Thursday, August 30, 2007

Startup Invents Wireless HDMI Interface

Amimon, a startup based in
Santa Clara, California, has unveiled a chipset that enables transmission of high-definition video streams over the air, virtually eliminating the need of wires for high definition multimedia interface (HDMI). The company calls its technology Wireless High-definition Interface (WHDI) and claims that consumer electronics (CE) makers may start to embed the tech already.
WHDI supports delivery of uncompressed 1080p (with equivalent video rates of up to 3 Gbps) in a 40MHz channel in the 5GHz unlicensed band, in compliance with FCC regulations. Uncompressed 720p, 1080i and 1080p 24/30p (with equivalent video rates of up to 1.5 Gbps) can be delivered in a 20MHz channel, conforming to worldwide 5GHz regulations. Range is beyond 100 feet through walls (30 meters), and latency is less than 1 millisecond.
The WHDI chipset can be embedded into CE devices such as LCD and plasma HDTVs, multimedia projectors, A/V receivers, high-definition DVD players, set-top boxes (STBs), game consoles, PCs and HD video accessories (wireless for HDMI dongles), allowing wireless streaming of uncompressed HD video and audio.
Amimon’s WHDI chipsets and reference designs are available now. Companies, engineers and developers interested in additional information on WHDI chipsets should contact Amimon.
CE manufacturers Loewe and Funai will be demonstrating wireless HDTVs based on Amimon’s WHDI technology at the IFA Consumer Electronics tradeshow in Berlin, August 31 – September 5, 2007.
“With WHDI chipsets in hand, CE manufacturers will now be able to offer consumers wireless HDTVs and other HD wireless video devices based on the WHDI standard. Consumers should see initial WHDI-based products at the end of this year, with a wide variety of WHDI-based CE products available in 2008,” said Noam Geri, vice president of marketing and business development at Amimon.

Sony Ericsson Eyes “PlayStation” Phones for Gamers

Sony Ericsson already produces cell phones under Bravia, CyberShot and Walkman brand-names targeting different customers with variable usage models, but has never introduced gamer-oriented mobile phone under PlayStation trademark. But that may change going forward, if the company will see sense in making such devices.
“[PlayStation phone] is obviously something that we’re looking at, but right now I can’t really comment. Before Christmas, certainly… but exactly which Christmas I can’t confirm,” said Peter Ahnegard, Sony Ericsson’s partner manager for third-party game developers for Sony Ericsson’s Java ME-enabled mobile phones, in an interview with PocketGamer web-site.
Sony’s PlayStation game consoles have been sold in quantities exceeding two hundred million units, meaning that the brand does have popularity among consumers. However, the PlayStation Portable (PSP) game console has not received as massive popularity as Nintendo’s handheld game devices.
Recently Sony and BT decided to equip PSP with voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) functions and other communications capabilities, which puts into a kind of competition against Sony Ericsson’s cell phones. On the other hand, all phones from Sony Ericsson come with pre-installed games and users can install more entertainment software on their phones, effectively making them gaming devices. Nevertheless, modern phones tend to be relatively small, feature not very large screens and also are not equipped with high-performance graphics or media processors, which means that contemporary mobile phones are not ergonomically or technologically suitable for up-to-date gaming. Nokia, which launched its N-Gage phones tailored for gamers years ago, ceased to make cell phones only for gaming, partly because of relatively poor game portfolio. Sony does have a quality lineup of games for PSP, but if it managed to release a PlayStation-branded game phone it will have to sacrifice some of the features of modern handsets, such as small sizes.
Keeping in mind that modern phones have some limitations when it comes to gaming, Mr. Ahnegard expressed certain doubts regarding emergence of Sony Ericsson PlayStation phone lineup, though, did not rule out its coming out some time in future.
“To explain our position I need to look at the brands we’ve developed so far, in particular the CyberShot and Walkman phones. When we looked at all the assets we could muster for music and imaging the services, downloads and overall proposition, we felt that we could create something that really lived up to the values of the brand and fill all the required boxes. We’re not launching a brand of handset simply because we can, but because we can lead up to the expectations of the consumer. Up until today we haven’t felt we could launch a PlayStation phone because it wouldn’t be recognized as a true continuation of that brand of products,” he is reported to have said.
Peter Ahnegard said that in 2008 high-performance microprocessors, three-dimensional graphics accelerators and high-speed 3.5G connectivity will become much more widespread features of handsets.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

