Considering the buzz created by the iPhone before it was even certain that it was for real, Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ unveiling of the mobile handset at the Macworld trade show was bound to grab the IT headlines this week. The iPhone combines features of a phone, the iPod, a digital camera and mobile computing, and sports a new input technology called “Multi-Touch,” with just one button called “home.” The phone will be controlled by users sliding a finger across a touch-sensitive display. Jobs trumpeted the iPhone as “revolutionary.” But whether the device will be called “iPhone” seems up in the air—Cisco filed a lawsuit late Wednesday to block Apple’s use of iPhone, which Cisco says it obtained as a trademark when it bought Infogear in 2000. Cisco says Apple asked if it could use that trademark and the two companies have been negotiating about that, apparently even as Jobs was giving his opening keynote speech on Tuesday. Without an agreement, Cisco fired its lawsuit salvo.
All of the focus on Macworld (which stole the thunder from CES in Las Vegas this week) also had IT types talking about Apple’s apparent shift from being a PC maker to a consumer electronics vendor. Even so, Macs are making slow but steady inroads into the enterprise market as more companies are using them instead of Windows-based computers. Trendsetter Google gives employees the option of a Mac or a Windows-based PC, although Macs are chosen far less often than Windows machines. But Apple has been gaining ground in enterprise PC market share. Analysts and others expect that will continue in 2007.
An independent investigator who worked for HP to figure out the source of leaks from the board of directors to journalists was charged by California authorities with aggravated identity theft and conspiracy. Bryan Wagner is accused of helping obtain names, addresses, Social Security numbers, telephone call logs, billing records and other private data and allegedly used a reporter’s Social Security number to establish an online account and get the reporter’s phone records.
The Great Chip War continues with Intel’s launch of three quad-core processors at CES. One of the new chips, the Core 2 Quad, is Intel’s first stab at expanding the quad-core audience beyond large data centers and research grids. The chip is aimed at processing bottlenecks that happen with HD video and multimedia and is part of the company’s Viiv initiative for home PCs. The other two chips are versions of the Quad-Core Xeon 3200 and are for low-end, single-socket servers used for functions such as e-mail or for the Web and file-and-print. Since quad-core chips haven’t had many takers owing to a lack of multithreaded software, Intel said it aims to fix that by actively working with software developers.
Sun billed its new blade server as the fastest of its kind in that red-hot market and also announced a new subscription service for U.S. customers that allows them several automatic updates of server hardware. Customers will get three blade hardware refreshes over 42 months. Sun also announced a new version of Solaris Cluster, which is software meant to improve availability of applications on the Solaris 10 OS.
6. “Google Malware Alerts Frustrate Website Owners,”CIO.com, Jan. 11
Some website operators are up in arms because they say that Google flags their sites as containing malicious software, or malware, even though their sites do no such thing. If users click on a link in Google’s search engine results, they sometimes wind up at an “interstitial” page with a message that says “Warning—visiting this website may harm your computer!” Site access isn’t blocked, but users have to manually type in the URL to get to the site. Site operators say that it’s embarrassing if such alerts pop up when searchers try to get to their sites. In the words of one IT services business employee, Google is “the king of the Internet” and so having such an alert associated with a site is humiliating. Stopbadware.org says it will review Google’s alerts and that Google will remove them if it is found the sites don’t have malicious software. According to Stopbadware.org, site operators aren’t always aware that their sites contain malicious software.
The annual Software & Information Industry Association Global Software Development Survey Report concludes this year that offshoring of software development by software companies isn’t leading to a loss of U.S. jobs. The survey of 114 U.S.-based software companies found that offshoring was usually used for expansion and not to replace workers. Companies turn to offshoring because they cannot get development teams working fast enough, owing to a shortage of engineers and H-1B visas, the survey found.
8. “Adobe Releases First Set of Patches for Cross-Site Scripting Vulnerability,”
Network World, Jan. 10
Adobe issued the first set of security patches for the cross-site scripting vulnerability that European researchers made public a few weeks ago. The vulnerability left Acrobat Reader v.7.0.8 and earlier versions open to being exploited by hackers. Although the vulnerability is not associated with PDFs, users who unwittingly click on a malicious link to a PDF on the Web could activate attack code. Adobe 8, released last month, is not at risk to the cross-scripting attack.
9. “Catalogue Lets Users Browse Open Source Projects,”Network World, Jan. 10
Optaros, an open-source consulting and integration company, released a catalogue of open-source projects to help IT managers figure out which free software suits their needs. The catalogue is available at www.optaros.com, with registration required for access. The catalogue includes reviews of 262 open-source projects in operating systems, application development, business applications and infrastructure software. All of them meet the basic requirements for enterprise use, according to Optaros, and were selected using the expertise of the company’s consulting and integration team.
Instead of big merger and acquisition news this week, there was word of a spinoff. NCR is separating from its Teradata data warehousing division, creating two publicly traded companies. NCR is perhaps best known for its automated teller machines and retail point-of-sale technologies, while Teradata makes enterprise data warehousing software. The two have different business models and markets, NCR said, and so to allow both to focus better, they’re going to separate. For all practical purposes, they’ve been operating as standalone businesses for several years, the company said. Once the spinoff is complete, Teradata will beef up its consulting services and applications and work to sign up more partners.