Tuesday, February 19, 2013

CBA, Telstra join Open Data Centre Alliance

More and more enterprises are seeking further cost reductions through use of the cloud. Aivars Lode Avantce

CBA, Telstra join Open Data Centre Alliance
Companies gain access to Alliance’s cloud usage models, data centre planning decisions

Commonwealth Bank CIO Michael Harte.
The Open Data Centre Alliance (ODCA) has signed up the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and Telstra as adopter members of its cloud and data centre roadmap.
The two companies get access to ODCA’s usage models which are designed to help members with data centre purchasing and planning decisions. In addition, CBA and Telstra will have the opportunity to assess new cloud technologies.
Commonwealth Bank's CIO, Michael Harte, said that its advocacy of cloud and the potential benefits for both employees and customers were a priority.
“That’s why we are actively involved in industry organisations, such as the ODCA, which help to set standards and accelerate innovation to deliver faster more efficient rich services on demand, not just for ourselves but for broader industry interests and economic benefit,” he said in a statement.
In November 2012, Harte told participants at an Amazon Web Services (AWS) event in Sydney that the bank has shifted a dozen on-premise applications to the cloud. "The operational cost reduction is huge," he said at the time.
"We've halved storage costs, we've halved most of our app testing and development cost. We've got a wide range of technology functions as a service. We've got application development, testing, infrastructure, software and storage."
Harte added that the bank was looking for a "40 per cent improvement in pricing across all the things that we consume as a service".
Telstra director of cloud services Stuart Smith said he was looking forward to engaging with peers from a variety of industries to help the telco increase the “depth and breadth” of its cloud offerings for customers.
In December 2012, Telstra announced the next stage of its $800 million cloud services investment with new data centres set to go live in Western Australia, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory in Q1 of 2013.
A new Victorian data centre will also be opened during 2014 in Clayton, Melbourne, complementing an existing facility in the city.
The ODCA is an independent IT consortium comprised of companies who have come together to provide guidance for long-term data centre requirements. It is led by a 12 member steering committee which includes the National Australia Bank (NAB), BMW, Capgemini, China Unicom, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, T-Systems, Terremark, Disney Technology Solutions and Services, and UBS.
Intel serves as technical advisor to the ODCA. The University of Melbourne’s Clouds Lab is a contributor member.
Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick
Follow CIO Australia on Twitter and Like us on Facebook…Twitter: @CIO_Australia, Facebook: CIO Australia, or take part in the CIO conversation on LinkedIn: CIO Australia

Microsoft: Not Bad, Not Good

Huge cash reserves. Aivars lode Avantce

 Microsoft: Not Bad, Not Good

MSFT reported headline results that were about in line with sell side estimates, though probably better than real expectations when recent PC shipment data is fully considered. A closer look indicates a quarter that was more reflective of a struggling PC market, as channel inventory build probably helped the Windows business, and Surface shipments were likely disappointing, which should not be surprising.
·         Details. EPS of $0.76 (with $0.02 from a lower tax rate) on total revenue of $21.5B was about in line with consensus estimates of $0.75 and $21.6B, but better than our $0.68 and $21.0B, respectively. We believe that consensus sell side estimates may have been greater than true expectations since not all analysts had updated their estimates to reflect recent dismal PC unit shipments. Gross margin of 73.5% was about 260 bps better than we modeled. Operating cash flow declined 18% from a year ago to $4.8B and was below our $5.4B estimate, while deferred revenue of $19.8B was better than the consensus estimate of $18.9B and our $18.2B.
·         Windows inventory math. The Windows business continues to be coupled to the PC market, despite what appears to be a disconnect in the December quarter results. We believe the 900 bps outperformance of Windows relative to the PC market was primarily due to a build up of inventory in the PC OEM channel, as OEM partners built inventory in anticipation of the launch of Windows 8, like they typically do with any Windows launch.
·         Surface math. Although management chose not to disclose shipments of Surface units, we estimate shipments of 600,000 to 800,000 units, as detailed herein.
·         Model changes. Our MarQ GAAP revenue and EPS are now $20.5B and $0.74 vs. $20.8B and $0.72 previously; our FY2013 GAAP revenue and EPS are now $78.9B and $2.75 vs. $77.8B and $2.62 previously; and our FY2014 GAAP revenue and EPS are now $83.7B and $3.00 vs. $82.9B and $2.91 previously.
·         We continue to rate shares of MSFT Neutral with a December 2013 price target of $30 based on our DCF.

