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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Less Is More At Hewlett-Packard -

Less Is More At Hewlett-Packard - Forbes.comComputer Hardware & Software
Less Is More At Hewlett-Packard
Lisa DiCarlo, 07.15.05, 2:31 PM ET

Hewlett-Packard's board of directors has claimed that in firing former Chief Executive Carly Fiorina, the company had the right strategy but the wrong execution. We'll find out if that's true next week, when the company reportedly plans to lay out the details of a restructuring designed to pare costs and shore up its market share in key segments.

The restructuring will reportedly include layoffs of more than 10,000 workers. The company, which closed its acquisition of Compaq in May 2002, has about 150,000 workers worldwide. Its architect is Mark Hurd, who was hired as CEO after HP (nyse: HPQ - news - people ) fired Fiorina for failing to deliver on her ambitious growth plans for the company. At the time, HP's board insisted that the problem with HP wasn't strategy but follow-through on strategy. That may be true, but Hurd has already undone one of Fiorina's major strategic moves in an effort to right the ship.

In mid-June HP separated the PC and printing divisions, which were merged under Fiorina only in January. HP did not provide details of the rationale behind separating the groups, but the company clearly feels that its cash cow--imaging and printing--needs to stand on its own under executives who can focus on the one category. HP's PC business has struggled, as most PC businesses have, against the superior efficiencies of Dell (nasdaq: DELL - news - people ). IBM (nyse: IBM - news - people ) finally cut bait earlier this year and sold its PC business to China's Lenovo.

If Fiorina's strategy was so sound, as the board says, then why is one of Hurd's biggest challenges to bring HP's out-of-whack costs in line with the industry? After all, Fiorina sold shareholders on the Compaq acquisition in large part by emphasizing cost savings. But in May, in discussing HP's second-quarter results, Hurd said that the "overall performance leaves room for improvement in many of our businesses" and that HP's costs were "off benchmark in many areas." Under Hurd, HP has already made senior management changes that will change the direction of the company. Last week it hired away Dell's chief information officer, Randall Mott, to be its senior vice president and CIO. He will report to Hurd and have a seat on the company's executive committee. Under Fiorina, several key executives fled to join rival companies, including EMC (nyse: EMC - news - people ). That particularly stings, because data storage, a multibillion-dollar industry, has been a weak spot for HP.

In early June HP promoted Cathy Lyons, a 26-year company veteran, to executive vice president and chief marketing officer. She took over the CMO job from Mike Winkler, who will continue to run HP's customer solutions group.

Even without any details, Wall Street is generally bullish on an HP restructuring. Its shares are trading up 34 cents to $24.96. S.G. Cowen, in a research note, says head-count reductions offer the potential for upside to its current earnings estimates for 2006 and 2007. Layoffs offer an almost immediate boost to the bottom line, but will do nothing to fix HP's problems.

Hurd, and HP's board, have to wonder whether in fact they have had the right strategy in place.

The Week Ahead: July 18-22, 2005 -

The Week Ahead: July 18-22, 2005 - Forbes.comWhen to watch: Tuesday, July 19. The word on the street is that there's going to be some fine-tuning 'round Palo Alto way. OK, let's forsake the euphemisms: Media reports have suggested that the world's No. 2 computer maker, Hewlett-Packard (nyse: HWP - news - people ), is due to announce a restructuring next Tuesday, and they've cited analysts as saying HP might lay off thousands of workers. Scuttlebutts are placing the number of pink slips between 15,000 and 20,000, or around 10% of the company's workforce. HP insiders have intimated that the "layoffs are imminent--it's only a question of when," one analyst was quoted as saying in The New York Times. HP, which on July 14 declined to comment on the speculation, recently signaled that job cuts were likely in the current quarter. Indeed, Chief Executive Mark V. Hurd previously said HP had a cost structure that is "off benchmark in many areas" and that the company needed to symmetrize its costs with competitors such as Dell (nasdaq: DELL - news - people ), whose costs are lower. In May, 1,900 employees in HP's printing division accepted voluntary retirement. --Chris Noon

Friday, July 15, 2005

Sony Network Walkman NW-HD5 (Black) Intro - Sony Network Walkman NW-HD5 (Black) review - MP3 players - CNET Reviews

Sony Network Walkman NW-HD5 (Black) Intro - Sony Network Walkman NW-HD5 (Black) review - MP3 players - CNET Reviews Sony Network Walkman NW-HD5 (Black)
Release date: July 1, 2005

