BARCELONA: HP's annual European Discover event has plonked itself down in Barcelona this year and, like previous Discover events, it is being served with a side order of drama.
While in 2011 the firm was dealing with the aftermath of Leo Apotheker's short-lived reign and in 2012 it had to minimise the fallout from the Autonomy accounting scandal, in 2013 the issue is protesting employees who are angry at job cuts.
Journalists were bussed in around the back of the event, which had the side-effect of hiding the protesters from view, but social media channels showed the Spanish workers camped outside the main entrance to the event venue.
HP insisted that the route in for journalists was about providing quicker access to the event, rather than any attempt to hide the protestors from view. After a 20-minute wander to find the site where the protestors were, these claims appear to have some merit. What was disappointing, though, was the discovery that by 3.30pm (once we had a break in our schedule) all the protesters had gone. Come on hombres, make it 9-5 at least.
A noisy protest outside its annual event in Europe is not what HP would have wanted, but it did issue a statement acknowledging the issues being protested and stressed that many jobs were not being cut, but changed or reallocated.
"HP has a long track record of good social dialogue with its employees and social partners through its European Works Council. HP's workforce management plans in EMEA are part of [the] global multi-year productivity initiative that was announced on 23 May 2012," the firm noted.
"The restructuring plan is designed to deliver a more agile and responsive business model in the region, streamlining processes, advancing innovation and creating efficiencies for the benefit of customers, shareholders and employees. HP has a proud history of investing in Spain and continues to be committed to the success of the business here."
The protests in Spain will no doubt be welcomed in solidarity by UK employees that are being affected by job cuts and changes in several locations, with a total of 1,124 jobs said to be going in the cuts according to trade union Unite, although HP has disputed the accuracy of its reports.
Nevertheless, the protesters will hope that their rally raises the issue of job cuts, which is an especially painful topic in Spain at present and comes after HP posted $1.4bn in profits for the last quarter.
Still, it wouldn't be HP Discover without a bit of drama.
By V3's Dan Worth, who's never crossed a picket line
Late Apple founder Steve Jobs is once again in the spotlight as his company works to fight price-fixing allegations.
As the company continues to square off with the US Department of Justice over charges that it collaborated with publishers to set prices for the entire e-books market through its iBooks marketplace service, a set of emails sent by Jobs has become the focus of the case and provided a rare glimpse into the inner workings of Apple.
The emails, sent to Apple executive Eddy Cue during the development of the iBooks service in late 2009, show that Jobs was playing a leading role in the development of the service. They could be vital in proving that Apple knew its model – which allows publishers to set their own price and then pay a percentage of revenues to Apple – would limit the ability of other retailers to set their own prices for e-book titles.
That Jobs had been playing a central role in the development of the iBooks service hardly comes as a surprise. During his tenure the Apple CEO was notorious for micromanaging the company and was said to have been particularly active in the development of new products.
With more emails being released in the court, however, lawyers have revealed that Jobs dictated such fine points as how pages should animate and what books will be used in the unveiling of the service and subsequent demos.
That style could also end up costing Apple a significant amount of money some two years after Jobs died from complications resulting from pancreatic cancer. With all of the publishers named in the case having settled, Apple is the lone defendant remaining and could find itself being made an example of if the court finds that Jobs knowingly acted to fix prices.
The decision could also impact Apple's other lucrative retail services. The company maintains a nearly identical structure for the iTunes and App Store services, allowing developers and publishers to set their own prices and pay a 20 percent cut of revenues to Apple. If iBooks is shot down, pressure could build on the company to change its policies with other services.
17 May 2013
Despite being retired and working actively to donate as much of his fortune as possible, Bill Gates once again finds himself the wealthiest man in the world.
The Microsoft co-founder has topped Bloomberg's Billionaire Index with a $72.7bn net worth, better than the $72.1bn of Mexican mobile carrier boss Carlos Slim. Gates had yielded the top spot to Slim in 2010 after holding the title of world's wealthiest for more than 15 years.
Bloomberg credits the jump to a combination of market factors. Gates saw his fortune grow as Microsoft shares were up this year, while Slim's America Movil stock has slipped following government rulings, which could help competitors take a larger share of the market.