In Asia's trend-setting cities, iPhone fatigue sets in

One day a rooster the next a feather duster, if you are in the retail industry with no continued differentiation for customers you are bound to be disinter mediated. Aivars Lode Avantce

In Asia's trend-setting cities, iPhone fatigue sets in

SINGAPORE | Sun Jan 27, 2013 4:29pm EST

(Reuters) - Apple Inc's iconic iPhone is losing some of its luster among Asia's well-heeled consumers in Singapore and Hong Kong, a victim of changing mobile habits and its own runaway success.

Driven by a combination of iPhone fatigue, a desire to be different and a plethora of competing devices, users are turning to other brands, notably those from Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, eating into Apple's market share.

In Singapore, Apple's products were so dominant in 2010 that more devices here ran its iOS operating system per capita than anywhere else in the world.

But StatCounter gs.statcounter.com, which measures traffic collected across a network of 3 million websites, calculates that Apple's share of mobile devices in Singapore - iPad and iPhone - declined sharply last year. From a peak of 72 percent in January 2012, its share fell to 50 percent this month, while Android devices now account for 43 percent of the market, up from 20 percent in the same month last year.

In Hong Kong, devices running Apple's iOS now account for about 30 percent of the total, down from about 45 percent a year ago. Android accounts for nearly two-thirds.

"Apple is still viewed as a prestigious brand, but there are just so many other cool smartphones out there now that the competition is just much stiffer," said Tom Clayton, chief executive of Singapore-based Bubble Motion www.bubblemotion.com, which develops a popular regional social media app called Bubbly.

Where Hong Kong and Singapore lead, other key markets across fast-growing Asia usually follow.

"Singapore and Hong Kong tend to be, from an electronics perspective, leading indicators on what is going to be hot in Western Europe and North America, as well as what is going to take off in the region," said Jim Wagstaff, who runs a Singapore-based company called Jam Factorywww.jamfactoryonline.com developing mobile apps for enterprises.

Southeast Asia is adopting smartphones fast - consumers spent 78 percent more on smartphones in the 12 months up to September 2012 than they did the year before, according to research company GfK www.gfkrt.com.


Anecdotal evidence of iPhone fatigue isn't hard to find: Where a year ago iPhones swamped other devices on the subways of Hong Kong and Singapore they are now outnumbered by Samsung and HTC Corp smartphones.

While this is partly explained by the proliferation of Android devices, from the cheap to the fancy, there are other signs that Apple has lost followers.

Singapore entrepreneur Aileen Sim, recently launched an app for splitting bills called BillPinwww.billpin.com, settling on an iOS version because that was the dominant platform in the three countries she was targeting - Singapore, India and the United States.

"But what surprised us was how strong the call for Android was when we launched our app," she said.

Indeed, 70 percent of their target users - 20-something college students and fresh graduates - said they were either already on Android or planned to switch over.

"Android is becoming really hard to ignore, around the region and in the U.S. for sure, but surprisingly even in Singapore," she said. "Even my younger early-20s cousins are mostly on Android now."

BillPin launched an Android version this month.

Napoleon Biggs, chief strategy officer at Gravitas Group www.gravitas.com.hk, a Hong Kong-based mobile marketing company, said that while Apple and the iPhone remained premium brands there, Samsung's promotional efforts were playing to an increasingly receptive audience.

For some, it is a matter of wanting to stand out from the iPhone-carrying crowd. Others find the higher-powered, bigger-screened Android devices better suited to their changing habits - watching video, writing Chinese characters - while the cost of switching devices is lower than they expected, given that most popular social and gaming apps are available for both platforms.

"Hong Kong is a very fickle place," Biggs said.

Janet Chan, a 25-year-old Hong Kong advertising executive, has an iPhone 5 but its fast-draining battery and the appeal of a bigger screen for watching movies is prodding her to switch to a Samsung Galaxy Note II.

"After Steve Jobs died, it seems the element of surprise in product launches isn't that great anymore," she said.