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CNET editor's take

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Reviewed by James Kim
Edited by Jasmine France
Reviewed July 14, 2005

Editors' rating:
out of 10
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Sony's MP3 stock has shot up mercurially since introducing native MP3 playback to its Network Walkman franchise. Its latest hard drive-based player, the supercompact Network Walkman NW-HD5, has winner written all over it. Although the 20GB player lacks extra features that make the iRiver H320s and the Cowon iAudio X5s of the world so popular, the HD5 delivers big time, with a wonderfully simple interface, a tiny form factor, sweet sound quality, and wicked battery life. Available in silver, black, or red, the HD5 has a list price of $300. :: Article :: First 60 minutes with HP iPAQ hw6500 :: Article :: First 60 minutes with HP iPAQ hw6500First 60 minutes with HP iPAQ hw6500
Author - Pavel Koza :: User rating - 3/5 gems (24 votes) :: Views - 2596 July 13, 2005 :: Over the past few months, I have repeatedly complained abut HP not being as inventive as before and their innovation attempts often produce questionable results. New iPAQ hw6500 refutes all those allegations – I have not seen so much innovation packed in a single device for a long time. I was as lucky as to be able to try the device briefly before its official launch, so here are my first impressions. I shall make it clear straight away that they are mostly positive:)

Please note: This is not a regular review. I have not subjected the device to regular tests in an effort to discover its strengths and weaknesses. Instead, I am presenting my - mostly positive - impressions from the first encounter. So, this is not an objective report but rather a subjective description of a completely new device, full of uncritical admiration and enthusiasm about its great features. If you don’t like this type of article, please wait for a full-fledged review.

With a certain degree of simplification, it would be easier to write what is ordinary about this device rather than to give an account of all the innovations and special features. Please note that the device I had was a pre-production unit, as is the case with all models featured in the “First 60 minutes with...” series. That means that the final product’s hardware and software features may differ. It is still a few weeks (or months) before its launch, so please do not rely on the information herein contained absolutely.
HP iPAQ hw6500
HP iPAQ hw6500

The average-size device features an unbelievable concentration of innovation per cubic centimetre. Its weight matches that of similarly equipped devices. The device holds pretty well thanks to rounded edges at the bottom.
Comparison with iPAQ hx2750

I bet my ancient 16-MB CompactFlash card:) that four out of five Pocket PC fans will notice an unusual display at first sight. As far as I can remember, this is the first Pocket PC device in history to feature a square display. The display sports the same parameters e.g. as that in iPAQ hx2750 (TFT, 65 thousand colours) but different size: 240 x 240 pixels, 79-millimetre diagonal. I will discuss its advantages and disadvantages in more detail in a big review, for now I have just a few remarks. The main problem is games that are designed for the 240 x 320 resolution and therefore part of the game screen is not displayed. Nevertheless, the hw6500 is not intended as a gaming machine and most other applications work fine with the square display. It is hard to judge how convenient it will be in real life – it may matter in some situations whereas the integrated keyboard may compensate for the smaller display area in others. For me, it was a shock initially but I grew used to it over the time, I must admit. Naturally, there is no screen rotation option;)
HP iPAQ hw6500 HP iPAQ hw6500 HP iPAQ hw6500 HP iPAQ hw6500

The iPAQ hw6500, AKA Mobile Messenger, is a pioneer also in communication. It is not the first Pocket PC with an integrated GSM/GPRS module but certainly the first EDGE-enabled Pocket PC. In a few tests data appeared to flow faster than over GPRS but considered characteristics of the EDGE technology and an absence of any indication that would tell you "you are now downloading data over EDGE", this was just my impression. In addition, the iPAQ offers also Bluetooth and, as a cherry on the cake, an integrated GPS receiver. It seemed very sensitive – I drove the device on the front passenger seat and it was able to catch the signal from 5-6 satellites without any problems, which was not the case for BT GPS Altina that I used for comparison.

Another conspicuous feature is an integrated keyboard. The keyboard is virtually the same as those implemented in iPAQ h4350, iPAQ h6340 etc. It has blue backlight and is ideal for typing medium-length texts. It remains to be seen though if the final version will support national characters. Other controls include a joystick and a few user-definable and function buttons.

