IBM rattled the markets on Thursday evening when it missed its first quarter earnings targets . Now, the industry is waiting to see how Big Blue--which rarely slips up on financial forecasts--will react.
An IBM insider on Friday said changes, most likely involving some layoffs, are planned for the middle of the second quarter.
Disappointing earnings from other tech companies fans fears that corporate spending on information technology is slowing, or is weaker than expected. Sun Microsystems saw its revenue fall, while Siebel and BMC Software issued warnings.
IBM's CFO Mark Loughridge blamed Big Blue's miss on "execution issues" particularly in signing contracts in its Global Services division. He said some countries, notably Japan, France, Germany and Italy, showed a weak appetite for tech spending.
But it's too early to call a broader industry downturn, he said.
Still, IBM is taking steps to tackle its shortfall. In his prepared remarks, Loughridge said that the company will address sales execution mistakes and shift investments from low-yielding to faster growing areas.
Europe may feel the brunt of these changes. According to reports , IBM is planning on laying off people in its services divisions in Germany, France and Sweden.
At every opportunity, IBM touts its "business process transformation services" strategy as its best high-growth service strategy. Those groups at risk of layoffs are in IBM's traditional maintenance and outsourcing services business.
To grow, IBM is girding for high-end consulting jobs such as taking over a company's human resources operations or striking a close collaboration between IBM and customers in developing industry-specific products and services. The latest example is revamping the United Arab Emirates' traffic control systems with wireless "black boxes" that can monitor drivers remotely.
IBM is confident its strategy is sound and that it can address its "issues." Because it is a bellwether for corporate tech spending, expect IBM's second quarter numbers to be closely watched.
10:00 a.m. -- Steve Jobs took the stage at the Apple press event in San Francisco on Wednesday morning and promptly dialed up Madonna in London.
He thanked her for putting all of her songs on iTunes--something the Material Girl has resisted until now, Jobs said. The addition of all of Madonna's albums and individual songs was one of the first announcements of the morning. The other: Author J.K. Rowling has signed an exclusive deal to make all six Harry Potter books available for download in the music store.
Also, Jobs previewed the next version of iTunes, iTunes 5, which he said is available today as a free download on Apple.com .
10:19 a.m. -- Jobs made the big announcement of an iTunes-enabled Rokr cell phone made by Motorola . The phone, which will be in stores this weekend, can hold 100 songs and has two speakers and the ability to shuffle through tunes. "The way we think of this phone is it's really an iPod Shuffle right on your phone," Jobs said as he demonstrated the new gadget.
10:28 a.m. -- Jobs announced that Cingular will be the U.S. carrier for the iTunes phone. "Today the talk ends and the music begins," said Ralph de la Vega, Cingular's chief operating officer.
10:44 a.m. -- Jobs announced a new iPod called the iPod Nano: "1,000 songs in your pocket and impossibly small," Jobs said. It's "thinner than a No. 2 pencil," he said to oohs and aahs from the audience. "The iPod nano is 80 percent smaller than the original iPod."
For more details and product specs, link to News.com's full story .
For those who stare at the clock, waiting for the 5 o'clock whistle to blow, there is a Web site that makes watching the minutes tick by much more enjoyable.
The Human Clock shows a different photograph representing each minute of the day. While many photos come from the site operator's hometown of Portland, Ore., the majority appear to be submissions made by fans from all corners of Earth.
The photo for one minute may come from West Virginia; the next, Italy; the next Antarctica. Some photos are simply pictures of clocks around the world, but people have gotten creative with most of the submissions. Personal favorites showed the time printed on the front of a Milan streetcar, attached to a Virginia dandelion and fashioned out of the fur of a very patient dog who was getting groomed.
For those who might tire of looking at the same picture for a full minute, worry not! The Human Clock updates with a new photo as the minute turns, but each minute also has several photos listed below it through which clock-watchers can shuffle.
A few of us on the CNET News.com team have been mesmerized by this site all day. We submitted two photos and will continue to come up with more over the next week or so. But now it's time to go home .Jennifer Guevin is assistant managing editor of CNET News. She focuses on science and green tech. But she also makes the occasional contribution to CNET's kitchen gadgets blog or writes about the latest Web distraction. Once a week, she takes the mic as host of CNET's Daily News Podcast. E-mail Jennifer .
