Dell Narrows HP Lead

The Dell/HP smackdown continues. In the commoditized world of PC sales, Dell has recently made some gains on the current market leader Hewlett-Packard. HP has led the PC pack for six straight quarters.

Recent reports released by market researchers IDC and Gartner showed Dell's shipments climbed to 10.9 million units, a 22 percent jump over last year. HP also gained, but not quite as much, climbing 17 percent to 13.3 million units.

According to IDC's published estimates, HP has 19.1 percent market share and Dell has 15.7 percent. Last year, those figures were at 18.6 percent for HP and 14.8 percent for Dell. Consumer sales and surprisingly strong U.S. sales account for most of Dell's gains. Growth in international sales appears to be boosting both relatively equally, according to IDC's and Gartner's observations.

What logo adorns your organization's PCs? Do you have a preference? What is it about one brand of system over another that drives your choice? Let us know at [email protected].

IBM Stronger Than Ever
The folks in Armonk, N.Y. are happy these days. IBM yesterday reported profits for the quarter that put the company in a fine position to continue reinventing itself and reclaiming its former grandeur. Big Blue is still big, both domestically and overseas. In fact, currently, a majority of IBM's revenues come from overseas business. Nevertheless, IBM enjoyed a 6 percent increase in U.S. sales this quarter.

The rise in results for this quarter reportedly came primarily from IBM's technology services arm. Services revenues, which have been the heavy-hitter the last few quarters, rose 17 percent to $14.6 billion. Overall, net quarterly revenues for Big Blue were $24.5 billion. That's an 11 percent increase from last year's first quarter results.

The big boost in services revenues, according to IBM and the analyst community, have been ongoing and increasing investments in markets like India, China and Europe, particularly Eastern Europe. In those markets, IBM has aggressively pursued financial services, telecommunications and government agencies.

Particularly encouraging about the results, in general, is that IBM's positive earnings and rosy longer term outlook bodes well for the technology sector as a whole. Over the past few years, Wall Streeters have kept predicting a big bounce for tech that never seems to come. But with IBM's and Intel's strong earnings reports this week, more observers believe we maybe on the verge of that long-awaited rebound.

More specifically, IBM's software fortunes bode well for the entire software sector. While the technology services business is the lion's share of IBM's upward-facing revenue charts, software sales kicked in $4.8 billion, an enviable 14 percent jump. Hardware sales slumped earlier, but picked up marginally toward the end of the quarter.

IBM said yesterday the $5 billion takeover of Ottawa-based Cognos was a major factor in driving sales, along with marked improvements in server-software sales. Big Blue's software revenues shot up 14 percent to $4.8 billion, with foreign exchange generating 8 percent of the gain. Now, if Microsoft can just follow through with its quarterly report...

Perhaps it's once again true that no one will ever get fired for buying IBM -- product or stock. Are you a Big Blue customer? How do you feel about IBM's continued evolution? What would your next course of action be if you were in the driver's seat in Armonk? Check in and let us know at [email protected].

Microsoft To Show Creative Tools at CRE8
Creative professionals from far and wide will soon gather in Orlando for the CRE8 Conference to see the latest Web design tools and get some hands-on training.

At this year's event, Microsoft will demonstrate its Silverlight platform, a development platform for designing interactive content. It will also present the Expression Studio Web design tools. There will also be training sessions that will include a full guided tour of the Expression Studio family of tools. Other training sessions will cover delivering interactive content and streaming video using Silverlight.

Michael Eisner, former CEO of Walt Disney, will present one of the major keynote addresses entitled "The Creative Economy." Eisner's current venture is an online studio called Vuguru.

The annual CRE8 Conference is presented by the Aquent Graphics Institute. Key sponsors include major vendors like Microsoft and Quark. The event is geared for creative types charged with designing and rolling out Web sites, managing interactive content, and creating print publications.

Are you responsible for Web design and content presentation at your organization? What are some of the key aspects of your Web strategy? Log on and let us know at [email protected].

VMware's Built-In Hypervisor Advantage
In a recent interview I did with Raghu Raghuram, VMware's vice president of products and solutions, he brought up one important advantage his company's hypervisor technology has over that of Microsoft's. Because Microsoft has designed Hyper-V to have a heavy dependency on the operating system (which wouldn't necessarily shock a lot of people), it remains more vulnerable than VMware products to malware attacks -- along with having a much bigger footprint -- than VMware's Virtual Server.

"The Microsoft approach is to have virtualization be an adjunct to the OS. With the Virtual Server architecture, it's explicitly a separate layer that relies on the OS," Raghuram said. "With the Hyper-V architecture, they're still maintaining the same dependency on the OS, so it's not fundamentally different than the Virtual Server in that respect. The downside for customers is the Virtual Server architecture is still tied to a commercial OS, which is fairly vulnerable to attacks and has a big footprint."

To read the full interview with Raghuram, go here.

Mailbag: Password Security No Match for...Chocolate?
Lafe wrote yesterday about a survey that tested people's willingness to give up passwords for some chocolate. The results were a little sobering. Here's what some people had to say:

That's why I get furious at Web sites such as that want your date of birth in order to register for anything or even vote for an All-Star. If forced to do so, I'll give them a false date. It's one thing to give your age, but it's another to hand out your date of birth. Don't they realize it's a security identifier used by many financial institutions, or is it the advertisers that want the DOBs? If they say, "We need to make sure you're at least 13 years old," then I would say, "Well, just give me a checkbox and I'll verify that for you."

I have long recommended that people should use "1/1/YEAR OF BIRTH" in ALL cases online. It is easy to remember and, in almost all cases, good enough for what the Web site needs.

I have been flogging this dead horse unsuccessfully now for about six years. My simple message (at least, I thought it was simple) is to use biometrics to release passwords. That way, the password does not need to be remembered or entered by the user and, depending upon the type of biometric technology used, it cannot be "passed on" to a third party or otherwise spoofed. This solution is a win-win for both the user and the security administrator because it adds to security and improves the user-friendliness of the access control mechanism at the same time. And there are other productivity benefits as well.

My conclusion after six years is that most people (VCs, angels and enterprises themselves) to whom I demonstrate the technology understand the message but do not seem to be prepared to do anything about it -- sad, really. Maybe I should offer chocolate incentives. There is information at here and a white paper here (PDF).

I would instruct my employees to lie! (And be sure to enjoy that Cadbury.)

If someone offered me a bar of chocolate in exchange for my password, I'd just make one up at the time to get the chocolate -- as I'm sure most of those that gave their passwords did, too.

Business people and even private individuals hand out business cards by the millions every year with their name and phone number on it. The people entering the drawing didn't give out any information, at least according to your article, than can't be found in the phone book. In fact, business cards carry much more information.

And how authoritative can such a survey be? Asking people on the street if they would sell their passwords? Not only are people notorious liars when it comes to surveys, but who would take such a question seriously? My answer would probably be, "No, but I'd let you have it for five bucks." And that would be logged as my "terrifying" answer.

Got anything to add? Let us know! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to [email protected].

About the Author

Ed Scannell is the editor of Redmond magazine.


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