Unknown to many, Opera Software has its own webmail offering called OperaMail (not to be confused with Opera’s inbuilt email client). Last year, Opera Software had acquired Fastmail, in an attempt to beef up its webmail offering. The newest generation of Web users will discover the Web through a mobile device. Having world-class messaging capability alongside a rich and compelling Web experience is essential. By combining forces, Opera and FastMail.fm can offer messaging on any device. This will enhance the value Opera provides to consumers, while assisting our operator partners in reducing customer churn, Rolf Assev, Opera’s Chief Strategy Officer had explained.
The integration of Fastmail with OperaMail took longer than expected (due to legal issues?), but it’s finally over. Opera Mail now uses the Fastmail backend, and all users should be able to login with their existing username and password. Existing users might notice missing emails; however, any missing mail will be forwarded to their new account soon. Unfortunately, some users were caught unawares by the switch, due to inexplicable lack of advance communication. Surely, Opera Software can be expected to be a bit more responsible, since they are dealing with something as critical as email.
Opera is also working on launching a brand new email service, which will be integrated with myOpera. “We will soon unveil a brand new webmail service where you will be using your existing My Opera username and password to log in”, teased Opera’s Haavard Moen.
Amidst all the hype surrounding the iPad 2, it might be easy to forget that Apple still develops a desktop operating system – one with its fair share of fan boys. However, fear not, development of OS X Lion is on schedule, and Apple has just released the developer preview
Mac OS X Lion, the successor to the Snow Leopard, was first previewed in the “Back to the Mac” event held in October. Check out our original coverage if you need a refresher. Lion is a major update which builds on many of the best features found in the iPad and the iPhone.
We already knew that it will feature multi-touch support, full-screen apps, Launchpad and Mission Control. However, there are quite a few other notable improvements that Apple hadn’t earlier mentioned. They are:
AirDrop: A simple, hassle-free way to copy files between Macs wirelessly.
Versions: A versioning system that will automatically save successive versions of your documents, providing a simple way to browse, edit and revert to previous states.
Auto Save: A system-wide mechanism that will automatically save your documents as you work on them.
Resume: Another system feature that can restore apps to the state they were in before you quit the app or shutdown your Mac.
Mail v5: The new email client will feature grouped conversations, wide-screen layout and MS Exchange 2010 support.
The developer preview is now available to Mac Developer Program members through the Mac App Store. OS X Lion is expected to be released in summer.
Here’s what a IBM blogger said about the final moments of the game.
The contest between man and machine on Jeopardy! was decided when IBM’s Watson computer landed on the second Daily Double on day three. The clue was: This two-word phrase means the power to take private property for public use as long as there is just compensation.Watson’s response: What is eminent domain?
The answer eminent domain, is now also the status of Watson’s tally versus his merely human opponents. Watson scored $77,147, compared to $24,000 for Ken Jennings and $21,600 for Brad Rutter. Jennings admitted defeat as he wrote the following under his final answer:
Valentine’s Day wasn’t all hearts and flowers, as a massive IBM computer faced off against two human opponents on the popular Jeopardy! TV game. IBM has been working on a computer that not only understands human language, but can answer riddles based on it’s ability to search a huge database and determine the most likely answer.
The computer is called Watsonand is made up of 100 IBM Power 750 server units and 15 terabytes of onboard ram. Here’s what IBM said about Watson, just before the first game:
After seven years of research and planning, thousands of hours of testing and over fifty champion-level sparring matches, Watson is finally ready to face the two greatest Jeopardy!champions in history – Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.
This contest is scheduled to run three days, and after the first day, Watson has won $5000, is tied for first place with Brad Rutter, with Ken Jennings in third place, with $2000. At the end of the show, it was obvious that Watson was bright and fast, but he has a few flaws that kept him from running away with a big win.
Here’s a video of the first show. It may not be online long, because it was put up by someone without permission from Jeopardy.
ATDHE.net, the popular destination to watch American shows and television channels seems to have been blocked by the ICE team at Homeland Security. There are also reports that several other online streaming sites including channelsurfing have been blocked by them.
Several users are seeing the above message when they visit atdhe.net. However, this message does not appear for everyone yet. For example, I could still access the website without any issues a few minutes back but started seeing the above message now.