LinkedIn on Thursday night folded several changes into its Groups platform that are designed to enhance the social-networking site's group and user management features.
Among the changes are a centralized hub page designed to allow members of a group to gather and converse, as well as a searchable roster, according to a post in TechCrunch , which notes some of the changes may go a long way in addressing concerns about buggy management features on the Groups site.
Make more room for the virtual Rolodex...
Adobe Systems on Thursday released the code for messaging software designed to connect back-end data sources to rich Internet applications written with its Flex development tool.
Called BlazeDS , the software is a subset of Adobe's full-featured LiveCycle Data Services ES , which it will continue to sell to its corporate customers.
BlazeDS will be made available for free under the Lesser General Public License . Adobe will initially host the open-source project and next year plans to create a separate site to host BlazeDS and its Flex developer tool, which it intends to open-source , said Phil Costa, director of product management for Adobe's Platform Business Unit.
The software is not meant to replace other messaging products, such as enterprise service buses, Costa said. Instead, it can get data from messaging software to move data between databases or enterprise applications and Flash clients, he said.
The company already offered a free, low-end version of LiveCycle Data Services, but the companies decided to go the open-source route because customers were interested in using only pieces of the overall package, Costa said. Also, the free version had limitations on how many users could connect to it.
Like nearly all software companies, Adobe has started to use open-source techniques for its own developer products. It is also building its own products using other open-source software, such as the Eclipse development tool and the SQLite embedded database, which will be part of AIR .
Costa said Adobe plans to offer subscription-based support services for customers of BlazeDS.
A collection of new scientific findings being presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science 2007 meeting in San Francisco could be headed, "Don't be afraid, be aware."
A University of Victoria scientist is tracking back through fossil history, tracing the ups and downs of dinoflagellates. These small creatures in the Pacific Ocean's plankton are at the base of the maritime food chain. Two dino-species are poisonous, and research may help predict when these species will rapidly increase as the climate changes, thus killing fish and other plankton-feeding animals.
Oregon State scientists, meanwhile, are suggesting that water-management experts begin to use science, not just laws and economics. They say drought will become more prevalent across the more arid western United States. Less snowpack means earlier run-off and less late-summer water. Their message: plan for climate change-induced summer drought .
There are two relevant studies on politics and climate change . One finds most Americans believe in climate change but don't see it as anything close to home, nor urgent. A parallel study concludes more information on climate change will not necessarily spur problem solving. One finding: "Communication campaigns that focus on fear or guilt, especially without empowering or practical options, can backfire."
The recent international report on climate change indicated that the Arctic is expected to lose much of its ice, while there may be a very different effect on the Antarctic. Well, in two weeks, international research teams will launch the International Polar Year . The goal will be to get better data and clearer predictions of the future for our bipolar Earth.
Personal travel aggregation service TripIt has received a very important update this morning. It's now able to sync up travel plans that are sent its way to a handful of popular calendaring tools including Google Calendar , Apple iCal, Plaxo , Outlook, or any other service that can handle URL events. What this means for you as the traveler, is that if you're sent a change notice from whatever travel service you booked with, TripIt will spit that out to both your e-mail and your linked-up calendars, saving you the bother of having to manually go in and make changes.
While this may not seem groundbreaking to the casual traveler who travels once every few months, frequent travelers and those who have booked multiple services at once will benefit with the addition of automatic scheduling changes, and the option to rely on their existing scheduling tools.
Since we last covered TripIt in September , the company has launched its mobile service that lets you ping TripIt with an e-mail or text message containing various command codes to have it send information back to you. The most useful one is for the time, date, and confirmation code of your flight, although equally useful is another that lets you pull up your itinerary, or any other notes you've added. They've also got codes to get maps and directions based on the places listed in your itinerary.
I still have to side with Rafe's sentiments that this service would be best served in conjunction with other travel purchase sites. While it's not exactly tough to copy TripIt in with your confirmation e-mails, it would be much nicer to simply click a checkbox at the point of purchase. The move towards integrating it with existing communication mediums like phones and calendars is definitely a step in the right direction, though.To automate getting calendar updates sent to you, just add one of TripIt's new calendar feeds to any service that supports URL events. Seen here is Google Calendar.