S3 Graphics Aims to Intro DirectX 10 Graphics Chips By Year End

S3 Graphics, a struggling developer of graphics processing units (GPUs) and a subsidiary of Via Technologies, reportedly plans to release a lineup of DirectX 10-compatible Chrome 4 graphics chips by the end of the year. The move will allow it to revive sales of its graphics cards, but will hardly return S3 back into the global market of discrete graphics cards.
The new S3 Graphics Chrome 4 lineup will consist of two chips: the Chrome 460, which is projected to be made using 90nm process technology and is fully compatible with DirectX 10, as well as the Chrome 430, which is expected to be manufactured using 65nm fabrication technology and is clamed to support DirectX 10.1 specification. The new chips will feature native support for HDMI connector as well as HDCP technology and will use PCI Express 1.0 interface.
Both chips will be manufactured by Fujitsu and have already entered the design verification test stage. Volume production is expected to start before the end of the year, reports DigiTimes web-site.
The new chips from S3 Graphics in nearly two years will be aimed at mainstream and entry-level markets, which means that S3 will not compete for high-performance market this round as well, meaning the lack of “halo” effect and lackluster welcome by the market.
Considering that both Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia Corp. are pretty aggressive in terms of releasing new graphics products, even if S3 succeeds in creating chips competitive against contemporary ATI Radeon HD 2600/2400 and Nvidia GeForce 8600/8500/8400, it will not enjoy its victory for long, as both leading GPU designers update their product lineups once every six months. Nevertheless, it still makes sense for S3 Graphics to proceed with discrete GPU development because its parent company Via Technologies needs graphics cores to integrate into its chipsets.
In order to somewhat revitalize sales of its discrete GPUs, S3 and Via will pair S3’s Chrome 4 chips with Via’s microprocessors and chipsets, creating inexpensive low-power multimedia platforms for cost-efficient computers.

Qimonda Broadens Its Graphics Memory Portfolio

Qimonda AG on Wednesday unveiled its new GDDR3 memory chips that offer yet unseen combination of clock-speed and capacity. The new chips are suitable for mobile graphics accelerators that need a sufficient amount of high-speed memory, but have space constraints. In addition, they can power high-end consumer or professional graphics cards.
The new addition to Qimonda GDDR3’s portfolio is 1Gb (128MB) chip that can operate at 2.0GHz, a rather exotic combination for GDDR3 type of memory. The new chips can be installed on a new-generation mobile graphics accelerators to provide 512MB of high-speed memory for chips that feature 128-bit bus or even 1GB of memory for chips that have 256-bit memory controller.
Theoretically, the new 1Gb/2GHz GDDR3 memory chips may be used to create 1GB graphics cards with 256-bit memory bus or even 2GB add-in cards with 512-bit memory bus width. If installed on a modern Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX/Ultra graphics card, twelve of new GDDR3 chips would provide 1.5GB frame-buffer.
In addition to 1Gb/2GHz chip, Qimonda also ships 256Mb/2GHz components as well as 512Mb/2.40GHz GDDR3 memory chips.
Over the coming years – starting in 2008 – GDDR3 will be step by step succeeded by GDDR5, first in enthusiast and performance graphics applications, Qimonda indicated. According to Mercury Research, the GDDR5 will gain 7% of the GDDR market in 2008 and increase to 44% in 2009. GDDR5 is ideally suited to succeed GDDR3 in next generation game consoles as well. Qimonda is well prepared to support this upcoming I/O transition in the graphics market by planning to sample first GDDR5 devices by the end of calendar year 2007, the company said.