Eighth on the wealth list was Oracle founder Larry Ellison, while Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google fame checked in at 18th and 19th richest.
It should be noted that Gates is working to give away a large portion of his wealth to charity. Since retiring from Microsoft he has devoted himself full time to his foundation, which donates and raises money for a variety of noble causes around the world.
Still, given his reputation as a businessman and competitor, you have to think a small part of the man is reveling over once again being at the top.
Last year Google chief executive Larry Page set off a flurry of speculation when he missed time at the firm due to health issues.
The issues were initially played off by Google execs who said Page had lost his voice due to an unspecified illness. The issue was not said to be serious and Page eventually returned to work.
One year later, Page is finally opening up, saying that the issue with his voice is in fact a chronic condition but is not life-threatening or debilitating. In a post to his Google+ page, the company co-founder said that he has struggled with paralysis in both of his vocal cords.
According to Page, one vocal cord was damaged following a cold 14 years ago, while another began to suffer paralysis last year. The condition has since improved and Page said he's able to speak with colleagues again, joking that co-founder Sergey Brin "says I’m probably a better CEO because I choose my words more carefully".
The disclosure comes with news that Page is working to push a study on individuals with such rare vocal cord paralysis issues. He is hoping to help gather data from patients with similar conditions in hopes of gleaming more information.
It also rehashes a debate that has existed in the IT sector ever since Steve Jobs first shed light on the battle with cancer, which would eventually claim his life. In companies where the chief executive plays such a prominent role in guiding the company, how much of their own health should executives be expected to share?
We now know that Page's life was never in danger from his condition and the company was none the worse for his brief absence. But in the wake of Jobs' death and Apple's struggles since, investors may become worried when the face of the company takes ill. That said, chief executives also have a right to privacy, and in such cases the board should protect their executives from any intrusion while also assuring investors that things are under control.
V3 is seeking a reporter to work on its fast-paced, industry leading website as well as helping boost the site’s social media profile. V3 is a UK site covering business technology news, analysis and reviews for IT professionals.
While the role is a short-term freelance contract for maternity cover, you will be working full-time with the V3 team in our central London office and get plenty of opportunity to gain experience across all areas of digital journalism.
The role will see you writing news, features and blogs, attending events in London, the UK and across the world, and interviewing senior executives at world-leading companies ranging from the likes of Google and IBM to hot start-ups. Your beat will mainly cover the UK tech startup scene, IT skills and education, and social networks, and you will be encouraged to break stories, take unique angles on industry topics and source off-diary stories.
An ability to write clean, accurate, crisp copy under pressure is a must, as well as a can-do attitude, a willingness to adapt and alter working practices at a moment’s notice, and understanding the job may require working, and socialising, after office hours.
You will also help manage the V3 brand on numerous social media sites – both those that are well established and any up-and-coming web properties, to ensure V3 gains the maximum relevant audience exposure.
This is a great opportunity for someone looking to take on their first full-time role in journalism with plenty of scope for growth, development, training and fun too. Ideally you will already have some practical experience of working as a journalist, either through work experience or freelance contracts. And while you don’t need to be a total tech expert to join V3, a passion for IT and the tech scene will be a big help.
This role is offered on a freelance basis as a 9-month contract for a full-time office-based reporter until March 2014.
To apply, please email a covering note explaining why you would be perfect for the V3 reporter role, along with your CV and salary expectations, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
30 Apr 2013
Google will always be a search company first. In spite of all the other things the firm has its hands in, search is its lifeblood. It makes plenty of ad dollars from it and it's become synonymous with the company.
That is why Google has been so keen to add to its mobile search repertoire. The firm has just added two new features that look to extend its search power into the mobile sector.
First, the company introduced Google Now for iOS. The move is a bit of a mobile warning shot at Apple. If Google can show off some Android features to iPhone users than the firm may be able to find some converts.
Secondly, the firm added app activity integration into its entire search platform. The integration allows users to see aggregated user info when they search app titles online. For Google, the move takes them one step closer to complete convergence of mobile and PC platforms.
Both moves speak to the company's ambition with search. It's no longer an independent part of a user's online experience. Search is now a piece of a greater whole of a users experience both mobile and sedentary.
