A regional survey of UK economic trends carried out on behalf of the Confederation of British Industry and all of the Regional Development Agencies reports that businesses are less optimistic than they were six months ago. The twice yearly survey found that despite net increases in orders, output employment and prices, companies have suffered from a fall in profit margins, which they do not expect to increase over the next year. Doug Godden, CBI head of economic analysis, said “Increases in orders and output have not done anything to make businesses happier than they were earlier in the year. In fact the gloom has deepened because rising costs for things such as oil have combined with fiercely competitive conditions to[…]

PalmOne Number One PDA manufacturer PalmOne has regained the number one position in the European market according to industry watcher Context. As of October 2004 the company had a 39 per cent market share in the leading four European economies, closely followed by Hewlett Packard with 38 per cent. In the UK alone PalmOne has achieved 54 per cent year on year growth in its dealer channel sales. The company may owe much of its recent success to Sony, which exited the PDA market earlier this year and left PalmOne as the only major supplier of Palm OS based handhelds in the world. Devices such as the popular Treo 600 smartphone and Zire 31 budget PDA have helped the company[…]

According to a recent survey carried out by YouGov on behalf of Microsoft has found that while 85 per cent of small business managers say the desktop PC is invaluable to their business, only 44 per cent think that technology increases their ability to generate profit. Over 75 per cent of managers use email, the Internet and MS Office applications every day, while only 60 per cent use their mobile phones and just 11 per cent use a PDA on a daily basis. John Coulthard, director of small business at Microsoft UK said “Small businesses can’t afford ‘dead time’ and although the desktop PC is important, what really empowers employees is access to information whether they are working from home[…]

In a move that looks set to usher in a new era in the PC business, industry giant IBM has agreed a deal to sell its personal computing division to Chinese manufacturer Lenovo. Due for completion in the second quarter of 2005 the deal will see IBM receive a total of $1.25 billion in cash and an 18.9 per cent stake in China’s largest PC maker. The two companies will also form a partnership in which IBM will become Lenovo’s preferred services and customer financing provider, and Lenovo in turn will become IBM’s preferred supplier of personal computers for its clients. On completion of the sale Lenovo will become the world’s third largest PC supplier, with expected revenues of $12[…]

The Office of Government Commerce has produced a new set of standardised terms intended to simplify the tendering process for government IT contracts. The new terms come in response to recent report from the Better Regulation Task Force and Small Business Council which highlighted a number of barriers faced by small and medium enterprises when bidding for government IT contracts. OGC chief executive John Oughton said “These new contract terms will simplify the IT tendering process and deliver significant time and money savings for suppliers and public sector buyers. The publication of these new terms shows that the government continues to listen to the IT industry and is determined to simplify procedures and reduce duplication and bureaucracy in IT contracting.”[…]

From April of this year companies with over 150 employees will have to abide by new rules which give their workers the right to be consulted and informed about important matters that affect them in the workplace. The legislation obliges companies to set up consultation arrangements with their employees if more than 10 per cent of the workforce ask them to do so. The rules are designed to help workers cope better with uncertainty and change in the workplace, and the responsibility for requesting consultation lies with the employees and not the company. Businesses failing to follow the new ‘Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004’ can be fined up to £75,000, and the rules come into effect for smaller[…]

While many high street retailers reported disappointing figures for the Christmas period, online merchants seem to have enjoyed a bumper festive season and reports suggest this trend is likely to continue into 2005. Market leading ecommerce software vendor, Actinic, says that its annual poll of small to medium revealed a 60 per cent year on year increase in web sales during November and December 2004. Average turnover increased by 80 per cent over the same period, indicating that the value of online orders is also rising. Some respondents noted a corresponding decline in sales from their bricks and mortar shops. Actinic CEO Chris Barling commented “We may be seeing the first signs that the internet is impacting not just high[…]

At January’s Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled one of the most exciting new machines in years. With a footprint barely bigger than a CD case and standing just 5cm tall, the Mac Mini is no doubt one of the smallest computers on the market. Despite its tiny dimensions, even the entry level model packs a fairly powerful punch for a more than reasonable price. For £339 (inc. VAT) users get a 1.25Ghz PowerPC G4 processor, a 40Gb hard drive high end ATI RadeoN 9200 3D graphics system, DVD Rom drive, and built in Ethernet network adapter and dial up modem. A higher specification model is available for £399 (inc. VAT). The device is intended primarily[…]

The Small Business Service and Office of Government Commerce have announced plans for a new web site to provide businesses with direct access to local and central government business opportunities. The launch follows successful SME procurement pilot schemes in the West Midlands and Haringey, and comes as a response to recommendations laid out in the 2003 Better Regulation Task Force/Small Business Council report on reducing barriers for businesses that wish to become involved in public procurement. While the new portal is intended to assist all businesses, the SBS and OGC believe it will primarily benefit the 4 million SMEs that make up 99 per cent of UK companies. It is hoped that the service will become the main gateway to[…]