Seagate Denies Take Over Proposal by Chinese Tech Company

Seagate Technology on Tuesday dashed its chief executive’s comments made in an interview regarding the potential sale of the world’s largest chipmaker to an unnamed Chinese technology company. The firm indicated that the claim was a hypothetical, not a factual one.
“Just to be clear, Seagate has not received such an offer and we are not trying to sell the company,” Seagate said in a corporate statement provided to Reuters news-agency on Tuesday.
Apparently, William Watkins, Seagate’s chief ececutive, had actually referred to growing interest in hard disk drives technology from companies in China, Japan and Korea. However, Seagate insisted that it had never received a take over proposal from a technology company based in Asia.
Late last week The New York Times news-paper published an article containing comments made by Mr. Watkins about acquisition of Seagate by a large Chinese technology companies. The article titled “Chinese Seek to Buy a U.S. Maker of Disk Drives” firmly stated that a China-based company expressed interest in taking over Seagate.
While hard disk drives do not fall under a list of export-controlled technologies, the attempted purchase of an American disk drive company would require a security review by the federal government, the news-paper cites U.S. government representatives as saying. The U.S. officials warn about possibilities to transfer information from hard drives to third parties, including Chinese intelligent services.

Intel to Introduce Quad-Core Xeon MP Chips Next Week – Report

Intel Corp. plans to leave its smaller rival Advanced Micro Devices behind by days after introducing its quad-core Intel Xeon MP microprocessors next week. In addition to the new microprocessors earlier code-named Tigerton, the world’s largest chipmaker is expected to roll-out a new platform code-named Caneland, which is projected to be more efficient compared to the existing one.
A news-story at Cnet web-site claims that Intel will introduce the new Intel Xeon MP microprocessors lineup next week, days before AMD officially launches its quad-core AMD Opteron processors code-named Barcelona on the 10th of September. It is not revealed when exactly the new microprocessors designed to work inside servers with four or more physical chips, but in the last couple of years Intel updated its multi-processor (MP) server lineups on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, therefore, Intel will be less than a week ahead of AMD with its quad-core MP server product.
Earlier it was reported that the new Intel Xeon MP lineup will consist of eight microprocessors based on Intel’s latest Core 2 micro-architecture: six Tigerton QC chips and two Tigerton DC processors with four and two processing engines, respectively. The new chips will use 1066MHz quad-pumped bus and will also lower power consumption of Intel Xeon MP chips to the range between 50W and 130W. The products are set for September introduction, some sources indicated.
Five out of eight processors – models X7350 (quad-core, 2.93GHz), L7345 (quad-core, 1.86GHz), L7340 (quad-core, 2.40GHz), L7220 (dual-core, 2.13GHz) and L7210 (dual-core, 2.40GHz) – will have 8MB of cache, two – models L7320 (quad-core, 2.13GHz) and L7310 (quad-core, 1.60GHz) – will have 4MB of cache and one processor – L7330 (quad-core, 2.40GHz) – will have 6MB of cache.
The new Xeon MP processors will be priced from $856 to $2301.
But as the transition to the Core 2 micro-architecture was pretty smooth for other families of Intel’s products, in the MP server space the transition for the new micro-architecture will be complicated by co-transition to a new platform code-named Caneland, which features four independent processor system busses instead of two found on the current MP server platform from Intel. Nevertheless, after accounting for about 13% of Intel Xeon MP shipments in Q3 2007, the share code-named Tigerton processors will grow to 80% of Intel’s MP chip supplies in Q1 2008.
Intel did not comment on the news-story.

