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* Posts by Charlie Clark

2571 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

Microsoft announces execution date for failed QR code-killer

Charlie Clark
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Move along, please. Nothing to see here.

Just a PR stunt of a cartoon (monkey?) boy going under a bus.

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Does Gmail's tarted-up tab makeover bust anti-spam laws?

Charlie Clark
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Re: CAN-SPAM is toothless

Unfortunately, this is on a corporate mail server with Outlook as the client so I have no Bayesian learning filters. E-mails have been reported upstream as spam and, guess what, they still keep coming.

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Charlie Clark
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CAN-SPAM is toothless

I've been receiving e-mail from a US company (Grainger FWIW) for a while. Of course, I've unsubscribed but to no effect.

I read up on what I can do to stop it: the answer, as far as I can tell, is pretty much nothing. CAN-SPAM seems to be largely about running mail servers and little to do with consumer protection. Can't say I'm surprised.

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Peak Apple? HOGWASH! Apple is 'extremely undervalued,' says Icahn

Charlie Clark
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Talking to the board

I guess it's borderline. He is perfectly within his rights to demand more debt (and, therefore taxpayer)-funded share buybacks or anything else and to solicit support from others for this. But to suggest that you have special access to the board or are privy to future plans is naughty. I guess it comes down to interpretation: is here implying influence or are we inferring it? Icahn's no fool and has enough cash to pay lawyers to fight any possible case. Then, unfortunately, there are the facts: Apple is probably slightly undervalued based on the p/e ratio, and, it has more than enough cash in the bank to justify payouts either in the form of tax inefficient dividends (taxed as income) or buybacks (taxed as capital gains).

Apple will have to tread carefully on this. If Icahn can ally himself with another couple of investors he can force the board to consider his proposals officially. Even if a vote on the issue were rejected, the whole process would be highly disruptive as can be seen at Dell.

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Chipzilla Atomises fondleslabs with new reference designs

Charlie Clark
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Re: Biggest issue for Intel

I think having a fully-featured LLVM backend is more work than anyone is so far prepared to do. Of course, Intel has the resources to help make a difference but in doing so it would have to do work that would also benefit other architectures. And, of course, LLVM requires more memory on a device and isn't a win in every situation.

Anyway, for games isn't access to the graphics system more important than CPU? How compatible are Intel's graphics with Mali, et al.?

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Charlie Clark
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Not just power

Atom, a product they've mostly ignored today because its previous incarnations couldn't match ARM-derived rivals for power consumption

To be honest, Atom chips have been pretty close to ARM in power / performance for a while now but they are still significantly more expensive. In a tablet retailing for € 150 - 200 how much is actually available for the processor over say the screen, the radios and storage? And if the target market are developing economies then drop the retail price by € 100, even less budget for Intel's premium silicon.

Things might improve once Intel has SoC's but the competition isn't standing still: both Samsung and Mediatek are sampling 8-core ARM designs and Qualcomm, nVidia and TI can't be far off.

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Leaked photos of iPhone 5C parts portend ugly Google legal battle

Charlie Clark
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More like Mattel

Or whoever made the "Simon" toys with the same colours: coloured buttons that's got to be patentable.

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Waiting for a Windows Phone update? Let's talk again next year

Charlie Clark
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Re: Nokia's Fall from Glory

Just back from a week in blighty and I was surprised by the amount of Nokia ads on the telly. Must be costing a pretty packet. I think they've given up here in Jormany.

Nice kit but doomed.

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Charlie Clark
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Long tradition

Can we assume that, just like WP 7 phones, the current generation won't necessarily benefit from any update when it does come? Assuming things like multitasking are improved the hardware bar is likely to be lifted and some people might just be left holding "landfill Nokias" and wondering why they didn't just go with Android (landfill or not) in the first place.

Not that most people ever really want to update the OS on their telephone and, in a perfect world, they shouldn't really need to. But as this article points out Windows Phone is deficient in a number of areas.

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Microsoft loosens strings on Office 365, drops kimono on upgrade options

Charlie Clark
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Re: NO THANKS

Admittedly, I've not looked at Office 365 but it seems to me extremely ambitious to try and shift such a key component of many people's business software onto NSA sponsored servers. I can imagine companies might buy into their own hosted versions (give them more control and cut out file-servers) except that they won't trust MS to deliver anything usable in the browser if they've had previous experience of something like Sharepoint.

