The Cloud Grows Up

2. March 2014

Date: 01-03-2014
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Gartner’s Peter Sondergaard on the cloud’s role in helping CIOs achieve agility

The business applications of the future will be moving onto the cloud to improve their agility, says Gartner Inc. Senior Vice President and Global Head of Research Peter Sondergaard. He speaks at The Wall Street Journal’s CIO Network conference in San Diego.

As head of research at Gartner Inc., Senior Vice President Peter Sondergaard sees the big picture: where global technology is heading, and how trends such as cloud computing and business analytics are revolutionizing business.

Mr. Sondergaard discussed how companies are responding to these trends in a conversation with Michael Hickins, editor of The Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal. Edited excerpts of their discussion follow.

Applications Shift
MR. HICKINS: In a Gartner survey late last year, one priority that global CIOs ranked very high for their companies was enterprise resource planning [the suite of systems used to store and use the data necessary to run a business]. But here at the conference, CIOs ranked ERP much lower. Why is that?

MR. SONDERGAARD: I think we are early in a phase of revisiting our applications, in particular our ERP infrastructure. We’ve spent 20 years building a platform that has consolidated itself around virtually two players: SAP and Oracle. But I believe cloud is going to drive a revisiting of our ERP platform. I think we will move to a federated, more loosely coupled ERP environment that enables us to select applications that are not on-premise but that end up being cloud-based. Read the rest of this entry »


Trying to See Apple From a Different Angle

2. February 2014

Date: 02-02-2014
Source: The New York Times
Subject:

The stock market doesn’t know quite what to make of Apple.

The company started out in the 1970s as a risk-taker and a rule-breaker, and for many members of Steve Jobs’s generation, Apple will always carry a whiff of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. It retained some of that renegade aura even as it set off on a wild growth spree in the first decade of the new millennium.

By last September in the annual Interbrand survey, Apple had managed to depose Coca-Cola as the most valuable brand on the planet, using criteria like popular perception and financial performance. And based on the value of its shares in the marketplace, Apple has become the biggest company in the world, worth roughly 10 percent more, in the eyes of investors, than its nearest rival, the venerable oil giant Exxon Mobil.

Yet now that Apple is so big and so successful, it poses something of a puzzle for investors. Is it a gigantic tech growth stock that will expand even more rapidly in the years ahead? Or has it turned into a high-end consumer products company, one that is, at the moment, the biggest cash cow in the world? Read the rest of this entry »


Next CEO’s Biggest Job: Fixing Microsoft’s Culture

26. August 2013

Date: 26-08-2013
Source: The Wall Street Journal

At Software Giant, Taking the Safe, Profitable Route Often Wins Out Over Innovation

Months before Apple Inc. unveiled its iPad in January 2010, the tech world was buzzing about mockups of a tablet computer from Microsoft Corp. Created by an inventor of the company’s Xbox videogame machine, the Courier folded like a book and let users sketch and jot ideas on a touchscreen.

That spring, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer told employees at Courier’s Seattle laboratory that he was pulling the plug on the device.

Mr. Ballmer said he was redirecting resources to the next version of the company’s Windows operating system, which was more than two years away, according to Georg Petschnigg and other former employees of the lab.

Microsoft MisfiresWhoever succeeds Mr. Ballmer at Microsoft will face the challenge of rebooting its corporate culture, in which charting the safe but profitable course—at least for the short term—too often wins out over innovation, say current and former Microsoft employees and other industry executives.

Under Bill Gates and then Mr. Ballmer, who announced his retirement last week, Microsoft honed franchises like Office and Windows to become a financial powerhouse.

The ingredients for success also made Microsoft a graveyard for the kind of big ideas that have inspired companies like Apple, Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. to create new areas of computing.

“If that is the game you’re going to try to play, you’re going to lose,” Mr. Petschnigg said.

So ingrained is Microsoft’s culture of protecting entrenched interests that swinging for the fences is sometimes punished, and so people stopped trying, say current and former employees and outsiders. They say that an outsider CEO may be the best choice to welcome back technologists who think outside the box.

