31772a6dd13fa30012a6de614c7ac0fc9734955e5797a33812 Money And Knowledge: April 2013

Facebook Home app gets 'worst' rating from users

A majority of users have given Facebook's Home mobile a one star rating on the Google Play store. 

Out of 14,100 reviews of the free Android app, 52% rated it just one out of five stars. 

Nearly 16% of reviewers, however, gave it top marks, leaving the app with an overall 'below average' rating of 2.2 stars, reports news.com.au.

Facebook Home's main feature is a constantly changed display of photos and updates from Facebook friends that consumes phone's battery life and mobile data allowance. 

Critics have complained the app's main feature -- a constantly changing display of photos and updates posted by your Facebook friends -- consumes a lot of battery and mobile data allowance. 

Many have also complained that the app 'hijacks' a phone's home screen, making it harder to access other phone functions like number dialing, texting and email. 

The two-and-a-half weeks old app has however been appreciated it for its 'stylish' and 'simple' design. 

A spokesperson for Facebook Australia said that the app was 'a first step' and they were working to 'improve the experience'.

Google India announces top travel trends for this summer

Google India, today, announced the top travel trends for this summer - a unique perspective on the hottest travel trends, based on searches conducted in India. These trends highlight the adventurous spirit of young Indians who are increasing searching for activities like scuba diving and snorkelling and want to explore beyond the conventional destinations. With more and more young Indian's coming online, they are increasing searching for new things to do while travellingand explore newer destinations which are rich in cultural heritage as well as give them a chance to discover their adventurous streak.
From tropical destinations like Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Goa to the wildlife sanctuaries of Uttarakhand, the search trends capture the top summer travel destinations this year. Showcasing young India's love for exploring their own country, these trends also highlight that Indians love to travel closer to home, as the top searched-for travel destinations remain domestic ones. Not only do these trends showcase the top destinations, but they also highlight the most searched-for activities and sights at these destinations like scuba diving in Andaman, Jim Corbett Park in Uttarakhand and not to forget the beaches in Goa.
For all those who love exploring heritage sites and wildlife sanctuaries or are simply looking for quick weekend getaways, the trends also unveil top attractions in India and topping the chart is of course, the stunning Taj Mahal followed by Jim Corbett Park.
Commenting on these trends Lalitesh Katragadda, Country Head - Products, Google, said "Indians love to travel and Google search trends highlight that an increasing number of Indians are looking to travel closer home, with the top searched-for travel destinations being some of the domestic locations. This can also be linked to the growing trend of budget travel where people are continuously looking for an great experience in a limited budget. Adventure tourism is on the rise with Indians searching for activities like snorkelling and scuba diving while travelling to places like Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Goa."
When it comes to travelling international, Indians love to chase the sun in tropical Maldives, and to go shopping in effervescent Singapore. Paris, New York, Seychelles, and Bahamas are the other popular destinations.

Top attractions in India:
Taj Mahal

Jim Corbett National Park

Qutub Minar

India Gate

Top destinations in India people are searching for:
Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand

Coorg, Karnataka
Top destinations outside India people are searching for:


New York

Airtel, Microsoft announce combo offer

Bharti Airtel and Microsoft announced a partnership, wherein consumers in the country can get discounts on purchase of Xbox games and Airtel high speed broadband connection. 

As part of this combo offer, consumers buying an 'Xbox 360 4GB Kinect' console or taking a new Airtel high speed broadband connection can save up to Rs 15,500, a joint statement by the two comapnies said. 

This combo includes 10 Xbox 360 games, 12-month free Xbox LIVE gold membership and up to Rs 4,888 offer on the existing or new Airtel broadband connection, it said. 

The Xbox is a video game console manufactured by Microsoft. 

The promotional offer is valid till June 30, 2013 and is available across Delhi NCR, Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai, it added. 

"Consumers can now enjoy a smooth Xbox LIVE entertainment experience which includes the best multi-player action that Xbox is so well known for on an Airtel broadband," Microsoft Corporation India Business Group Lead (Interactive Entertainment Business) Anshu Mor said. 

"We are confident that our-tie up with Microsoft... deliver a much-awaited and enhanced experience for gaming lovers," Bharti Airtel CEO (Homes and Office) Najib Khan said.

