Briefs: October 23, 2006


HP PASSES DELL AS TOP PC MAKER
Hewlett-Packard overshot rival Dell to reclaim the No. 1 position in worldwide PC market share during the third quarter, according to two research firms.

Both Gartner Group and IDC said Dell's market share declined in both the United States and worldwide during a third quarter in which the computer maker fought news of investigations into its finances, declining revenue growth and a massive, 4.1-million unit recall of Sony batteries for its laptops.

"We are delighted to have reclaimed the No. 1 share position in a period where we also achieved profitability and revenue milestones for the business," Todd Bradley, HP's executive vice president, Personal Systems Group, said in a statement.

Worldwide, according to IDC, HP shipped 9,831,000 PCs compared to 9,803,000 shipped by Dell. In the U.S., Dell still maintained market leadership but lost share. Here, Dell maintained a 31 percent market share to HP's 22 percent. Gartner Group also gave the top worldwide market share slot to HP over Dell, by 16.3 percent to 16.1 percent. In the U.S., Dell led HP by 32.1 percent to 23 percent, Gartner said.

STOCK OPTIONS LAWSUIT, INQUIRY DELAY INSIGHT'S 3Q EARNINGS
Insight Enterprises will delay filing its third-quarter financial results due to an active investigation of its stock option grants, according to the direct marketer.

The company's executives could not be reached for comment but it issued a statement that its board of directors has appointed an options subcommittee of independent directors to conduct a review of the company's stock option practices.

The options subcommittee has retained outside legal counsel but has not reached any conclusions about the stock option practices, according to Insight.

In addition, some present and former directors and executive officers have been named as defendants in a lawsuit related to stock option practices from 1997 to 2002. The suit was filed Sept. 21 in Superior Court, County of Maricopa, Ariz., and also names the company as a nominal party.

Insight's filing deadline was Nov. 9 for its third quarter. Shares fell 4 percent to $21.15 last Friday morning, down 85 cents, after the company announced the news.

"Clearly, Insight is not the first company to come out with this information, and there has been a wide range of outcomes for the large number of companies that have reported problems—ranging from no evidence of wrongdoing all the way to executive resignations and restatements/charges to financial statements," wrote Brian Alexander, senior vice president of equity research at Raymond James and Associates, in a report. "Rarely have these issues come to light as the result of a private lawsuit—typically the review is prompted by an inquiry from the SEC or Justice Department."

FORMER TECH DATA SALES VP DUCATELLI JOINS ZONES
Direct marketer Zones has appointed Tom Ducatelli as executive vice president of business development. Ducatelli will be responsible for establishing a national field sales force focused on large- and medium-size businesses and will be located in Zones' Dallas field sales office.

Most recently, Ducatelli was senior vice president of U.S. sales at Tech Data. He left in July 2006 after 18 months with the distributor. Prior to that, he was senior vice president of sales and business development at CompuCom Systems, a $1.7 billion solution provider he joined in 1994.

MICROSOFT ROLLS OUT IE7; VISTA, OFFICE ON TAP FOR NEXT MONTH
Microsoft has rolled out Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP, just months before the general availability of its next-generation Windows Vista operating system. The long-touted Vista and Office 2007 tandem launch is on for the last week in November in New York, sources said.

Available for download now, the IE7 Web browser upgrade offers users many new security features and better protection. It also features tabbed browsing; an enhanced user interface for searching, surfing and printing; support for RSS feeds; and improved compatibility with Web sites, according to Microsoft.

IE7 will be automatically downloaded on Nov. 1 to all customers that have Automatic Update turned on, Microsoft said.

Internet Explorer has been a favorite target of hackers. But in IE7, Microsoft hardened the code and included features that reduce malware, prevent phishing and automatically block ActiveX controls from downloading. With the fortified security, PayPal and VeriSign have endorsed IE7.

Besides stronger security, the IE7 for XP release sports a Vista-like interface and enhanced support for Microsoft's Active Directory Group Policy, which will enable IT managers to deploy and manage the browser on desktops more easily.

IE7, too, brings a new feature pioneered by the rival Mozilla Firefox browser: tabbed browsing. Microsoft said IE7's tabbed browsing allows users to view multiple sites in one window and easily switch from one Web site to another. Quick Tabs, another new feature, offers a snapshot of all open tabs on one screen.

Microsoft said the same browser upgrade will be integrated into the Vista OS, which is slated to ship to all users in January. Yet the Vista browser will offer additional features, such as parental controls and user account control, the company said.

The new client Windows operating system and Office System client and server applications have been promised for volume business customers by year's end and for consumers by early 2007.

Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, would not comment on specific launch timing or venue but said the company remains on track for the two promised delivery windows. He applied the usual caveat: Microsoft will not ship the code if it's not ready.

Raikes acknowledged that delays to these key products have been more frustrating for solution providers—who need new wares to sell and, more important, the service opportunities those new wares create—than for business customers themselves.

It is a huge launch for partners, he noted. Vista itself is significant, he said, "[but] what you can do with Office System is the bigger overall partner opportunity because of the breadth and depth [of the offerings]," Raikes said.

ELECTROGRAPH TO LAUNCH LINE OF LCD, PLASMA DISPLAYS
Electrograph Systems plans to launch its own line of LCD and plasma displays aimed at the consumer, government, education, professional audio/video and digital signage markets.

And there's good news for VARs: The new displays are designed to generate up to 15 points more margin than similar products made by top-tier manufacturers.

Electrograph's RevolutionHD line will include 32-, 37- and 42-inch LCDs and 42- and 50-inch plasmas. The displays feature HDTV compatibility, a selection of A/V input and connectivity options, enhanced 1080i processing, RS-232 control, split-screen picture-in-picture, integrated calibration controls and portrait/landscape mounting.

RevolutionHD will replace Electrograph's self-branded line of displays, which will be phased out during the first quarter, said Sam Taylor, president of the display distributor.