But at the moment I don't think the technology is really there for large scale browser apps that can also save to local file systems.

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Peter Capaldi named as 12th Doctor Who

Charlie Clark
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Good call

Adds some gravitas to the Doctor and gives Capaldi the chance to distance himself from Malcolm Tucker - a role in which he is fucking brilliant, but like all roles ultimately limited.

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Microsoft cuts Surface Pro price by $100

Charlie Clark
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Definitely not like Apple

This might be part of a cunning strategy to differentiate themselves from Apple.

When Apple has had unsuccessful product launches in the past it has just unceremoniously and silently buried them: the last Apple cube. They never discount and that's even without OEMs who might be pissed off by the competition.

By contrast, over the last couple of months Microsoft has managed to tarnish the Surface brand by keeping the RTs in the headlines. Yes, many of us think that they are still overpriced, but that's also because we think they're crippled. The impact on the "Surface" brand is worth a lot more than the write-off of the inventory not least because it can't be handled tax efficiently.

During this time OEMs who were either burned by the RT fiasco or, wisely, decided to sit it out have been launching interesting an competitive Windows 8 devices* at prices with reasonable margins. The market is still confused by Surface RT and Surface Pro and Microsoft comes along and after sticking the fire sale label on RT proceeds to do the same with Pro. This is immediately going to put downward pressure on prices and margins of other devices. Way to go, Microsoft!

* As I have to lug a Windows notebook around between docking stations I am truly interested in anything lighter.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Firesale - best to wait

Even then it's questionable how useful it is with a locked bootloader.

It's fine for anyone who wants a full-fat Windows machine. There are only a few of us who would just want the hardware and the freedom to install our unix of choice.

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Samsung brings back clamshell phones with added Android

Charlie Clark
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Real keys are great

Physical keys to accept and reject calls, dial numbers, adjust the volume and take pictures, please. It's not that I don't like some of the clever software approaches (swiping contacts to call or speech recognition) it's just that more often than not I'm a just hairless ape with muscle memory. It's like remembering awesome keyboard shortcuts to your editor-of-choice.

Just been roadtesting my XCover 2 on the hottest days of the year: swiping the screen to answer a call whilst on your bike is not particularly practical.

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Nokia sidles up to Qualcomm, hands over bulging map package

Charlie Clark
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New DRS technology?

Is Qualcomm hoping to profit from the recent controversial decisions and peddle marvellous, mechanical technology to the ICC?

"Howzat?"

"No, you mean IZAT!"

Mine's the one with the copy of Wisden one pocket and WG Grace mask in the other - icons currently disabled.

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People really liked our Xperia. Throw in a weak yen and KERCHING - Sony

Charlie Clark
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You should have threatened CPW with Small Claims Court. Within the first six months it is the supplier's duty to demonstrate problems were caused by misuse. This clearly was not the case. Threatening with Small Claims is normally enough for them to cave and provide a replacement. At the end of the day they will get it from Sony for free but they just don't want to do the paperwork.

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So, who here LURVES Windows Phone? Put your hands up, Brits

Charlie Clark
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Good sales in UK and France?

Looks like Orange has been doing a good job then (can't be O2 or Vodafone as the Lumias are virtually invisible here in Germany). Probably still not sufficient volume for Nokia to be really happy but it's a start. Of course, if the majority really are the low margin phones then Nokia is not going to be able to survive, though the ODM actually making the phones might.

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Microsoft Surface sales numbers revealed as SHOCKINGLY HIDEOUS

Charlie Clark
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Re: Too bad

@TeeCee

I'm not sure that's true. Given the money Microsoft was throwing at the project adding some kind of x86 translation hardware à la Transmeta would have been doable. There would, of course, be a big performance hit but real performance isn't that much of an issue for most notebook applications. I used to run Photoshop for PowerPC via Rosetta on my MacBook which wasn't that much more powerful than the PowerPC equivalent. It was slow to start and to do certain effects but the GUI remained responsive and I think that's key for many people.

So, if Microsoft had released something with some form of x86 compatibility, albeit with provisos, and waved the prospect of future native apps or more powerful devices, the story might have been a bit different. I think, however, that one aspect that is not being looked at closely enough is that RT was dead on arrival. Microsoft obviously has significant problems supporting different architectures with their current codebase and an upgrade of the OS was probably not on the cards. Windows Phone owners be warned.