You can think of search as Google's foundation. It is the thing that everything else flows from. When you search for something on Google it leads you to other services that the firm offers.
It's not just search, its search and then some. It's the core that lead Google to become all the things it is today. Plus, judging from the recent announcements it is also is the thing that looks to be guiding the company into tomorrow.
Feature phones died in the developed world years ago. With telecoms offering smartphones for free on contract, nobody was really buying a smartphone in places like the US and UK.
However, smartphones were not as common in developing nations until recently. In places like China and Brazil feature phones still served a slice of the handset market. In fact, until 2013 feature phones still outsold smartphones globally.
That changed in Q1 of this year. According to the IDC, smartphones outsold feature phones for the first time ever last quarter. The report is another reminder that the world has moved passed just phone calls and the developing world is now a lucrative market.
In some developing countries, smartphones are many people's primary internet access point. The ease of a 3G network connection in your pocket makes it possible for millions of new users to have access to the web.
While in developed countries phone calls are not even the primary use of smartphones. With text and data, the need for mobile voice communication has decreased.
Now with the growth of smartphone use those numbers should continue to rise. Smartphones have continued to become cheaper and cheaper. Gone are the days of only expensive smartphones.
Today, a person can get a clever handset for free on contract or close to it off. The market has moved to build a paradagim full of low, mid, and high range smartphones. With the new paradagim, feature phones have become phased out.
The market for cheap smartphones in the developing world is now a huge industry. It's why Samsung leads the world in sales. It's also the reason why Apple keep's hearing rumors of a lower priced iPhone.
Apple is not in the cheap device industry. The firm lives off of big margins and high quality electronics. That somewhat changed with the release of the iPad Mini. The cheaper tiny iPad was the firm's first mobile foray into cheaper end devices.
It seems likely that Apple will have to continue to push its margins lower. Apple won't do it because they want to, they'll do it because they have to. The smartphone game is changing and the developing world is the new frontier.
The smartphone arena is just as much about software as hardware. Apple makes money from ads and apps featured on iOS. With more users on an iPhone, Apple stands to gain more money through software.
Google has always been about getting Android in as many paws as possible. Now, Apple has a chance to do something similar. If the firm builds its user base in the developing world it can get more people onboard with iOS.
With more users on-board it can gain in software what it might lose in hardware margin profits. The world is changing and Apple's current strategy just doesn't fit with it. Apple will have to offer a larger smartphone portfolio if it wants to keep its crown as a leader in the smartphone world.
CharityBuzz is offering bidders the chance to have a cup of coffee with Apple chief executive Tim Cook. Bids are currently at $210,000 for the once and a lifetime chance to drink coffee with the guy who introduced the iPhone 5.
So far, 58 bidders have jumped on the chance to spend quality time with Cook. Those interested in the having a cup of Joe with Cook have until 14 May to make their dreams come true.
For those bidders who may try to milk their time with Cook, be warned that the coffee chat will last no longer than an hour. According to the auctions terms, Cook will not have coffee with anymore than two people and the winning bidder must supply their own travel to Apple HQ.
The auction brings up an obvious question. What would you talk about with the leader of Apple? Would you ask him about Steve Jobs? Whether the iWatch is for real? Can you have tea instead of coffee? There are just so many topics to cover and so little time.
No matter what the winning bidder talks about, the winning funds go to a good cause. All proceeds from the auction will go to the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights. The group works to increase human rights around the globe.
Hopefully, Tim Cook's charitable nature extends to other past and present Apple executives. V3 looks forward to the day when former Apple chief executive John Sculley offers charitable souls the chance to spend a weekend with him.
Sculley is well renowned for firing Steve Jobs and selling sugar water. Perhaps Sculley could offer someone the chance to hang out for a total of two days in his derelict mansion.
For those unaware, Sculley's mansion is known as a design oddity that puts aesthetics over functionality. Architecture Digest called Sculley's mansion, "the architectural equivalent of the Apple III" and "the worst piece of design they have ever seen".
During your stay with Sculley you could be delighted with stories of the Newton PDA, Macintosh Portable, and what it's like to yell at Steve Jobs.