MediaFile

Apple pipeline to private equity firm continues to flow

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Elevation Partners, a $1.9 billion Silicon Valley private equity firm, on Tuesday welcomed former Apple executive Avie Tevanian as a new managing director. The announcement provided just the latest link in a three-way chain connecting Elevation, Apple and smartphone maker Palm.

Tevanian — who was formerly chief software technology officer at Apple — joins ex-Apple CFO Fred Anderson at Elevation, a firm Anderson co-founded (along with U2 frontman Bono, among others).

Elevation is of course a big shareholder in Apple rival Palm, which has had something of an antagonistic relationship with the iPhone maker. Palm itself counts ex-Apple execs among its ranks, including CEO Jon Rubinstein and senior vice president of product development Mike Bell.

“Avie and I worked closely together at Apple for many years and I have always admired his engineering talent and leadership, his strategic vision for how software can transform businesses and his ability to execute on that vision,” Anderson said in a press release announcing Tevanian’s arrival at Elevation.

Tevanian spent nearly a decade at Apple (he also worked at NeXT Computer, the outfit Steve Jobs founded in the mid 1980s after his estrangement from Apple). At Apple, Tevanian led the software team that developed the OS X operating system.

iPhone shortages “nice problem to have”

Tongues are still wagging about Apple’s blowout quarter, which saw the company brush past Wall Street forecasts, sending its shares north of $200. But as Wall Street waited breathlessly for the latest iPhone numbers, it was the company’s Mac line that stole the headlines, posting blockbuster 17 percent unit growth.

So what was the deal with the iPhone? Unit shipments rose 7 percent to 7.4 million units, far from chopped liver but just below the consensus estimate. What? Apple missed? Well it wasn’t quite that simple. Seems the company simply couldn’t keep up with all the folks clamoring to get their hands on the latest model, the 3G S.

Apple COO TIm Cook called it “a nice problem to have in the scheme of things,” and called 3G S demand “phenomenal.” He said demand simply outstripped supply in most of the countries where it was selling the device.

Apple reveals new data in green effort

Apple on Thursday unveiled an overhauled environmental Web page and green strategy, complete with some interesting new data. Most notably, the Mac and iPhone maker is now calculating what it calls its entire carbon footprint–including emissions generated by its products. As the company puts it, “what happens when we design them, what happens when we make them, and what happens when you take them home and use them.”

The approach is different from that used by PC rivals HP and Dell. Apple puts its greenhouse gas emissions at 10.2 million metric tons–a total that includes energy used by folks typing away on on their Macs.

In fact, by Apple’s calculations a majority of the company’s environmental footprint — 53 percent — comes from users plugging in Apple devices and using them. An additional 38 percent comes from manufacturing, with 5 percent from transportation.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on Xbox, Youtube, iPhone

We caught up with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings at the movie rental company’s event where it awarded a $1 million prize after a contest aimed at improving the accuracy of movie recommendations. He spoke about his hopes of working with Apple on the iPhone, the possibility that YouTube will beef up its movie service, and the future of the DVD.

Reuters: What will Netflix subscribers gain from the improvements in the recommendation system?

Hastings: It’s doubling the quality of our movie recommendation and that helps our subscribers get more enjoyment from movies. Because more often they love the movie they watch. More often the movies recommended will will turn out to be movies that you love. If you watch a couple of movies and don’t like many, you start to watch (sports and other programming). If every movie is incredible, you start to watch more.

Attention Trekkies: Roddenberry’s Mac on auction block

Apple's Macintosh Plus

In what may just be a perfect storm of technology geek gadget lust, an auction house in Southern California is preparing to auction off the first Apple Macintosh Plus ever made–a computer that was owned by “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry. The event promises to bring together two of the most famously devoted fan bases– Apple buyers and Trekkies.

Profiles in History, an auctioneer of Hollywood memorabilia, will offer the aging Mac at an auction scheduled for Oct. 8-9.  (For those keeping score at home, the device bears the serial number F4200NUM0001.)