To be sure, there are still plenty of people buying Apple devices. Stores selling their products in places such as Indonesia were full over the Christmas holidays, and the company's new official store in Hong Kong's Causeway Bay has queues snaking out of the door most days.

But the iPhone's drop in popularity in trendy Hong Kong and Singapore is mirrored in the upmarket malls of the region.

"IPhones are like Louis Vuitton handbags," said marketing manager Narisara Konglua in Bangkok, who uses a Galaxy SIII. "It's become so commonplace to see people with iPads and iPhones so you lose your cool edge having one."

In the Indonesian capital Jakarta, an assistant manager at Coca Cola's local venture, Gatot Hadipratomo, agrees. The iPhone "used to be a cool gadget but now more and more people use it."

There is another influence at play: hip Korea. Korean pop music, movies and TV are hugely popular around the region and Samsung is riding that wave. And while the impact is more visible in Hong Kong and Singapore, it also translates directly to places like Thailand.

"Thais are not very brand-loyal," says Akkaradert Bumrungmuang, 24, a student at Mahidol University in Bangkok. "That's why whatever is hot or the in-thing to have is adopted quickly here. We follow Korea so whatever is fashionable in Korea will be a big hit."

(Additional reporting by Lee Chyen Yee in Hong Kong; Khettiya Jittapong and Amy Sawitta Lefevre in Bangkok, and Andjarsari Paramaditha in Jakarta; Editing by Emily Kaiser)

Social oldies mean Facebook loses its cool

Is this the start of the press cycle on Facebook's death? Aivars Lode Avantce

Social oldies mean Facebook loses its cool


Facebook is losing its shine among Kiwi teenagers, probably because their parents are flocking to it.
Auckland digital strategist Justin Flitter said the number of younger users opting to delete their Facebook accounts was "staggering" and he questioned whether it was a snowball effect or simply a natural transition. "If you look at it, 13 to 15-year-olds are leaving. Is that because Facebook is just not cool any more? But in saying that, among a lot of the older people, it's growing."
Almost half the country's population are Facebook users, with around 2.3 million New Zealanders signed up, said Social Baker, a website which measures social media patterns and trends.
However, in the past three months, 8380 people between the ages of 13 and 17 - who make up 13 per cent of the country's users - have left the site.
In contrast, 13,500 people over the age of 55 joined the site in the same time period. Over 55s also account for 13 per cent of the country's users - a trend that will continue to grow as Facebook has become "a part of everyday life", making it socially acceptable.
Flitter said the way the market works online would have to change if advertisers want to keep in touch with the younger generation who are moving toward sites like Twitter, Tumblr and mobile-specific applications where they can chat to their friends.
Those sites also allowed users a "very specific degree of anonymity" whereas Facebook was specifically linked to someone's identity.
"I guess there's a lot of discussion about privacy online and not wanting your employer, your mum or dad to see what you're posting about," he said.
Hamilton man Christian Rika, 20, deleted his account because of the "noise" his friends made online and the distraction Facebook represented.
Privacy and online anonymity were also reasons.
"It became a dumping ground for irrelevant information that I wasn't interested in," he said. "Another part of it was study, and I spent way too much time online procrastinating."
Rika, who believes the "most important thing" about social media is the conversations he has with his friends, has a big presence on Twitter and uses applications like Google chat and basic text messaging.
"I've been on some friends' [Facebook] accounts and had a look at their newsfeeds and photos from parties and I didn't feel that I was missing out," he said.
Breakdown of Facebook users by age group in New Zealand.
Under-17-year-olds 13% 
18-24 23% 
25-34 23% 
35-44 16% 
45-54 13% 
55-64 8% 
Over-65 4%

Has Apple Peaked?

