decision to delay new partnerships.

“We opted to defer adding new carriers or countries during the September quarter knowing that we would launch the iPhone 4S very early in the October month, and we wanted to launch our new carriers with our latest products so we waited,” said chief financial officer, Peter Oppenheimer.

The earnings are the first to be released by Apple since the death of its co-founder Steve Jobs.

Mr Cook marked the occasion by paying tribute to his predecessor.

“Steve was a great leader and mentor and inspired everyone at Apple to do extraordinary things,” he said.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude for all of the condolences and expressions of support that we have received following Steve’s passing.”

Despite the iPhone figures Apple said it was “thrilled” by the results.

It sold 11.12 million iPads over the latest quarter, which was a 166% rise on the same period last year.

Sales of the Mac computers totalled 4.89 million, a 26% rise and an all-time record.

Mr Cook said he was particularly excited by China, where sales are growing at a “feverish” pace.

Greater China revenue accounted for 16% of Apple’s revenue in the fourth quarter, up from 2% in 2009.

“Certainly in my lifetime, I’ve never seen a country with as many people rising into the middle class that aspire to buy products that Apple makes,” Mr Cook said.

He said the company was also focussing on Brazil where sales had increased 118% over the past year, topping £562 million.

Apple warned that the recent flooding in Thailand might cause it problems sourcing hard discs and components for its Macs.

“I’m virtually certain there will be an overall industry shortage of disc drives as a result of the disaster,” said Mr Cook.

Blackberry says sorry with free apps

October 18, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, BlackBerry, Customer Service, Ecommerce, internet, Messaging, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

To try to compensate and say sorry for the bad service to it’s users last week Blackberry has announced that it will give away a dozen apps for free.Blackberry says sorry with free appsClassic games such as Bejeweled and The Sims are being offered free to Blackberry owners. The games, plus personal productivity tools and utilities, are an attempt at compensation for the three day global blackout.

A faulty switch at a data centre in Slough left millions around the world unable to use messaging and web browsing services on their handsets for three days.

In a statement announcing the giveaway, Mike Laziridis, chief of Blackberry owner Research in Motion, apologised again for the three day service stoppage.

“We are grateful to our loyal Blackberry customers for their patience,” he said. “We are taking immediate and aggressive steps to help prevent something like this from happening again.”

In total, 12 apps are being offered to customers and RIM said more would be made available in the coming weeks.

As well as games such as Texas Hold’em Poker and Bubble Bash 2, users can get Photo Editor Ultimate and DriveSafe.ly pro.

The programs, which Blackberry claims are worth more than £66, will be free until 31 December 2011.

The software is available via the Blackberry App World store.

RIM faced serious criticism over the stoppage. Thousands of people turned to Twitter and other social media networks to express their poor opinion of the company and its stuttering efforts to fix the problems.

Business customers are being offered a free month of technical support. Those who already have a support contract will be offered a month of Blackberry’s enhanced support service.

Mobile operators are also mulling compensation packages for customers. Spanish telecoms firm Telefonica, which owns the UK’s O2, said it would offer a package to customers but it is not clear what form it will take.