Thursday, December 29, 2011

China became 3rd biggest tourism market

According to a report issued by the National Tourist Administration, China has become the third-largest tourism marketplace in the world. Total income from inbound and outbound sightseeing for the five years leading up to 2010, totals six trillion yuan.
China’s fast-growing tourism industry has become a cash cow for country. In the 16 years from 1994 to 2010, the country’s total tourism income has raised 11-fold. In the 5 years to 2010, China has established 9.3 billion people from at house and abroad. That’s a whooping six trillion yuan in tourism dollars.
According to China National Tourist Administration, the country has not only become the biggest end for tourists in Asian countries, but it also ranks in the top three global destinations for travelers.
During the 11th Five Year Plan, the tourism industry has largely support economic growth in China. It’s contributed over 90 percent to the hotel business, and over 80 percent to the aviation and railway industries. In the process, tourism has created over nearly 14 million jobs in tourism industry, and 60 million jobs in other regions.
During the past five years, China has sign cooperation plans with the U.S., Australia, Japan, Russia, and South Korea. The country is expected to make 100 million new outbound departures each year from now to 2015.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Google Speeds Up Travel Searches, Annoys Travel Search Sites

Using Google, we simply typed "IAD to LAX" into the search box and immediately (or, as Google would prefer, in 0.22 seconds) got the results in the familiar Google format -- paid ads on the top, then the results, then more results for other pages related to the topic.

As on the other sites, we simply select the flight we want and hit "Book." Unlike Kayak, Google didn't try to direct us to, or any other third party; it took us right into the United Airlines reservation system and brought up a final purchase screen confirming the itinerary and price.

Like Kayak's pages, Google's pages contain advertising, which remains Big G's primary revenue source.

Consumers complain about advertising, of course, but it is the basis of the free press that is in turn the basis of American democracy, so perhaps the less said about that the better.

The problem?
So what's the problem? Well, the other travel sites say the problem is that Google will in short order put them out of business by "favoring" its own searches. It's what they've been saying since Google bought ITA Software Inc. last year.

ITA is the mother lode of flight data. It supplies the information used not only in Google flight searches but also in nearly all of the competing searches, including Kayak, Expedia, etc.

The Justice Department allowed the purchase to go forward after Google promised that it would "build tools that would drive more traffic to airline and online travel agency sites." The other sites are now complaining loudly that Google isn't doing that.

Proper role
The question comes down to whether Google must forever more be nothing but a passive search engine, combing through data posted on the Internet by others or whether it should try to live up to its mandate to "organize the world's information."

Providing comprehensive, impartial flight data quickly seems to fit into Google's mandate and also, just in passing, would seem to be a benefit to consumers. Google is not obligated to think first of consumers, of course, but publishing has traditionally been a public service business -- providing information that meets consumers' needs in a reasonably impartial manner.

If other businesses are damaged by that, it may be what in other venues is called collateral damage. It wasn't many years ago that the online travel agencies were being vilified for running bricks-and-mortar travel agents out of town.

Some of those traditional travel agents found ways to adapt and survive. The Expedias of the world may have to do the same.

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Monday, December 19, 2011


World Travel Awards (WTA), “the Oscars of the travel industry”, will host its Grand Final Gala Ceremony in Doha, Qatar, in partnership with Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) on January 11, 2012.

The most important decision-makers in global travel and tourism are set to attend the glittering ceremony, which will be staged at Katara Cultural Village, Qatar’s ground-breaking new arts and exhibitions complex.

Created under the leadership of HH Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, Katara Cultural Village was born out of a vision to position the State of Qatar as an international cultural lighthouse through theatre, literature, art, music, conventions and exhibitions. Katara features a remarkable array of attractions, from an opera house and art galleries to world-class restaurants and a beach.

Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) Chairman, Mr. Ahmed Al Nuaimi, said the choice of Doha to host WTA’s Grand Final reflects the country’s growing importance and stature in the industry and that QTA was lending as much support as possible to make the awards the best ever.

“The staging of the ceremony in Doha is an illustration of the confidence the travel and tourism industry has in Qatar as well as the potential it has to develop further,” said Mr. Al. Nuaimi.

“Qatar has allocated more the US$25 billion for the development of tourism infrastructure in preparation for the 2022 World Cup. WTA’s Grand Final forms part of our country’s growing roster of world-class events, ranging from art and music to sport and travel.”

The evening marks the culmination of a year-long search for the very best travel and tourism brands in the world, and will feature the winners from WTA’s regional heats competing head to head.

The regional ceremonies included Middle East (Dubai, UAE), Europe (Antalya, Turkey), Africa and Indian Ocean (Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt), Asia and Australasia (Bangkok, Thailand), and Caribbean and The Americas (Montego Bay, Jamaica).

Graham E. Cooke, President and Founder, World Travel Awards, said: “We are delighted to host our Grand Final Gala Ceremony in Qatar as it is such an exciting place to be right now.”

“Our Grand Final will see the winners of our five regional heats, who represent the cream of the global travel and tourism industry, compete head to head for the ultimate travel accolade.”

WTA has partnered with tourism marketing firm Phenomena to bring the ceremony to Qatar.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Egypt's Islamists try to calm fears over tourism

Egypt's main Islamist parties on Sunday launched separate conferences aimed at promoting tourism as they scrambled to allay fears that the lucrative industry is under threat from religious conservatism.

The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) – the political arm of the influential Muslim Brotherhood – announced a conference in Cairo entitled "Let's encourage tourism" that brought together industry leaders and party members.

Meanwhile, Al-Nur, the ultraconservative party representing followers of the fundamentalist Salafi brand of Islam, said it was launching a conference to promote the industry in the Egyptian southern city of Aswan.

About 15 million holidaymakers visited the country last year, attracted by its Pharaonic sites and Red Sea beach resorts. The industry is a key money earner and source of foreign currency.

Islamist parties won a crushing victory in the first stage of parliamentary elections which wrapped up last week, leading to fears they might impose strict Islamic law that could scare off Western holidaymakers.

Some Islamist candidates or religious scholars have advocated destroying ancient monuments – seen as a form of idol worshipping – and bans on alcohol, mixed-sex beaches, gambling and even bikinis.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

On the World’s Largest Cruise Ship, the Sea Is an Afterthought

I WAS standing in Central Park in the middle of the Caribbean Sea near an Indian mangosteen tree, a Malaysian olive tree, a number of elephant ears and a total of 96 other species of plant. Birds were tweeting and mothers, as diversely global as the plants, pushed strollers along the paths. A little girl twirled in a pink dress.

At the far end of the park was a Coach store and, three decks below, a Starbucks, as if a moment might go by without a chai or a vanilla bean. And I thought: Why am I standing on a land mass on a ship? And: When did ships become less about the water on which they sail and more about the land they have left behind?

Not that ships, going back to the first ocean liners with their ballrooms and bowling alleys, haven’t always appropriated the trappings of land. (Never has a ship tried to adopt the rootless, underwater habitat of a shark or even the loft of a mermaid sitting on a piece of coral).

Yet Royal Caribbean International’s Allure of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, launched in December at a cost of about $1.4 billion, has taken the concept of land to a point where, on a seven-day western Caribbean voyage, from Dec. 19 to 26, with stops in Labadee, Haiti, and Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico, my Aunt Dorothy and I entirely forgot we were at sea.

