Briefs: March 30, 2006


DELL TALKS PRINT MANAGED SERVICES
Dell is poised to enter the print managed services space with a “cradle-to-grave” offering designed to extend the company’s sales reach inside the enterprise, said Joseph Marengi, senior vice president of Dell Americas, last Wednesday at the Morgan Stanley Semiconductors and Systems Conference in Dana Point, Calif.

Marengi said Dell also is ready to jump back into its strategy of slashing prices on low-end printers to boost system sales. “Printer managed services are the same as when we went into the Dell managed services, and eventually they will wrap under the same umbrella,” he said. “We’re going to manage [customers’] print infrastructure—outside of the big production print machines they have—across their entire business. And that would be everything from replacing the [printer] asset that exists in there today with a new Dell asset and managing and taking care of the asset, making sure there’s always paper there, making sure there’s ink and toner always there. And when it comes time for the life cycle of that product retiring, [we’ll] replace it with a new one. It’s a kind of cradle-to-grave, if you will, for the printers inside of a corporate or public institution.”

MICROSOFT UNWRAPS ORIGAMI ULTRA-MOBILE PC AT CEBIT
Microsoft unveiled plans for a lightweight, ultra-mobile PC form factor developed as part of a project code-named Origami.

The ultra-mobile PC (UMPC), which made its debut at CeBit 2006 in Hannover, Germany, is expected to be priced from $599 to $999. It runs Windows XP Tablet PC 2005 Edition with a new, preinstalled Microsoft Touch Pack and Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Vista. The Touch Pack features an enhanced touch-screen user interface for on-the-go computing, Microsoft said.

Several OEMs are expected to release the first batch of Intel-based Origami devices in mid-2006. For example, Founder Electronics and Samsung plan to ship Intel-based UMPCs in the second quarter, and Asus is slated to ship another model shortly thereafter.

Windows-based UMPCs weigh less than 2 pounds and feature a 7-inch screen that gives users a choice of text input methods, including touch, stylus, QWERTY keyboards or a traditional keyboard, Microsoft said. The devices are expected to have a battery life of two and a half hours or more; offer 30 Gbytes to 60 Gbytes of storage; and run on Intel Celeron M, Intel Pentium M or Via C7-M processors.

Microsoft also developed special software for Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 and several editions of Vista that incorporate the Tablet PC Windows software.

One Microsoft partner said the UMPCs look better than the first batch of Tablet PCs that Microsoft started pushing several years ago.

“It looks like a great product, especially at the price point,” said Alex Zaltsman, managing director at Exigent. “I can see our medical practice clients embracing it as long as the device’s performance is comparable to existing [Intel] Pentium 4 or Centrino systems. The first Tablet PCs were very slow and buggy, so I hope they worked the bugs out in this product.”

RIM ACQUIRES ASCENDENT TO EXTEND CORPORATE FEATURES
Research In Motion said last Friday that it had acquired a privately held software firm and released an updated version of its corporate server, giving it new tools to more tightly connect its BlackBerry to corporate phone and data services.

RIM, which makes the popular BlackBerry e-mail and mobile phone device, did not disclose financial details of its purchase of Ascendent Systems.

Ascendent, which will become a wholly owned subsidiary of RIM, makes software that extends the features from a traditional corporate desk phone to mobile devices.

RIM, which last week agreed to pay $612.5 million to NTP, a patent-holding company, to settle a marathon patent dispute, also said its BlackBerry Enterprise Server 4.1 is now available.

The server can link BlackBerry devices with realtime communication, or instant messaging, and Web services tools, such as corporate intranet applications.

“This is a CIO’s dream to have this all integrated in one solution that you’ve already paid for,” RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie said.

“We don’t know anyone else who’s within a country mile of supporting anything like this,” Balsillie said.

The new tools will help drive sales, he added.

Ascendent, whose partners include Cisco Systems, Microsoft and Telus, struck an alliance with RIM in October 2005 to jointly engage in “tactical” and marketing initiatives.

Ascendent’s technology will allow BlackBerry devices to take on the features of a business phone, or so-called private branch exchange (PBX), Balsillie said.

AMD PLANS TO SHIP DUAL-CORE TURION PROCESSORS IN 2Q
Advanced Micro Devices said last Monday that it plans to ship the company’s first dual-core Turion processor for notebooks in the second quarter.

AMD narrowed down the delivery time frame for the dual-core Turion processor after pegging it for sometime in the second half in previous road maps. David Rooney, a product manager in the mobile division of AMD’s Microprocessor Solutions Sector, said AMD’s 64-bit dual-core part will support DDR2 memory and include virtualization and multicore power management when it ships.

The new processor will be accompanied by two mobile reference platforms that AMD developed with chipset makers Nvidia and ATI Technologies. The reference platform was developed to help original design manufacturers (ODMs) and OEMs bring new AMD-based notebooks to market more quickly.

Meanwhile, at its annual partner conference this week in Scottsdale, Ariz., Intel plans to unveil a whitebook initiative for system builders that includes interchangeable batteries, power supplies and drives. Rooney said AMD is investigating whitebook initiatives, but he declined to give details. “We’ve had a lot of conversations about the whitebook market and are very passionate about it,” he said.

ROBERSON PROMOTED TO CEO OF HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS
Hitachi Data Systems named Dave Roberson as its new CEO. Roberson, who had served for several years as president and COO of HDS, last week was confirmed as president and CEO. Former CEO Shinjiro Iwata is now chief marketing officer for Hitachi Ltd.’s strategic business segment, the Information and Telecommunications Systems Group, HDS executives said.

“Over the last four years, Dave and I teamed up to transform Hitachi Data Systems into the storage leader with disruptive technologies that dramatically changed the market,” said Iwata in a statement. “Dave’s strategic vision and demonstrated strength in managing operations will continue to drive the company’s growth and further extend our leadership in the storage industry. I look forward to collaborating with Dave in my new role to reinforce Hitachi’s global business strategy.”

Roberson is a 25-year HDS veteran and has served as a board member of several public and private companies.