Lenovo buys Motorola mobility unit for £1.8 billion

Google strategically purchased Motorola in 2012 for £7.9 billion to make Android-powered smart phones and utilise their patent portfolio to fight patent attacks aimed at their Android platform. This week Google announced the sale of Motorola’s mobility unit to PC manufacturer Lenovo for £1.8 billion. Google will keep the 17,000+ strong patent collection, whereas Lenovo gets the phone-making unit itself and Motorola’s strong brand (needed to tackle the US market). It is safe to assume Motorola will continue to create Android phones, but an additional Windows Phone line which has synergy with Lenovo’s laptops would make a lot of sense too. If Lenovo was to split up its new phone unit into commercial and business offerings, they would be in a unique position to offer businesses, security and productivity focused smartphones. Could this be the move that sees Blackberry being squeezed out of corporate contracts completely?

This week’s technology news from Amicus ITS – Friday 18th October 2013

Beware The Great Firewall of China
Recent reports of interest from Chinese electronics company Lenovo in taking over Blackberry have aroused serious concern with US regulators. A preliminary consortium deal from Fairfax Holdings remains on the table, along with a second consortium bid being prepared by Blackberry co-founder Mike Lazaridis. A large number of US corporate and government customers use Blackberry’s platform, so proposed Chinese control would attract a high level of scrutiny and concern. Last year, the manufacture of telecom network equipment by two Chinese companies was deemed to pose a threat to national security. Blackberry has historically routed messages via their own datacentre before crossing the network. This would not be a welcome precedent if the company were to have a Chinese parent, given the lack of freedom for users currently in the dragon State and their draconian interest in data control.

Windows 8.1 is now Live
Microsoft has released its first big update to the latest and controversial OS Windows 8, Windows 8.1. Microsoft has listened to feedback and re-introduced the Start button, conjoining the Start menu and desktop once more. With personalization options, the ability to boot to desktop, disable ‘hot corners’ and includes 3D printer support etc. Arguably the most important addition is the new integrated tutorials which should solve a lot of confusion for new users. Free to upgrade from Windows 8 it is a no-brainer for those existing desktop and tablet users. Anyone who has held off upgrading to Windows 8, should re-evaluate their decision now, as with the ability to control the user experience, you get the best of both worlds AND the reassurance of being supported.

Where a good BYOD policy would avoid conflict
With a rigid imposition of security policies on US government workers, a survey of cyber security professionals and non-cyber workers has found that resentment of controls so high, that 31% of employees sought a workaround to the security protocols at least once a week, whilst 49% of federal security breaches were attributed to end user non-compliance. Workarounds might include staff using their own devices and network, or altering network settings. Whatever the means, strictures and policies were found to be too burdensome, time consuming and hindered productivity. Harmonising security policies with end user behaviour is a challenge for CIOs, but one which should deliver better results for security by working as a team not adversaries – and improve the spirit of shared responsibility.

UK Government gets up to speed
With the first overhaul of its security banding since World War II, the Government is finally catching up with the digital age and removing over-complicated systems. Six security classification levels will drop to three. Currently classifications are listed as: Unclassified, Protect, Restricted, Confidential, Secret and Top Secret. These will become: Official, Secret and Top Secret. Affecting over 700,000 civil servant users, this is a further part of the Civil Service Reform Programme. It follows the Government’s endorsement of an adoption of Cloud earlier this year. Following the move away from paper, it reflects the increased use of mobile devices providing greater flexibility for the workforce, whilst controlling the distribution of sensitive data and saving costs.

This week’s technology news from Amicus ITS – Friday 19th July 2013

NHS penalty for loose disposal of data
NHS Surrey has been issued with a £200,000 fine by the ICO for failing to clear patient records off decommissioned computers sold on through an auction site. The hospital used a 3rd party trust to handle the data destruction, which promised to wipe sensitive data from hard drives before selling on. One PC had 3,000 patient records on it and records for equipment passed for destruction in a 12 month period had been lost. No formal contract, guidelines or monitoring were in place to explain the provider’s legal requirements under the Data Protection Act. The data destruction company was unable to trace computers or confirm how many might still contain personal data. Effective management and regulated control mechanisms extending during and beyond the lifecycle of a company device is critical in order to maintain confidence and commercial credibility.

