MediaFile

Tech wrap: Not a pretty picture for Kodak

Eastman Kodak Co shares fell almost 70 percent on Friday afternoon on concerns the photography pioneer could file for bankruptcy.

Kodak’s stock had already hit a 38-year low earlier this week as investors worried about its cash position after the company tapped a credit line for $160 million.

Amazon.com Inc’s new tablet computer costs $209.63 to make, IHS iSuppli estimated on Friday, highlighting how the e-commerce giant is taking a financial hit upfront to get the device into as many hands as possible. Amazon’s billionaire Chief Executive Jeff Bezos unveiled the Kindle Fire at a lower-than-expected $199 price on Wednesday.

“The real benefit of the Kindle Fire to Amazon will not be in selling hardware or digital content. Rather, the Kindle Fire, and the content demand it stimulates, will serve to promote sales of the kinds of physical goods that comprise the majority of Amazon’s business,” IHS iSuppli said in a statement.

Using the micro-blogging site Twitter as a gauge of global sentiment, social scientists studied 509 million tweets from 2.4 million users in 84 countries between February 2008 and January 2010, according to research reported in the journal Science. Twitter, the five-year-old site that lets users communicate 140-character posts, offers an unprecedented chance to study human behavior and social networks, the scientists said.

Amazon lights a fire, Apple ices the cake

That was the week that was.

I can imagine saying that in years to come about the eight days that began on Wednesday with Amazon’s paradigm-busting entry into the tablet business, its deeper walk into the cheaper e-ink e-reader woods with less expensive Kindles, bookended next Wednesday by Apple’s latest iPhone(s) reveal.

Both unveilings have lots to do with “everywhere” consumption, and both have aspects of evolution. But a counter-revolution began this week, and we’ll be talking about for years to come.

Dare I say it: Amazon’s $199 “Fire” tablet may not make us forget Apple’s tablet, but it could very well be the first credible answer to the question: “Why wouldn’t I buy an iPad?”

Tech wrap: Amazon fights iPad with Fire

Amazon.com Inc introduced its eagerly awaited tablet computer on Wednesday with a price tag that could make it the first strong competitor in a tablet market that has been dominated by Apple Inc’s iPad. The new device, priced at $199, may have the biggest impact on other makers of tablets and e-readers, such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Barnes & Noble Inc, maker of the Nook.

“It’s a Nook killer,” said Scot Wingo, chief executive of ChannelAdvisor, which helps merchants sell more on websites including Amazon.com. “And it’s a very compelling offering if you’re not in the Apple ecosystem already.”

See how Amazon’s Fire stacks up to Apple’s iPad 2. Also a cool graphic breaking down the top 4 tablets.

Tech wrap: Blockbuster 2.0 – now streaming movies

There’s a new video streaming service on the block and it comes courtesy of an old, familiar name – Blockbuster. Blockbuster unveiled the video streaming service to subscribers of satellite provider Dish Network, which now owns Blockbuster, in a move to better compete against video rental giant Netflix and to lure customers from rival cable and satellite TV providers. Non-Dish subscribers will have to wait until Blockbuster launches a broader online streaming plan later this year, the company’s president told Reuters.

Called Blockbuster Movie Pass, the subscription service will start at $10 a month and includes DVD rentals by mail and at the company’s more than 1,500 stores. The service will offer up a selection of more than 3,000 movies streamed to televisions and 4,000 movies streamed to computers. The mail and store rentals include video games. Mail plus streaming with Netflix starts at about $16 a month. Will Blockbuster’s service be enough to threaten Netflix? Not a chance, argues CNET’s Roger Cheng. “Essentially, it’s a souped up Dish package,” writes Cheng. ” We were looking for something radically different from Dish, but we got an incremental new service plan instead.”

Amazon’s long-awaited tablet could be on its way soon. At least that’s the speculation that began floating around tech circles on Friday after the company announced plans to hold a press conference next Wednesday. Amazon declined to provide further details, but analysts were confident that the world’s largest Internet retailer will introduce its long-awaited tablet computer this year to expand in mobile commerce and sell more digital goods and services.

Tech wrap: HP shake-up?

A change could be underway at the top at Hewlett-Packard. The company’s board convened on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of ousting CEO Leo Apotheker after less than a year on the job and may appoint former eBay chief Meg Whitman to fill in as interim CEO, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. HP’s board of directors has come under increasing pressure in recent months after a raft of controversial decisions has left investors uncertain of the company’s leadership.

Newly minted Apple CEO Tim Cook will try his hand as star presenter at an October 4 company event widely expected to include the launch of the latest version of the tech behemoth’s iPhone handset, according to a report on AllThingD. Sources told the website that the plan is to make the iPhone 5 available to consumers within weeks of the event. Apple has yet to officially announce or even acknowledge that the new device exists at all. For those tired of yet another story about a rumored release date, there was something akin to a confirmation on Wednesday from an unlikely source: former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Gore, an Apple board member, apparently told a tech conference that the next-generation phone will indeed be available next month. Oops?!

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt traveled to Washington on Wednesday to face critics who say his company has become a dominant and potentially anti-competitive force on the Internet. Schmidt told a Senate antitrust hearing that his company has not “cooked” its search results to favor its own products and listings, despite accusations to the contrary from senators and other Web companies.  “Google is in a position to determine who will succeed and who will fail on the Internet,” said Republican Senator Mike Lee, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel. Google has been broadly accused of using its clout in the search market to stomp rivals as it moves into related businesses, like travel search.