Apple under attack. Aivars Lode Avantce

Has Apple peaked?
The world’s most valuable firm may be past its prime 

TECH blogs are abuzz. Pundits are busy pumping out predictions. The company that makes the new device that is attracting so much attention is teasing reporters by being coy about its innovative features. Apple’s product launches are always like this. But this time the fuss is not about an Apple product: it is about Samsung’s latest Galaxy smartphone, which is likely to be launched in March.
Stiffer competition in smartphones and tablets from the likes of Samsung has spooked investors in Apple. They got another fright on January 23rd when the firm revealed that its latest quarterly profit of $13 billion was flat because of higher manufacturing costs. That triggered a rout in after-hours trading: at one point some $57 billion was wiped off Apple’s market capitalisation, roughly the equivalent of the entire value of Ford, a carmaker.
First, Steve Jobs, Apple’s founder and creative genius, is dead. The iPhones and iPads he sired still generate gargantuan profits. But his successor, Tim Cook, has yet to prove himself capable of bringing new breakthrough products to market. Second, Apple’s fantastic profit margins—38.6% on sales of $55 billion—attract competitors like sweetshops attract six-year-olds.Apple’s shares have been mauled by bears many times before (see chart 1), but they have always recovered. The big question on many investors’ minds is whether the firm can rebound again. Two things have whetted the bears’ appetites.
The company’s fans pooh-pooh the idea that Apple has peaked. The firm’s price-earnings ratio—11.6 at close of business on January 23rd—is not much different from Microsoft’s (see chart 2). That makes Apple’s shares look relatively sexy. Unlike Microsoft, which depends heavily on the ailing personal-computer business, Apple concentrates on sectors that are growing fast, such as smartphones and tablets. Only one of 60 analysts tracked by Bloomberg had a “sell” recommendation on Apple before this week’s stockmarket fallout.

Sequoia And Qualcomm Put $1 Million+ Into Dexetra, Makers Of Friday, The Search Engine For Your Life

Search is changing to become more personalized. Aivars Lode Avantce.

Sequoia And Qualcomm Put $1 Million+ Into Dexetra, Makers Of Friday, The Search Engine For Your Life

Dexetra, the makers of Friday, a contextual personal search application for Android, has raised a Series A round of funding. The investment comes from Sequoia Capital (India) and Qualcomm Ventures, and is in the “millions” (between $1 and $2 million). The company won’t disclose the final amount because there’s still a possibility that new investors will be joining the round at a later date.
The funding comes at a time when there’s a shift underway in the search industry as a whole. Users are beginning to interact with search in new ways, such as through voice search and personal assistants, for example, and search itself is becoming more personalized and predictive. Google has been toying with experimental features where Gmail data is included in users’ search results and social signals are integrated via Google+. Plus, the personalized and automated Google Now feature pops up local info, weather, appointments, traffic alerts, and more on devices running the latest version of the Android OS.
friday app search
Friday, meanwhile, is similar in that it too is built on top of users’ own, personal data and activity. The app, for those unfamiliar, publicly debuted last July (on a Friday!) offering what could be summed up as “a search engine for your life.” Friday, which is part personal assistant, part search engine, and part “quantified self” data keeper, keeps a history of your communications, including calls, text messages, emails and more, and combines those with other events your phone is able to record, such as photos snapped and battery drains, and then it mashes it all together with data from third-party services, like Facebook and Foursquare.

On top of all this personal data, users can also install mini applications called “applets,” which offer single use cases to help make sense of the data Friday collects. One of the first applets to launch was called Trails, a travel diary that shows your travels plotted on a map. In a about a week, CEO Narayan Babu tells me that we’ll finally see another applet make its debut – this one will be for photo search. Another music-focused applet will follow in around a month. The company also has an alternative phone dialer app in development, which shows you not a recent call log, but a list of the people you are most likelygoing to call based on your current context. (However, three big Android OEMs are interested in that one, and have made offers, so its launch is being delayed for now.)
Dexetra also has a slightly older app, the Siri-like Android app called Iris, but the company now thinks it will sunset Iris and fold its users into Friday going forward. The two apps were more tightly integrated this fall, but Iris’ functionality could just be incorporated into Friday in the future, if need be.
Something that’s a bit surprising about the funding news is that Friday is not the kind of hugely popular application that would normally see a big investment – it doesn’t have built-in virality because of the sensitive, personal data it stores. That makes word-of-mouth growth more challenging. Babu tells me that the app has just 120,000 users currently on Android. However, those users have generated a lot of files (files being anything from a photo snapped to a check-in or song played and more). To date, 130 million of these “files” have been recorded, he says.
Going forward, the plan is to now work with Qualcomm to integrate the app with Qualcomm’sAllJoyn, an experimental development framework that enables ad hoc, proximity-based communication between mobile devices.
Having just recently transplanted its seventeen-person team to San Francisco, Dexetra will also use the additional funding for hiring. The company is mainly in search of designers, because making sense of a wealth of personal data isn’t only a technical challenge, it’s a visual challenge too.

