Highs and lows of another dark and dangerous week in IT

A freaky Friday review

It's been another dark and dangerous week in IT with the usual predatory mix of takeovers, profit shortfalls and new alliances.

It is an industry noted for extremes and this week has been no exception. As Apple posts a record-breaking $US1 billion profit on bumper revenues of $7.1 billion for the first fiscal quarter of 2007, Intel reported profits are down 39 per cent compared to the same period last year.

That's one hell of a fighting fund for Apple CEO Steve Jobs to take on Cisco in the iPhone dispute.

For those who have been locked in a server room all week and unfamiliar with the latest courtroom battle making headlines in the tech industry, Cisco has filed a suit against Apple to stop it using Cisco's registed iPhone trademark.

The battle is over a product Apple isn't even expected to launch for another six months. But don't despair, in the meantime, we can enjoy the iPhone trademark slanging match between the two companies.

We can always rely on one industry stalwart to be consistent and that's IBM which recorded profits of $US3.54 billion for the fourth quarter, a rise of 11.1 percent over the same period in the previous year.

On the dark side of 'mutually beneficial' industry alliances, Microsoft has formed a cosy partnership with Nortel. The VoIP-focused deal includes jointly developed products with a four year roadmap. The goal? Shared customers with unified communications.

Keen to prove it is serious about software, Hewlett Packard this week announced a new business unit to compete in the business intelligience and information management markets. This is a market with no shortage of competitors including Cognos, Business Objects, SAS Institute and Hyperion.

It explains HP's acquisition of BI and data warehouse services company the Knightsbridge Solutions Holding Corporation earlier this month.

This is not the first foray into BI for HP chairman and CEO Mark Hurd, who came to HP from NCR Corp., which under his watch operated data warehousing vendor Teradata. NCR announced plans last week to spin off Teradata as an independent entity.

On the local front, the hottest takeover in recent days has been the announcement that US investment firm Francisco Partners has launched a $315 million takeover bid for Queensland software developer Mincom.

This is big news in Queensland where Mincom is a favoured son and puts the company at the centre of global private equity deals.

Mincom CEO Richard Mathews is excited about the bid and keen to combine Mincom and Francisco Partner's merger and acquisition teams to pursue deals around the globe.

Describing it as a positive step, Matthews said Mincom is now the sixth largest ERP vendor in the world and its headquarters will remain in Australia.

So where's the danger lurking? Watch closely in coming weeks as the trial between the SCO Group and IBM begins. The unix vendor is fighting battles on a number of fronts with Novell filing court documents claiming SCO is facing financial bankruptcy.

Novell's claims proved to be a tad premature with SCO announcing revenue for the fourth quarter of 2006 was $US7.35 million compared to $8.53 million a year earlier. The company is obviously on a downward slide but it's not quite bankruptcy. Even SCO CEO Darl McBride admitted "if you look at the numbers, it's not a pretty picture." Indeed, expect the forthcoming trial to be downright ugly.

Just another week of lawyers, vendors and private equity partners battling it out for more of those prized tech dollars.

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More about AppleBillionBusiness ObjectsCiscoCognosCognosFrancisco PartnersHewlett PackardHewlett-Packard AustraliaHISHPIBM AustraliaIntelMicrosoftMincomNCR AustraliaNortelNovellSASSAS Institute AustraliaSCOTeradata AustraliaThe SCO Group

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