Google PC Will Start in Seven Seconds or Less

MOUNTAIN VIEW (California), Nov 20 — New Google Inc software will start up a computer as fast as a television can be turned on, the search company said yesterday as it showed off its Chrome operating system designed for PCs that do their work on the web.

Google gave the first public look at its Chrome OS four months after declaring its intention of developing the PC’s main software, a move that pits it directly against Microsoft Corp and Apple Inc.

True to Google’s Internet-pedigree, the Chrome OS resembles a web browser more than it does a traditional computer operating system like Microsoft Windows, matching Google’s ambition to drive people to the web — where they can see Google ads.

Google said the software will initially be available by the holiday season of 2010 on low-cost netbooks that meet Google’s hardware specifications, such as using only memory chips to store data instead of slower hard drives, the current standard.

Netbooks running Chrome OS will only be able to run web applications and the user’s data will automatically be stored on the web in the so-called cloud of Internet servers, Google executives said at an event at the company’s Mountain View, California headquarters yesterday.

“It’s basically a web browsing machine,” said Altimeter Group analyst Charlene Li, referring to the netbooks powered by Chrome OS.

Such a machine is made for a world of near-constant, extremely fast web connection, without the type of software that made Microsoft famous, since most of the work would be done by big machines on the web which take directions and send information to relatively uncomplicated devices like a Chrome PC.

Sundar Pichai, vice-president of product management for Google’s Chrome OS, said that computers running Chrome OS will be able to start in less than seven seconds.

“From the time you press boot you want it to be like a TV: you turn it on and you should be on the web using your applications,” Pichai said.

Google said it is giving away the software for free, similar to its Android smartphone software, with the idea that improving the web experience will ultimately benefit its Internet search advertising business, which generated roughly US$22 billion in revenue in 2008.

“They’re doing it to get further and further entrenched in whatever people are doing to go online, whether that’s a browser, an operating system or in applications,” said Todd Greenwald, an analyst with Signal Hill Group.

“If Chrome is the OS then the attach (access) rate on Google searches will be a lot higher,” he said.

But analysts noted that the differences between conventional PCs and Chrome OS netbooks might give some consumers pause.

“If they view it from the conventional perspective, then it falls short,” Gartner analyst Ray Valdes said of Chrome OS, citing its lack of compatibility with traditional software and its limited offline capabilities.

Google officials said Chrome OS netbooks will be able to provide some functions when offline, but that the product was primarily designed to be connected to the Internet.

But Valdes said if Google can deliver on the products’ promises, such as fast performance, then consumers may view Chrome OS netbooks as distinct class of products with attractive benefits.

“I think that it’s initially going to appeal to small subset of the general consumer population,” said Valdes. “The question is can they build on that and expand that over time.”

Google made the computer code for the Chrome OS available to outside developers yesterday, allowing developers to tinker with the software and potentially design new applications to run alongside it.

With Chrome, Google is seeking to challenge the dominance of Microsoft Corp’s Windows, which runs on nine out of 10 personal computers.

The Chrome OS also challenges makers of traditional, desktop software, including Microsoft and its lucrative Office suite of productivity software, since Chrome OS only runs web applications.

Google’s Pichai, noted during a demonstration yesterday, that Chrome OS-based PCs would be interoperable with web-based versions of software, such as Microsoft’s online version of its Excel spreadsheet.

Google said all data in Chrome will automatically be housed in the so-called cloud, or on external servers, but also cached on the computer’s internal hardware to boost performance.

If a person loses their netbook, Google engineering director Matt Papakipos explained, they can buy a new one, log in and within seconds have a machine with access to all the same data as their previous device.

“What really makes this a cloud device is that all the user data is synced back to the cloud in real time,” said Papakipos. — Reuters

GPS Tool that Tracks Your Employee

A local integrated security systems company called Xtend Services Sdn Bhd has developed a portable GPS (Global Positioning System) system that can track their employee whereabouts and positioning. The device also comes with the capability to act as an emergency mobile phone via a two-way link.

Xtend Services is a member of Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) group.

Called Never Alone, the tool gives the employer access to key information on their mobile workers such time spent on traveling, the exact location, rest time and so on that ultimately convert to the measurement of productivity. The mobile workers can be drivers, support personnel and other field staff who are often traveling and are tasked to carry out duties outside of the office.

gps-tracker

The tracker captures the worker’s information (location) via satellite and is sent through SMS via an around-the-clock operation center. Apart from productivity, employers can also gain other benefits and bank on this portable GPS tracker for sales evaluation, response, safety, customer service and support monitoring. In summary, the tool encourages improvement in productivity and limit time wastage.

Never Alone has a small size and fits perfectly into the palm of one’s hand, and cost a company RM75 subscription per month to use the service.

Can Apple Beat Microsoft?

Can Apple wrest Microsoft’s tech crown?