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Intel's homage to Raspberry Pi: The much pricier Minnowboard

Charlie Clark
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Who is this for?

For hobbyists and embedded systems people?

Hobbyists don't need either the power nor the IO of this board and will not pay USD 200 just to have something to tinker with. But not I'm not even sure that the embedded developers would find it an attractive proposition: that heat sink and the rods indicate that it needs quite a bit of clearance and cooling. In fact the whole thing is the size of a Mac Mini which was impressive when it came out, what seven years ago, but has since been successfully copied and improved upon.

That said, I think the real point of this product may be in open sourcing all the hardware design. It can't have been easy to get past some managers and does probably open the doors for similar but less powerful boards costing significantly.

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Intel wants to reconstruct whole data centers with its chips and pipes

Charlie Clark
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Becoming IBM?

All in all this sounds similar to the noises that Microsoft is making: the only way to survive is to become IBM and offering turnkey solutions with some engineering wizardry.

Some of this stuff sounds very nice but the software for it is not going to be easy and I am not convinced that the benefits will outweigh the investments. Current clouds benefit significantly from the low-coupling provided by redundant but cheap hardware. Efficiencies will be gained by having smaller (ie ARM) units. Low coupling also means more independence. Can't help but think that anyone who buys these systems is going to be entirely beholden to Intel.

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SPEARS joins the 19-mile-high club: Intimate snaps

Charlie Clark
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But what happened to…

The second playmonaut, the really brave one stuck on the side of the launch vehicle?

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British boffin muzzled after cracking car codes

Charlie Clark
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Re: A bit of a difference

Yep, though I think the judge is probably using the MPAA inspired legislation to take the correct legal decision. Of course, this kind of discovery cannot be kept under wraps for long but vehicle immobilisation technology has been one of the main factors in the significant reduction in car crime over the last decade.

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Do you really want tech companies to pay more tax?

Charlie Clark
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Re: Dividends?

Apple and Microsoft because they pay reasonable dividends…

Apple only just started paying dividends this year. Hoping that share prices will continue to rise until your retirement age has not been justified by returns the last ten years and current bond yields seem to suggest that it isn't going to happen again soon. We're in a sustained period of low returns.

The article should concentrate on what companies do with the cash piles they generate through tax avoidance. The evidence is that they make poor investments with it: Microsoft buys Skype, aQuantive and produces lots of devices no one wants; Apple buys its own shares using another tax avoidance scheme.

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REVEALED: Hungry termites nibbling at Oracle's foundation

Charlie Clark
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Oh dear

This is a poor piece.

unstructured data Unstructured data is noise. What you probably mean is data with no pre-defined schema.

"NoSQL" leader 10Gen, which stewards the development of MongoDB, said it has moved "over 100 companies off RDBMS technologies in the past six months" according to its business development veep (and former Reg scribe) Matt Asay. Oracle's revenue share of the worldwide RDBMS market was 48.3 percent in 2012, according to the soothsayers at Gartner, so we can safely assume a significant proportion of these 100 migrations came at the expense of legacy Oracle systems.

This is a very flawed conclusion. Moving companies from relational does not in any way imply that they are being moved from Oracle. And, giving the known problems with scaling MongoDB who's to say whether some of these companies won't be knocking on Oracle's (or IBM's or Microsoft's) door in the future.

Oracle's strategy obviously isn't to everyone's taste but it's pretty clear: improve the low end MySQL and offer increasingly expensive options to customers who think they need it and ignore the rest. It's great that this provides opportunities for third parties to pick up custom from those who can't or won't pay Oracle's fees.

The times for really big migrations can be pretty big: I think Enterprise DB talks of six months plus as not uncommon. Obviously, any company faced with that kind of investment is going to think long and hard about it and this is what Oracle is banking upon.

or have developed capabilities that while irrelevant to much of the database market

I'm not sure what those would be. Data integrity, performance and reliability should be on everyone's shopping list.

I'm sure Oracle doesn't really give a shit about the low-level stuff going from MyASM to one of the key-value or document storage engines.

