It's a long way from Cupertino to Roswell, but we'll get there

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For those of you who may have missed it, a Cupertino-based company called Apple launched a mobile phone in the US last Friday and sold an awful lot of them over the weekend. It would be hard to miss the iPhone, of course, because it seemed not a single story about mobile phones has gone by without a reference to it - at last count, at least 20 stories mentioned it over the past six days.

For the record, El Reg's Cade Metz stood in line outside the Apple store in San Francisco for two hours before it opened, along with about 350 other people, to get his mitts on one. He seemed reasonably impressed, although there were some quibbles and he was very irritated by the slowness of the EDGE network.

Take VAT, you fraudsters!

While we're on the subject of mobile phones, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers arrested 10 alleged "carousel" fraudsters after an 18 month investigation.

Last month, six men were jailed for a total of nearly 48 years for their involvement in a sophisticated £85m carousel fraud scam.

At more or less the same time, the son of Labour MP and millionaire businessman Mohammed Sarwar was jailed for three years after being found guilty of an £850,000 VAT scam involving imported mobile phones. Athif Sarwar, 28, of Lynebank Place, Mearnskirk, was found guilty on two charges of laundering thousands of pounds between 24 February and 25 April 2003 when he worked at United Wholesale (Scotland) Ltd, Maxwell Road, Glasgow.

There's people in Africa who'd be grateful for that Pentium III

But enough about VAT, let's concentrate on channel matters for a little while. First off, the WEEE (Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment) directive finally came into force in the UK on Sunday. Businesses will need to ensure the safe, environmentally sound disposal of electronic and electrical waste and could be subject to hefty fines if they don't.

Computer Aid International, which supplies refurbished PCs to developing countries, said it has launched a new asset tracking and reporting service in a bid to treble donations to meet demand for refurbished IT kit from schools and hospitals in the developing world.

Are there any directives on time wasting?

Meanwhile, it's waste not, want not over at Microsoft which has decided not to drop one of its three broadline distributors. The vendor had announced plans to cull one from Bell Micro, Ingram, and C2K in October and set them a variety of targets to demonstrate to the software giant why they were worthy of keeping their distribution rights.

Steve Haddock, Microsoft UK partner group, told CRN he had been certain the vendor only needed two broadliners four months ago, but they had all upped their game. "If I got rid of one now it would be like cutting my nose off to spite my face," he added.

Morse shake up signals ambitious future

Morse has appointed Kevin Alcock, previously chief executive of the company's consultancy arm, as its new chief executive. His elevation is part of an ambitious strategy by the company, following the demerger of Monitise last month, which includes seeking a listing on AIM. Alcock replaces Duncan McIntyre who will become executive deputy chairman.

We all go IPO

Software as a service (SaaS) specialist Netsuite has taken the first step towards an initial public offering (IPO) by filling out a Form S-1 for the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

While there is no word of the expected offer price or the number of shares to be issued, NetSuite is planning to use an online auction process to gauge the number of shares it ought to issue and the price of each share.

Another company treading the IPO route is network storage firm Compellent Technologies, which is planning to sell up to $60m of common stock in its initial public offering in the third quarter. Compellent sells SAN boxes that combine Fibre Channel and iSCSI, and claims to be a lower cost solution to the big storage names such as EMC, Dell, IBM, HP, and Hitachi.

Buying and selling is easy

Shareholders in IT services firm Calyx have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a €103.8m management buyout by chief executive Maurice Healy (who holds almost 28 per cent of the company's shares) and his management team.

Calyx hopes the buyout will allow the company to continue with its aggressive acquisition strategy. In early June, Andrew Mills, MD of Calyx UK, said it wanted to become the largest single source of networking and IT services in the UK and Ireland.

The vehicle for the takeover, Stornoway, is being backed by private equity group Alchemy Partners. This is not the first time Healy has led an MBO. In 2001, he bought Calyx out from Alphyra, which Healy founded with John Nagle in 1989.

Can someone explain buying and selling please?

Western Digital has bought hard disk media manufacturer Komag for $1bn cash, eight years after it sold its disk platter business at a $20m loss to, er, Komag.

The acquisition makes WD, which was one of Komag's biggest customers for disk platters, self-reliant and should let it cut prices and increase margins in a fiercely competitive business. "This acquisition is a significant step in the evolution and differentiation of WD as a leader in the worldwide hard drive industry," said president and CEO John Coyne. And a great boost to the bank balances of Komag's owners.

CeBIT chief says 2008 show is the business

CeBIT boss Ernst Raue has revealed the trade fair in Hanover next year will focus more on B2B as it seeks to become a more "effective" event for exhibitors.

Although the 2007 event had a ten per cent increase in attendance to 480,000 and hosted deals worth €11bn, the world's largest computer fair has been facing the threat of defection from major exhibitors for some time. As a result, CeBIT will concentrate more on business, public sector, and residential retailers and hobbyists.

A war we all support

Lots going on security-wise this week. Take the news that rival malware gangs were battling for supremacy on the desktop. According to security experts, the propagators of Trojan Srzibi have upset the people in the Storm Worm camp because their Trojan uninstalls Storm Worm when it infects computers. The Storm people have retaliated with DDoS attacks on the server Srizbi uses to download installation files. Great going guys, keep it up!

Sadly, the battle didn't stop hackers from trying to exploit US independence day with a malware blitz that posed as a 4 July email greeting card.

Talking Trojan Blues

Worst news of the week was that malware authors have developed a talking Trojan that taunts its victims in Bad English as it goes about trashing their PCs. BotVoice-A uses Windows text reader to play the following message: "You has been infected I repeat You has been infected and your system files has been deletes. Sorry. Have a Nice Day and bye bye." You'd think they could have used a spell-checker.

Some things we couldn't fit in

The legal battle between SAP and Oracle took an uncomfortable turn for SAP with the admission its US-based Tomorrow Now subsidiary had made "inappropriate downloads" of code and supporting documents from Oracle's website. The UK government saved £100m with a reverse e-auction for office stationery, printer cartridges, paper, and magnetic media.

Dell's conditional listing on Nasdaq will come to an end on 16 July unless it can get the SEC to agree to another extension. If not, the company will need to file its late financial reports or be de-listed.

Things we couldn't leave out

Bill Gates has dropped to number two in the world's richest league after 13 years at the top. He has been replaced by Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim.

Still, he might be happy to know that he placed number two in a poll that asked 1,000 women in China for their ideal sperm donor, ahead of Brad Pitt and David Beckham.

But, of course, we had to end with the news that Lieutenant Walter Haut, public relations officer at the Roswell air base in 1947, claimed in a statement released after his death that he saw a crashed spacecraft and the bodies of aliens at the site.

In his affidavit, Haut claimed the story about a weather balloon was a cover and the real crashed object had been stored by the military. No word on whether any of the aliens had strange touch screen objects to call home. ®


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