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Archive for August, 2012

Hewlett-Packard makes £5.6 billion loss in third quarter

August 28, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Customer Service, Ecommerce, internet, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Hewlett-Packard has reported a huge quarterly loss of  £5.57 billion ($8.85billion).Hewlett-Packard makes £5.6 billion loss in third quarterThe world’s largest technology firm by sales was forced to to write down the value of some assets, mostly related to its purchase of Electronic Data Systems, which it bought in 2008.

The firm also had to absorb some sizeable restructuring costs, as it looks to cut some 27,000 jobs, or 8% of its global workforce, by 2014.

HP said net revenue in the third quarter fell by 5% to $19.16 billion.

The company, like rival Dell Inc, is struggling to offset faltering PC sales with services revenue.

It is undergoing a multi-year restructuring, and chief executive Meg Whitman has asked investors to be patient while this was being carried out.

“HP is still in the early stages of a multi-year turnaround, and we’re making decent progress despite the headwinds,” she said in a statement.

“During the quarter we took important steps to focus on strategic priorities, manage costs, drive needed organizational change, and improve the balance sheet.”

HP paid some £8.96 billion for Texas-based technology outsourcing company EDS four years ago.

UK 4G gets go ahead from Ofcom

August 24, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, Dr Search, internet, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has authorised Everything Everywhere- the company behind Orange and T-Mobile in the UK, to use its existing bandwidth to launch fourth generation (4G) mobile services.UK 4G gets go ahead from OfcomThe move means 4G, which allows much faster downloads, could launch in the UK earlier than previously planned.

Ofcom said the move would deliver “significant benefits” to consumers that outweigh any competition concerns.

But Vodafone and O2 expressed surprise and disappointment at the decision.

Ofcom plans to auction 4G bandwidth to other providers next year.

Everything Everywhere will be allowed to offer 4G services from 11 September.

But, as the regulator pointed out, the timing will be a commercial decision for the company itself. The operator has been trialling 4G services at a number of local businesses in Cumbria in the north of England since the end of June.

Ofcom said delaying the mobile operator from launching 4G would be “to the detriment of consumers”.

“4G will drive investment, employment and innovation and we look forward to making it available later this year, delivering superfast mobile broadband to the UK,” the company said.

The firm’s two main competitors in the UK mobile market were less than pleased with the ruling.

They claim that they are disadvantaged as only Everything’s spectrum can be reconfigured to handle 4G, while they will have to wait to buy spectrum at an auction next year.

“We are hugely disappointed with today’s announcement, which will mean the majority of customers will be excluded from the first wave of digital services,” said a spokesperson for O2.

Vodafone was more forthright, saying it was “shocked” at Ofcom’s decision.

“The regulator has shown a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy through its refusal to properly regard the competitive distortion created by allowing one operator to run services before the ground has been laid for a fully competitive 4G market,” a company spokesperson said.

Analysts said the two companies were right to be concerned, with the examples of other countries suggesting those network providers that got a head start on their rivals were often able to build successful 4G networks.

Everything Everywhere has also announced that it will sell some of its 4G spectrum to rival Three.

This was a condition of the European Commission allowing the 2010 merger of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK.

Three’s chief executive Dave Dyson said this deal would “more than double the capacity available to customers”.

As Everything is not obliged to make the spectrum available until September 2013, this deal will not give Three a head start in launching its own 4G services, however.

Ofcom has issued Everything Everywhere with licences to launch what are called Long-Term Evolution (LTE) services. This is one of a number of broadband technologies that allow the transfer of high-bandwidth data such as video streaming and mapping services.

Other mobile phone networks will be allowed to bid for 4G bandwidth early next year.

The auction will offer the equivalent of three-quarters of the mobile spectrum currently in use – some 80% more than released in the 3G auction which took place in 2000.

Ofcom wants to see at least four wholesalers of 4G mobile services, so that consumers will benefit from better services at lower prices.

The auction will sell chunks of radio spectrum to support 4G, which will allow users to download data such as music and videos at much faster speeds.