The domain has been taken down through a seizure warrant obtained by U.S. Attorney’s office for Southern District of New York pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 981 and 2323. The reasons for the takedown is basically distribution of copyrighted material such as movies, music, software or games without authorization.
The site in question did stream television channels and sports among other things. It is not very clear as to how many other sites are being taken down currently. The number may be quite more by the time they are done.
Apple and Steve Jobs seem to have had a very nice holiday season as they posted revenue of $26.74 billion in the 4th quarter of 2010 and a profit of $6 Billion. This was $2.2 billion more than the YoY results in 2009.
Apple sold 4.13 million Macs during this quarter which was 23% more than the year-ago quarter. The iPhone sales were also not bad with 16.24 million units being sold. However, iPod Touch and other iPod devices saw a decline of 7% from last year to 19.45 million units.
The big number though was the iPad sales. In the last three months Apple managed to sell 7.33 million iPads, this is definitely good news before more competition hits the market. Apple is also planning to launch the iPad 2 somewhere in April 2011.
The first quarter of 2011 should also see huge sales for the iPhone 4 because of the Verizon deal Apple signed. This was also highlighted by Steve Jobs in the press release:
We had a phenomenal holiday quarter with record Mac, iPhone and iPad sales,said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. We are firing on all cylinders and we’ve got some exciting things in the pipeline for this year including iPhone 4 on Verizon which customers can’t wait to get their hands on.
Earlier today Apple’s share were down in trading due to Steve Jobs medical leave, however, the stocks went back up in after trading hours and should go up more tomorrow morning. So it looks like Steve Jobs health won’t put much of a dent into Apple’s share value.
Google has announced that it will be dropping support for H.264 in future versions of Chrome, and instead focus on high quality open codecs. Although Google’s announcement is surprising, it’s not completely unexpected. Last year, Google spent a fair amount of cash to acquire On2, the startup behind VP8. Later, Google unveiled its own open source codec called WebM, based on On2’s VP8. Now that WebM has begun to witness increasing amounts of hardware support, as well as improvement in performance, Google obviously feels that the time is right to put its foot down.
The core issue with H.264 has been that it is proprietary. Last year, MPEG-LA made H.264 royalty free forever for free web broadcasts, in an attempt to counter WebM. However, even that move was deemed insufficient since it didn’t include applications that encode and decode video, as well as commercial broadcasts. It also didn’t alleviate the threat that some other patent holding body might come calling.
Chrome will now join Opera and Firefox as browsers supporting only open video codecs, i.e. Theora and WebM. Microsoft had earlier announced that it will be supporting both H.264 and WebM in Internet Explorer 9, provided that the codec for the latter is installed on the system. Apple, which has been pushing for HTML5 <video> as an alternative to Flash, has been a steadfast supporter of H.264. It will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future as hardware decoding support (which is crucial for portable devices like the iPod and the iPhone) for WebM is still fairly limited.
Although Google’s decision to drop H.264 support from Chrome represents a major setback for H.264, don’t expect it to disappear immediately. Apple’s dominance over the mobile devices segment, and the lack of WebM support in tablets and phones is something Google will have to contend with.
In a move that has stunned just about everyone, AMD’s board has forced its CEO Dirk Meyer to quit. AMD’s board has never been known to make very smart choices, but this time it has probably outdone itself. Of course, I am assuming that there aren’t any dirty secrets that we are unaware of.
Dirk Meyer replaced Hector Ruiz as the CEO of AMD in 2008. Before that he led the team that designed and developed the Athlon processor. When Meyer took over the reins of the company from Ruiz, AMD was in a desperate state. The company was suffering huge losses, and its stock was plummeting. Intel was beating its current products to a pulp, and the future didn’t look too bright either. In the chairman of the board’s words, “Dirk became CEO during difficult times. He successfully stabilized AMD while simultaneously concluding strategic initiatives including the launch of GLOBALFOUNDRIES, the successful settlement of our litigation with Intel and delivering Fusion APUs to the market”.
Before Meyer was forced out, AMD’s stock was steadily climbing, and the company had forecast a profit for its next financial quarter. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, AMD’s co-founder Jerry Sanders termed the surprise move by AMD’s board a “disgrace”. AMD’s Chief Financial Officer, Thomas Seifert has been named as the interim CEO.
