Monday, April 27, 2009

Windows 7 RC date - May 5th

Microsoft confirmed that the next Release Candidate of Windows 7 will be available starting May 5th. Microsoft spokesman Brandon LeBlanc also announced that the RC will be made available to subscribers developers and IT professionals later this week: "The RC is on track for April 30 for download by MSDN and TechNet subscribers. Broader, public availability will begin on May 5.".

Clearly, Microsoft is pushing hard to put the Vista mess behind them. And I believe that PC manufacturers are pushing Microsoft on this as well. H-P, Dell, Acer, and Lenovo have all seen demand affected by a number of factors, not the least of which is the current economy. But you certainly can't ignore the negative impact that Vista has had on their sales. If forecasts of a modest rebound later this year turn out to be accurate, then that, along with the release of Win7 will -- in my opinion -- propel the Windows cartel (including Intel & AMD) to pretty decent results in Q42009 and Q12010. has more info ... Microsoft sets date for Win 7 RC

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Firefox security patch released

A new version of Firefox was released on Tuesday, according to a security advisory that was posted on April 21, 2009. The advisory indicates that the release, version 3.0.9, resolves twelve known vulnerabilities in the popular browser. Several of these vulnerabilities are categorized as "critical" by the company.

Along with this patch release, Mozilla is in final preparations for a fourth beta test of Firefox 3.5. The upcoming major version upgrade, which I discussed in an earlier posting, is expected to be released for general use later this year. This release also continues to demonstrate Mozilla's rapid response to vulnerabilities. Although the open-source nature of the software means that it may be an easier target for miscreants, the patches come out so quickly that it's exceedingly rare for a widescale attack to have any success.

If you are a Firefox user and haven't applied the v3.0.9 patch, then from the Help menu, choose Check for Updates. This will ensure that your browser has the best possible protection from attack.

For more information ... CNet News article: Firefox 3.0.9 targets 12 security vulnerabilities

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Vendors start building Unified Infrastructure offerings

Last month, I blogged about Unified Infrastructure and its potential benefits. At the top of the list would have to be a dramatic simplification of the overall IT infrastructure for organizations.

Hewlett-Packard Monday, Hewlett-Packard announced the launch of a data center system that incorporates storage, computing, and networking in a single unit. Along with Cisco, H-P now is the second entrant into the market for Unified Infrastructure systems. However, there is a significant difference in the two systems: H-P's system is available right now, while Cisco expects to have theirs on the market later this year. But the faster availability comes at a cost, with HP's BladeSystem Matrix tipping the scales at $150K, or nearly double Cisco's $76K entry-level price.

As I wrote last month, now is the time for IT managers to start understanding this technology. It has the potential to deliver real efficiencies and long-term economic benefit. Contact Roig Consulting today to schedule a review of your IT strategy.

Hewlett-Packard Company: HPQ(NYSE)
Cisco Systems, Inc.: CSCO (NASDAQ)

InformationWeek broke this story: HP Takes On Cisco's Unified Computing System

Monday, April 20, 2009

AT&T boosts wireless speed

AT&T announced that they are rolling out faster network speeds across its network. The company uses a High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) network to provide 3G services, and it currently tops out at 3.6 Mbps downlink speed. The second-largest U.S. carrier is in the process of using software upgrades to boost that to 7.2 Mbps download speed. While the theoretical limit for HSPA is over 14Mps, few analysts expect any of the big carriers to push it to that level. That's because Sprint and Verizon Wireless are already testing the next generation of wireless broadband -- 4G -- in several markets across the country.

Since this puts the No. 1 and No. 3 carriers at a measurable and easily understandable disadvantage, I would expect that Verizon and Sprint will follow suit over the next few months. This makes sense because, given the current economic climate, most consumers will be hard-pressed to buy new 4G devices that don't give them any benefit in most of the country. And the same will be true for businesses, as well.

This will give AT&T a short-term advantage over the competition that perfectly complements their current iPhone monopoly. But the advantage won't last long, and - ultimately - customers will get the benefit.

Credit where credit is due:
InformationWeek: AT&T Beefs up 3G Network
AT&T Inc.: T (NYSE)
Verizon Communications Inc.: VZ (NYSE)
Sprint Nextel Corporation: S (NYSE)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Apple and AT&T wrestle over the iPhone

Every time I see an iPhone, I'm more amazed at what it can do. More specifically, I guess, is that I'm amazed at the creativity and practicality of the various applications that are now available for these devices. My personal favorites are the "lighter" and the level. The level is truly remarkable, using the built-in accelerometers to detect how plumb the device is, and the display is a stunning, lifelike representation of a bubble level.

Unfortunately, I cannot get one.

That's because Verizon Wireless has, by far, the best coverage where I live. And, as compelling a product as the iPhone is, coverage is more important to me than features. So, AT&T's monopoly on the iPhone is a barrier for me. Not for everyone, of course, but it is for me.

But AT&T's exclusivity agreement with Apple expires in 2010. AT&T wants to extend that agreement, but Apple has little incentive to do so.