Is that a good thing? For romantic sensibilities screaming for the sublime, the metaphysical pondering of the deep — no. For those longing to get lost in a strange, wondrous, digital world of lights and colors that is not unlike the high-pitched energy of Manhattan or any world city — yes.

After hearing about the Allure’s size (1,187 feet long and 16 decks high with a capacity for 6,318 passengers and 2,384 crew members), we did not know what to expect. We were frightened, actually. My aunt has primarily been on smaller luxury ships — Crystal, Regent and the lovely and long-gone Royal Viking — ships with 500 to 1,000 passengers, subtle teak decks and very nice Champagne.

She has been on 30 cruises, and I have known the watery high life only because I have been her guest 12 times, either on short cruises like the one on the Allure, or for brief visits during some of the 10 world voyages she has taken that can last four to five months and cost more than $100,000 a person.

Not that she is incredibly wealthy. She started as a Montgomery Ward stock girl in 1936 and worked her way up to diamond buyer. Cruising is what she does with her savings.

And as part of a cruising group for whom smaller is better (meaning cozy dinners with the ship’s officers, quiet afternoon teas and thoughtful lectures by foreign correspondents), my aunt has always thought bigger meant thousands of passengers atop thousands of deck chairs watching television and eating three pieces of pizza at once. Except for a trip on a Princess Cruise she and I took in 2005, she has avoided ships with capacities of 4,000 or more.

But then she heard about the Allure, and how glamorous it was supposed to be as mega-ships go. And she called Malcolm, one of her luxury-cruise-ship friends, who last year went on the Oasis of the Seas (identical to the Allure but two inches shorter). He told her, “Even though there are 24 elevators and 1,700 children, you’re going to love it.”

For hard-core cruisers who go a few times a year, speed of check-in is paramount, and fetishistically discussed; it is imperative to begin the pleasure immediately. On the Allure, check-in was extraordinarily fast thanks to the huge new 5.5-acre, 240,000-square-foot terminal that Royal Caribbean built in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 2009 to make sure that the thousands of passengers moving on and off the Oasis and the Allure would be able to go “from curb to stateroom in 15 minutes.”

Stepping off the zigzagging gangplank into the enclosed Royal Promenade, we were hit with blinking lights, video screens and shop windows stuffed with jewels and muffins. Where had we come? On smaller ships there is a small area where a social hostess greets you with a little beverage and everyone hugs one another. This place looked like the inside of a shopping mall in Singapore or Dubai, with people from everywhere streaming by — a woman in a Muslim head covering, a tiny wrinkled man speaking Spanish with his arm around a young woman three times taller in bondage shoes, a Japanese couple in formal dress staring up at the top of the Cupcake shop. Still, we were in a crowd of only a few hundred or so; where were the other thousands?

We would feel not only the excitement of being among so many different cultures but also a certain spaciousness the whole week. Never would we be overwhelmed or crowded. One reason for this, it turns out, is that the Allure is not just very long, but hippy in the beam — 215 feet wide, in fact, more than 30 feet wider than Royal Caribbean’s last big ship, Freedom of the Seas.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Air Arabia reports solid performance for 3Q

Air Arabia, the first and largest low-cost carrier (LCC) in the Middle East and North Africa, announced today its financial results for the three months ending September 30, 2011, demonstrating sustainable profitability during the third quarter of this year.

Air Arabia’s net profit for the three months ending September 30, 2011, which was in line with analyst forecasts, stood at AED 100 million, a decline of 26 per cent compared to AED 136 million in the corresponding period in 2010. In the third quarter of this year, Air Arabia posted a turnover of AED 691 million, an increase of 22 per cent compared to AED 568 million in the same period of 2010.

The airline served 1,199,973 passengers in the third quarter of 2011, an increase of five per cent compared to 1,147,066 passengers in the same period last year. In the three months ending September 30, 2011, Air Arabia’s average seat load factor – or passengers carried as a percentage of available seats – stood at an impressive 81 per cent.

“Air Arabia is pleased to announce such solid financial performance despite continued challenging market conditions,” said Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Thani, Chairman of Air Arabia. “Air Arabia’s sustained quarterly profits, high seat load factor and rising passenger traffic reflect the appeal of our services and demonstrates the strength of Air Arabia’s business model.

“The challenging markets conditions we have seen in the second quarter of this year continued in the third quarter, with a further escalation in the political turmoil in several countries and an upward trend in the average fuel bill. Despite these challenging market conditions, Air Arabia’s solid profits and steady growth reflect the airline’s commercial and operational strength.

“After crossing the 20-million passenger mark in the third quarter of 2011, we would like to thank all our customers for choosing to fly with Air Arabia. We look forward to serving many more passengers in the months and years to come.”

In the third quarter of 2011, Air Arabia took delivery of two new A320 aircraft from Airbus. The latest Airbus A320 arrived on schedule from the Airbus facility in Toulouse, France, marking the delivery of a total of six out of 44 A320 aircraft ordered in 2007.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Luxury jeweller Chow Tai Fook in mega Hong Kong listing

Its shops are a familiar presence on the streets of many Chinese cities, catering to the region's love of bling - be it spinach-coloured jade pendants, buttery gold wedding bracelets or dazzling diamond rings - but the name is unlikely to register far outside its home market.

The company's global anonymity looks set to disappear as the world's biggest jeweller prepares for what could be one of the world's biggest stock market flotations this year.

It is reportedly seeking to raise up to $3.5bn (£2.2bn; 2.5bn euro) via a Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO), which will likely take place early next month.

It is hoping that investors worldwide will be enticed by the opportunity to tap the growing appetite for luxury goods among China's newly rich.

"It is a very big brand in Hong Kong and it has really built up its network in China over the past few years and is increasingly popular there," said Ben Kwong, chief operating officer at securities firm KGI Asia.

Jewellery sales have been growing at 40% a year in China since 2008 and are a key part of the luxury goods market in China, which is expected to be worth $100bn (£64bn; 74bn euro) by 2020, according to brokerage group CLSA.

Chinese tastes
Chow Tai Fook also caters specifically to Chinese tastes, both with its line of products and customer service.

There is less of the silver and white gold jewellery popular in Europe and the US, but plenty of the high-karat yellow gold used to make traditional Chinese wedding jewellery and vivid green jade pendants that many Chinese believe offer health benefits to the wearer.

Diamonds are also a big part of their business.

Last year, the company purchased the world's most expensive rough diamond for a record-breaking $35.3m (£23.2m; 26m euro).

A Chow Tai Fook store in Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district was busy one recent weekday afternoon.

Customers, mainly from mainland China, tried on diamond rings and gold bracelets.

Staff were attentive, offering jasmine tea in paper cups and presenting name cards to each prospective customer.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Corporate business secrets getting leaked on social media websites

NEW DELHI: Corporate espionage has been made easy by social networking websites as a well-devised strategy can result in the leak of valuable business secrets by employees and ex-employees, according to a study by Cyberoam, the security vertical of IT company Elitecore Technology.

"You just need to get into the social network of the company, worse still, you just need to be an Internet search expert to get information that required ages to find," Cyberoam Senior Vice-President for Product Management Abhilash Sonwane told PTI.

He added that by tracking the social networking activities of employees and ex-employees, an intangible set of information about the company -- such as core values, hierarchy, communication patterns, industry environment and employee morale -- can be derived without having to physically enter the organisation.

"Besides the intangibles, the tangible information such as intellectual property, financial information or even trade secrets can be available by monitoring the organisation's social presence," Sonwane said.