At the end of the day, while licences are important, any company that is storing business critical data needs to spend enough money employing DBAs who know how to manage whichever systems they have. Outages, corruption and loss are what really cost.

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PHWOAR! Huh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, Prime Minister

Charlie Clark
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Censorship is wrong

By all means stick advisory labels on things but leave it at that and use good old-fashioned police work to go after the makers of sick flicks.

Censorship imposes a considerable cost (the bureaucracy) and risk (the chance that it will become political censorship) with unclear benefits. I'm sure that official bullshit rhetoric like "the war on terror" cause more problems than anything people "stumble" across on the internet.

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Apple earnings slip, but numbers beat Wall Street estimates

Charlie Clark
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Upgrade cycle versus new carriers

The point regarding the upgrade cycle needs to be tempered by the greater reach into the market through new carriers: I-Phones were not available a year ago on all US networks, they are now.

All in all, however, the figures demonstrate the same trend as other manufacturers have: the market for smartphones is becoming saturated.

Tablets could be more interesting: the market clearly isn't saturated. A breakdown of the various models would cast some light on whether the lower margin I-Pad Minis helping to maintain market share albeit with lower margins. This might indicate how Apple may move in the future: if lower (but still very healthy) margin products are doing well then we can expect something similar for the phones.

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Nokia flops out its 4G, 4.7-inch WHOPPER: The Lumia 625

Charlie Clark
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Looks like another quarter of +30% smartphone growth for Nokia Lumias...

At current sales volumes that's never going to be enough. Anyway, this device is just as likely to cannibalise sales of other Nokias as it is to take sales away from similarly priced but higher-specc'd Android phones.

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SkyDrive on par with C: Drive in Windows 8.1

Charlie Clark
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Re: End game is to completely eliminate local storage of files on device altogether.

To be honest this is exactly what Apple, Amazon, Pandora, Spotify, Google et al. are doing. But they are all very carefully managing the user experience by providing what are essentially glorified backup services. Pandora and Spotify have been testing the water with non-essential data such as music files in a clear value proposition; Apple and Amazon offer to take the work out of synching between devices. The exception would be Google with e-mail and calendar and docs but then it is trying to build these out into an outsourcing offering. But this is all still toes in the water stuff. The regulatory hurdles will go up: what happens to my data if provider X goes bust or gets taken over?

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Charlie Clark
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How not to listen to customers #445

Out cycling on Sunday a friend of mine listed her woes with Windows 8 including the cloud stuff which she found very confusing. I think her notebook is due to go back to the shop with a request to install Windows 7 on it. Adding uncertainty to disorientation is not usually going to win many friends.

Online backup services can be a boon but they must be backup first, as I think Apple is doing things. What could possibly go wrong? Well, you could realise too late that you need a fat internet connection to access stuff you use on a regular basis. More urgently and potentially a killer for Microsoft, in Europe at least, is that the NSA shenanigans could very likely jeopardise the safe harbour agreement between the EU and the USA which allows the data of EU citizens to be stored in American data centres.

The justification for the whole thing that onboard storage can be reduced is also not really that appealing. Storage, even with the move to SSD, is not really the major price point for modern devices. For those with anyone nous they will ensure they have a backup service under their own control, possibly complemented with some online services from their ISP or similar and some freebies stuff à la Dropbox / Google Drive.

Microsoft's strategy here is remarkably similar to that of Bing, Maps and Skype: coming late to the party and spending heavily to try and buy success. This did work with things like hard-disk compression, simple LAN, internet browsers and possibly the X-Box. But since then Microsoft have started amassing white elephants and discouraging their partners.

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Android MasterKey found buried in kiddie cake game on Google Play - report

Charlie Clark
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Re: What about the operator packages?

Another good reason to move to Windows Phone...

Ah, yes. Because if there are no apps, they cannot be infected. Except, of course, for the exploits that successfully target the browser / OS / MS apps.

Tell you what, why don't you move to North Carolina where you can live happily among others happy to deny reality.

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Surface RT: A plan worthy of the South Park Underpants Gnomes

Charlie Clark
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FAIL

Re: So to summarise...

Full USB support

No wonder you keep posting anonymously as this is drivel!

