MediaFile

Tech wrap: Apple cares, says CEO Tim Cook

Apple has never turned “a blind eye” to the problems in its supply chain and any suggestion it does not care about the plight of workers is “patently false,” Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said in an email to employees. Cook was responding to a report in The New York Times about working conditions at Apple’s main contract manufacturer, Foxconn, in China, an issue that for years has been a thorn in the company’s side.

Facebook plans to file documents as early as Wednesday for a highly anticipated IPO that will value the world’s largest social network at between $75 billion and $100 billion, the Wall Street Journal cited unidentified sources as saying on Friday.

Jon Rubinstein, who was instrumental in crafting Apple’s iPod music player, has left Hewlett Packard after two years on the job there. Rubinstein was CEO of smartphone maker Palm when that company was acquired by HP in 2010. He last held a product-innovation role within HP’s Personal Systems Group headed by Todd Bradley.

Samsung Electronics posted a record $4.7 billion quarterly operating profit, driven by booming smartphone sales, and will spend $22 billion this year to boost production of chips and flat screens to pull further ahead of smaller rivals.

Tech wrap: EBay acts on Hunch

EBay said it acquired the data analysis firm Hunch to help it develop more recommendation technology for its online marketplace. Hunch analyzes data from social networks like Facebook and from questionnaires to make personal recommendations. EBay said Hunch will help it suggest relevant products for shoppers on its online marketplace. Chris Dixon, Tom Pinckney and Matt Gattis, who founded Hunch in 2009, will stay on at eBay and remain based in New York. The purchase price was not disclosed, although tech blog Uncrunched pegged it at around $80 million.

Hewlett-Packard reported quarterly revenue slightly better than Wall Street estimates, after the bell. The world’s largest technology company by sales said non-GAAP net revenue in the fiscal fourth quarter inched up 1 percent to $32.3 billion. Analysts had predicted revenue of $32.05 billion on average, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Retailers are saving some of their deepest discounts on Black Friday for video game products, with large chains Wal-Mart and Best Buy putting some rock-bottom prices tags on hot games to lure shoppers into stores. To accommodate pressured buyers, retailers are heavily discounting top games, from Electronic Arts’ “Battlefield 3,” to Warner Brothers’ “Batman: Arkham City,” and Microsoft’s “Gears of War 3.”

How to generate media value: Fire your CEO

Some outfit called General Sentiment has set about the task of evaluating the media value of top global brands and then ranking those companies accordingly. Some brands made their way up the list because they ousted their head honcho.

To compile the rankings General Sentiment monitors the news, blogs, tweets and other social media for a brand’s “buzz” — negative or positive — to calculate the estimated cost to generate the same media exposure through traditional advertising.

For the latest list, Google claims the spot as the “top brand” with $917 million worth of media value during the third quarter ahead of Apple

Marc Andreessen to Larry Ellison: You’re my idol. And Oracle’s day are numbered

Hewlett-Packard’s perhaps most respected board member, Marc Andreessen, wasted no time trashing its Silicon Valley antagonist, Oracle, at a conference Wednesday.

“The clock is really ticking,” he said about oldline software companies, singling out Oracle as “the most vivid case.”

Andreessen’s venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, invests in upstart software companies such as cloud-storage service Box, which hosted the conference that Andreessen spoke at on Wednesday.

As Hewlett Packard goes, so goes the world

By Peter Sims
The opinions expressed are his own.

If there is one company that best exemplifies the crisis (and deficit) of leadership that we face worldwide, it is Hewlett Packard. For all Meg Whitman’s strengths as a person, she is not the right leader for HP. If anything, HP’s challenges exemplify why power-centric bureaucracies fail.

Let’s rewind for a moment. I’ve spent over 10 years learning about HP as a venture capital investor, student and researcher of HP’s leadership and innovation, from my vantage points at Stanford Business School and the Stanford Institute of Design. Based on hundreds of discussions with HP leaders, managers, employees (long timers and newbie’s), partners, customers, here are a few observations.

1) HP grew, on average, 18% a year for 60 years — a remarkable feat.  Long-time HP veterans like Ned Bornholt, HP senior executive and former Agilent CEO, and Chuck House, the respected HP historian and coauthor of The HP Phenomenon, attribute this remarkable growth to a few factors.

Tech wrap: HP’s TouchPad sell-off

Hewlett-Packard has finally discovered the magic price point for its TouchPad tablet: $99. The tech giant announced the new low price for the 16 GB model of the recently discontinued device over the weekend, also dropping the price for its 32 GB version to $149. Retailers such as Best Buy, Staples and Walmart followed HP’s lead by offering TouchPad fire sales of their own.