Cyberoam conducted a study early this year and selected a random set of 20 small and medium companies and tried to find out what could be derived from their social media and networking presence.

The 20 organisations included eight from the USA, four from India, two from Germany, seven from the UK and a couple from Singapore and Australia.

These firms belonged to the IT, manufacturing, pharma and PR, banking and financial institutions, consultancies and even media and entertainment industry, Sonwane said.

"We could find out information like the employees were not getting their salaries on time, there were cash flow issues in the organisation, salary checks were bouncing. As a result, the employees were looking for new jobs," he said.

Cyberoam extracted and collaged information from linkedin status updates, interactions on Facebook and by following the Twitter accounts of employees.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dell expects disk drive shortage to hurt revenue

Dell is likely to be hampered for a couple quarters by an industry-wide shortage of computer storage drives resulting from the recent flooding in Thailand, the computer maker said Tuesday.

Dell predicted full-year revenue near the low end of the guidance it issued in August, which called for revenue growth of 1 percent to 5 percent over 2010 and was in turn a reduction from a previous forecast.

Dell Inc. cited the uncertain economy, as well as the disk drive shortage. The Thai flood waters, which started spreading in August, are now receding, but they closed many of Thailand's tech-related factories, including a bevy that produce a critical component of personal computers: hard disk drives.

During a conference call with analysts to discuss the company's third-quarter results and outlook, Dell's executive leading manufacturing, procurement and the supply chain, as well as PC engineering, design and development, said the "complexity" of the situation makes it hard to determine the scope and length of hard drive shortages. Jeff Clarke said this means the industry must keep an eye on how it's allocating its resources "at least" throughout the first quarter of next year.

"Our goal is to mitigate any impact to our customers in Dell, and our teams will be working throughout the quarter to do just that," he said.

The shortages come as the personal computer industry already is dealing with decreased demand. Sales have slowed, particularly in the U.S. and Europe, because debt and unemployment fears and the growing popularity of tablet computers have led many consumers delay replacing PCs. In addition, the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan hurt supplies of memory chips.

Hewlett-Packard Co. plans to report Monday on how it fared during the most recent quarter and this should offer more insight into the performance of computer makers overall.

Dell's forecast, lowered in August from a previous estimate of 5 percent to 9 percent growth, translates to $62.1 billion to $64.6 billion. Analysts expect $62.6 billion in revenue.

Also Tuesday, Dell said that its third-quarter net income rose 9 percent though revenue remained flat from last year as the computer maker continued pruning less profitable parts of its business.

For the quarter that ended Oct. 28, Dell earned $893 million, or 49 cents per share. This compares with $822 million, or 42 cents per share, in the same quarter in 2010.

Excluding one-time items, the Round Rock, Texas-based company said Tuesday that it earned 54 cents per share. This is 8 cents higher than what analysts polled by FactSet expected.

Revenue was flat at $15.4 billion — lower than the $16.2 billion analysts expected.

Dell's revenue from large corporations rose 4 percent to $4.5 billion, while its revenue from consumers fell 6 percent to $2.8 billion. Revenue from the public sector fell 2 percent to $4.4 billion, and revenue from small- and medium-sized businesses inched up 1 percent to $3.7 billion.

Brian Gladden, Dell's chief financial officer, said several parts of the company, including its consumer and public sector businesses, felt "challenging demand dynamics" during the quarter.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Euro NCAP crash test: 5 stars for the BMW 1 Series

Now in its second generation, the BMW 1 Series is once again the undisputed benchmark for driving dynamics in the compact vehicle segment. Just a few weeks after its market launch it has now been officially certified as a perfect role model in the area of safety.

On the current Euro NCAP crash test, the new BMW 1 Series achieved the top score of 5 stars. After analysis of all the data collected in the course of extensive testing procedures, the testers officially confirmed that the new BMW compact model provides outstanding occupant protection over a range of different collision types.

In addition, the car’s pedestrian protection and its numerous standard safety fittings also attracted a positive rating. Among other things, the new BMW 1 Series can be fitted with the extended emergency call including automatic position finding and accident severity identification – the BMW Assist Advanced eCall. BMW received the special Euro NCAP Advanced Award for this BMW ConnectedDrive service a year ago.

The current Euro NCAP crash test determined the risk of injury as a result of a frontal impact and side impact collision as well as on the so-called side-impact pole crash. In all scenarios the new BMW 1 Series provided both driver and passengers with extensive protection from injury, regardless of their height or seating position. The test verdict on child safety was also positive.

The BMW 1 Series was said to offer excellent protection on both the front impact and the side impact tests. In conjunction with seat systems for children aged three and one and a half, the test dummies with mounted sensors registered a stable position and reduced head movement at the moment of impact.

The effective seat occupant protection in the new BMW 1 Series is the result of an integrated safety concept which includes not just an extremely torsionally stiff passenger cell but also large-format deformation zones and precisely defined bearing structures to absorb and dissipate the forces which take effect when an accident occurs. The new BMW 1 Series is fitted as standard with front airbags, side airbags integrated in the backrests, head airbags for the front and back seats, three-point automatic seatbelts on all seats, belt force limiters and belt tensioners at the front and ISOFIX children’s seat attachments at the rear. It also features the driving stability system DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) and a Run Flat Indicator.

The Euro NCAP crash test attaches particular importance to pedestrian protection, and this has been optimised in the new BMW 1 Series by such elements as selectively modelled body elements with yielding structures on the front of the vehicle. The testers awarded maximum points to the design of the front bumpers in particular, as well as for those elements of the front section which are relevant to the risk of head injury to children in the event of a collision.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

World's most expensive ring

If you’re an aging bachelor and billionaire looking to wed someone half your age, you may want to look into expensive engagement rings. One such individual’s proposal to an ex-model involved a $1.5 million engagement ring. That may seem way out there, but it’s not even close to the most expensive ring in the world.

The Chopard Blue Diamond Ring is the ring that makes any other diamond ring look bad. Set with an enormous, oval-shaped blue diamond, the expensive ring also has diamond shoulders and an 18k white gold band paved with diamonds.

Blue diamond is among the most expensive diamonds in the world. It is found among boron deposits, from whence it derives its shade. This particular gem weighs in at nine carats.

The world’s most expensive ring is valued at $16.26 million, enough to put a dent in the wallets of even the wealthiest individuals.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Audi launches 20 unit A1 e-tron pilot program in Munich

When Audi talks about concentrating on the future of its electric vehicle lineup – it’s not joking. The brand today launched 20 pilot Audi A1 e-tron units on the roads of Munich. Audi, E.ON, the public utility Stadtwerke München and Technische Universität München (TUM) are project partners in this fleet trial.

E.ON and SWM are in charge of expanding and maintaining the charging infrastructure in the Munich metropolitan area.

While some pilot participants received their keys last week, Audi handed over the rest of the A1 e-tron fleet to project partners and other trial participants.

“Audi works relentlessly on comprehensive approaches which maximize benefits to customers. In this era of electric mobility, we will offer our customers a wide range of services which go beyond driving itself. For example, the networking of vehicles with their surroundings and with infrastructure as well as new concepts of mobility will be important,” emphasizes Franciscus van Meel, Head of Electric Mobility Strategy at Audi AG. He adds: “We want to use this fleet trial to learn more about our customers’ usage of electric cars, and their expectations in this regard. We are planning additional fleet endeavors in strategically important markets.”