Facebook is huge. There’s no doubt about that. It’s also obvious that Facebook Ads have been bringing in significant amount of revenues. However, because Facebook is yet to go public, there has been debate about exactly how much money Facebook has been making. Well, thanks to one loudmouthed Goldman Sachs customer we now know.
According to the leaked information, which was sourced from a private document delivered by Goldman to some of its wealthy customers, Facebook’s total revenue during the first nine months of 2010 was $1.2 billion. The social network, which was valued at $50 billion in the recently closed funding round, made a net profit of $355 million. Since the financial statements weren’t audited, they didn’t provide specifics regarding the sources of revenue.
Goldman Sachs will be raising at least $1.5 billion through investments from its customers, who have until Friday to confirm their investment. Facebook is expected go public in 2012, and getting in before that might prove to be extremely lucrative.
Did you know that Opera India pretty much closed shop ten months back? Neither did I, until a few weeks back. Apparently, back in March 2010, Opera fired almost all of its employees in India, and shut down the entire engineering division. Opera had opened its Chandigarh office in 2006 amidst much fanfare. In 2009, they even shifted to a swanky new office in Chandigarh’s IT Park. So, what went wrong?
We reported in January that Opera co-founder Jon von Tetzchner had stepped down as CEO to make way for Lars Boilesen. It appears that the new man in charge made all the difference. Opera had suffered surprise losses in Q3 2009, and their shares had shed a lot of value. Boilesen was obviously entrusted with the responsibility of getting Opera back in the black.
Opera India had just delivered the eBook Reader and Unite Media Player widgets, which are still among the most downloaded widgets. Opera 10.5 with widgets that could run as independent applications was released a day earlier. Even before employees could get their breath back, on March 3, Boilesen informed them that the entire engineering division will be shut down. From what I have managed to gather, the only explanation offered was that this was a part of the restructuring at Opera Software.
Of course, downsizing and restructuring are harsh realities of life for IT and Software companies. However, what surprises me is how silently Opera managed to pull this off. Neither was there any announcement, nor any media coverage. The restructuring has left Opera India with a handful of employees – Mrunmaiy Abroal, Shwetank Dixit and Hari G. All of them currently work from home. Sagar Chandna was called back to Norway.
Opera India Team
I tried reaching out to some ex-Opera India employees; however, (apparently) they are contracted not to speak about Opera in negative light. Nevertheless, you can glean more about what went on from their public blog posts. Check out the blog posts by Vishal Lahsiv, AmitPatil and Vivek Jisthu.
Speaking on the issue, Opera’s co-founder, Mr. Tetzchner said, “The decision to close an office that and let people go is always a tough one. At the same time, it is difficult to maintain and control a far away office as it requires quite a lot of resources.”
It’s disappointing that Opera chose to shut down their Indian engineering team. They had an immensely talented bunch, including four IITians. I wish that they had made better utilization of the talent pool available to them. However, it isn’t surprising, simply because Opera is a public company that has to answer to shareholders. At the same time, while it is always nice to have a formal announcement, companies aren’t required to announce workforce cutbacks, and they often don’t. From the anecdotes I have heard, the lack of knowledge also hurt the employees who were fired. Although, most of the employees have succeeded in finding new jobs for themselves, it was a big hurdle for them to convince potential employers about the closure of Opera India’s engineering department. With everyone from managers (Wolfgang Maehr) to testers axed, there wasn’t anyone to back them up. After all, major software firms shutting down in India is still a relatively rare phenomenon.
We moved ahead ! there was lots of hicupps after this, it was undoubtedly one of most hard faced part of life. It has been almost 8-9 months to the incidence but still feels like it was yesterday only. Opera being the first company of my career will always be cherished . This company taught me technology , “how to code”, and more over few essential lessons of life .
– Vishal Lahsiv
All said the india office was also not so very expensive to Opera India ´s pocket. Which is one of the more surprizing realities of closing down the India Operations. Everyone will find their way…move on…but the values that companies talk about…particularly values of one family openness etc. Well they all collapse when it comes to business decisions. In the brief sojourn working in Opera, i was satisfied with the work culture and the type of work. Perhaps thats the reason for some good team morale and productive output by end of the day.