Fujitsu Aims to Popularize H.264 Video Codec

Fujitsu has announced a small device that may become pretty popular among makers of various digital video recorders or similar devices, as it can convert contemporary MPEG 2 video stream into H.264 video stream on the fly and without using any complex hardware. Besides, the chip can decompress H.264, which makes it useful for high-definition TV-sets or players as well.
Even though modern video codecs like H.264, VC-1 and WMV offer high quality amid relatively low bitrate, there is still a lot of MPEG2 content around. Given that high-definition video is gaining popularity nowadays, MPEG-2 becomes inefficient when it comes to storing of high definition videos recorded from digital terrestrial HDTV broadcasts or digital satellite HDTV broadcasts (which use MPEG2 HD). But Fujitsu claims that it had developed a chip that quickly and efficiently converts MPEG2 HD into H.264 streams.
Focusing on such issues, Fujitsu developed this MB86H52 transcoder large-scaled integrated (LSI) chip that converts MPEG-2 format video data to the H.264 format, which features a higher compression rate. Functionality of this new transcoder is based on the video processing technology of Fujitsu’s full HD H.264 Codec LSI product, MB86H51, which is currently shipped. As the transcoder includes a full HD H.264 CODEC for video encoding and decoding, uncompressed video data can also be compressed to the H.264 format. The transcoder can also decompress video data from compressed or transcoded H.264 to display it on a screen.
Fujitsu MB86H52 can work with various resolutions, but only features 2-channel audio, meaning that it will hardly find home in high-end players that can output multi-channel high-quality audio.
The new transcoder utilizes a proprietary algorithm developed by Fujitsu Laboratories that automatically applies less compression to areas in the image where compression artifacts are most noticeable to human vision, such as human faces or slow-moving objects, and greater compression to other areas. Thus, high image quality for the critical zones is maximized.
The transcoder can be embedded in a multitude of equipment requiring reduction of data size, for example, into digital video recorders or digital media players that can transmit fullHD (1080p) video via home networks, which bandwidth is limited.
Sample shipments of the new chip, the MB86H52, will start from September 1, 2007.

Valve Software Praises Nintendo Wii, Criticizes Own Roadmap

Nintendo Wii has taken the hearts of gamers by storm, but it still needs to capture the attitude of game developers to really remain the best selling game console of the latest generation. Gabe Newell of Valve Software said that Wii does represent a lot of potential and the lack of games for Wii in the company’s plans was claimed to be a drawback of the software developer.
“You can’t think of it as graphics, CPU, texture bandwidth scaling, you have to think of it as more fundamentally, and I think it’s more valuable. I think it’s more interesting than just graphics chip – CPU combination. […] The fact that we don’t have anything in development on it even though it represents big opportunities as a whole, it’s an obvious hole in our strategy,” said Gabe Newell, the founder and managing director of Valve Software, in an interview with Game Informer web-site.
Nintendo Wii is the least technically advanced new-generation game console. Its success is a direct result of its relatively low price of $249 as well as unique motion-sensitive control devices. The main target markets for Wii are casual gamers, children and those new to video gaming. According to market observers, Nintendo Wii was acquired by over 10.5 million of gamers worldwide in less than a year, which means that it does make sense for game developers to put more effort into creating new titles for Nintendo Wii or Microsoft Xbox 360, but not put much effort into Sony PlayStation 3, which was sold through in 4.3 million quantities in nine months.
But it is not that easy to develop games for Wii, claims the head of Valve Software. Wii does not have a powerful graphics processing unit or central processing unit. The main advantage of Nintendo Wii is motion-sensitive controller, which may change game experience fundamentally compared to a similar game on other game consoles.
“I think the Wii represents more of a challenge because of its input. You can think of the Xbox 360 as pretty much a PC and a PlayStation as kind of a PC. The Wii gives you a bunch of problems that don’t fit into that model,” Mr. Newell said, but did not announce whether Valve’s games, such as Half Life, will be eventually available for Nintendo Wii, just like they are going to be available for Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3.
Nintendo Wii console features IBM’s custom PowerPC architecture-based microprocessor named Broadway clocked at 729MHz and code-named Hollywood chip with built-in graphics core, DSP and I/O features from ATI that operates at 243MHz, earlier reports suggested. Nintendo Wii uses 91MB of memory in total: 23MB of “main” 1T-SRAM, 64MB of “external” 1T-SRAM and 3MB texture buffer on the GPU. Nintendo’s Wii does not feature a hard disk drive, instead, it boasts with 512MB of flash memory, but the console will also have a card reader, which will allow installing more memory.
Nintendo set the recommended retail price of ¥25 000 (about $204) in Japan, $249 in the U.S. and €249 ($342) in Europe.