“It is most likely, if not essential,” says management psychologist Thomas Saporito. Read the rest of this entry »


Big Daddy had to Save Little Apple

4. August 2013

Date: 04-08-2013
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Subject: Obama Administration Vetoes Ban on Sale of Some Apple iPhones, iPads

Concern Cited Over Patent Holders Gaining ‘Undue Leverage’

The Obama administration on Saturday vetoed a U.S. trade body’s ban on the import and sale of some Apple Inc. iPhones and iPads, a rare move that upends a legal victory for smartphone rival Samsung Electronics Co.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman made the decision to veto the ban on the Apple devices, citing concerns about patent holders gaining “undue leverage” as well as potential harm to consumers and competitive conditions in the U.S. economy.

He said Samsung could continue to pursue its patent rights through the courts.

The action marked the first time since 1987 that a presidential administration had vetoed an import ban ordered by the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The ITC in June had ordered the import ban and an accompanying cease-and-desist order affecting some older-model Apple iPhones and iPads after finding the products infringed a Samsung patent.

The ban raised concerns among U.S. antitrust enforcers and touched off intense lobbying of the Obama administration by technology companies with opposing positions on the issue.

Critics of the ITC order questioned whether companies should be able to block rival products in cases involving patents that have been deemed to be essential to creating products based on key technologies overseen by industry standard-setting groups. Read the rest of this entry »


The real cost of an iPhone 5: life in the Foxconn factory

13. September 2012

Date: 13-09-2012
Source: The Guardian

An undercover reporter joined thousands on the production line battling to meet deadlines for iPhone 5

Any committed foodie will wax lyrical about the value of provenance – the integrity of the food, the care and craft behind creating it. How long, then, before this middle-class preoccupation with quality, traceability and plain goodness of the things we buy extends into technology?

We suspend our ethics when Apple launches a new phone. That unboxing is a virgin moment, as if the phone morphed inside the box from the tiny sparkling seed implanted by Jonathan Ive. Slide your finger through the  Designed In California seal and your phone takes its first breath…

It’s a supreme piece of packaging design, but the reality is far from an immaculate conception. Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturer of iPhone, has faced a steady stream of criticism and concerns from poor working conditions to suicides.

Now the Shanghai Evening Post has published a detailed diary of working life at the Foxconn production plant by undercover journalist Wang Yu. He lasted 10 days in the plant, seven of which were in training, and three on shifts “marking placement points on the back plate”. Foxconn recruited 20,000 new workers in March to meet its production targets for iPhone 5, and has to produce 57m in one year, Wang’s report stated.

No doubt much of the nuance has been lost in this translation by micgadget.com, (who bafflingly signed off from this piece by saying how excited they were about seeing the new iPhone 5) but Wang complains of having to work on 3,000 phones during a 10-hour shift, paid only 27 yuan ($4.27) for two hours’ overtime. Read the rest of this entry »


Will Apple’s Focus on Profits Let Its Rivals Jump Ahead?

11. September 2012

Date: 11-09-2012
Source: Technology Review

Pocketing profits instead of investing in innovation is how market leaders turn into has-beens.

As golden geese go, it’s pretty hard to beat the iPhone. In the five years since Apple introduced the first model, the company has enjoyed booming sales and ever-increasing profit margins. Revenues this year will top $150 billion, six times what they were in 2007. Apple’s profit margin over the past nine months (the first three quarters in its 2012 fiscal year) was an astounding 28 percent, double its level in 2007.

But the real miracle is that Apple has kept growing, and widening its profit margins, even as it has been eclipsed by its biggest rival, Google’s Android system. In 2010, the two platforms were about even in terms of market share. But today Android held four times as much share as Apple. Read the rest of this entry »


Giant Apple : Will Apple become the first trillion-dollar company?

21. August 2012

Date: 21-08-2012
Source: The Economist

EARLIER this year, there was plenty of speculation that Apple’s stock had entered bubble territory. Investors apparently think otherwise: on August 20th the firm’s share price hit $665, giving it a market capitalisation of more than $623 billion—and making it the most valuable listed company of all time. This record was previously held by another tech behemoth, Microsoft, whose market capitalisation reached $616 billion in December 1999. Although in real terms Microsoft still holds the crown (in today’s dollars, its record market capitalisation would be around $850 billion), no other technology company has ever carried as much weight as Apple currently does in the global equity markets: it accounts for 4.8% of the S&P 500, 3.7% of America’s stockmarket and 1.3% of the global equity market. Some bank analysts have started to report America’s corporate earnings without Apple, because the firm’s inclusion skews results. Bulls reckon that the price could go even higher—and that Apple could become the world’s first public company with a trillion-dollar market capitalisation.