HP vs Lenovo
Last week for the first time Lenovo de-throned HP in global PC sales. Although all PC vendors saw shrinking sales, HP’s drop of 4.8% was enough to bring them below Lenovo by 200,000 units. An HP spokesman has commented “We don’t like being number two and we don’t plan to stay there”. HP has been caught off guard while restructuring it business, recently losing some large government contracts to Lenovo. Gartner predicts HP will be back at the top after Q4 thanks to the consumer holiday season, an area in which Lenovo currently struggles. With declining PC sales across the board and mobile devices fiercely on the rise, it will be the company who can successfully create the next mass market consumer tablet that will secure dominance going forwards.

Microsoft risky re-organisation
Steve Ballmer has announced plans for a massive restructuring of Microsoft. The product groups are being dissolved, with devices and services divisions in their place. Everything is now aligned around engineering rather than products with four key areas: operation systems, applications, cloud and devices. One division will handle all of Microsoft’s operation systems instead of different teams depending on the product. The objective is to create a cohesive experience for users across the full portfolio from Windows Server to Windows Phone. The danger here is throwing away a corporate model that has made Microsoft the world’s largest software company and a money making power house. Will Ballmer’s risky bet will pay off? We will have to wait a few years to find out.

Broadband in space
Nature report that NASA and the ESA are bringing broadband to space using lasers by creating a much needed data link speed increase between satellites, spacecraft and Earth using laser beams. ESA launches Alphasat on 25th July communicating at 300 Mbps. Separately, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer will launch on 5th September. Using an atmosphere penetrating AM-style infrared laser beam and eight ground telescopes, the lasers will avoid radio interference and bring 6 times faster data link speed from the moon. How long it will take for these benefits to impact on consumers has yet to be determined.


New Year, New Technologies

With so much information in the public domain it’s difficult to get a snap shot of the areas which are important and how it affects you, so here’s my breakdown for the week.

Gartner Says Worldwide IT Spending Forecast to Reach $3.7 Trillion in 2013

Worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.7 trillion in 2013, a 4.2 percent increase from 2012 spending of $3.6 trillion, according to the latest forecast by Gartner, Inc. The 2013 outlook for IT spending growth in U.S. dollars has been revised upward from 3.8 percent in the 3Q12 forecast.  Time to increase marketing expenditure!

NHS needs to embrace future technologies

This week Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, stated that the NHS needs to embrace future technologies in order to improve patient care and reduce costs.  This comes as no surprise as many other industries are beginning to see the substantial rewards associated with using advancing technologies.  By doing this we believe embracing future technologies enables the NHS to reduce costs, free up hospital bed space,  practioners time, whilst offering a vast range of new healthcare solutions.

CES 2013

At this year’s annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Lenovo demonstrated its sought after preview of the new Idea Centre Horizon Table PC, a 27-inch all in one desktop with around the house portability.  This new product has been especially designed for multiple use, where up to four people can use the device at any given time.  It is to be seen if this design can be used in a wide range of environments, which one maybe the hospitality industry.

2013: make or break for Blackberry

RIM has been busy creating its new touchscreen OS for Blackberry’s upcoming phone and tablet.  BlackBerry 10, which is expected to be released worldwide this quarter, has the support of all major UK and US carriers.  This is a good start for the upcoming platform, however, we believe this is truly the make or break year for RIM whose market share has been falling steadily over the past few years.

Cloud Computing in 2013

The Government have announced their plans to pledge £5 million in R&D to address the perceived issues hindering the adoption of cloud computing.   We envisage, with the help of this Government funding scheme, this year organisations will begin to let go of their security qualms and the adoption curve for cloud computing will take off.