A new-found app-etite for the web

A funny thing happened on the way to the Apple Store … Apps were supposed to be the salvation for publishers when the iPad morphed from unicorn status to the real thing last April. Plenty of publishers — newspapers, magazines and books — have built apps. Apple’s newest rules on subscriptions are placating many more.

But there is already a bit of a backlash, and a new awareness that the world wide (open) web may compare favorably to the walled gardens available on the iPad and other tablets.

Why are publishers already starting to re-think the future of media again? For one thing, there is that kickback to Apple —30% off the top — for selling through the iTunes store. Then there are those rules that seem to favor the functionality of Apple apps, like in-app purchasing. And, most ironically, there is the “Aha!” moment that the iPad itself has provided by highlighting what the optimized, mobile web can really be like.

The Financial Times blazed the back-to-the-web movement, abandoning the iTunes store in lieu of an HTML5 site that is still behind their paywall. Apple primed the pump by forbidding in-app sales. Amazon, Kobo and Barnes & Noble moved their stores from their iOS apps to the web.

Tech wrap: Amazon impresses

Amazon wowed investors when it reported a 51 percent surge in sales for the second quarter and said revenue for the current quarter would beat expectations. Shares of the e-commerce giant shot up more than 6 percent on the figures in after-hours trade, even though second-quarter net profits fell as the company’s margins continued to be pressured by heavy spending on distribution, technology and digital content.

Netflix shares took another beating on Tuesday after it warned a day earlier it was expecting subscriber growth to stall in the third quarter in response to price hikes announced this month. That didn’t stop several analysts from raising their price targets on the video rental company’s stock, though, as they took the company at its word that the effects of the subscriber slowdown would be temporary. According to one analyst interviewed by Reuters, the gain in average revenue per user in the fourth quarter will “more than offset” the expected cancellations from the higher prices. Another expressed optimism about the company’s plans to expand into Latin America early next year.

Wal-Mart’s answer to Netflix, Vudu, has a new home on the Walmart.com website. The retailer decided to move its video streaming and rental service to its flagship site in a bid to drum up more use as it competes with a host of other similar services. Starting Tuesday, consumers can order a DVD for mail delivery or pickup or rent or buy releases digitally directly from Wal-Mart’s website. The retailer bought the video company last year but had operated it separately until now.

Tech wrap: Apple’s valuation flirts with Exxon’s

Apple shares neared a record $400, a day after the world’s most valuable technology company posted blockbuster results and triggered a spate of brokerage upgrades. Apple’s climb brought the maker of the iPhone and iPad within shouting distance of Exxon Mobil’s market value of more than $400 billion despite the oil and gas producer raking in more than four times Apple’s annual revenue.

“We expect Apple will become the largest market cap company on the planet when the stock hits approximately $445, which is only about 13 percent away from aftermarket levels,” said Gleacher & Co analyst Brian Marshall, based on the assumption that Exxon shares remain flat. Apple shares rose to a high of $405 in after-hours trading on Tuesday.

Intel posted second-quarter revenue above expectations, defying investors’ concerns about slowing personal computer sales. Intel’s revenue in the June quarter was $13.1 billion, up 22 percent over the year-ago period and  above the $12.83 billion expected by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Tech wrap: Amazon plans Android tablet

Take note, Apple. Amazon.com wants to steal more of your customers. The online retailer plans to release a 9-inch tablet computer this fall that will run on Android software, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

The company is building at least 1.5 million Amazon-branded devices for the third quarter and is aiming to ship 4.5 million to 5 million by the end of the year, according to a recent analyst note. The move should help Amazon expand its reach as the world’s largest Internet retailer and increase sales of digital content such as e-books, music and videos, posing more competition for Apple’s iTunes store.

Of course, Amazon isn’t the only tech company looking to step up its game against Apple. Microsoft COO Kevin Turner announced at a conference that the software company will open 75 new retail stores over the next two to three years in an effort to take on Apple’s bricks-and-mortar outlets. Judging by a graphic published alongside the TechCrunch story, many of the new stores will be opening in the North East region of the U.S. where the company currently does not have any outlets.

Tech wrap: Apple hits new app download milestone

Apple customers sure like their apps. More than 15 billion applications have been downloaded from the App Store by iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users since its launch in July 2008, according to new figures from the company.

To put that number in context, remember it was just this past January when Apple announced its 10 billionth app download. That means customers have downloaded around 5 billion apps this year alone, compared to the 2-1/2 years it took to reach the 10 billion mark.  Apple can thank its wildly popular iPad for the surge in demand. Of the more than 425,000 apps now available from the App Store, 100, 000 are designed specifically for the tablet computer.

Meanwhile, Apple’s attempt to stop online retailer Amazon.com from using the “App Store” name has failed. Apple filed a trademark lawsuit saying Amazon improperly used the name to solicit developers in the U.S. Amazon responded by saying the term is generic. The U.S. judge who denied Apple’s request argued that while the term wasn’t purely generic, the company failed to prove “a likelihood of confusion” with Amazon’s service.