Sony Accused of Spreading Controversial Software Again

Sony Corp. on Monday again faced critics for usage of software that embeds itself into operating system and poses security threats. Apparently, Sony’s flash memory drives software hid certain data related to fingerprint authentication process in a directory that could not be accessed by anti-virus software or end-user using typical interfaces, but could be accessed by anyone using command prompt.
According to a report from F-Secure, a leading developer of antivirus and security software for personal computers, Sony’s MicroVault USM-F lineup of flash drives come with software that creates and hides a directory under “c:\windows\”, which cannot be accessed by the end-user, some antivirus software, but can be accessed either by Sony or people who know about the software and have intentions to harm a computer system.
“It is our belief that the MicroVault software hides this folder to somehow protect the fingerprint authentication from tampering and bypass. It is obvious that user fingerprints cannot be in a world writable file on the disk when we are talking about secure authentication. However, we feel that rootkit-like cloaking techniques are not the right way to go here,” said Mika Tolvanen of F-Secure in a posting to the company’s blog.
The antivirus software company noted that Sony used the method of creating of a hidden folder back in 2005, when the XPC digital right management software was criticized for being a malware.
F-Secure contacted Sony before publishing the information regarding the vulnerability of its flash drives and dangers that they pose to customers. However, Sony decided not to comment on the information.

Quanta’s Chief Exec Resigns as Merge Talks with Foxconn Continue

About a year after it was reported about the merge talks between Hon Hai Precision Industry (the company mostly known for its Foxconn Electronics brand-name) and Quanta Computer, chief executive of the latter, Michael Wang, resigned from the company. Media speculates that the resignation took place ahead of the deal announcement by Foxconn and Quanta.
Quanta Computer, the world’s largest contract maker of notebooks, was founder in 1988 by Barry Lam and C.C. Leung, who now intend either to sell off the whole company to Foxconn Electronics, or to sell part of the company or form a strategic alliance with the world’s largest contract manufacturer. Michael Wang, who served as chief executive for 19 years, believed that Quanta should stay independent.
On Friday, the 24th of August, Mr. Wang officially resigned and C.C. Leung became the head of the company. In a press release Quanta indicated that the former chief executive quit the company because of “personal career planning” issues. However, an internal email that the former head of the company sent to employees named merger talks with Foxconn Electronics as a primary reason for his resignation.
“In regards to merger with Hon Hai, the Company would like to reiterate that there is no plan to engage in such a merger. Company requests investors not to be misled by such false rumors,” a statement by Quanta Computer reads.
Foxconn Electronics manufactures virtually all kinds of computer equipment and also produces a lot of popular consumer electronics devices, including Apple iPod digital media players. However, the company does not have a strong presence in the market of mobile computers as well as cell phones. Therefore, acquiring Quanta Computer would open a lot of new doors to the world’s largest contract maker of electronics.
The combined company will not only have unprecedented revenues for Southeast Asia, but will also be a powerhouse able to manufacture virtually all types electronics equipment. If Foxconn merges with Quanta computer, it automatically enters the market of handsets and notebooks, turning into the world’s largest maker of mobile computers. Additionally, it will significantly outpace the rivals, such as Asustek Computer, Arima or Compal, substantially increasing pressure on the remaining players.

