Briefs: January 9, 2006


"What you see in these systemsthe real performance improvements come not so much from the CPU as the GPU," Dell said, adding that he believed Intel's latest processors themselves were impressive. Dell has consistently rebuffed the notion of using non-Intel processors.

Dell said his company shipped 10 million PCs in the fourth quarter, and grew its consumer unit shipments from 1.2 million in 2000 to 6.8 million in 2005.

During his speech, though, he offered a firm endorsement of the flexibility of the PC as a platform that is adapting to home needs faster than other technologies like gaming consoles.

"What's driving this growth is the ever-changing nature of the way people are using the PC," Dell said.

Sponsored post

IBM said it would stop contributing to its U.S. pension plan starting in 2008, hoping to save billions of dollars by moving all employees over to its 401(k) savings plan.

Retirement benefits would be frozen as of Dec. 31, 2007, but would be available to participants when they leave the company under the same payment options currently in effect.

In January 2008, all employees would receive the company's enhanced 401(k) savings plan. IBM plans to double the current company match to up to 6 percent of salary deferrals and to make additional automatic contributions of 1 percent to 4 percent of employees' pay into their accounts.

The changes do not affect IBM's 125,000 current U.S. retirees, former employees with vested benefits or employees who retire prior to Jan. 1, 2008, the company said.

IBM said it expects the announced changes, along with 2006 changes under consideration in several other countries, to cut worldwide retirement-related expenses this year by $450 million to $500 million. From 2006 through 2010, the company expects to cut costs by $2.5 billion to $3 billion.

Hewlett-Packard last week introduced a notebook PC that supports Verizon Wireless' high-speed network, providing an alternative to Wi-Fi connections often used by travelers in airports, hotels and other public places.

The HP Compaq nc6140 includes dual antennas and pre-installed software for connecting to Verizon's Evolution Data Optimized, or EV-DO, broadband network. HP and Verizon plan to jointly market the business computer. "Mobile professionals using HP's mobile broadband notebook no longer have to limit themselves to airports, hotel lobbies or other public Wi-Fi hot spots," Ted Clark, senior vice president and general manager for mobile computing at HP, said in a statement.

Verizon Wireless claims its broadband service is capable of download speeds of from 400 KBps to 700 KBps.

The notebook, which uses the Qualcomm MSM6500 CDMA2000 1xEV-DO high-speed wireless chipset, weighs 6 pounds and includes a 15-inch screen and full-size keyboard. Prices start at $1,399, HP said.

While cellular high-speed networks provide wider areas of access than Wi-Fi connections, which are limited to specific locations, the former is far more expensive. Verizon Wireless cellular subscribers can buy unlimited access to the network for an additional $59.99 a month. Non-subscribers would pay $79.99 a month.

Symbol Technologies on Thursday took the wraps off a new enterprise-focused handheld that combines bar-code scanning, PDA functionality and voice support for cellular and WLAN networks.

Unveiled at CES in Las Vegas, the MC70 is a new genre of PDA designed to target a different type of customer than Symbol has addressed in the past, said Mark Chellis, senior director of marketing for Symbol's mobile computing division.

Weighing 12 ounces, the MC70 runs Windows Mobile 5.0 phone edition and features one-dimensional laser-scanning functionality for scan-intensive applications. The MC70 can be used as a voice device on cellular and 802.11a/b/g networks, and it supports Bluetooth, Chellis said.

Chellis expects the MC70 to be used for applications such as workforce automation in the automotive, postal and government sectors. Symbol has already signed a large governmental postal delivery service that plans to purchase "tens of thousands" of the devices, he said.

Plans call for the MC70 to ship Jan. 11 and be available through Symbol's reseller partners. Prices begin at $2,195 for a model without Bluetooth and range up to $2,845, depending on the configuration.

Frank Cary, who helped drive the development of the personal computer as head of IBM in the 1970s, died Jan. 1 in his sleep in his home in Darien, Conn., according to his son. He was 85.

Cary was IBM's CEO from 1973 to 1981 and chairman from 1973 to 1983, according to IBM's Web site. He most recently was a director at companies including printer maker Lexmark International and Lincare Holdings, which provides patient therapy in the home.

Cary retired at 60, complying with IBM's then-policy requiring key executives to give up their posts to younger managers.

During Cary's tenure, IBM introduced a 50-pound "portable" computer, the Selectric typewriter and a so-called Winchester hard drive, which stored twice the amount of information as previous hard drives. Cary left the CEO post the same year IBM introduced the first personal computer.

Dave Boucher, a 30-year IBM veteran and former vice president who knew Cary, said the former CEO was the driving force behind IBM's entry into the personal computer business. "Cary was the guy who made the decision for IBM to build its own personal computer rather than go out and take someone else's product into the market," Boucher said.

MCI restated financial results for the first three quarters of 2005, lowering net income for the nine-month period by $52 million.

The company has made amendments to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission to correct an error related to its contributions to the Federal Universal Service Fund for 2003, 2004 and the first three quarters of 2005.

The carrier also plans to record a cumulative adjustment of $35 million in its fourth-quarter 2005 results to reflect amounts prior to 2005.

MCI said in a statement that the revision would have no impact on its pending merger with Verizon. Shares of MCI last Thursday closed up 26 cents at $20.71 prior to the announcement.