Business & Finance
Commentary
9/2/2005
06:50 PM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary
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IT Confidential: Big Ambitions Versus Worried Minds

From John Soat: Creative Technology makes embarrassing admission ... Microsoft acknowledges the competitive threat of Firefox ... Life is good for Larry Ellison ... Pakistan organization works to create the world's largest face-recognition system ... SBC considers taking AT&T's name ... Intel responds to AMD lawsuit.

INSTANT KARMA. Last week, Creative Technology was granted a U.S. patent for the user-interface technology in its portable media players, which it immediately began waving in front of the consumer electronics industry, especially archrival Apple with its wildly successful iPod music player. No sooner had Creative finished crowing than it was forced to acknowledge that it had shipped about 4,000 of its Zen Neon portable music players containing a version of the Wullik.b worm. According to Creative, the worm won't affect a connected PC unless the user clicks on the infected file.

WORRIED MINDS. Microsoft has finally acknowledged the competitive threat posed by Firefox, the open-source Web browser that's eating into the dominant market share of Microsoft's Internet Explorer. In filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Microsoft mentioned Mozilla, the organization offering Firefox, as a competitor, and also acknowledged the potential for legal action from customers posed by "actual or perceived [security] vulnerabilities."

FLUSH. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison made $7.5 million in salary and bonuses for the fiscal year ending May 31, according to The Associated Press. That's almost twice what Ellison made last year: $3.9 million. Of course, Ellison's salary pales in comparison with the wealth represented by his stock holdings in Oracle, which were increased by 2.5 million stock options in 2005. Also, Oracle paid $922,845 for security on Ellison's California home.

YOU KNOW ME. The National Database and Registration Authority is an independent contractor, run by former military officials, that administers Pakistan's passport and national-ID program. The organization is using facial-recognition software from Viisage, of Billerica, Mass., to catalog images and compare them with current documents and new applications. The organization has scanned 34 million images toward a goal of 50 million records--the world's largest face-recognition system, according to Viisage. The National Database and Registration Authority plans to market its national-ID services to other countries in the Middle East, South America, and Asia.

BIG AMBITIONS. SBC, formerly Southern Bell Corp., is finishing up its acquisition of AT&T and is considering a name change, according to the Wall Street Journal--to AT&T. If you're going to aspire, the old AT&T Ma Bell phone-in-every-home monopoly isn't a bad role model. But let's not go back to local operators and party lines.

BLAME GAME. Intel officially responded to AMD's antitrust lawsuit filed in June, and Intel's message is short and sweet: AMD, heal thyself. In court documents filed last week, Intel said AMD should blame its marketplace woes on its own manufacturing and supply-chain problems. And if AMD can't take the competitive heat, said Intel, it should get out of the kitchen ... er, market: "AMD's colorful language and fanciful claims cannot obscure its goal of shielding the company from price competition."

Ouch! Intel bites back hard. And so does The News Show, noon EDT every weekday, at www.TheNewsShow.tv or on informationweek.com. Who do you like in the lawsuit? Send your betting line, or an industry tip, to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326.

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