Valve Software to Stick with DirectX 9 for a While

Since the vast majority of gamers today still use Windows XP operating system (OS) and cannot take advantage of DirectX 10 application programming interface, Valve Software believes that it hardly makes sense to jump on the DirectX 10 bandwagon just now, as certain DX10 hardware capabilities can be used even in DirectX 9 environment.
According to statistics from Valve’s Steam software distribution system, there are about 8% of gamers who use Microsoft Windows Vista operating system and 90% of those who utilize Windows XP OS. Meanwhile, over 11% of computers with Steam installed are equipped with a DirectX 10-compatible graphics processing unit, though, this does not guarantee that they use Windows Vista: only about 2.31% of users have a combination of a DirectX 10 GPU and Windows Vista.
“There are far more customers with DX10 hardware running on Windows XP than Windows Vista. If you’re going to try to take advantage of that hardware, your customers are telling you, make sure it works on DX9 API,” said Gabe Newell, the founder and managing director of Valve Software, in an interview with Game Informer web-site.
This is not the first time when a major game developer indicates lukewarm attitude towards DirectX 10. Earlier this year John Carmack of id Software said he would not "jump" on the DirectX 10 hardware immediately. Other game developers are also not leapfrogging to DirectX 10 mainly because two most advanced game consoles available today – Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 – are equipped with graphics chips which feature-set resembles that of DirectX 9 shader model 3.0, therefore, it is easier to develop new titles with similar graphics features in mind.
“Right now with the flexibility of DX9, we can take advantage of DX10 hardware functionality through DX9. For example, the tesselator in ATI’s [Radeon HD 2000] hardware is super valuable and we can get to it through DX9, so that’s probably a better investment than going after a DX10 API,” Mr. Newell added.
Another strong reason for not utilizing DirectX 10 for titles that are coming in the next 12 months is because of generally poor performance of contemporary first-generation DirectX 10 graphics processors even in modern games that use some DirectX 10 features.

Chinese Tech Company Seek to Take Over Seagate Technology

The chief executive of Seagate Technology, the world’s largest maker of hard disk drives (HDDs), said in an interview that a “Chinese technology company” approached the maker of hard drives with a proposal to acquire the U.S.-based storage solutions maker. The disclosure not only emphasizes intentions of China-based manufacturers to take over high-tech companies, but also causes concerns among
USA government officials.
“Seagate is not for sale… But if a high enough premium was offered to shareholders it would be difficult to stop,” William D. Watkins, the head of of Seagate Technology, is reported to have indicated in an interview with the New York Times news-paper.
Seagate’s current market capitalization is about $13.5 billion, therefore, the undisclosed China-based company would have to spend $16 - $17 billion to acquire the world’s No. 1 maker of hard drives. There are not a lot of China-based technology companies that could be interested in Seagate, though, Legend Group (Lenovo) is the one known for its rather aggressive acquisition strategy.
While hard disk drives do not fall under a list of export-controlled technologies, the attempted purchase of an American disk drive company would require a security review by the federal government, the news-paper cites U.S. government representatives as saying. The U.S. officials warn about possibilities to transfer information from hard drives to third parties, including Chinese intelligent services.
With a booming economy and $1.33 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves, Chinese companies are in a position to acquire various companies, including USA-based technology giants like Seagate Technology. However, the U.S. government is cautious about transferring high-tech companies and their developments overseas. Nevertheless, the acquisition intentions cannot be openly blocked by the country so not to harm relationships with China. On the other hand, the Chinese government would also not like to confront with the USA authorities.
“I do not think anyone in the U.S. wants the Chinese to have access to the controller chips for a disk drive. One never knows what the Chinese could do to instrument the drive,” said an industry executive who participates in classified government advisory groups.

Intel Updates vPro Platforms with New Security Technology

Intel Corp. on Monday unveiled a new version of its business and enterprise-oriented vPro platform, which from now on supports Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) earlier known under “LaGrande” code-name. With the help of new chipset and processors, TXT prohibits virtual machines in virtualized computing environments to interact, which makes it harder to attack such computers.
The new version of Intel vPro platforms is based around Intel Q35 core-logic as well as Intel Core 2 Duo E6850, E6750 and E6550 microprocessors that support such technologies as Virtualization, Trusted Execution Technology (TXT), enhanced Active Management Technology (AMT) as well as improved with improved System Defense Filters.
The main new feature of the revamped vPro is Intel TXT, which protects data within virtualized computing environments. Intel TXT ensures that virtual machine monitors are less vulnerable to attacks that cannot be detected by today’s conventional software-security solutions. By isolating assigned memory through this hardware-based protection, it keeps data in each virtual partition protected from unauthorized access from software in another partition.
In addition, Intel enhanced its Intel vPro platform with improved System Defense Filters. These filters can identify greater numbers and varieties of threats in the network traffic flow.
The latest version of Intel vPro also offers an embedded trust agent, the first certified by Cisco, providing the industry’s only 802.1x compatible manageability solution not dependent on OS-availability. This trust agent offers Cisco’s IT customers the ability to manage systems, even if powered off or the OS is down, without lowering the security on 802.1x networks and Cisco Self-Defending Network products.
Major computer makers and channel resellers around the world are now selling desktop PCs based Intel vPro platform. Currently, more than 350 companies are deploying this technology worldwide ranging from the thousands to tens of thousands of PCs per business.