It is likely that strongly negative reactions to the performance of iPAQ h6340 made HP look for a more powerful CPU. This time, it is not a top performer, either, yet the Intel PXA272 running at 314 MHz offers much greater computing power than the 168-MHz OMAP. The memory includes 64 MB of RAM and 48 MB of FlashROM and is one of the areas where we may see some improvement in the final version. Now, a question for investigative readers: take a look at the screenshot below this paragraph and guess what is unusual... Yes, you are right:) This iPAQ, like new XDAs, offers part of the memory as Extended ROM (12 MB), i.e. a hidden place where the manufacturer preloads bonus apps that automatically start after a HW reset. Popular “cooking” may in the future become interesting not only for XDA users.
Extended ROM now in HP iPAQ:)

Expansion slots are not the same as usual, either. The new iPAQ does not feature the usual combination of an SDIO and a CF slot but an SDIO and a Mini-SD slot. Mini-SD is not new to the pocket computer sector but until now has been used in smartphones. It is a good solution for memory cards, although Mini-SD cards are more expensive than the standard SD ones. The user can store programmes on the Mini-SD card and use the SD slot for SDIO cards (WiFi etc.) and memory cards with documents, music and videos. The only minor drawback is the location of the slots on the side of the device, because SDIO cards stick out a little.
Two expansion slots

Digital photography fans will appreciate an integrated 1.3-MPix camera which offers resolution of up to 1280 x 1024 pixels. The quality is not striking (lags behind iPAQ rx3700); I would call it “satisfactory”, but sufficient for illustrative snaps. It supports still images as well as video and sports similar features as most other integrated pseudo-cameras. To get the idea, here are some photos (reduced in size).
Camera lens Nemo in the bed (er, this is not my side of the bed:) A cottage in Hornbach hobby centre A still-life with a parking lot

It is too early to evaluate the software suite because it is the last thing the designers fine-tune. As in most iPAQs, we can expect a generous selection of bonus software. Besides common applications, such as Backup and Camera, I discovered e.g. a utility called Jeyo Mobile Extender in the Windows folder, which makes it possible to synchronise SMS messages with desktop Outlook. The Extended ROM contained a navigation utility from TomTom but this is not even remotely useful for people in the Czech Republic (no maps for this part of the world).
Today Screen Camera application SmartMaps Navigator

My first impressions? Superb on the technical side, good-looking, I appreciate a come-back of silver colour. I have described the technical parameters above, so I won’t repeat myself but I can say that almost all of them are unique. I guess the HP iPAQ hw6500 is targeted at a limited group of corporate users, not the general public. The most likely users are those who require mobile collection of data, sales people etc. for whom this device may serve as an all-in-one laptop replacement. Let’s take it from the beginning – a mobile employee downloads a list of places to visit during the day into his PDA. He will have no problems getting there thanks to integrated GPS and navigation SW (why not SmartMaps Navigator:) Once reaching the client or partner, he can take even large-scale orders, typing on the integrated keyboard, which, with some training, will offer much better services than the virtual one. In addition, if the SIP panel remains hidden, the display area is comparable to a common PDA. He then can send the orders to the company, the EDGE technology enabling fast transmission of large volumes of data (e.g. updates of parts and price lists may take many MB of data). The Mobile Printing utility makes it possible to print the order on the spot and hand it over to the client. And so on...

I am not saying an ordinary user would not find the new iPAQs features cool. Yet I believe HP’s other models are better suited for common users, albeit without an integrated GPS, EDGE and other specials to be found in this device. It is also possible that I will change my opinion after some time of testing the device:) Of course, the price – still being kept secret – will be one of the important factors. Anyway, we shall see when the final version hits the shelves.

Monday, July 11, 2005

It’s official: more cellphone lines than landlines in the US - Engadget -

It’s official: more cellphone lines than landlines in the US - Engadget - www.engadget.comIt’s official: more cellphone lines than landlines in the US

Posted Jul 11, 2005, 3:40 AM ET by Peter Rojas
Related entries: Cellphones

recellular used cellphones

It’s not really a competition or anything, but the FCC just released a report confirming that as of late last year the number of cellphone lines in the U.S. officially surpassed the number of landlines. It’s still pretty much 50/50 — at the time of the survey there were 181.1 million cellphone lines versus 177.9 million landlines (and it’s not clear if they’re counting VoIP lines from companies like Vonage) — but the shift towards wireless is undeniable