What do you think full USB support is supposed to mean? Because it most certainly does not mean: will support any device that is plugged in. USB defines some mechanical and electronic stuff plus some baseline driver specs (eg. HCI for mice, keyboards, or an equivalent for mass storage) pretty much everything else requires drivers to be written and compiled for the particular OS and why you almost always have to install some software when you connect say a USB TV receiver.

We're very happy for you that you like your Microsoft gear but please stop pretending that you are: a) everyman and; b) know anything technical.

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Charlie Clark
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@bazza

The implication is that MS did the minimum of hardware abstraction, compiled up the whole Windows, Office and driver stack using an ARM compiler, switched it on an surprise surprise it worked.

Really? C'mon we're not that naive. If that really was the case then they wouldn't have disabled macros and all the existing application developers would have given it a go. As Gavin points out in the article the trade press was selectively seeded in the run up to the launch.

You don't need a lot of grunt for an awful lot of applications including word processing. Software emulation on an ARM might be pushing it a bit but it would have been easy enough to license Transmeta's code to do it in hardware (and use less power in doing so). The reason they didn't do this was not to piss Intel off: it was Intel who really pulled the plug on Windows on ARM.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Lack of Apps on RT not a serious issue - Flash works in browser

That covers a lot of the app requirement issues.

It obviously doesn't which is why nobody's buying them and why Microsoft is writing them off. There are an awful lot more apps in the world than MS Office and Flash games.

Every third party application developer thought "fuck you very much Microsoft - both I and am my customers have to do work in order to be able use this product."

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Charlie Clark
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Microsoft’s people not only conceived the idea of building a tablet using a chipset – ARM - that the huge majority of existing Windows software could not work on

The hardware wasn't the problem, the artificial restriction on using existing apps was. Some kind of support for x86 binaries would have made the whole thing a very different value proposition by protecting users' investment in software and also providing a clear upgrade path to Surface Pro: existing apps low power apps would work on RT but if you need more power then you could continue using the same apps on a Pro or a notebook. By castrating the software Microsoft also made interesting hardware innovations like the keyboards irrelevant. The strategy was also a double punch to OEMs: not only was Microsoft competing with them directly, it also prevented them from adding value and differentiation with possibly hardware accelerated support for x86.

Because Microsoft persisted in using the name Windows for this it created a different expectation than Apple did with its separation of IOS and Mac OS - even if technically there are little differences between many IOS apps and their Mac OS pendants.

So the market looked like this:

Entry level: cheap Androids which run the many of the same apps that people have on their phones, limited performance but for less than € 250 the risk is low and they're great media players. Very well suited to use in the home.

Medium: I-Pad Mini, branded Android. Access to established eco-systems, excellent battery life making them suitable to be taken everywhere. Great second devices.

Premium: I-Pad, Samsung Note 10 - dedicated devices with clear USPs and eco-systems and usable for real work.

It's really difficult to see where the RT fits in there: it doesn't protect any existing investment, offers no upgrade path and is too expensive for occasional use.

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PEAK APPLE: 'iPhone sales STALL' at first sniff of fresh droid competition

Charlie Clark
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If I sold 150 Mio. gadgets…

with Apple's margins I'd be well made up.

Okay, this is the tech industry so growth rates not in three figures are considered disappointing. I think iSuppli has been reasonably reliable in the past though I think market saturation is probably more of a pressure than the competition. Once the novelty has worn off of having a good smartphone so does the desire to get another. Android devices like the SII and later Nexus' are more than enough for most people.

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Charlie Clark
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FAIL

Re: iOS7

I didn't know Eadon had a brother.

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Intel flogging Atoms for belated push into mobile market

Charlie Clark
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Re: Even holding market share is not enough

as currently Intel charge over 2x the price

If only it were just 2 x. Intel has, fortunately, even fatter margins which will give it room for manoeuvre but price-cutting is usually a one-way street and, in this case, the deflation argument (customers will hold off purchases expecting further discounts) is very likely to bite.

Major restructuring similar to what AMD has been through over the last few years (spinning out fab or design) are probably unavoidable and probably buying a graphics chip designer to compete in the SoC market. Currently, Intel still has an impressive performance lead in high-end chips (whatever you think of them the Xeons can do some serious work) but the competition is really starting to hot up (both NVidia and AMD have impressive offerings and new players are moving in).

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Tweet like escaping Hell depends on it, Twitter Catholics told

Charlie Clark
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Pump and dump?