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Oil gains more than $2 on EU rescue plan

Oil prices rose more than $2 on Thursday, after European leaders struck a deal with private holders of Greek debt to write down half their holdings and agreed to boost the region's rescue fund.

Euro zone leaders made a pact with private banks and insurers on Thursday for them to accept a 50 percent loss on their Greek government bonds under a plan to lower Greece's debt burden and try to contain the two-year-old euro zone crisis.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said he expected the deal, which will be implemented through a bond exchange, to be wrapped up by the end of the year.

At 0721 GMT (3:21 a.m. EDT), Brent crude was up $1.80 at $110.71 a barrel, after touching a high of $110.96 earlier. U.S. crude gained $1.90 to $92.10 a barrel, down from an intraday high of $92.43.

"The macro event and the financial markets are leading and oil futures are reacting even though the crude inventories in the U.S. have increased substantially," said Victor Shum of Purvin & Gertz.

The Nikkei share average shrugged off concerns about the yen's strength and rose 2 percent on Thursday, on expectations the euro zone leaders' agreement to address Europe's debt will contain the crisis.

The new version of the euro zone's rescue fund will be leveraged four or five times, giving it firepower equivalent to about 1 trillion euros ($1.4 trillion), French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday.

"Investors' optimism and increased risk appetite could result in the rally of risk assets in the short term," said analyst Ong Yi Ling at Phillip Futures Singapore.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

2011 Monaco Cayman Unveiled

SCOBURG, ORE. (March 15, 2010) - Monaco Press Release – Monaco RV, one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of recreational vehicles, launches it 2011 Monaco Cayman. The Cayman steps up to the 8 air bag proprietary Roadmaster chassis, from the previous 4 air bag model of 2010. The 8 outboard-mounted air bag RR8R Roadmaster chassis provides a wide and stable platform for the coach, improving drivability.

The 2011 Monaco Cayman is powered by a new 360 horsepower engine, standard on 40-foot models, with an ISB 340 horsepower engine standard on 36 models. Four floorplans choices are available including the popular full wall slide 36PFT. The full wall slide model produces expansive interior space as no divider walls of separate slides are present to reduce useable space.

"There wasn’t a feature or creature comfort we left out of the Cayman this year.” Says Mark Kealoha, National Sales Manager for Monaco. “After listening to many RV owners and dealers we responded with designing the Cayman around three very important customer “hot buttons”; King Beds, Stackable Washer/Dryer units and residential refrigerators all options for 2011. Value was the goal in design and value is what you see in the Cayman line.”

Ceramic tile throughout the living area, kitchen and bath come standard in the 2011 Cayman, along with three luxurious décor choices. Other standard well appointed interior features include raised panel cabinet doors with hidden hinges, soft touch padded vinyl ceiling and an arched back wood booth dinette with sliding dinette top

Optional furniture choices include leather Euro-recliners, a sofa bed or sectional. And for the family, an optional hallway bunk option with two fold down dvd players with game hookups is available. The galley boasts a polished solid surface countertop with mosaic tile backsplash with a convenient flip up countertop extension that expands the workspace area. A12 cu. ft. four door refrigerator with hardwood raised panel door, stainless steel sink with high arch faucet complete the residential feel of the kitchen. Behind the wheel, safety and comfort abound. Ultraleather six way power pilot and co-pilot seats, power solar shades, LCD 3-camera rear vision system and Panaview 1-piece windshields are all standard.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lenovo passes Dell to become world's No 2 PC maker

--Lenovo replaces Dell to become world's 2nd-largest PC maker

--Lenovo Chief Executive Yang Yuanqing says the company will keep pursuing acquisitions to boost growth

China's Lenovo Group Ltd. LNVGY +2.40% was named the world's No. 2 personal-computer maker by two research firms on Thursday and Chief Executive Yang Yuanqing said the Chinese company will keep pursuing acquisitions to boost growth.

The firms--Gartner Inc. and International Data Corp.-- also found that global PC shipments rose more slowly than expected in the third quarter, in a sign of consumers' shift away from laptop and desktop computers toward mobile devices as their budgets shrink.

Lenovo will "fully leverage" acquisitions to keep growing, Yang said in an interview, without elaborating on specific acquisition targets. Lenovo, which bought International Business Machines Corp.'s PC business in 2005, passed Dell Inc. DELL -1.23% in the third quarter to take the PC market's second-place rank in terms of shipments, according to separate surveys by data trackers IDC and Gartner.

Yang said Lenovo's new status as the industry's No. 2 makes it a "strong challenger" to become the world's top PC maker, a status currently held by Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (HPQ) PC business. He added Lenovo won't sacrifice its gross margin to boost its market share.

Both research firms said Lenovo's growth came from increased shipments to Japan and European markets. Gartner attributed Lenovo's growth to its aggressive pricing.

Yang declined to comment on whether Lenovo would be interested in buying H-P's PC business, which it has said it is considering selling or spinning off.

Lenovo earlier this year acquired German PC maker Medion AG, for which it had said it would pay up to EUR465 million (about $640 million) in cash and stock. Lenovo during its last quarter also finished forming a joint venture with Japanese PC maker NEC Corp., a deal in which NEC received $175 million in Lenovo shares.

Yang said he is comfortable with his current stake in the company. Yang in June bought about 8% of Lenovo's outstanding shares for around 3.15 billion Hong Kong dollars (US$403.8 million) from the company's biggest shareholder, Legend Holdings Ltd.

Gartner said shipments of PCs around the world climbed 3.2% to 91.8 million units in the third quarter, well below its earlier projection of 5.1% growth. A similar IDC survey pegged the industry's growth rate in the quarter at 3.6%, lower than an earlier projection of 4.5% growth.

Over the past few months, major PC makers such as H-P and Dell have warned that consumer spending appeared to be slipping. Both Gartner and IDC acknowledged that consumer-PC buying during the important back-to-school season was weak. But they also reported that mobile devices, such as Apple Inc.'s iPad, were competing for and often winning consumer attention when making technology purchases.

"For the moment, PCs have taken a backseat to a range of other devices competing for shrinking consumer and business budgets," IDC analyst Jay Chou said in a report.

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cable cars to link Makkah pilgrims with Grand Mosque

Plans are being prepared to establish cable car systems linking parking areas to the Grand Mosque in Makkah in a bid to ease the transport of pilgrims.

The 12 cable car routes will pick up pilgrims in Kudai, Rusaifa and Taneem as part of the government's efforts to reduce traffic congestion, Saudi daily Arab News reported on Sunday.

The project is a joint effort between the Centre of Research Excellence at Makkah's Umm Al-Qura University and the Transport and Crowd Management Centre at Toronto University, it said.

Adnan Gutub, director of the Centre of Research Excellence at Umm Al-Qura, was quoted as saying: “Cable car is an economically viable system and will contribute to lessening the congestion on the road.”

A workshop on the project was held at Umm Al-Qura University on Saturday to discuss the subject in detail with the participation of Saudi and foreign experts, the paper said, without giving details of cost or timetable.

“There will be two cable car lines from Kudai, four from Rusaifa and six from Taneem,” added Aamir Al-Shalabi of the University of Toronto.

