December Newsbits 2008

By Naomi Graychase

December 18, 2008

Zigbee news; enterprises need better virus protection; Jobs bows out of Macworld Expo; Virgin America's in-flight Wi-Fi goes live; and more.

Some news from the Zigbee realm today: Sigma Designs announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Zensys Holdings Corporation, a Fremont, Calif.-based start-up. Zynsys is the developer of the popular single-chip RF Z-Wave home control and energy management solutions.   

“The Zensys acquisition provides a very attractive business and technology addition for Sigma at multiple levels,” said Thinh Tran, chairman and CEO of Sigma Designs in a release today. “First, the Zensys family of consumer chips will add a new layer of revenue growth for Sigma. Second, we believe this class of extremely efficient and low-cost RF technology will become pervasive in many more types of future home products. Finally, we see a strong synergy with our set-top box offerings as the world moves toward IP-based video delivery and providers are able to establish platform extensions for additional services.” 

December 17, 2008

Security experts and vendors recommend that users install and use antivirus and other anti-malware software on their PCs, but enterprises that have these installed in their infrastructure may not be as well protected as they think.

According to Promisec, which offers clientless security solutions, more than 25 percent of 100,000 computers it surveyed recently have missing or disabled antivirus software, but the antivirus management consoles are not alerting network administrators about the problem.

That lack of reporting leaves a major security hole for cyber criminals to exploit.

Peter Firstbrook research director at analyst firm Gartner, says the problem is real, but disputes Promisec's figures. "It's possible for the antivirus software's agent to be corrupted so it doesn't report something's wrong," he said. But he he was surprised by the 25 percent figure, which he believes is inordinately high. For the full story, click here.


It's the end of an era.

Apple announced on Tuesday that after the upcoming January 6-9, 2009 event, it will no longer exhibit at the venerable Macworld Expo conference. In a release, Apple said it has steadily been scaling back on its trade show appearances. "Apple is reaching more people in more ways than ever before, so like many companies, trade shows have become a very minor part of how Apple reaches its customers," the release stated.

For those Mac fans planning to attend January's event in San Francisco, there was more bad news. Apple Vice President of Marketing Phil Schiller will give the keynote instead of CEO Steve Jobs. Jobs's high energy, hype-filled keynotes have been a staple of the show for years, usually punctuated by big product announcements.

For more on this news, click here.

December 2, 2008

Aircell today announced that its Gogo Inflight pay-as-you-go Wi-Fi service is now officially available for passengers on select Virgin America flights. The launch marks the beginning of the carrier’s fleet-wide commercial rollout of the service.

On Nov. 22, California-based Virgin America, hosted a beta launch event, which included the first ever “air-to-ground” video stream to YouTube Live, YouTube’s first official real-world user event. Virgin America’s first Gogo-enabled plane circled the skies above San Francisco with special guests, media, and bloggers testing out Gogo on laptops, smartphones and PDAs.  The first week of Gogo service was launched in beta for free for guests flying over the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Starting today, pricing will be set at $12.95 for flights over three hours and $9.95 for flights of three hours or fewer. For more on in-flight Wi-Fi, read "Virgin America Launches Wi-Fi In-flight," "In-Flight Wi-Fi: On and Off," and "Connexion Disconnects."


PayPal customers can now use their cell phones to authenticate their transactions through a new service that lets customers use SMS messaging (texting) to get a randomly-generated access code to log into their accounts.

The service, called the PayPal SMS Security Key, is an extension of PayPal's current Security Key service, which uses a hardware token. However, unlike the current service, which charges customers $5 for the token, the new service is free. Customers will have to pay their carriers' charges for SMS services, though. Click here for more details.


Apple is now admitting that its users could benefit from protection from Internet-based security threats. InternetNews reported Tuesday that Apple has begun to recommend that users of its Mac OS consider using antivirus software in a message on a company support page. For more details, click here.


Reuters reported Tuesday that Smartphone maker, Palm, said it expects fiscal second-quarter revenue to come in well below Wall Street's forecast, as the worsening economic climate exacerbates already weak demand for its devices. The company's shares fell 18 percent in extended trading after dropping more than 20 percent during the regular session.

In a statement, Palm said it is seeing reduced demand for its products and that a difficult global economy has "greatly intensified the negative impact" on sales."

"We are seeing unprecedented dynamics in the global markets as economic uncertainty hampers demand for consumer products," said Ed Colligan, president and chief executive. Click here for the full story at

** has announced its list of more than 90 products and services, ranging from familiar favorites to brash young upstarts, for its 2009 Excellence in Technology Awards. Voting ends at midnight, EST, on Tuesday January 9, 2009. Winners will be announced on Wednesday, January 28, 2009. Click here for more details.

Naomi Graychase is Managing Editor at Wi-Fi Planet.

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