12/31/2007

IBM to buy Israeli startup for $300 million

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) is in advanced talks to buy Israeli start-up XIV Information Systems for $300 million to $350 million, financial daily Globes reported on Monday.

XIV officials declined to comment.

According to Globes, XIV has developed a system that replaces conventional storage technologies through the use of grid technology and less expensive hardware.

Wal-Mart’s online movie failure: DRM, high prices to blame

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Wal-Mart, the leading DVD retailer, has announced plans to dismantle its commercial video download offering. The service lasted less than a year and never made it past the initial beta test stage. Wal-Mart’s decision to exit the video download market at this time was precipitated by HP’s plans to discontinue development of the HP Video Merchant Services system, the underlying technology that Wal-Mart used to operate the site. More important, Wal-Mart’s online store performed very poorly in the first place.

When Wal-Mart announced the service in February, we characterized it as underwhelming and predicted poor sales. In order to obtain distribution agreements with all of the major players, and to protect the sale of physical goods like DVDs, Wal-Mart allowed the studios to dictate the pricing model. New releases were priced equally with the physical DVDs and the content was all heavily encumbered with (Windows-only) DRM that prevented playback on more than one computer. Obviously, consumers didn’t see any value in paying full price for diminished flexibility.

At the same price, one could buy a DVD, which is more or less universally playable, or one could buy a DRMed movie that, throughout its entire life, can only be played on one computer, and cannot be backed up, clipped, or transferred elsewhere. DVDs sport a crude form of DRM in CSS, of course, but they are not tied to one computer for life.

Yesterday, we reported that peer-to-peer filesharing applications are present on a significant portion of the world’s computers. I suspect that those people aren’t all just swapping Linux ISOs and public domain literature. The message here is very clear: draconian DRM and unrealistic pricing are turning consumers away from legitimate retail channels and giving them a big incentive to adopt underground file sharing.

iPhone 1.1.3 Update Confirmed, Breaks Apps and Unlocks

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Gizmodo has gathered conclusive evidence which confirms that the iPhone Firmware 1.1.3 update is 100% real.

It installs only from iTunes using the obligatory Apple private encryption key, which nobody has. The list of new features, like GPS-like triangulation positioning in Google Maps, has been confirmed too.

Apparently it will be coming out next week, but there’s bad news as expected: it breaks the unlocks, patches the previous vulnerabilities used by hackers and takes away all your third-party applications.

Record data breaches in 2007, groups say

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The loss or theft of personal data such as credit card and Social Security numbers soared to unprecedented levels in 2007, and the trend isn’t expected to turn around anytime soon as hackers stay a step ahead of security and laptops disappear with sensitive information.

And while companies, government agencies, schools and other institutions are spending more to protect ever-increasing volumes of data with more sophisticated firewalls and encryption, the investment often is too little too late.

“More of them are experiencing data breaches, and they’re responding to them in a reactive way, rather than proactively looking at the company’s security and seeing where the holes might be,” said Linda Foley, who founded the San Diego-based Identity Theft Resource Center after becoming an identity theft victim herself.

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