Umm Al-Qura University president Bakri Assas commended the government’s efforts to improve facilities for the millions of pilgrims coming to Makkah to perform Haj and Umrah.
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

'Apple concept stocks' mixed on Jobs' death

Taipei, Oct. 6 (CNA) Local stocks in Apple Inc.'s supply chain, or the so-called "Apple concept stocks", were mixed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange in Thursday morning trade after the news of the death of Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs surfaced, dealers said. They said there have been fears that Apple will be losing its innovative capability without Jobs and take a detour by entering price competition to attract buying, a change in strategy which may create an impact on contract component makers' bottom lines. As of 11: 30 a.m., cell touch panel maker TPK lost 1.99 percentto NT$543.00 (US$17.7), battery producer Simplo Technology shed 2.49 percent to NT$176.00, and phone camera lens supplier Largan has fallen 3.23 percent to NT$631.00. However, Hon Hai Precision, the flagship company of the world's largest contract electronics maker Hon Hai Group, gained 2.96 percent to NT$69.60. The group churns out iPhones and iPads for Apple. Hon Hai's affiliate Foxconn Technology Co. rose 1.23 percent to NT$98.00. "The launch of iPhone 4S has prompted many investors to worry that innovation at Apple is fading as its new gadget has dashed market expectations of a radically redesigned iPhone 5," Horizon Securities analyst Benson Huang said. Rather than maintaining its innovative capability to win market share, Huang said, the market has been surprised by Apple's announcement that it will cut the prices of iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS dramatically after the iPhone 4S debut. "Now, the death of Steve has further raised such a concern as many investors have feared that Apple will come up with further price cutting measures," Huang said.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Oracle’s Ellison Introduces Faster System to Challenge SAP, IBM

Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Oracle Corp. introduced a computer system that works faster by analyzing data within its dynamic random access memory, aiming to boost market share and take on International Business Machines Corp. and SAP AG.

“Everything runs faster if you keep it in DRAM -- if you keep it in main memory,” Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison said in a keynote address at a conference in San Francisco tonight. “You ask more questions, you get better answers.”

The Exalytics Intelligence Machine Ellison introduced will run Oracle’s Times Ten and Essbase databases, both gained through past acquisitions, in its terabyte of main memory. The system analyzes business data many times faster than on machines that store information on disk drives, Ellison told customers at the company’s OpenWorld event.

Oracle, the world’s largest maker of database software and biggest maker of business applications after SAP, is seeking to keep its database relevant for computing jobs that involve processing increasing amounts of data. Oracle’s $16.6 billion in database and related middleware sales last year also make it the top supplier of software that powers corporate and government computer programs.

Ellison also said that the Redwood City, California-based company plans another update to its Sparc microprocessor next year that’s twice as fast as its recently released T4 chip. The idea is to challenge IBM for more hardware sales through Oracle’s Sun Microsystems unit, gained in a $7.4 billion acquisition last year.

Taking on IBM

“We want to take IBM on in their strongest suit, which is the microprocessor, said Ellison. He said Oracle’s T4 chip runs software written in the Java programming language faster in a benchmark test than a competitive IBM system. The company introduced a new Sparc Supercluster system on Sept. 26 using the Sparc T4.

At least one rival doubted how far Ellison will go with the Sparc chip. Oracle may not make the billions of dollars in investments needed to keep Sparc competitive with IBM and Intel Corp. chips in the future, Steve Mills, IBM senior vice president, said last week in an interview.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Rolling and roaming in New Zealand by camper van

My husband, Nolan, and I had pulled in next to a train station to make coffee in our rented Volkswagen Vanagon camper when a wiry, red-haired man ambled over and knocked on our sliding door. It was our first morning in New Zealand, and we assumed he was going to tell us we couldn't park there.

Hands in the pockets of his fleece jacket, he smiled apologetically at interrupting our breakfast, and leaned in.

"What year is it?" he asked, meaning our bright orange van (a 1982). We'd hired it the day before in Christchurch from Classic Campers, which we'd found on the Web as renting "stylish retro campervans."

It was then that we noticed an almost identical orange Vanagon across the parking lot.

Kiwis, as New Zealanders call themselves, are notoriously friendly, but our new friend Dave was more than a Kiwi. He was a member of the club.

Classic Campers owner Bevan Beattie was right:

"It's more than just transport," he said of his collection of eclectic VW vans. "It becomes part of the trip."

Because we're members of the club ourselves, we never considered anything but a VW camper van for exploring New Zealand. Back home, our 1987 Vanagon, Hanz, has taken us from Los Angeles to Maine and back again. And in trips to France, Spain and the Netherlands, we've found that renting VW campers makes even vacations abroad affordable. This was especially true for New Zealand, where, thanks to a favorable exchange rate of 55 cents U.S. to $1 New Zealand, our rental cost just $66 a day.

No taller or longer than an ordinary van, a VW camper -- or Kombi, in Kiwi-speak -- is more fuel-efficient than an RV and far easier to park. And for the price of wheels, you get a bed and meals.

A pop-up top allows room to stand, revealing a loft-like sleeping area. The campers come with a propane-powered stove, a sink with a water tank and a refrigerator with Barbie-sized ice trays.

Friends who favor nice hotels (or at least accommodations with bathrooms) think we are eccentric. But finding a campground with toilets and showers is rarely a problem. And a cabin on wheels allows us to roam at will without worrying about hotel bookings, restaurant hours or timetables.

On the Classic Campers website, we'd coveted a 1966 cherry-red Splitty, the iconic split-windshield model with jalousies and tiny round headlights. But it was taken.

Our orange van wasn't quite old enough to be retro. And, with patches on the canvas sides of the pop-top, it wasn't quite spiffed up enough to be stylish. But Kiwis are known for their make-do ways. Consider the humble bach (pronounced "batch"): an everyman's vacation home, often made of recycled construction materials or old buses. Our van, we decided, would be our mobile bach.

Plus, Beattie had swapped in an Audi engine, which meant we could climb winding mountain roads without a trail of honking cars.

Imagine the most beautiful places you've ever seen -- Grand Teton, Big Sur, Alaska's Inside Passage -- cram them all into a skinny strip of land, and that's New Zealand. We'd wanted to visit the Pacific island nation even before director Peter Jackson made the landscape a star as the setting of the "Lord of the Rings" movies. One friend told us that of all the dream destinations of his childhood, it was the one that proved every bit as glorious as he'd imagined.

Classic Campers is based in the North Island city of Auckland, at 1.3 million people the nation's largest city by far. Because we wanted to spend about two-thirds of our trip on the more rugged, sparsely populated South Island, we arranged to start our adventure at its satellite office in Christchurch.

After a 12-hour flight from Los Angeles to Auckland and an hour and a half hop to Christchurch, we picked up our van near the airport and headed for Arthur's Pass National Park, about two hours west. Kiwis, like their British forebears, drive on the left side of the road, and we decided it would be better to start off on a lonely country lane than in a city, even a small one.

The flat plains gave way to tussock-covered hills, then steep, forested slopes as we made our way to the highest pass in the spine of mountains known as the Southern Alps. The zillion fluffy sheep we passed along the way gave us wide berth.

After breakfasting with Dave, we hiked through a mossy beech forest, a kea -- a rare alpine parrot -- screeching overhead. Then we spread out our map to decide where to go next.

It's easy to overestimate how much you can see and do in New Zealand. The two main islands are deceptively narrow; you are rarely more than a few hours from either the Tasman Sea or the Pacific Ocean or both. But top to bottom, the North and South islands stretch almost 1,100 miles. ( California, by contrast, is 770 miles long.) And the South Island is 65% mountainous, meaning twisting two-lane roads that narrow to one-lane bridges, even on the main highways.