The response: overwhelming. According to PC World, many retailers had sold out of the devices by mid-day on Saturday. By Monday morning, the TouchPad had climbed to the No.1 spot on the Amazon best-seller list for electronics. Expect the selling frenzy to continue this week: HP said on Monday it intends to deliver more of the tablets until the supply runs out. HP originally launched the smaller model with a $500 price tag, but reduced it to $400 soon after its July 1 release in an attempt to spur demand.

Separately, HP launched a new desktop on Monday, days after the technology company revealed that it might spin off the world’s largest PC business — part of a wrenching series of moves away from the consumer market, including killing the TouchPad. HP billed the new computer — the HP Compaq 8200 Elite All-in-One Business Desktop — as the “first all-in-one PC” aimed at corporate and public sector customers.

Tech wrap: HP investors running for cover

Shares of Hewlett-Packard slumped by more than 20 percent to a six-year low on Friday as investors wiped about $16 billion off the market value of the world’s biggest PC maker in a resounding rejection of its plan for a major shake-up.

Blog Zero Hedge posted an article by Tyler Durden, titled “Here Is Who Is Getting Creamed On Today’s Hewlett Packard Bloodbath“, that includes a chart of the the top 40 holders of HPQ stock.

Reuters blogger Felix Salmon credits Durden with breaking the “real” news yesterday about HP, after Bloomberg broke the M&A news of the IT firm’s internal shakeup and it’s $10 billion acquisition of UK company Autonomy. Salmon on the scoop: “…looks like an attempt by HP to manage media coverage and to distract attention from its dreadful earnings guidance.”

Tech wrap: HP spinning off PC division

Hewlett-Packard is close to a deal to buy software company Autonomy for $10 billion and will announce a long-rumored spinoff of its PC division.

Autonomy, which counts Procter & Gamble among a long list of major corporate customers that use its software to search and organize unstructured data like emails, confirmed it was in talks with HP.

Google+, which has picked up more than 25 million users since launching in June, is headed down the right path and is the first serious challenge to Facebook’s dominance.

HP’s TouchPad tablet: The reviews

Hewlett-Packard’s decision to enlist funnyman Russell Brand to promote its new TouchPad tablet in a series of online videos seems to have been the right one. People love the ads. Whether consumers will warm to the device itself remains to be seen, though.

HP pitches the TouchPad as a workhorse that’s a boon to productivity and a marvel of multitasking, but which can also hold its own as an entertainment device. The Wi-Fi enabled tablet, which hit U.S. shelves on July 1 (at $500 for 16 GB model, $600 for 32 GB), is up against some serious competition from Apple’s standard-bearing iPad models and a stable of well-regarded Android alternatives.

HP is smart to trumpet the TouchPad’s ability to play Web video and multimedia formats such as Adobe Flash, which Apple has refused to support on its devices despite demands from its own customers. But reviews of the 9.7-inch tablet, which runs on Palm’s webOS mobile software, could so far be characterized as tepid at best. Overall, they seem to suggest that while HP should be praised for some of the TouchPad’s features, it falls short on too many other crucial elements. Here’s a sampling of what’s been said so far:

Tech wrap: Want a Google+ invite? You may have to wait

Social media junkies pining for an invite to try out Google+ will have to wait a little bit longer. Google decided to temporarily stop inviting users to join its new social network less than two days after it launched the service. What gives? “Insane demand. We want to do this carefully, and in a controlled way,” a Google engineering executive said in a Google+ post on Wednesday night. A company spokeswoman contacted by Reuters declined to say whether the company had resumed invites on Thursday.

Reviews of Google+ are starting to filter in from those who’ve been lucky enough to get an invite. The general consensus seems to be that it’s a lot like Facebook and that it is an improvement over Google’s past social media efforts, Buzz and Wave.  ZDNet rounds up five things it loves about the new service. The Guardian pans the desktop version, but gives the mobile platform a thumbs up. PCWorld says it’s no Facebook. Wired calls its approach to privacy a “pretty good start”. And CNN explores one of its most distinctive features: video conferencing.

Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told reporters on Thursday his company is planning to unveil an “awesome” new feature next week.  Details were scant, but tech blogs have speculated in recent weeks about new mobile products in development at Facebook. Could it be the long-awaited iPad app? Or a dedicated photo-sharing app? Or, as tech blog GigaOm founder Om Malik joked on Twitter, is it just an attempt by Zuckerberg to divert attention away from Google+?