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By | Billy MacInnes 21st June 2007 10:58

Who needs an iPhone when you can get married by a robot?

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There may still be more than a week to go before the launch of the iPhone, but there's no way of avoiding it. The damn thing is everywhere even though it isn't officially anywhere yet. Apart from in Steve Jobs' pocket - and Eric Schmidt's.

The Google CEO whipped his out in Paris the other day (still not an arrestable offence we understand, but that's the French for you), waved it around and proclaimed it a "powerful new device". We understand he's quite impressed with the iPhone too (boom! boom!).

iPhone goes down YouTube

Around about the same time, Apple was announcing that iPhone users would be able to view YouTube videos. The same goes for Apple TV owners. Apple also improved the battery life of the iPhone to eight hours and changed the touchscreen to glass.

What did he say about Iraq?

When the iPhone does make it over here, don't be surprised if you see your MP tapping away at his or hers during parliamentary debates.

Backbench MPs are pressing to be allowed to use handheld networked devices and laptops during debates to deal with a tide of emails. It's great to know that people who often seem incapable of thinking for themselves when it comes to votes believe they can listen to debates and do their emails at the same time. Mind you, given that so few of them actually do anything in the chamber, maybe we shouldn't be surprised. Perhaps they could be allowed to take game consoles in as well...

Notebook sale surge boosts market

Right, that's enough iPhone for this week. On to matters of more immediate relevance to the channel. iSuppli, the tech market researcher, has raised its forecast for PC shipments this year, following a surge in notebook sales in the first quarter. It estimates PC makers will ship 264 million units in 2007, up 11.2 per cent on 2006's 239 million units, and notebooks will account for 40 per cent of all PC shipments.

How much is that distie in the window?

Ingram Micro was boosting its presence in the US consumer market with the acquisition of DBL Distributing Inc for $96m.

DBL claims to have 30,000 US retail customers, carries 17,000 products, employs 350 people, and turned over almost $300m in 2006. DBL's operating margin is twice as good as Ingram's core distie business.

Not as easy as it looks

But if Ingram was enthusiastic about retail, DSG's latest figures may well serve as a reminder that it can be a tough business. While revenues were up 14 per cent to £7.9bn for the year ending 28 April, pre-tax profits were well down at £114.1m compared to £295.9m in 2006. DSG said it hoped to reduce costs across its computing operations by bringing all its UK PC operations under a single unit, DSGi Business.

Business Systems Group survives contract hit

Still on financial matters, Business Systems Group overcame the loss of a £2m contract in March 2006 to break even in the second half of the year ending 31 March 2007. The company still made a loss for the year of £276,000, but chairman Roger Keenan said the main objective was to get back to breakeven in the second half of the year. Turnover was down 5.1 per cent to £32.9m.

Will the review be good or bad?

After buying Elcom out of administration a couple of weeks ago, Kelway revealed it was reviewing the business and was unable to comment on the future of 80 workers based at Elcom's two UK sites. But Kelway CEO Phil Doye said it was keen to invest in and recruit a larger sales team.

Yahoo! CEO! Resigns!

Terry Semel resigned as Yahoo! CEO this week despite weathering angry questions at the company's annual general meeting last week and seeing attempts to restructure his $71.7m compensation package voted down.

The company's stock price has dropped 10 per cent in the past year and it is well behind Google in the web search market. Semel will be replaced by Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang, with former CFO Susan Decker taking over as president of the company.

Trojan infects 10,000 websites

The big news on the security front was the infection of more than 10,000 websites with a sophisticated and fast-acting Trojan downloader that attempts to install malware on visiting PCs.

Most of the infected sites are hosted in Italy and cover a wide range from rock musician Bon Jovi to one that tries to raise money for charity work of the late Mother Teresa. Once a server is infected, attackers embed an invisible iframe into the web page that silently redirects visitors to a pair of other sites that attempt to use previously patched Windows vulnerabilities to install malicious keylogging software.