We had a luxurious 19 days for travel, but because we wanted to savor our time, we had agreed on three goals: to hike, to sample New Zealand wines and to soak up the country's culture, be it Maori history or Kiwi kitsch.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shanghai subway train crash injures 271

SHANGHAI - Hundreds of people were injured yesterday when a subway train slammed into the rear of another train in a sprawling transit line that opened just last year. The accident cast new scrutiny on the safety record of China’s rapidly modernizing mass transit rail systems.

The state-run media reported that 271 people were injured during the afternoon accident in the Shanghai Metro system. Xinhua, the official news agency, said that equipment failure was believed to be responsible and that the accident was under investigation.

There were no deaths reported, but the government said late yesterday that about 20 people had serious injuries that were not considered life threatening. Images from the crash site posted on blogs and social networking sites showed some people bloodied and badly injured.

The accident came just two months after a deadly crash involving two trains on China’s high-speed rail network for which officials blamed bad weather and a signal failure. The July 23 crash in the eastern city of Wenzhou killed 40 people and injured nearly 200.

The Wenzhou accident unleashed public criticism of the nation’s high-speed rail program amid concern that the government had not ensured its safety. Since then, the government has slowed the speed of trains and announced a thorough review of its safety program.

As part of its rapid urbanization efforts, China has spent billions of dollars over the past decade on building huge subway systems and a national high-speed rail network.

The pace of construction is unprecedented, with even second-tier but fast-growing cities like Wuhan racing to build underground subway systems to ease congestion.

Up to now, China’s transportation systems have proved to be a boon to its economy, with few fatalities. But there have been increasing reports over the past few years of substandard roads and bridges and worries that subway and high-speed rail construction may be moving too quickly and could pose safety problems.

The accident yesterday in Shanghai occurred around 2:50 p.m. on Metro line 10, which stretches from downtown Shanghai to Hongqiao, one of the city’s airports. The line also travels north, south, east, and west in the vast city of 23 million. The accident was near Yuyuan Gardens, a favorite Shanghai tourist spot.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Google Travel Site Doesn't Strike Fear Into Competitors

News flash: Google doesn't have all the answers.

At least that was the response from travel search-engine sites as they caught their first glimpse of a competing product launched by Google last week.

It's never a good sign for your business when one of the world's largest companies buys your chief supplier and seeks to muscle in on your turf.

So it's understandable why many travel engines — including Travelocity, Expedia and Kayak — suffered angst when Google proposed last year to buy ITA Software, the company that developed and provides their fare-search technology.

After the acquisition was approved in April, they were resigned to waiting to see what competitive threat Google Travel would unleash. But when the tech giant finally released its airfare search tool last week, the competitors were left underwhelmed and perplexed.

"We believe our flight search technology is superior," said Robert Birge of Kayak (which has a business relationship with USA TODAY).

Bloggers at, an anti-Google organization funded by travel search sites, wrote that the new product "raises a lot of questions," including whether Google will favor flights from its advertisers or mix sponsored ads with other search results.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Mobile technology may affect future work trends

That new smartphone you just bought? It may well be the "most important technology" in your life.

A survey conducted by Cisco on 2,800 respondents found that 66 per cent of students and 58 per cent of young employees consider mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones or tablets to be the most important technology in their lives.

Part of this stems from the search for information online, according to the second annual Cisco Connected World Technology Report.

The survey reported that mobile technology has overshadowed older devices such as televisions (TVs) and newspapers when it comes to providing information.

Fewer than six per cent of college students and eight per cent of employees polled said TVs were important.

This downward trend is expected to continue as TV programming and movies become available on mobile devices.

Similarly, only four per cent of college students and employees surveyed globally said the newspaper is their most important tool for accessing information.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Voltas in talks to buy Wipro's water business

Electro-mechanical projects firm Voltas Ltd is in advanced talks to buy the water purification and treatment business of India's No.3 software services exporter, Wipro Ltd , The Times of India said, citing unnamed sources close to the development.

The soaps-to-software maker has mandated investment bank Anand Rathi to find a suitor for the water treatment business, which it entered about four years ago, the report said.

Voltas, a Tata group firm, may be looking at this acquisition to expand its water treatment business, which undertakes works for local civic bodies and for Tata group firms, the report said.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Businesses need a creative side

Recently there has been a lot written about Steve Jobs’ departure as the chief executive of Apple. As of this month, Apple is the largest publicly traded company in the world by market capitalisation and the largest technology company in the world by revenue and profit.

The fascination people have about Jobs is his ability to bounce back and have great breakthrough. He started Apple in 1976 with Steve Wozniak and Mike Markkula, which came with the first commercially successful lines of personal computer in the 1980s. After a tug of war with Mike Sculley, Jobs resigned from Apple.

During the years of his absence the creative output and the share price of Apple went down. In this period Jobs formed Pixar, an animation company, that he eventually sold to Disney. He returned to Apple in 1996 and the rest is history.

Jobs has become iconic as the best second act story in business history.

So my analysis will focus on the ever constant tussle between the creative view versus the accountant’s view of running business.

First, the creative view of running a business beats the accountant’s view of running a business. Without the creative side there is no business to even speak of.

The creative side requires imagination coupled with action to bring about the thing imagined into actual existence.

Accounting then comes into play to measure the impact of the actions taken, which is an after-the-fact phenomenon because the accounting process is focused on reporting factual historical information.

This is why it is easier to look at things based on hindsight about what actions should have been taken to yield the best results. Accounting reporting does not take the risk of predicting results arising from possible actions, which is the domain of the creative part of business.

Second, accounting reporting is a useful accountability tool to use to measure the impact of the creatives in the business in terms of rands and cents. It brings about controls that help to maximise value.

However, the value in a business is mostly attributable to the creative energy that is flowing within the key parts of the business. So this accountability function played by accountants makes them the hated part of the business because they ask the tough questions that affect the final output of the business and the efficient use of the company resources.

This also causes accountants to be risk averse within the organisation because they focus on the bottom line impact of every decision made within the company.

So why is this relevant?

In most companies where you have the creative types running it, great value is created if it is balanced by the proper accounting teams.

If you have one extreme it would be the tech bubble of the 2000s, which showed the impact of creatives being given unfettered freedom in running the business without the proper accounting checks and balances. This led companies to be overvalued even when they had no sustainable tangible revenue potential to speak of, but only showed the creative potential.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Google announces next Android OS, Jelly Bean

Close on the heels of GoogleExecutive Chairman Eric Schmidt announcing the arrival of the upcoming version of AndroidOS termed Ice Cream Sandwich in October or November, speculations have started on the next version of Android.

According to a report citing trusted sources in 'This is My Next', Jelly Bean is the working name for next incarnation of Android.

The name follows Google's tradition of calling its Android operating systems after sweets in alphabetical order. Earlier versions of Android follow a typical order -- Cupcake 1.5, Donut 1.6, Eclair 2.1, Froyo 2.2, Gingerbread 2.3,Honeycomb 3.0 and the upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich.

The report quotes industry source saying, that the "game-changing stuff" that had originally been scheduled for Ice Cream Sandwich will be being pushed to Jelly Bean. Jelly Bean could be dubbed Android 4.5 or Android 5.0, depending on the amount of features packed, says the report.

Ice Cream Sandwich is expected to be a universal operating system that will work on phones, tablets, TVs, and even phones that transform into laptops. Among other things, the OS is likely to bring an updated app launcher, holographic user interface, interactive and new homescreen widgets and a multi-tasking panel.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Infosys announces new Executive Council to frame business strategies

Software major Infosys Technologies on Saturday announced composition of new Executive Council (EC), a high level body that frames its business strategies.