Acer Set to Acquire Gateway

Acer Inc., currently the fourth largest maker of personal computers in the world, on Monday announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Gateway, the fourth largest PC company in the
U.S. The combination will create a multi-branded PC-company with over $15 billion in revenues and shipments in excess of 20 million PC units per year.
Under the terms of the agreement, Acer will commence a cash tender offer to purchase all the outstanding shares of Gateway for $1.90 per share, which represents total equity value consideration of approximately $710 million. The acquisition has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both Gateway and Acer and is expected to close by December 2007.
In Q2 2007 Acer commanded 7.2% of the global PC market, whereas Gateway had approximately 1.57% market share, according to numbers by Gartner agency. The combined company will be able to claim over 8% of the market, which will make it the world’s No. 3 supplier of personal computers.
There is a global trend towards enlargement of personal computer makers. In the recent years Gateway acquired E-Machines, HP bought Compaq, Lenovo took over IBM’s PC division and aims to buy Packard Bell. Being an influential maker of PCs, it is natural for Acer to target smaller suppliers of computers to improve its own business and obtain new markets for its devices.
“This strategic transaction is an important milestone in Acer’s long history. The acquisition of Gateway and its strong brand immediately completes Acer’s global footprint, by strengthening our U.S. presence. This will be an excellent addition to Acer’s already strong positions in Europe and Asia. Upon acquiring Gateway, we will further solidify our position as number three PC vendor globally,” said J.T. Wang, chairman of Acer.
The combination of Acer and Gateway is expected to result in significant revenue and cost synergies. The considerable increase in scale will result in reductions in per unit procurement and component costs for both companies. This combination also creates a real opportunity for the cross-selling of product portfolios by leveraging the customer relationships of both Acer and Gateway. Significant savings are also expected through the increased efficiency of the combined back-office functions. The pre-tax synergies are expected to be at least $150 million. In addition, this transaction is expected to be accretive to Acer’s earnings per share in 2008 without synergies.
Gateway earlier announced that it intends to exercise its Right of First Refusal to acquire from Lap Shun (John) Hui, all of the shares of PB Holding Company, the parent company for Packard Bell – a leading European PC vendor based in France. In addition, Gateway is currently in discussions with a third party with regards to a sale of its U.S. based Professional business.

Apple Preps New iPod Launch for Early September – Media Reports

Apple Inc., the maker of the world’s most popular digital media player, is rumoured to update the iPod lineup in early September, presenting a new breed of devices that will have improved operating system and, perhaps, feature-set.
Media reports from web-sites like Infinite Loop and Apple Insider claim that Apple is set to release a new breed of iPod digital music players with revamped user interface, which will resemble Mac OS X. While the details are not completely clear, it is rumoured that one of the new iPod’s to be introduced is the highly-anticipated touch-screen iPod, a gadget that is being talked about for more than a year.
Usage of Mac OS X on portable devices emphasizes Apple’s intention to unify its user interface across all consumer electronics and computer devices it ships, including Macintosh systems, Apple TV set-top-box, iPhone and iPod media players. This will give Apple an opportunity to offer its customers totally unified experience, which is likely to increase addiction to the brand by its customers.
The new iPod lineup is projected to be introduced on the 5th of September and some even expect the introduction to be massive and the new iPod gadgets to quickly become very popular among consumers.
Apple did not comment on the news-story.