Maybe the Vatican Bank was an early investor in Twitter and hoping to make a big profit on its investment?

Far, far, far stranger things have happened in the last 2000 years.

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Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013: All’s well that Haswell

Charlie Clark
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Re: Battery life

@jubtastic1

I think you may have hit the nail on the head: using a notebook as a desktop replacement as I do it is routinely plugged in - the dual-DVI adapter alone pretty much predicates this. But there are times when I need the notebook as a notebook which is why I got it and not just a mini. So my battery has had 99 charging cycles but apparently needs "maintenance".

That said, how come machines with docking stations don't suffer as badly? I've also got a Lenovo which also spends most of its time docked and the battery there seems to be fairing better. Is all down to some clever electronics in the docking station?

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Battery life

@DijitulSupport - MBP batteries are non-removable.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Battery life

Lucky you! But how do you measure the health? My 2009 MBP hasn't give me more than 2 hours real use for more than than a year.

BTW. the 11 h in the report are for a MBA so not comparable with our hardware.

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Charlie Clark
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Battery life

I can still get 11 hours plus out of my 2010 Air…

Really? I've yet to own a computer battery where performance didn't deteriorate significantly (< 60 % initial capacity) after two years. That is the mean reason for wanting to be able to replace it.

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Microsoft lathers up Windows 8.0 Surface RT for quick price shave

Charlie Clark
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To be discontinued…

Hurry while stocks last: this product will not receive updates or qualify for support. Oh, and you can't do anything useful or fun with it.

That should have the punters whipping their wallets out.

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El Reg Playmonaut soars to 113,000ft

Charlie Clark
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What about the poor bugger strapped to the side? Unless my ageing eyes deceive me (always a possibility), there were two playmonauts involved in this breathtaking feat. Unless of course one was a stowaway, perhaps an American spy? The plot thickens!

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STEVE BALLMER KILLS WINDOWS

Charlie Clark
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Happy

Steve Balmer with one "l"? Runs the stationery cupboard?

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Samsung takes mobile net traffic crown from Apple

Charlie Clark
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Comparable stats

I think the most important information is that the figures we often hear have an incredible US bias. This was also evident in the Akamai stats until they tapped into their global data

Looking a mobile browsers and IE isn't in the top 10. It does a little better if you look at all browsers which indicates a fair number of laptops with dongles or built in 3G.

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Caterpillar B15: The Android smartphone for the building site

Charlie Clark
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Samsung XCover 2 deserves a mention

Not quite as tough as the Caterpillar phone but came out pretty well in the comparison in the c't magazine: based on an S3. I picked mine up sans SIM for € 260 because I'm looking for a phone that I feel okay about using on my bike. Certainly not as slick as the highend phones but it does the job and has a separate camera button.

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Microsoft extends Windows Phone 8 support through 2015

Charlie Clark
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Hello?

Is anybody in corporate space really listening to this and seriously considering WP for their company? A lot of CIOs have been burned very badly by sticking with Microsoft in the last few years. BlackBerry is back in the game and pushing updates thick and fast and in the meantime both IOS and Android have increasingly good offerings for corporates.

Yes, I know I'm slagging MS off but as Shelluser points out their form in this space has been dreadful in the last three years.

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European Space Agency goes for mostly solid Ariane 6

Charlie Clark
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Re: Full spectrum cominance

Comms are like roads: traffic always grows faster than capacity. Plus, anywhere of low population density is generally better served by satellite, for television at least.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: newsflash Arianespace is no government outfit

@John Smith

Of course ESA/CNES/EADS has been a pretty cosy relationship for years. The same argument about subsidies was brought up in the Boeing versus Airbus case at the WTO: result US and European governments are guilty of subsidising their industries; in Europe it's more explicit but the contracts awarded to Boeing, Lockheed and co. perform the same function.

Arianespace currently operates successfully in a competitive environment (it has to tout for business because European governments don't spend as much money on spy satellites) and has a very impressive track record - this is important as insurance premiums are going to be significant for any new entrants to the market until they have established track records. SpaceX has had a very impressive start and it's to be hoped that it and other companies, including Arianespace, can continue to improve the market but, as we can never expect NASA to put any of these contracts out to fully competitive tender, ESA is going to continue to have a preferential relationship with EADS.

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