The EC will include the executive board, current EC members, heads of key business units and strategic business enabler units.

"It gives me great pleasure to announce the new executive council of Infosys. The new EC is a group of highly competent professionals who would closely work with the Board in formulating business strategy and framing policies for the organisation," Infosys CEO & MD S Gopalakrishnan said.

"This is one of the most significant announcements that will shape the Infosys of tomorrow," he added.

Infosys rejig: Will it stick to tradition?

The members of the EC are: S Gopalakrishnan, S D Shibulal COO, Srinath Batni, Director and Head, Delivery Excellence, V Balakrishnan, CFO, Ashok Vemuri, Senior VP and Head Banking and Capital Markets and Strategic Global Sourcing, the release said.

Other members are B G Srinivas Senior V-P and Head Manufacturing, Product Engineering, Product Lifecycle and Engineering Solutions, Chandrashekar Kakal, Senior VP Enterprise Solutions, U B Pravin Rao, Senior VP, Retail, CPG & Logistics, Prasad Thrikutam Head, Energy, Utilities, Communications & Services, Infosys Limited Global Head, Systems Integration.

Steve Pratt CEO and MD, Infosys Consulting, Ramadas Kamath U, Senior VP, Administration, Commercial Facilities, Infrastructure, Nandita Gurjar, Senior VP and Group Head, Human Resources and Basab Pradhan, Global Head of Sales, are the other members of the EC, the release added.

Earlier this week, Infosys posted a 15.72 per cent jump in its first quarter consolidated net profit year-on-year at Rs 1,722 crore as against Rs 1,488 crore in the year-ago period, meeting street expectations.

The company's revenues rose to Rs 7,485 crore in the first quarter from Rs 6,198 crore in the year-ago period, up 20.76 per cent.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bharti, IBM ink 10-year agreement for IT solutions in Africa

Extending its partnership with IBM , telecom major Bharti airtel has now awarded a 10-year contract to the technology giant for providing IT solutions to its employees across 16 African countries.

Under the new agreement, IBM will provide end-user services to airtel employees across Africa in French and English.

IBM's 100-year journey, from clocks, scales to...

It will provide a standard operating environment, 'help desk' and 'desk side' support to enhance employee efficiency and convenience, Bharti airtel said in a statement.

However, the value of the deal was not disclosed.

India Inc discovers Africa

The consolidation of airtel's helpdesks is expected to bring about greater cost savings and efficiencies through streamlining of the processes for addressing IT operational issues.

IBM is already managing Bharti airtel's IT operations in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and 16 African countries.

Rise, fall and rise of IBM in India

It will also include an enhanced information enterprise security solution that further strengthens airtel's commitment to customer data privacy.

Last year, Bharti airtel had acquired Kuwait-based Zain Telecom's African business for $10.7 billion.

The announcement builds on the strategic partnership announced by airel and IBM in late 2010 for the management of the computing technology and services powering Airtel's mobile communications network spanning 16 African countries, it added.

Outsourcing of key operational functions has been key to Bharti airtel's low-cost, high-volume business model that has helped it to build a subscriber base of over 140 million customers in India.

IBM will also be responsible for the implementation and maintenance of a standard operating environment, using platforms, tools and management processes.

"This agreement enables us to provide the best IT capabilities to our employees with a focus on making innovative mobile solutions available across Africa," Bharti Airtel Chief Executive Officer (International) and Joint Managing Director Manoj Kohli said.

Bharti airtel and IBM's relationship began in 2004, when the telecom operator selected IBM to handle IT and applications for its entire network in India.

Bharti airtel currently has over 44 million customers across 16 African countries and is targeting 100 million subscribers by 2015.

"This latest agreement will bring enhanced efficiencies to benefit customers, employees and business partners of Bharti airtel," IBM General Manager (Growth Markets) Bruno Di Leo said.

The new agreement was signed in the first quarter of 2011.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mobile banking to help 2 billion people by 2020

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Mobile financial services are expected to improve the lives of around 2 billion people in developing countries within a decade and boost economies, a Boston Consulting Group study found.

"Overall, mobile financial services can reduce financial exclusion by 5 percent to 20 percent through 2020 and increase gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 5 percent, with Pakistan, for instance, potentially seeing a 3 percent uplift," the study said.

It added that improved access to finance fostered entrepreneurship, new business creation and new jobs.

The report, released by Norwegian telecom group Telenor on Tuesday, focused on five countries -- Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia and Serbia -- which represented a broad development range, it said.

Some 72 percent of the population in developing countries are without access to banks or credit cards according to the study.

They manage to work around this by borrowing from friends and family, obtaining short-term credit from employers, forming savings clubs or seeking out moneylenders but these options were often risky, costly and with indeterminate results.

Telecom firms such as Telenor, Vodafone , Orange and MTN have begun investing in mobile payment systems in Asia and Africa that allow consumers to make basic payments for utilities for example but also participate in savings, credit and insurance programmes via mobile phones.

Mobile financial services can also help overcome economic shocks such as natural disasters or unexpected medical emergencies, the study said.

In Kenya, Safaricom's M-Pesa's UAP Insurance insures poor farmers through mobile phones against weather-induced crop failures for example.

Norway's Telenor said it was still early days but that the potential for growth was expected to be huge.

Telenor's EasyPaisa programme in Pakistan started with 2,200 retail outlets in October 2009 and now has 12,600 retailers spread over 650 cities across the country.

It has some 10 million estimated users and the total value of money transfers has reached 17.4 billion Pakistan rupees ($167.2 million).

"We believe that mobile financial services will be one of the key drivers for financial inclusion going forward and thus has the potential to be the most powerful tool for economic and social development in emerging economies," Telenor Chief executive Jon Fredrik Baksaas said in a statement on Tuesday.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Toyota launched its new updated version of Corolla Altis

Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM) has launched an updated version of its Corolla Altis saloon.

The refreshed model now comes with new set of headlamps, refreshed grille and bumper, updated rear lamps. The interiors now feature darker mock wood trim.

The petrol engine has been tweaked and will now deliver 138bhp, 7bhp more than the earlier model.The updated Altis now is equipped with new gearbox options; the 5-speed manual is now replaced by a new 6-speed unit while the top-end automatic version gets a new 7-speed CVT unit. Diesel models will feature the same 6-speed manual gearbox.

The prices of the petrol version have gone up by Rs 15,000-24,000 while the diesel prices have been hiked by Rs 15,000-30,000 depending on model. The Altis petrol is now priced from Rs 10.53 lakh to Rs 14.77 lakh while the diesel variant starts at Rs 11.46 lakh to Rs 14.55 lakh; all prices ex-showroom Delhi.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Renault has confirmed that it's budget SUV the Duster will be launched in the Indian market. The SUV is expected in the second half of next year.

The Duster shares its platform with the Logan (now Verito) saloon. It will feature a 1.5-litre diesel motor which will be updated to deliver 107bhp and will come mated with a six-speed gearbox. Renault recently showcased the Duster at the Buenos Aires Motor Show with upgraded interiors; this should be seen on the Indian-market Duster as well.

Renault has been tightlipped about the Duster as they were targeting an aggressive price tag which required many meetings with suppliers to get parts at the right price. The Duster will be produced at Renault's Chennai plant. The Duster is expected to be priced between Rs 7-8 lakh.