Facebook: two thirds of users log off for weeks at a time

There is always excitement at the beginning and then things normalize even Apple. Aivars Lode Avantce

Facebook: two thirds of users log off for weeks at a time

Reasons for taking a break include 'excessive gossip or drama from friends' and considering it a 'waste of time', survey findsTwo thirds of 
Facebook users have taken a voluntary break from the site for several weeks or more, citing reasons ranging from "excessive gossip or drama from their friends" to "concerns about privacy", according to new research.
But much as its critics might like to think otherwise, the world's most popular social network is showing no signs of losing its audience. The most common reason stated for taking a break is that users are too busy, following by "just wasn't interested" and that it's a "waste of time".
According to a new survey published by the US Pew Research Center, only 4% of Facebook users cited privacy issues, with just 1% saying they did not like to share their lives via Facebook. Only 2% said they preferred to communicate face to face.
Some of the comments from those that were polled included "I was tired of stupid comments" and "I had crazy friends. I did not want to be contacted". Others cited the mundane nature of their friends' posts – "People were posting what they had for dinner" – or "I didn't like being monitored".
Pew found the vast majority, 92%, still maintained a profile on the social networking site with two thirds saying the site is as important in their lives now as it was a year ago.
But a significant minority, just under a third, said the site is less important to them now and just over a third reported they have decreased the amount of time they have been on the site.
Just over one in 10 said they spend more time on the site, particularly women.
Of concern to Facebook will be reports of decreased usage among 18 to 29-year-olds, with 42% saying the amount of time they spend on the social network in a typical day has decreased in the last 12 months.
Pew Research is a non-partisan think tank based in Washington, which conducts online behaviour surveys on internet usage, both in and outside the US. The survey was conducted in December and based on a sample of 1,006 American adults aged 18 and over.

3 lessons for Apple's shareholders

One minute a rooster. The next minute a feather duster. It looks like apple has had it's day. Aivars Lode Avantce.

3 lessons for Apple's shareholders
By Allan Sloan, senior editor-at-large February 6, 2013: 5:00 AM ET

The recent swings in Apple stock prove that a few simple rules of investing always hold true.
Fortune - For most people, Apple mania means buying the company's products and playing with them. But for us financial voyeur types, the fun comes from watching the lunatic lurching of Apple's stock price.
You gotta love it. From the start of last year through its all-time closing high on Sept. 19, Wilshire Associate says, Apple (AAPL) rose 73.5%, becoming the most valuable stock in the history of capitalism and accounting for an amazing 12% of the return the entire 3,684-stock Wilshire 5000 Index posted during that period. Then came the fall, and by this Jan. 24, Apple had dropped 36% from its high. During that decline, calculates S&P's numbers whiz Howard Silverblatt, Apple's stock fell by more than the entire market value of Microsoft (MSFT), once the world's most highly valued company. Great stuff for us voyeur types.
MORE: 5 new Apple products coming this year
What can we retail investors learn from observing these gyrations? That no matter how hot a company seems to be and how limitless its future, some ancient verities of investing still apply.
Let me offer you three of them.
Thou shalt not run with the herd, lest ye be trampled. For a while, Apple could do no wrong. Everyone loved the stock. But after it peaked, it could do no right in the eyes of Wall Street, where "What have you done for me lately?" is all that matters. When Apple was cooking, hundreds of mutual funds and institutional investors felt that they just had to own it, regardless of how fast its price had climbed, because it was such a big factor in the overall market. But when Apple lost its secret sauce, players felt compelled to dump it, regardless of price. How else do you explain that Apple, probably the most widely followed stock in the world, dropped 12%, or $40 billion, in just one day-- Jan. 24 -- the first trading session after its earnings announcement disappointed Wall Street?
So listen to the hoofbeats all you want. But don't try to run with the herd.
Thou shalt not fall in love with a stock. Owning a consumer stock like Apple can become an article of faith: I love its products, therefore I will love its stock, and I don't need to do any analysis. But that clouds your judgment. And if you are putting significant money into a single stock, you need all the clear-eyed judgment that you can get.
Apple makes a lot of money, has a ton of cash, and is a very valuable company. But stock prices are about the future, not the present. Right now the company lacks a hot new product to goose sales, and its huge profit margins make it vulnerable to competitors willing to settle for less lofty returns. Can you spell "Samsung"?
MORE: Inside BlackBerry's last stand
There's a possible precedent here: Microsoft, once a sizzling stock with a seemingly limitless future. In 1998, says Bob Waid, managing director of Wilshire Associates, Microsoft shot past General Electric (GE) to become No. 1 in stock market value with a 115% increase, then cemented its position with a 68% gain in 1999. In 2000 the stock fell 63%, and it has never recovered its boom-time cachet. Or its stock price.
Thou shalt not believe in the infallibility of a CEO.For a while, not only was the late Steve Jobs considered a god, but so was his successor, Tim Cook, as Apple stock soared when he took over. Everything Cook did, including instituting a cash dividend, was gushed over. Jobs died while Apple was ascendant, so his place in the investment pantheon is secure. Cook, by contrast, has had one of the quickest trips from Wall Street penthouse to outhouse that I've ever seen. Is he a good chief executive? Too early to tell. Is he infallible? Nope, no one is.
Owning individual stocks is much more fun thanbuying index funds, the prudent (but borrring) way to invest. I own quite a few stocks, Apple not among them, and sometimes have foolishly ignored these three verities. But if I were to put more than play money into Apple shares, I'd follow them faithfully. So should you.