Digital kills the Dandy star

August 22, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Customer Service, Ecommerce, internet, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

The advances of digital media are about to claim another printed media star- the Dandy.Digital kills the Dandy starThe publisher of one of the world’s longest running children’s comics, The Dandy, has confirmed plans to stop printing the title.

Desperate Dan publisher DC Thomson said the final print edition would not mark the end of characters like Desperate Dan.

DC Thomson said printing would end with a special edition released on the comic’s 75th anniversary on 4 December.

However, it said it had “exciting plans” in the pipeline to take the title in a different direction.

As well as issuing a special edition for the final print run, the comic will also include a reprint of the first edition of The Dandy.

DC Thomson’s Ellis Watson said the company wanted to ensure the comic would be popular with future generations.

Mr Watson explained: “We’re counting down 110 days until the big 75th anniversary bash and we’re working on some tremendously exciting things. Dan has certainly not eaten his last cow pie. All of The Dandy’s characters are just 110 days away from a new lease of life.”

Streaming music revenues up 40% globally in 2012

August 20, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Ecommerce, internet, Social Media, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Digital music sales are increasing rapidly- up 40% so far this year recent analysis reports.Streaming music revenues up 40% globally in 2012On demand services like Spotify and We7 will generate £696 million for the global music industry in 2012 – a rise of 40%, new research has suggested.

It means streaming music is the fastest growing sector of the industry, overtaking downloads, which are due to see an increase of 8.5% this year.

CDs and vinyl still dominate the industry, accounting for 61% of all music sold worldwide.

But sales of physical products dropped by 12% globally and sharply in the UK by 30%.

The research was carried out by industry watcher Strategy Analytics, which noted a marked contraction in the UK music market during the first six months of 2012.

Total spending on music will fall by £190 million or 16% in the UK this year it predicted- compared to 2.6% globally.

“The extent of the decline took us a bit by surprise,” said Ed Barton, the company’s director of digital media.

The lack of new material from pop and rock’s biggest stars could be responsible for the drop-off, he added.

“Maybe something will come along – even one of the compilations of songs from the Olympics ceremonies – which will give us something to shout about going forward.”

The research forecasts that spending on digital music – including downloads, streaming music and mobile sales – would overtake that of physical products like CDs in 2015, both in the UK and worldwide.

Music streaming services are expected to be huge drivers of the growth, said Barton, as the boom in retail downloads is starting to “flatten out”.

The firm’s research backs up statistics from record industry bodies around the world.

The BPI, which represents record labels in the UK, says that in the first three months of 2012, subscription-based music services were worth just under £9 million, a 93% increase year-on-year.

“Free” streaming services, which use advertising to generate revenues, had raised £3.4 million, an increase of 20% compared to the same period in 2011.

In Sweden, where Spotify was developed, the recording industry body GLF said streaming music generated £24 million in the first six months of the year, representing a 79% increase from 2011.

Digital downloads – music bought from Amazon, iTunes, 7Digital and their competitors – is expected to be worth £194 million to the UK industry in 2012.

The UK accounts for 44% of Western Europe’s download market, thanks in part to the high penetration of broadband services.

Google is demoting websites’ ranking who host pirated content

August 17, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, data security, Google, internet, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Results, search engines, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Google has announced that it is changing its search engine algorithms to crack down on the search rankings of those websites that contain or receive a large number of copyright infringement notices.Google is demoting websites' ranking who host pirated contentGoogle has a web page dedicated to showing how many requests it receives from copyright holders and reporting organizations to remove certain websites from its search engine due to piracy and soon it will start demoting the rankings of those websites that receive high volumes of copyright-infringement notices.

Google’s senior vice president of engineering while addressing the copyright issue, Amit Singhal said in a blog post,

“In fact, we’re now receiving and processing more copyright removal notices every day than we did in 2009, more than 4.3 million URLs in the last 30 days alone,”

“We will be using this data as a signal in our search rankings.”

Google is moving to mostly penalise those websites potentially hosting pirated entertainment.

It’s positive that Google’s search algorithms are now reranking various websites which appear at lower ranks in search results criteria based on the number of copyright removal notices that Google receives against them.

