This week’s technology news – 10th October 2014

HP Divides

Hewlett-Packard has announced it will be splitting the 75-year-old tech giant in two. The computer and printer business will form one half with the corporate hardware and services making up the other half. Current shareholders will be given a stake in each new company. Since the announcement on Monday, HP shares have dropped 8.77% The division is expected to complete the restructure at the end of the 2015 fiscal year, which is the period originally pinned for CEO Meg Whitman’s 5-year recovery plan (which we covered May of this year and November 2013, the year after she took over from former CEO Leo Apotheker. With the split of the company being the last step of HP’s recovery plan, how well do we think these 2 new companies will fare? The computer and printer business is by far the healthiest on the books, so this split may indicate the intention to sell off its more costly corporate hardware and services business, if things do not improve after split. HP has made many changes in direction in recent years including CEOs with each bringing their own dissimilar strategies to the table. The purchase of Palm for $1.2 Billion by former HP CEO Mark Hurd is a crystal clear example of this, when the project was publicly scrapped just weeks after the first device was shipped by his successor, Leo Apotheker. The HP split strategy shows yet another costly change in direction for the tech giant and one that will also be followed by expected large job cuts again worldwide. HP is too large to simply vanish but it is looking like it will be a very different beast in just a few short years.

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Not quite a big enough bite of the Apple

Apple sapphire crystal glass manfacturer GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT) faces a bleak future now after its US share value plunged by more than 90% as the firm filed for bankruptcy this week. Following a buoyant bank position with a valuation of $1.5bn at the end of last week, GTAT was left with only $175m in the piggy bank four days later. The picture seemed so much rosier in November 2013, with a deal signed with Apple to manufacture sapphire materials. Analysts took this to mean GTAT’s glass would be rolled out into the new iPhone models.  But the news this summer that the factory being built with Apple would not be up and running till 2015 means that GTAT have missed the boat to produce the glass required. GTAT’s CEO made a robust statement about the company’s continued viability as it filed for “debtor in possession” status and is still expected to have its sapphire glass crystal in two of Apple’s new Watch wearable devices. However, the magnitude of the gap in potential business earnings is palpable and should act as a cautionary note to smaller tech firms as it shows the vulnerability of having all ones eggs in a Giant tech’s basket. _78047162_455056638

My Signature is Your Command!

With security an ever increasing buzz for data systems, Taiwanese start up, AirSig, has entered the market with a “Harry Potter” style password replacement. The notion is that to access a login, the user wafts their smartphone “wand style” to emulate creating their virtual signature.  Although this seems a bit loosey goosey and reminiscent of playing with sparklers on Bonfire Night, AirSig advocate that their recognition rates are at 99.2%.  The technology company uses gyroscope sensor hardware already found in smartphones, smartwatches and other wearable tech to create a unique algorithm from the virtual signature.  This enables an array of tasks to be performed ranging from authenticating yourself, to unlocking your phone, paying a transactions, to auto-opening doors and playing games and the password is changeable at any time. There is no naivety behind this innovation, as manufacturing giant Foxconn have already backed AirSig to the tune of $2m and the product aroused intrigue from tech giants LG and Samsung because of the possibilities for channel restriction for families through TV remotes as the technology is already embedded in the TV sets. The manufacturers recognise that the game changer would be adoption by a major provider like Facebook.  With companies jostling to create the next foolproof authentication method, only time will tell if AirSig will gain traction with mainstream commercial markets, but with the technology already incorporated in Android apps, it has a chance of succeeding if the naysayers can be convinced.       600_phpFLJFqD

The Adobe touch

This week saw Adobe’s annual Max creativity conference in Los Angeles where they show off their latest products and features used by millions in creative industries. New desktop versions of their Creative Cloud applications showcased, improved touch support for Windows 8 and Microsoft’s own Surface Pro 3. This will enable graphic artists to draw directly into applications like Photoshop, whilst also providing touch friendly controls and gestures for all the advance options the suite provides. Apple’s desktops have traditionally had the premium reserved slot in marketing and graphical design departments. Some of the reason given by Mac users were its stability and exclusive applications. Photoshop originally was a Mac exclusive application before also coming out to Windows. Where Microsoft can potentially take the lead with creative minds is its drive with touch and stylus computing. Apple has shown disinterest in putting touch screens on macs and keeping them exclusive to their iPhones and iPads, which are unable to run desktop software like Photoshop. Drawing and manipulating graphics directly on the same machine cuts out peripherals and enables enhanced portability, making the once Mac exclusive application now more commercially inviting for Windows. In addition to Windows as a platform this news also makes Microsoft’s own devices like the Surface Pro 3 a much more viable option for graphic designers. Microsoft’s Marketing team has shifted comparisons of its Surface line from iPads to MacBook Air’s with the aim to convert users of Apple’s lightest computers. The surface Pro 3 is thinner and lighter, with a higher resolution screen and full touch screen with included stylus all for less cost than a MacBook Air. Will we see a future where Macs are replaced with Microsoft touch enabled devices in graphic departments or will Apple play catch up and offer this support on its next generation of computers or even merge iPad and Macs closer together?  Only time will tell, but for now Microsoft has the edge and we will see how willing artists are to trade in their existing tools to take advantage of a touch enabled Adobe suite. Surface_Pro_3

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