Digital Disruption Front And Center In 2013

We are seeing digital disruption in many industries just look at Amazon now over $ 60 billion in Sales up from $30 billion a short 6 months ago. Aivars Lode Avantce

Digital Disruption Front And Center In 2013
Posted By: McQuivey on February 13, 2013

You’re going to hear a lot about digital disruption in 2013. And not just from the traditional culprits, like Silicon Valley startups or Israeli engineers or Russian coders. You’ll hear about digital disruption from big companies like GM and G.E. Even agribusiness giant Monsanto has released apps designed to give farmers the digital tools they need to improve crop yield, right down to the square meter. Amid this digital melee, it's important to understand what digital disruption is and what it is not. Important enough that I've written a book about it. 
Share this video on Twitter
If you’re not careful, when you hear stories about traditional companies like HBO setting up software development teams on the West Coast, you may conclude that digital disruption is about apps. Or if you listen too closely to the pitches at startup conferences, you may think that digital disruption is about social media. Or social TV. Or whatever new flavor excites the digital elite.
Be careful. Digital disruption is all of those things, but it’s much more than that. It’s a fundamental shift in the way consumers approach the market, empowered by digital tools and experiences that have led them to expect not only new levels of service but new types of services. Consumers are ready to put a digital mirror in the bathroom to help them make beauty decisions. They’re ready to let their mobile phones jack into their car operating systems to learn from and ultimately control the car. They’re ready to interact with favorite TV shows and even ads. Perhaps even more disruptive is the fact that they are ready to take those same technologies and expectations into the workplace, disrupting the way your business operates, making you faster and more responsive if you let them.
Even though digital disruption is bigger than most think, it is deceptively simple to harness. That’s because the tools of digital disruption are available to everyone.
Every day, the cost to take an idea from concept to final product or service falls even lower. Twentysomething kids are starting businesses on Kickstarter for $40,000. Digital experiences can be offered on whatever combination of devices makes sense to consumers – Web, mobile, TV, and beyond. Every company of every size has access to digital platforms like Google Play or the Apple App Store, which has paid over $7 billion to developers since 2008. And even the most physical products can and must be wrapped in digital product experiences that expand satisfaction in areas as everyday as fashion and healthcare or as specialized as military camouflage and cement manufacturing.
Not only will digital tools and platforms make it possible to create and deliver experiences faster but the collision of new competitors eyeing the digitally available consumer will accelerate this even more. Because the competition is motivating but also because many potential competitors will partner across digital lines to get there first.
That’s why 2013 will be a busy year. Companies will barely have time to realize digital disruption is happening to them before they’ll have to swiftly organize to join it.