Amazon to launch Apple TV rival: Report

Amazon.com will release a set-top TV box later this year that will stream video over the internet, challenging Apple Inc's Apple TV device and a similar gadget sold by start-up Roku, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. 

The box will plug into TVs and give viewers access to Amazon's digital video content, which the company has been expanding, BloombergBusinessweek said, citing three unidentified people familiar with the project. 

An Amazon spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Amazon's video content is already available on other set-top devices, including Roku. Building its own gadget will help Amazon put the content more directly in front of consumers and give developers another reason to create apps for Amazon's digital platform, Bloomberg Businessweek said. 

The set-top box is being developed by Amazon's Lab126 division, based in Cupertino, California, near Apple's headquarters. It's being run by Malachy Moynihan, a former vice president of emerging video products at Cisco Systems, Bloomberg Businessweek added.

IBM In Talks To Sell x86 Server Business To Lenovo

IBM is in active negotiations to sell its x86 server hardware business, and Lenovo has emerged as the top candidate to buy it, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told CRN this week.

Lenovo is currently the only company in negotiations to purchase IBM's x86 server business, according to one high-ranking industry executive tracking the deal, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The deal would encompass IBM's System x line, which includes Intel- and AMD-based tower, rack and blade servers. IBM is reportedly seeking $5 billion to $6 billion for its x86 server business, the executive said.

Lenovo emerged as a desirable candidate because IBM is only interested in selling its x86 server business to companies it doesn't view as a threat to other parts of its business, the executive said. Lenovo fits that bill since it doesn't have storage, networking or converged infrastructure in-house, nor does it have much of a footprint in the data center, the source said.

IBM also has informed employees in its 20,000-square-foot server product engineering (PE) lab, located in its massive Building 201 facility in Research Triangle Park, NC, that they will become Lenovo employees effective June 1, a separate source with knowledge of the matter told CRN.

Lenovo's North America headquarters is located in Morrisville, NC, about five miles from Research Triangle Park.

IBM, which will report first-quarter earnings for fiscal 2013 Thursday afternoon, didn't respond to a request for comment. A Lenovo spokesperson declined comment, citing the company's policy of not responding to rumors or speculation.

IBM's PE lab, which supports all of the vendor's server lines, including the System x, System i, System p and System z, is where hardware and software engineers re-create customer problems in order to solve issues that can't be handled by IBM's tier-1 to tier-3 IBM support teams, the source told CRN.

IBM plans to continue providing high-margin server services, and once it sells the System x line it will focus on configuring, testing, installing and managing solutions, but not manufacturing the hardware product components, the source said.

System x sales declined 3.7 percent overall in IBM's fiscal 2012—2.7 percent when adjusted for currency fluctuations. Overall, IBM's Systems and Technology sales were down 7 percent to $17.7 billion in fiscal 2012.

IBM is looking to decrease its focus on hardware as part of its Roadmap 2015 (a plan some employees have branded "Roadkill 2015"), first announced in 2010 by then-CEO Sam Palmisano. The plan calls for boosting earnings per share to $20 and growing revenue in cloud, analytics and Smarter Planet solutions.

IBM has cut staff and is expected to shed some business lines as part of the overhaul that Roadmap 2015 represents, one source close to IBM told CRN. "People have been expecting some kind of sell-off," said the source. 

Lenovo is looking to grow its server portfolio to take on x86-based server vendors and in May launched its RD530 and RD630 ThinkServers, which it called its first "enterprise-ready" servers. Lenovo also said its server revenue through the channel grew 76 percent from fiscal 2012 to fiscal 2013.

An executive from an international solution provider that works with both companies expects the deal to benefit server-focused partners. "I think this could be a positive for the channel, since Lenovo does a larger percentage of its business through the channel than IBM," said the source.

According to IDC figures released in March, the x86 server market saw a notable uptick in revenue during the fourth quarter of 2012 due to growing demand for Intel's Sandy Bridge processor. IBM was the top global server vendor by revenue during the fourth quarter with 36 percent share of the market, followed by Hewlett-Packard with 25 percent and Dell with 15 percent, according to IDC's figures.