To me, this means that the iPhone will be less profitable for AT&T over the next 18 months. That's because I believe that AT&T will find a way to get the deal done. But it's not going to be pretty. Of course, AT&T gets a lot of ancillary benefits to being the exclusive iPhone carrier. Things like additional store traffic, non-iPhone users that come in on the coattails of iPhone users (family members, mostly), and the positive brand association that comes out of the relationship. Expect an announcement over the summer, just when the Pre is coming out and when the 2-year contracts for the first crop of iPhone buyers comes up. It'll be a way to generate new buzz for the product.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Verizon to launch music store

Verizon Wireless will launch its App and Music mobile download site on April 7. This move puts the wireless giant in direct competition with Apple's iTunes store, with music available for download at $0.69, $0.99 and $1.29.

Most app stores are geared to users of sophisticated smartphones, like the BlackBerry. But Verizon sees ample growth opportunities with selling mobile programs to non-smartphones (stupid phones?), and it has opened their app store for these devices. In actuality, this really is more of a re-launch of their application store. For years, Verizon Wireless has offered the "Get it Now" service, which had applications for many different types of phones, non-smartphones included. Overall, "Get it Now" was relatively trouble-free and, I'm sure, provided a more-than-acceptable revenue stream for the company.

However, by offering full songs (as opposed to just ringtones), Verizon is, I believe, attempting to prevent more defections to the iPhone ... and more importantly to AT&T - the only carrier for which the iPhone is approved. This also signals to all concerned that a deal that would make iPhones available on the Verizon network is highly unlikely. Which is too bad.

More information at InformationWeek: Verizon unveils Music, App Stores
Verizon Communications Inc.: VZ (NYSE)

Relational Networks adds packaged software to its SaaS mix

Just about every enterprise software vendor has released, or is making plans to release, a Software-as-a-Service version of their application. I'm working with a major Project Management Information System (PMIS) vendor to get their solution configured as Saas. And there are several consultancies that have built successful practices by exclusively focusing on implementations of SaaS solutions.

But now, at least one of those SaaS-only vendors has come to realize that there is some value in on-site installations. Relational Networks, a California company that provides Web-based CRM to the media industry, is gearing up two complementary offerings. One is a private, cloud-based implementation of the application called LongJump. The other is a packaged version of LongJump for on-site installation. The company recognized that, for all of the benefits of a SaaS solution, there is simply no workaround for some of the regulatory and compliance issues that arise. It's much more than a lack of understanding about the well-documented and sophisticated security practices that industry leaders (like, Oracle, and Microsoft) have implemented. For some industries, it's illegal for a company to co-locate their data on the same physical devices as other companies. I wonder what other SaaS-only vendors will come to this conclusion; and which will make a strategic (and wise) decision to focus on what they do well.

Read more at SaaS vendor converts to packaged software

Friday, April 3, 2009

RIM announces a big 4th quarter

Research in Motion (RIMM NASDAQ) announced results for the quarter & year that ended on February 28, 2009. And on Friday, their stock was up over 20% (as of 3:30pm EDT). Based on that, you'd expect that their performance for the 4th quarter was pretty good, and you'd be absolutely correct. Revenue for the quarter was more than 80% higher than the same period previous year, and nearly 25% higher than the quarter that preceded it. The company's announcement also states "approximately 3.9 million net new BlackBerry® subscriber accounts were added in the quarter. At the end of the quarter, the total BlackBerry® subscriber account base was approximately 25 million."

Considering the fact that the three months that ended in February included some of the most difficult business conditions of the past 30 years, this is quite an accomplishment. Plus, the company expects to add another 3.7-3.9 million subscribers in the first fiscal quarter of 2009. We are already two-thirds of the way through that quarter, and I would suspect that this projections is going to be fairly accurate.

The key to sustaining this performance, of course, will hinge on RIM's ability to produce some innovative new products this year. Its only viable competitor is the iPhone, and it continues to maintain its hold on the public's imagination. And Apple is promsing to make the iPhone even better later this year.

RIM could end up buying Palm, but that would only create more customer churn in the market. If the BlackBerry can enable corporate users to seamlessly access internal resources, while taking advantage of Web 2.0 functionality, that would, I believe, solidify their position as the corporate standard for mobile devices.

Research in Motion's 4th Quarter Results

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Apple reasserts control over the iPhone

Apple has updated their developer program license agreement. By adding a few new clauses, the company now prohibits the distribution of iPhone applications by any means besides the App Store. The new agreement also explicitly forbids "jailbreaking" the device. Jailbreaking gives developers access to the Unix core of the iPhone OS, and it enables users to do things that Apple wishes they wouldn't.

In my view, this basically gives the company a legal way of defending itself against someone suing them for cutting them off from the App Store. The underground developers aren't going to abide by this agreement any more than they were abiding the by the original one. But if Apple releases a "patch" that targets one of those underground apps, then the developers will find it very difficult to find a remedy in the courts. I only see Apple doing this if they find that the application is compromising the operation of the phone in some way. But it is pretty typical of the tight control they have exercised over their products in the past.

iPhone users now have even more reason to be circumspect as to teh applications they load on their devices.

Read more at Apple Cracking Down On Rogue Apps