The search engine said it will not demote the ranking of any of the websites from its search results unless it receives a valid copyright-removal notice from the rights owner.

Google claimed that it has already taken numerous actions against pirated websites- between July and December 2011, it claimed that it has removed 97 per cent of search results specified in those copyright removal notices.

Investing in Wall Street IPO share floatations can damage your wealth

August 15, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Dr Search, Facebook, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Wall Street’s stock markets have become a place where a fool and his money are becoming easily parted.Investing in Wall Street IPO share floatations can damage your wealthManchester United Football Club (NYSE: MANU) is one of the most successful football teams on the planet.

But fame and recognition are no guarantees of success on the stock market. In fact, the club’s IPO last week shows us that they can be quite the opposite.

Manchester United’s backers were hoping to place its shares at $16 to $20. Instead, the stock hit the market at $14 and barely budged during that first trading day (according to the Financial Times it had to be supported by it’s greedy backers.)

Does that sound familiar? It should. The most prominent IPO of this year followed a similar trajectory.

Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) tried to leverage a massively popular website and immense brand recognition into a blockbuster stock market debut.

That blockbuster ended up being more of a wet firecracker. On day one of trading, the stock barely treaded water above its issue price of $38 (again thanks to the generous buying support of the company’s underwriters).

Since then, the stock has plummeted- and it’s not likely to rise anytime soon.

On the back of a recent negative earnings report the shares today languished just above $20. A fall of a massive 48%- and the employee lock-in still hasn’t opened yet- with another 270 million shares to be sold tomorrow.

As for MUFC- the current owners Glazer’s 2005 highly leveraged acquisition left it saddled with hundreds of millions in debt. That isn’t an amount that melts away easily, and in the subsequent years, Manchester United’s debt level has grown alarmingly.

The company managed to repay some of that, but according to its unaudited figures as of this past March, long-term debt was still high at £417 million pounds. Cash, meanwhile, amounted to less than £26 million.

How the NYSE manage to define this business- which was founded in 1876 as a new growth story and allow it’s owners to maintain 90% voting rights is a disgrace.

So when the next “big thing can’t fail” IPO is touted. We suggest that you sit on your hands and wallets.

As the saying goes- how to you make a small fortune from football clubs? You start with a large fortune.

So the saying goes with Wall Street’s insider stock brokers. Caveat emptor.

Google’s data snooping hit with record fine

August 14, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Customer Service, data security, Google, internet, search engines, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

Google has been fined £14.4 million ($22.5 million) by the US Federal Trade Commission after monitoring web surfers using Apple’s Safari browser who had a “do not track” privacy setting selected.Google's data snooping hit with record fineThe penalty is for lying about what it was doing and not for the methods it used to bypass Safari’s tracker cookie settings- misusing cookies so that a user’s web activity can be monitored.

The government agency launched its inquiry after a Stanford University researcher noticed the issue while studying targeted advertising.

He revealed that the search engine was exploiting a loophole that let its cookies be installed via adverts on popular websites, even if users’ browsers’ preferences had been set to reject them.

This allowed the firm to track people’s web browsing- even if they had not given it permission to do so.

Apple’s browser automatically rejects tracking cookies by default. But Google deliberately got around this block by adding code to some of its adverts to make Safari think that the user had made an exception for its cookie if they interacted with the ad.

At the same time as using the exploit the search engine said on its help centre that Safari users did not need to take extra steps to prevent their online activities from being logged.

Nick Pickles, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch in Google hit by record fine wrote that it was right that Google should be penalised.

“It’s an essential part of a properly functioning market that consumers are in control of their personal information and are able to take steps to protect their privacy,” he said.

“The size of the fine in this case should deter any company from seeking to exploit underhand means of tracking consumers. It is essential that anyone who seeks to over-ride consumer choices about sharing their data is held to account.”

Online hotel deals broke law warns watchdog

August 09, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Customer Service, Ecommerce, internet, Online Marketing, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Two online travel agents and a hotel group could be limiting price competition on hotel room sales, early results of an investigation have found.Online hotel deals broke law warns and Expedia entered into separate agreements with Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), the Office of Fair Trading said.