The Macintosh Plus was launched in 1986 and featured a whopping 1 megabyte of RAM (today’s comparable desktop computers come loaded with a base 1 gigabyte of RAM — a 1,000 times more). It was the third model in the Mac line and cost $2,600, according to Wikipedia.  The very first Mac Plus to roll off an Apple assembly line was presented to Roddenberry as a gift. He died in 1991.

Cliq or Dext? Whatever you call it, Motorola’s big play

Motorola launched its Hail Mary pass in the smartphone market and it goes by the name of Cliq, or Dext, depending on where you live. One would assume plenty of branding research went into the names (Cliq in the U.S. and Dext elsewhere), as this is the company that created such easy-to-remember names as Razr, Rokr and Rizr.

Motorola, once a cellphone leader producing iconic products, has fallen well behind the competition as the smartphone market continues to sizzle and consumers flock to devices like the iPhone (which, incidentally, goes by the name “iPhone” everywhere it sells).

With so many new smartphones coming to the market, analysts say the key to success is differentiation — which is often a software issue rather than a hardware one. Motorola hopes its MOTOBLUR software, based on Google’s Android platform, will help it carve out a niche.

Apple products overshadowed by Jobs’ return

Steve Jobs’ return to the public eye on Wednesday stole some of the attention from Apple’s products announcements which, if not earth-shattering, weren’t exactly chopped liver either.

The company unveiled new, cheaper iPod touches and affordable iPod nanos with video cameras. It also showed off the latest version of the iTunes software with new bells and whistles likely to cheer music lovers, including iTunes LP, which offers additional content such as liner notes, making a downloaded album a bit more like its vinyl predecessor.

Analysts liked the new nano most of all, although some wondered why the touch didn’t also receive a camera, as had been rumored.

from Commentaries:

Humbled giants eye business phone market

Nokia e71LONDON, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Once they were warriors battling one another on the digital battlefield. Nowadays, Microsoft and Nokia are worriers, huddling together for comfort.

The world's top phone and software companies need each other to compete with Apple, Google and Blackberry-maker Research in Motion (RIM), whose products increasingly define what users expect from phones and charge premium prices in consequence.

In the market for so-called "smartphones", Deutsche Bank estimates Apple and RIM now take home more than half of all profits, despite producing less than a third of high-end mobile phones. Nokia held a 45 percent share of the smartphone market in June, according to Gartner Inc. (Table 2 in Gartner release)

from Commentaries:

Revolution?

Video compression technology can be interesting, really.

On2 CEO on Beet TVMost people forget how online video worked before YouTube popularized the embedded Flash video player. Remember the frustration of making sure you had the right video player to play this or that web video? It was YouTube that popularized giving people one-click access to videos.

On Wednesday, Google said it had agreed to acquire On2 Technologies, a maker of video compression technology, in a deal that could have sweeping effects for how video works on the web. The Internet search leader has a bland blog post about how it intends to use On2 to innovate in how video working on the Web, but it isn't at all clear how far it Google is ready to go.

On2 stock chart before and after Google offerThere's lots of speculation that Google may choose to open source, or give away, On2's video compression technology, undercutting royalty-bearing video compression technologies in use across the Web. That could undermine Adobe and its widely used Flash player, Microsoft, with its Silverlight alternative, not to mention Apple Inc and RealNetworks. Dan Frommer at Silicon Alley Insider spells out how far-reaching the Google gambit could be.  As a counterpoint, Dan Rayburn of StreamingMedia.com argues the Google move is no big deal.

Schmidt quits Apple board, no surprise there

Few observers expressed much surprise over Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s decision Monday to step down from Apple’s board. Analysts said the writing was on the wall, as Google’s Android smartphone software competes in the same market at Apple’s iPhone, and Google’s forthcoming Chrome operating system prepares to enter a market against Apple’s Mac OS.

Schmidt said earlier this month he expected to chat with Apple about his role on its board, and what with increased regulatory scrutiny about the company’s ties, many say it was only a matter of time.

“It’s the collision course that they’ve been on for a while, I think they’ve managed it well up to until now,” said Todd Dagres, a venture capitalist whose firm Spark Capital funded Twitter. “I think Eric getting off the board may be an indication of sort of the last straw here.”