Renault has plans of launching as many as five vehicles in a period of just 15 months. The French car-maker has already launched its flagship; the Fluence last month, the next offering is the Koleos premium SUV that will take on the likes of Honda's CR-V, Mitsubishi’s Outlander and its sibling the Nissan X-Trail. Renault also revealed that it also has plans to manufacture a compact car that will be built on an Alliance platform.

Renault currently has 14 dealerships in India and aims to increase this number to 40 by the end of the year and reach 100 by end of next year.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

American Airlines in talks for 100 Airbus planes

(Reuters) - AMR Corp's (AMR.N) American Airlines, the operator of an all-Boeing (BA.N) jet fleet, is in talks with Airbus (EAD.PA) about buying at least 100 narrow-body planes, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

A decision by the board of AMR, the third-largest U.S. carrier, may come as soon as July, the report said, adding that the jets from Airbus's A320 series would replace less-efficient aircraft such as Boeing 757s and MD-80s.

An A320 has a list price of $85 million, giving a potential American order a value of about $8.5 billion, according to the report.

Representatives of American Airlines and Airbus were not available for comment outside of U.S. business hours.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

British Airways expands flights to Rio de Janeiro

British Airways is increasing its services to Brazil by doubling its weekly frequency to Rio de Janeiro from three to six flights. Flights to Rio de Janeiro will now depart Heathrow for Rio every day, except Mondays. The departure time remains at 12.15pm, landing in Rio at 9.55pm local time. The flight will continue to be served by a three class B777, enabling customers to choose from 3- classes mentioned below:

1. World traveller-Economy class
2. World Traveller Plus-Premier Economy class

3. Airline's fully flat beds in club world- business class

Neil Cottrell, British Airways’ head of network planning, said: “We are experiencing a real increase in demand for Rio and by doubling the number of frequencies, we are able to offer our customers more choice and greater availability. Brazil is also experiencing strong economic growth and this capacity increase is a great opportunity for British Airways to be part of that growth.”

Holidays in Rio de Janeiro offer visitors white sandy beaches, rainforest clad mountains and cultural must-sees including the famous Christ the Redeemer statue. British Airways offers a choice of hotels including the 3 star Center for a comfortable stay or the 5 star InterContinental Rio next to the Gvea Golf Club and the Fashion Mall shopping centre. The 5 star Porto Bay Rio Internacional has a rooftop swimming pool and views of the beach while the 5 star Copacabana Palace offers luxurious accommodation opposite the famous Copacabana Beach.

Friday, May 6, 2011

World's largest model airport opensin knuffingen, Hamburg

The world's largest model airport opened this week in Hamburg. It's described in nearly every media account as a spectacular display with a stunning attention to detail. The model loosely based on Hamburg's airport -- took more than six years to build. And, the price tag? Around $5 million.

Australian's media report as the model -- dubbed the Knuffingen Airport -- "features 40 model aircraft and 90 vehicles that move and 'fly' around the airport, and 15,000 mini people. Not a single moment of air rage, however." The airport joins the broader exhibit at Germany's Miniatur Wunderland, where the Knuffingen joins a system of model railways and villages.

The incredible model is based on Hamburg Airport and features 40 planes and 90 vehicles that autonomously move around the airport. It took seven years to build and cost a staggering $4.8 million. The model includes a “carsystem” that manoeuvres the vehicles by computer. Meanwhile tiny wires move the planes, making them appear to fly. There are approximately 40,000 lights, 15,000 figurines, 500 cars, 10,000 trees, 50 trains, 1000 wagons, 100 signals, 200 switches and 300 buildings.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Flybe adding fuel surcharge

Regional airline Flybe is adding a £3 surcharge to bookings for flights departing from the autumn due to increasing fuel costs. The surcharge will apply for bookings made from today for flights departing on or after September 1, but added that the charge would be removed if the price of crude oil dropped below $75 per barrel for a period of 28 consecutive days.

The airline is set to maintain profit levels despite higher fuel costs and a fall in the number of UK leisure travellers in recent months. Flybe admitted that the UK market “remained challenging” with a 4.4 percentage point fall in load factors for the final three months of its financial year which ended in March.

Despite this fall, the airline increased the total number of seats flown by 4.5% to 2.6 million in the three-month period while revenue per seat went up by 2.2% to £46.14 compared to same quarter last year.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Losses cross Rs 100-cr mark

The strike by Air India pilots entered into its 8th day today, with losses incurred crossing the Rs 100 crore mark. "We haven't received exact figures of losses incurred due to the strike, but the average calculated loss points to approximately Rs 105 crore," a top official in the Civil Aviation Ministry told MiD DAY.

Repeating their demands, ICPA members yesterday wrote a letter to the prime minister asking him to intervene in the deadlock. The letter, written by Rishabh Kapur, the general secretary of ICPA, highlighted the role played by Arvind Jadhav, the Air India CMD, for the present dismal scenario. "We apologise for the inconvenience caused to the general public because of our industrial action in Air India, but it is of extreme importance for the people to understand the circumstances under which the pilots have been forced to take this drastic step. It is open knowledge that Air India is being plundered under the leadership of Mr Arvind Jadhav.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Second Air France Black Box Found

Brazil's northeast coast have recovered the second of two flight data recorders from the Air France aircraft that crashed into the Atlantic in 2009, investigators said on Tuesday.

The discovery of the audio recorder, two days after the flight data recorder was fished up, brings investigators even closer to the reason for the crash as it should hold recordings of cockpit conversations during the flight's final moments.

"The investigation team localised and identified the Cockpit Voice Recorder at (2150 GMT) on Monday 2 May, 2011," France's BEA air accident inquiry office said. The device was hauled up to the team's ship at 0240 GMT on Tuesday.

A photograph of the recorder on BEA's website shows a bright orange cylindrical device that looks scuffed and battered but otherwise intact. So-called black boxes are painted orange so that they can be spotted more easily in wreckage.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

United Begins Nonstop Service Between Los Angeles and Guadalajara, Mexico

United tomorrow begins daily nonstop service between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Guadalajara, Mexico (GDL). This service will be operated by Continental Airlines. "We're delighted to add this nonstop Los Angeles – Guadalajara flight, which connects the second-largest cities of two nations and demonstrates our commitment to Mexico," said John Slater, United's vice president Sales – Americas. "United serves 30 destinations in Mexico, more than any other airline from the U.S., and we offer more departures from the U.S. to Mexico than any other airline."

Flight CO672 departs Los Angeles at 8:20 a.m. daily, arriving in Guadalajara at 1:15 p.m. The return flight (CO673) departs Guadalajara at 2:10 p.m. daily, arriving in Los Angeles at 3:30 p.m. The Los Angeles – Guadalajara service is operated with a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, with seating for 160 customers.

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Strike enters 4th day; Air India to operate 39 flights

Air India on Saturday further reduced its operations to 39 domestic flights out of its regular 320 as the strike by its pilots entered the fourth day inconveniencing passengers. “We have curtailed more than 52 per cent of our domestic flights and operating on only trunk routes that is too metro cities,” an AI spokesperson said.

“Under the contingency plan, we have reduced the number of flights as we do not have any pilots,” he said. While 21 flights will be operated from the national capital, Air India’s Mumbai operations have almost come to a standstill as the airline may operate just five flights between 9 and 11 30 am, an AI spokeswoman said in Mumbai. The national carrier did not undertake any operations from Mumbai before 9 am.

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