1. Apple Recalls 1.8 Million Laptop Batteries,”InfoWorld, 8/24. Another week, another battery recall. This time it was Apple facing the music, not Dell, over batteries that could potentially overheat and pose a fire hazard. However, the battery supplier in both cases was the same: Sony. To date, Apple has come across nine reports of its laptops overheating, including two instances where users suffered minor burns from handling the hot boxes. Apple is advising users of the affected machines to remove the faulty batteries immediately and rely on power from outlets instead until they receive a replacement within the next four to six weeks.
3. “IBM’s ISS Bid to Broaden Security Portfolio,”CIO.com, 8/23. IBM made its second billion-dollar-plus offer for a company in less than two weeks, ponying up US$1.3 billion for Internet Security Systems hard on the heels of a US$1.6 billion bid for enterprise content management vendor FileNet. Big Blue is keen to expand its product offerings and expertise in security, particularly in the area of providing managed services, which IBM estimates is a US$22 billion business. Given ISS’ focus on network security, IBM wasn’t the first name to spring to mind as a potential acquirer; vendors like Nortel or Foundry were more obvious choices, according to analysts.
4. “Massachusetts Confirms It Will Stay on Office for Now,”
Computerworld, 8/23. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, government standard bearer for open-source software, won’t be moving over to alternatives to Microsoft’s Office suite quite as quickly as it had at first hoped. Massachusetts had planned to move off Office and adopt the OpenDocument Format come Jan. 1, 2007. Instead, the state will continue to use Office but also employ software plug-ins so its staff can open and save files in ODF next year and then move over fully to ODF in June 2007. The delay is a victory for advocates of people with disabilities who positioned Office alternatives as less compatible with accessibility tools the blind, deaf or mobility-impaired state workers need to do their jobs.
5. “Keeping BlackBerry Juiced,”
BusinessWeek, 8/24. Research In Motion is hoping that its new BlackBerry Pearl ultra-thin wireless pager will gain a similar hold on IT users as its popular BlackBerry device did. The company needs to win back some hearts and minds after devices from other vendors like Motorola and Palm have tended to put BlackBerry in the shade. RIM plans to launch Pearl in conjunction with Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile wireless unit in mid-September, with another version based on Cingular Wireless due out later this year. Designed to appeal to both corporate users and consumers, Pearl will include a built-in digital camera, Bluetooth wireless functionality and a memory card expansion slot to handle both music and video.
6. “Microsoft to Release Two Versions of Windows in Korea,”CIO.com, 8/23. The software giant this week complied with a ruling that it violated South Korea’s fair trade practices, and released two versions of its Windows XP operating system in that country. In December, the Korea Fair Trade Commission determined that Microsoft had abused its dominance in the operating systems market by bundling its media player and instant-messaging software with Windows. The “K” version of Windows XP includes both Windows Messenger and Media Player with links to the websites of companies that offer rival instant-messaging and media player software, while the “KN” Windows release doesn’t include either product. Microsoft is still appealing the KFTC decision and ultimately hopes that the High Court in Seoul will rule in its favor.
7. “Brazil Threatens to Shut Down Google.br,”
CIO.com, 8/23. Federal prosecutors in Brazil are looking to close down the search giant’s local operations and impose fines on Google Brazil for failing to hand over customer records as part of ongoing investigations against pedophiles. At issue are people who might have abused Orkut, the most popular website in Brazil, which is owned by Google. Google Brazil can’t turn over the information the authorities want, the local operation says, because that user data is stored and managed by its U.S. parent company. While Google seeks to prove that really is the case in the Brazilian courts, federal prosecutors are calling for Google Brazil’s closure and for the unit to pay a maximum daily fine of US$61 million for not disclosing the user information.
8. “Gateway Mulls Offer for Retail Biz,”
CIO.com, 8/23. It appears as though the founder of eMachines might want his company back. Out of the blue, Gateway executives found themselves the target of a surprise offer for the computer company’s retail operations from Lap Shun “John” Hui, who sold them his eMachines business in 2004 for US$234 million. Gateway got out of the retail store business two years ago, so its retail arm consists of a number of reselling relationships with the likes of Best Buy and Circuit City. Gateway continues to struggle financially, but analysts don’t expect the company to take up Hui on his offer, since breaking up the company would devalue it still further.
9. “Apple and Creative Settle iPod Dispute,”Computerworld, 8/23. Apple brought its legal disputes with Creative Technology to an end this week by agreeing to pay its Singaporean rival in the portable media player business US$100 million to license a recently awarded patent. Creative in May had asked a U.S. court to block sales of Apple’s iPods, claiming the devices violated a patent covering the user interface software in most media players. The vendor had also appealed to the U.S. International Trade Commission to block the importation of iPods into the United States. Both parties will likely benefit from the settlement. Apple need no longer fear an import block on its iPods, and Creative gets Apple’s blessing to make iPod accessories.
10. “Hosted Apps Rivals Duel over Search Marketing,”IT World, 8/22. It’s never dull watching the two leading on-demand application players compete against each other. This week, Salesforce.com and NetSuite chose as their latest battleground the addition of tools to track and manage search engine marketing campaigns from within their respective software. It was interesting to observe the different approaches they took to come out with similar functionality. While NetSuite developed its KeyWord Marketing Module inhouse, Salesforce.com made its second-ever acquisition, picking up startup Kieden to create Salesforce for Google AdWords.
-China Martens, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)
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