Way cleared for iSoft deal

Good news for iSoft in the protracted saga over the company's future ownership. CSC has decided to stop trying to block the takeover of struggling iSoft by IBA Health from Australia.

CSC, which is the main contractor using iSoft's products and had a right to object to management changes, originally refused to give its consent to the deal because it was considering its own cash offer for the firm. But iSoft revealed CDC had withdrawn its opposition and iSoft had "agreed to terminate legal proceedings regarding CSC withholding consent".

Foundations laid in five years? Call Granger

Meanwhile, the boss of the NHS project that iSoft is involved in, the National Programme for IT (NPfIT), has resigned. Richard Granger, the UK's highest paid civil servant at £280,000 a year, said the decision was a personal one but the foundations of the project were in place. He is returning to the private sector.

"My decision should be seen in the context of the changing role of the centre of the NHS and the fact that when I took on this challenge I said I would give this job five years," Granger said.

Why give nurses more money when you can give it to consultants?

Let's hope that whatever happens, the government doesn't feel bound to seek external advice on what to do next with NPfIT, especially after it was lambasted by MPs and unions for spending £3bn on consultants without a clear idea of the benefits. According to Parliament's all-party Public Accounts Committee, spending on consultants has risen by a third over the last three years, with the NHS accounting for the bulk of the increase. "It is impossible to believe that the public are receiving anything like full value for money from this expenditure," said committee chair Edward Leigh.

Want better network security? Don't touch anything

One government department that's sure to get value for money is the Department of Trade and Industry, which has made £4m available for four research projects aimed at reducing the IT risk created by human error.

The programme, part of the Network Security Innovation Platform, reflects the fact human error is the biggest risk to network security. Among the projects is a predictive modelling framework to assess security policies that regulate the interaction between humans and information systems, and a tool to improve risk culture and identify human vulnerabilities in network security.

Things we couldn't fit in

Toshiba revealed one of its notebooks had fallen victim to Sony's infamous lithium-ion batteries, which have a nasty habit of bursting into flames and have led to recalls by a number of vendors.

Meanwhile, Gateway has issued a voluntary recall of 14,000 lithium-ion battery packs after four customers reported their notebooks had overheated. In this case, the battery cells were made by Samsung Electronics and assembled into battery packs by Simplo Technology, of Taiwan.

AT&T boss Randall Stephenson has scotched speculation that it might be looking to acquire Vodafone. He told the FT it would focus on smaller companies supplying big corporate customers with telephony services.

Veteran entrepreneur and Psion chairman Sir David Potter has warned that Britain can't depend purely on the City of London for its future prosperity. Although the UK has a successful financial sector, he said people had "to ask how long that is durable. And you look at the very large current accounts deficit, and ask whether that really can be filled by the financial sector alone".

Novell has launched an open workgroup suite for small businesses which comes with Groupwise for email and calendaring, with storage and user rights administration managed by Novell's Open Enterprise Server. Novell's SMB VP Ray Boggs claimed small businesses were "increasingly interested in Linux".

There are rumours that Intel will cut prices on its Santa Rosa Core 2 Duo T7500 and T7700 mobile processors in the third quarter. The cuts will coincide with the introduction of new top-of-the-line models, the T7800 and T7900, and a lower-end chip, the T7250.

The one we couldn't leave out

We could have ended with the Swedish man who is going to receive benefits for his addiction to heavy metal music, or the murderer in prison caught hiding a mobile phone charger where the sun don't shine, but let's face it, they're hardly technology stories.

Unlike the news that Korean roboticists have created a robot priest/master of ceremonies that officiated at a wedding outside Seoul. Apparently the robot, known as Tiro, speaks in a "sweet female voice" and is available for about £109,000. Tiro, assisted by several other robots, was due to officiate at the marriage of a Hanool Robotics engineer and his bride to be. Who said there's no romance in technology? ®

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