The regulator’s provisional findings are that these agreements infringed competition law.

Expedia and IHG argued that the arrangements complied with the law. Expedia claimed that the OFT had yet to show that any laws had been broken.

“Expedia remains committed to ensuring that it provides consumers with the widest possible choice of travel options at competitive prices and will seek to safeguard its ability to continue to do so in relation to the current regulatory process,” it said in a statement.

IHG said its arrangements with online booking agents were “compliant with competition laws and consistent with the long-standing approach of the global hotel industry”.’s parent company, Priceline, said it would contest the allegations “vigorously”, claiming that it did not control hotel pricing.

The three firms can now respond to the allegations within three months.

Hotels sell some rooms directly to customers, but use online agents to keep their occupancy levels high.

The UK’s online travel agency sector is the largest in Europe. The OFT said that UK hotel bookings through online travel agents totalled approximately £849 million in 2010.

The sale of hotel rooms over the internet has become a huge business, dominated by the hotels themselves and by global websites which sell the rooms on commission.

An OFT investigation began in September 2010, after a discount website called complained that it was being put under pressure to maintain a standard price rather than share its commission with customers. It covers bookings by UK residents for rooms around the world.

The provisional findings of the OFT’s investigation is that the agreements between and Expedia with IHG could limit price competition and create barriers for other firms to expand.

The arrangement between and IHG was still in place, while Expedia allegedly violated rules between October 2007 and September 2010, the OFT added.

Within the travel business the practice of keeping prices at a pre-set level is talked about openly and is called “rate parity”.

The effect is that a customer might look at several websites and see the same prices advertised. Thus where there is very little variation in prices, a website can claim, truthfully, that its prices are the “cheapest”.

The OFT said it limited its investigation to a small number of major companies. However, the investigation was likely to have wider implications as the alleged practices were potentially widespread in the industry, it added.

If the regulator concludes that there have indeed been breaches of the Competition Act, it can impose penalties of up to 10% of a company’s turnover.

Expensive dangers of technology

August 06, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Cyber Security, data security, Ecommerce, internet, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

The news that the Knight Capital Group has lost £283 million ($440 million) in just a few hours last week due to malfunctioning computer trading software is a non too subtle reminder that whether we like to admit it or not we are all ruled by technology- and we are all geeks now.Expensive dangers of technologyThe use of IT and technology in general has been growing for several decades- some might suggest rapidly since the 70s with the birth of Windows and Macs.

In the 80s and 90s the growing use of IT was seen as a way of cutting costs and automating the manufacturing and business processes.

In part the dotcom bubble around the turn of the century was caused because the City and bankers in general woke up to the possibility that the Internet could automate yet more parts of businesses- at a very low cost.

What these bankers failed to wake up to is the dependence that businesses now depend on technology.

The cock up that RBS made of updating it’s computer systems last month- and enraging over 12 million of it’s customers along the way- having sacked all of their “expensive ” UK staff and outsourced the job to “cheaper, less skilled” Indian staff is a reminder that we all depend on computers for our businesses to function.

To then compound the crassness of their disastrous £125 million incompetence RBS- in common with most FT100 companies do NOT have an IT person on their board of directors.

In RBS’s case the folly of their ways was written for all to see on their corporate website in their profile of Susan Allen- their IT “Business Partner, Retail Wealth” who wrote “Although very different to the Business Leadership roles I have undertaken over recent years…” Nat West computer glitch- a disaster waiting to happen. To use a Dilbert expression- someone who has been promoted above their level of incompetence.

When I was studying for my MBA in the early 90s I recognised that the Internet was going to shape the world. Even though the technology modules were my weakest part of the MBA I knew that like it or not my future was in Technology.

Indeed as far back as 2004 I won a Lifetime e-business Award from the UK Goverment’s Department of Trade and Industry.

Until every business realises that it is a technology company- and reshapes it’s priorities accordingly, then disaster will lurk around the corner.