Lacey's Paper Round

More evidence of the IT industry weathering the recession emerged this week with the Wall Street Journal reporting surging European PC sales. But as has been the case most of this year, the IT writers in the national press are most interested in the Internet.

More evidence of the IT industry weathering the recession emerged this week with the Wall Street Journal reporting surging European PC sales. But as has been the case most of this year, the IT writers in the national press are most interested in the Internet. Bertellsmann's new boss is pushing ahead with big online plans, and Toys R Us are determined not to get 'Amazoned'. Oh yes, and David Hewson has "had it up to here" with call centres. Did I miss something? If you spot an interesting snippet about computing or the Internet in a magazine or newspaper send it to me, Eugene Lacey, at ZDNet. An exclusive ZDNet pen for every submission published in Lacey's Paper Round.

Recession. What recession? PC sales surge in Europe -- Wall Street Journal

PC sales in Europe are up by a recession-busting 23.4%, according to figures released by Dataquest last week. The Wall Street Journal wrote: "While professional sales chugged along at a predictable 17%, consumber purchases tore ahead 48.8% for the whole of Europe, and 54% for Western Europe, the highest growth rates since records began in the late 1980s, Dataquest said." But it is not all good news. "Revenues rose only 13% in the third quarter as vendors continued to compete on price." -- Wall Street Journal, November 4, 1998

Toys R Us aims to nail online upstarts -- Business Week

Toys R Us is aiming to nail upstart Web sites before they get 'Amazoned', according to Business Week. "Toys R Us is opening a new online shopping site in time for the holidays. Does the toy giant see visions of huge online profits? Not exactly. The move is in part defensive, to counter branding efforts by online upstarts. The fact that such heavyweights as Barnes & Noble and Toys 'R' us are responding to rivals a fraction their size speaks to the levelling power of the Net." -- Busines Week, November 16, 1998

Lex not convinced by Siemens restructuring plan -- Financial Times, Lex Column

The FT's influential Lex Column is not convinced by Siemens' plans to restructure its global operations. "But for all the screams off-stage in Siemens current drama, detailed commitments commensurate with Siemens being viewed as a genuine restructuring story are still lacking...Early coyness on job cuts is a disapointing start." -- Lex Column, Financial Times, November 5, 1998

Bertelsmann dragged kicking and screaming into electronic future -- Wall Street Journal

In a detailed profile of Bertellsmann's new boss, Thomas Middlehoff, the Wall Street Journal assesses his plan to build an electronic future for the German media giant. "The company won't say how much it has invested in its new multimedia division, but it has hired 850 employees for it in just threee years. Of Bertellsmann's 1997 revenue of 28 billion marks ($16.8 billion), multimedia conributed 750 million marks, or less than 3%". Deals with AOL, Lycos, and Barnes and Noble will help "create a large, integrated multimedia machine, that captures new online users and then shuttles them around the various units." -- Wall Street Journal, November 6-7, 1998

Cable broadband offerings will put the squeeze on ISPs -- The Economist

The Economist analyses the growing dispute between the cable companies who wish to push 'broadband' Internet services, and ISPs who believe they are not being given a fair chance to compete. "Although between them, @Home and Road Runner (broadband cable-based ISPs) have fewer than 700,000 subscribers -- nothing compared with, say, AOL's 14m -- their prospects are bright. Within two years @Home will be able to offer its broadband service to at least 35m households, while Road Runner will be available to 27m households." -- The Economist, November 7, 1998

Call centres are modern day "dark satanic mills" -- The Sunday Times

The proof of commitment to customer service these days seems to be the call centre. Having a call centre means you care, it means you are gearing up for a customer service-based future. Not according to The Sunday Times' David Hewson, who believes they are, "The modern equivalent of the 19th-century dark satanic mill...With few exceptions, the insidious technology of the call centre is the bane of modern consumer life." -- David Hewson, The Sunday Times, November 8, 1998

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