The IBM-Lenovo server deal could impact the Lenovo-EMC partnership formed last August, due to the frosty relationship between IBM and EMC, sources told CRN. EMC is embedding Lenovo's enterprise server offerings into some of its storage systems, and Lenovo is reselling EMC's networked storage solutions to customers in China. Lenovo also paid an unspecified amount to acquire partial ownership of EMC's Iomega division.

Rumors of IBM selling its x86 server business to Lenovo have been simmering for years. In early 2008, the vendors inked an agreement that allowed Lenovo to build one-processor and two-processor servers based on IBM System x server technology. Lenovo had been selling its own x86 servers in China prior to the IBM partnership.

In early 2009, amid mounting rumors of IBM exiting the server business, one of the company's executives tried to quell the speculation. "Let me be clear ... IBM is not exiting or selling its x86 server business," Adalio Sanchez, General Manager, System x, Systems and Technology group, IBM, said in a memo to IBM partners.

IBM sold its PC business to Lenovo in 2004 for $1.25 billion and took an 18.9 percent stake in the China-based vendor. In that deal, IBM became Lenovo's primary services and customer financing provider, and Lenovo became the preferred supplier of PCs to IBM.

At the time, IBM agreed to let Lenovo continue using the IBM brand on ThinkPads for several years, but Lenovo switched to its own branding in 2007.

IBM is holding its Edge 2013 conference in Las Vegas from June 10-14, and one of the sessions will feature information about the "latest IBM Storage, System x and PureSystems product enhancements," according to a session description on the event website.

IBM Invests $1B In Flash Storage With Channel-First Strategy

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IBM is investing $1 billion through 2015 on developing flash technology optimized to meet modern workloads such as social media, mobility and big data.

That investment includes the unspecified investment IBM made in its August acquisition of Texas Memory Systems (TMS).

While the IBM investment in flash will help in development of flash storage products for a wide range of applications, the focus will be on those applications in which performance is paramount, said Ambuj Goyal, General Manager, Systems Storage, Systems & Technology Group, IBM.

"The best ways to solve issues around social, mobile and big data all involve real-time analytics, which is where flash has a big play," Goyal said. "In a data warehouse, where there is less need for real-time analytics, the requirements for flash storage are not as strong."

IBM's $1 billion flash technology investment is not just about performance, Goyal said. "It's about how systems transform as technology moves from mechanical storage to semiconductor storage," he said. "The performance of processors, memory, networking and bus performance have grown by eight to 10 times over the past 10 years, while mechanical storage performance has grown by only 20 percent. So everything is waiting for storage."

Part of that investment is going to set up 12 competency centers around the world to help customers build proofs of concepts to understand how the use of flash storage can decreased the costs of software licenses, processor core requirements, footprint and labor involved in tuning mechanical storage, Goyal said.

IBM also wants customers to know that flash storage can fit into their existing infrastructures without changing those infrastructures, he said.

"I want to not only show the technology, but show customers how to use it to simplify their data centers and reduce costs," he said.

IBM is also developing, both on its own as well as with partners, databases and analytics that are optimized to take advantage of flash technology, he said.
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IBM's flash investment is centered on its acquisition of Texas Memory Systems, a company founded 30 years ago to develop semiconductor-based storage that has been building flash storage for the past six or seven years, Goyal said.

To that end, IBM also unveiled the IBM FlashSystem 820, a new flash storage array based on TMS technology. The IBM FlashSystem 820 can store 24 TB of data in 1U of rack space, or about 1 petabyte of data in rack using less than 14 kilowatts of power, IBM's Goyal said.

IBM's flash storage strategy is also very much channel-centered, Goyal said. "We are going across the board with our flash technology from solution providers to distributors to systems integrators to MSPs," he said. "Everybody. Our initiative is channel-first."

With the news of its $1-billion investment in flash storage, IBM joins a number of its top competitors that have committed to making flash a keystone of their future offerings.

EMC in March unveiled its XtremSF family of flash storage products, including a PCIe storage accelerator and its first all-flash array.

The same month, NetApp unveiled its FlashRay strategy for building future all-flash storage arrays on a new application-optimized architecture.
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