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 11 — Apple Inc’s phoenix-like rise from the ashes has propelled its market value to US$180 billion (RM612 billion), raising the possibility that it could challenge Microsoft Corp for the technology crown.

Microsoft is now the world’s most valuable tech company with a commanding market capitalisation of US$250 billion. Its Windows software is in nine out of 10 personal computers.

It would take impressive execution for any company to unseat Microsoft at the top of the technology heap. But Apple, flush with cash and fat margins, has catalysts in the iPhone, the Mac PC and a highly anticipated but unconfirmed tablet device expected to launch next year, analysts and investors say.

“Apple’s revenue growth continues to outpace, driven by market-changing innovation and sticky software offerings that lead to repeat purchases,” said David Dillon, a portfolio manager at HighMark Capital Management, which owns both Apple and Microsoft shares.

He said Microsoft is more of a value-based play, with “a strong product cycle coming with Windows 7.” Apple’s revenue is still far smaller than that of its arch nemesis, but it is growing at a more rapid rate. Apple’s annual revenue has more than doubled since 2005 to US$36.5 billion, with earnings per share up more than four-fold to US$6.29.

Over the same period, Microsoft’s revenue has risen 47 per cent to US$58.4 billion, with EPS up 45 per cent to US$1.62.

Barton Hooper, an analyst with Weitz Funds, which owns shares of Microsoft but not Apple, called the giant software company a “moderate growth story” with a strong balance sheet.
“The rate of growth of Microsoft isn’t happening nearly as fast as it is for Apple,” he said. But he noted that Microsoft still has solid growth drivers, such as the corporate PC refresh cycle and its server and tools business.

Apple trades at around 24 times forward earnings estimates, as does Google Inc, which has a similar market capitalisation and is viewed as another potential challenger to Microsoft.

Microsoft trades at roughly 16 times forward earnings.

Apple’s last quarterly results blew past Wall Street estimates and sent its shares to a record-high US$208.71.

While the stock has retreated in recent weeks in a broad market pullback, analysts have a price target as high as US$280 on Apple, which would give it a market value of US$250 billion.

Following its quarterly report last month, analysts also boosted their price targets on Microsoft to as high as US$36, which would take its market cap to US$320 billion.

Apple is now visible in Microsoft’s rearview mirror, but a decade ago the picture was far different.

Both companies were born in the 1970s at the dawn of the personal computer era. But by the late 1990s, Apple was struggling with annual losses, management turmoil and layoffs as the company worked to improve its operating system.

Meanwhile, Microsoft was at the height of its dominance. In 1997, after years of legal wrangling, Microsoft invested US$150 million in Apple – which angered some of the Apple faithful, but which sent Apple shares up more than 30 per cent.

At the end of 1998, Microsoft was the most valuable company in the world with a market cap of around US$270 billion, according to an annual ranking compiled by The Financial Times.

Apple was scarcely on the radar, valued at roughly US$5 billion.

But after the return of Steve Jobs, Apple’s fortunes began to improve.

The company branched into consumer electronics and entertainment, and the phenomenal success of the iPod, iTunes and, in the last two years, the iPhone has remade Apple into a leading light of the technology world.

Erick Maronak, chief investment officer for the Victory Large Cap Growth Fund, said he would not be surprised to see Apple’s market cap approach Microsoft’s in the next two years, though he also likes the software company’s growth prospects.

“The biggest overriding reason why the company still has room to run is that its business is growing . . . The day they introduce the tablet, that’s going to drive a lot of earnings,” said Maronak, whose fund owns shares in both companies. — Reuters

MacBook Pro Wins Best Work Gadget of the Year

Apple’s fine creation, the MacBook Pro, proves itself to be not just a pretty looking toy but comes with all the practicality, power and control you need. Really, the MacBook Pro can set you apart from the rest with its sleek design and all the versatile applications, while maintaining its legacy as a system that does not break down as much as… Microsoft.

The MacBook Pro was recently named as the Best Work Gadget of the Year as published by T3, the popular gadget website. It also won the Drop Dead Gorgeous Award category.

The MacBook Pro was first unveiled in 2006 at the MacWorld Expo which falls within the range of Macintosh portable computers introduced by Apple. Currently, users can get the MacBook in 3 models, namely the 13”, 15” and 17”.

Tests done on the MacBook Pro proofs the laptop to be faster and more powerful than other range of black MacBook. And with the aluminium casing, owner can expect a new, luxurious experience with little chance of cracking the body like what plastic does. However, while not verified, the aluminium body strikes fear that it could distort Wi-Fi user experience through interferences.

macbook-pro

One of the MacBook unique feature is the design of its battery, made from lithium-ion polymer, which allows them to be shaped and fitted perfectly into the laptop without wasting any space. All other available space, hence can be utilized to increase the capacity and elevate its performance. It is said that the MacBook Pro batteries can last up to 8 hours (some say they can only go for almost 5 hours) and can be recharged thousands of times without much degradation to the battery’s endurance.