Commentary on some of the interesting numbers in the news
(Photo credit: Flickr/morebyless under CC-BY 2.0)
It’s hard to not click on “a heartwarming story about a router,” and Ars Technica’s article about the Linksys WRT54GL router did not disappoint.
Per the article, “Linksys continues to earn millions of dollars per year selling an 11-year-old product without ever changing its specs or design.”
Much of the credit to the model’s continued popularity is due to the router’s support of open source firmware combined with proven reliability. This combination allows the WRT54GL to continue to sell despite being outpaced by the competition on both technical performance measures and price.
A jury awarded full damages of $3B to HPE in the company’s case against Oracle; the suit alleges that Oracle was in breach of contract when it decided in 2011 to stop supporting Intel’s Itanium chip in its software products.
And since I’m new to the industry, here’s all the background research I ended up doing to in order to write that sentence:
- The Itanium chip was “co-invented by Hewlett-Packard and Intel and produced by Intel” in a partnership dating back to 1994.
- The initial vision was to “remake the computing industry.” Early predictions envisioned the 64-bit microprocessor architecture overtaking the 32-bit x86.
- Instead, lengthy production delays, cost overruns, and early performance issues lead to anemic reception and the nickname “Itanic.”
- Rather than turning into an industry standard as hoped, the Itanium was at one point called “one of the great fiascos of the last 50 years.” Though the processor has some adoption in enterprise servers and the high-performance compute market, it never moved down market and HP paid Intel $88M/year to continue to support the chip despite lack of demand.
- “Companies have to write software code specifically for a chip architecture” and numerous software vendors (notably Red Hat and Microsoft) phased out support for Itanium starting in 2009-2010.
- Oracle also announced that it was going to stop developing software for Itanium in 2011.
- Of relevance to the lawsuit:
1) Oracle bought Sun Microsystems at the end of 2010 for $5.3B. In light of that, HP CEO Leo Apotheker called Oracle’s decision to abandon the Itanium “anticompetitive”. For its part, Oracle claimed that its decision was based on information that Intel would stop supporting Itanium (a claim Intel denies.)
2) Mark Hurd was asked to resign as the CEO of HP in 2010 and was brought to Oracle as co-president one month later. HP argued that Hurd possessed trade secrets and should not be permitted to move directly to a competitor. The companies reached a settlement; one of the contingencies was that Oracle would continue supporting Itanium “as long as HP sold such systems“.
The violation of this agreement is the basis of the lawsuit, though we can expect Oracle to appeal.
(Many, many thanks to Joe Hildebrand for taking the time to walk me through 64-bit processing. This research was my hydra, where every question led to three more questions until I got all the way back to the 1’s and 0’s.)
Sports Authority auctioned off its IP as part of its Chapter 11 filing. Dick’s Sporting Goods made the winning $15M bid for the company’s 114 million customer records and 25 million opt-in email addresses. As more retailers embrace the importance of data, we can expect consumer information to becoming increasingly more valuable as an asset. We can also expect additional scrutiny around the privacy policies that dictate when and how said information can be disposed of as asset.
Perhaps even closer to my heart, there is no bidder yet for the naming rights to Mile High Stadium.
Disclosure: HPE and Oracle are RedMonk clients.