MediaFile

Tech wrap: Apple earnings lay waste to expectations

Apple’s fiscal first-quarter results blew past Wall Street expectations, fueled by robust holiday sales of its iPhones and iPads. Apple sold 37.04 million iPhones and 15.43 million iPad tablets, outpacing already heightened expectations for a strong holiday season. Sales of iPhones and iPads more than doubled from a year ago. Revenue leapt 73 percent to $46.33 billion, handily beating the average Wall Street analyst estimate of $38.91 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Apple reported a net profit of $13.06 billion, or $13.87 a share. Analysts had expected Apple to earn $10.16 per share.

“This is all about innovation, you have to out-innovate and delight the customer. Apple is the only company that knows how to do that. The guidance is phenomenal,” said Trip Chowdry at Global Equities Research.

Yahoo’s net revenue and profit fell slightly in the fourth quarter, the struggling Internet company’s last quarter before new Chief Executive Scott Thompson took the reins. Yahoo said it earned $296 million in net income in the three months ended Dec. 31, or 24 cents a share, compared with $312 million, or 24 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Yahoo, which fired former CEO Carol Bartz in September and appointed Thompson in January, projected that its net revenue in the first quarter would range between $1.025 billion and $1.105 billion.

A Dutch appeals court dismissed Apple’s appeal to have Samsung tablets banned in the Netherlands, confirming a Dutch lower court’s ruling. Apple and Samsung have been suing one another as the two technology giants jostle for the top spot in the booming smartphone and tablet markets.

Verizon may miss analyst expectations for 2012 earnings after posting disappointing fourth quarter results as it was hurt by hefty subsidies for the Apple’s iPhone. The company reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $2.02 billion, or 71 cents per share, compared with a profit of $2.64 billion, or 93 cents a share, a year earlier.

Tech wrap: Yahoo to cut Asian stake

Yahoo is considering a plan to unload most of its prized Asian assets in a complex deal valued at roughly $17 billion, sources familiar with the matter said.

The former Internet powerhouse’s increasing difficulty in competing with heavyweights such as Google and Facebook have forced it to explore proposals to revamp its business.

Weakening economies and falling prices of rival smartphones are hurting sales of Apple iPhones across Europe, data from research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech showed on Thursday.

And the Grammy goes to — Steve Jobs!

First it was a bronze statue in Hungary. Now it’s a Grammy.

The accolades for the technology icon who died Oct 5 are still pouring in.

While Jobs is not a musician, his influence on the music industry — good or bad — cannot be denied. And for this, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences is giving the co-founder of Apple Inc a Grammy at an invitation-only ceremony on Feb 11.

A formal acknowledgment of his Grammy — part of the 2012 Special Merit Award — will be made during the regular 54th annual Grammy Awards, to be held on Feb 12 at LA’s Staples Center.

“As former CEO and co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs helped create products and technology that transformed the way we consume music, TV, movies, and books,” the academy said in a statement.  ”A creative visionary, Jobs’ innovations such as the iPod and its counterpart, the online iTunes store, revolutionized the industry and how music was distributed and purchased.”

Tech wrap: D.Telekom may be forced to play with Sprint

Deutsche Telekom may be forced into a tie-up of its sub-scale U.S. wireless unit with Sprint Nextel after a $39 billion deal with AT&T collapsed.

AT&T said on Monday it had dropped its bid for T-Mobile USA, bowing to fierce regulatory opposition and leaving both companies scrambling for alternatives.

The collapse of AT&T’s deal to buy D.Telekom’s U.S. wireless unit may be welcome news for network equipment makers, as money earmarked for the merger will be freed up for investments.

Verizon vs Apple: A royal battle

By Aaron Pressman
The opinions expressed are his own.

Last week’s tiff over the Google Wallet app at Verizon Wireless may seem like just another minor dust-up among hardcore phone geeks. But the debate is an opening skirmish in a potentially huge battle, particularly if, as expected, a new iPhone model arrives that runs on Verizon’s high-speed “LTE” Internet service.

At stake is whether seemingly pro-consumer “open platform” rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission to promote choice and innovation on Verizon’s LTE network have any meaning at all.

The rules were supposed to let customers, not carriers, decide which devices and applications they could use on the LTE network. That would seemingly mean that customers who wanted to use the Google Wallet payment app on the Verizon network via the upcoming Galaxy Nexus phone would be allowed to do so.

Tech wrap: AT&T, Sprint admit using monitoring software

Phone makers RIM and Nokia denied installing on their mobile devices an app which can monitor what users are doing without their knowledge or consent while carriers AT&T and Sprint admitted to using it. The companies responded after a security researcher demonstrated in online videos how the “Carrier IQ” software worked on Google’s Android operating system and said that phones running RIM’s BlackBerry platform and Nokia’s Symbian OS also had the software installed. AT&T and Sprint said they use “Carrier IQ” to monitor network quality.

Blackstone Group and Bain Capital are preparing a bid for all of Yahoo with Asian partners in a deal that could value the Internet company at about $25 billion, a source familiar with the matter said. The potential bid by the consortium, which would include China’s Alibaba and Japan’s Softbank, has not yet been finalized, the source and two other people familiar with the matter said. E-commerce giant Alibaba, whose primary interest is in buying back a 40 percent stake owned by Yahoo, is keeping its options open and said it has not decided whether to participate in a bid for all of Yahoo.

Apple’s iPhone edged past major news events, celebrities and pop stars as the top searched term on the Web in 2011, according to Yahoo. The media company said the smartphone proved more popular than reality television celebrity Kim Kardashian, pop star Katy Perry and singer and actress Jennifer Lopez, who placed in the top five. Casey Anthony, the woman acquitted of the murder of her young daughter after a highly publicized trial, was No. 2.

Cash, credit or a big smile?

We do everything with our smartphones now: reading, writing, photography, music. And, to paraphrase that old American Express commercial, we never leave home without it. But the one smartphone function that hasn’t exactly exploded yet — and really should have already — is paying for things.

The idea of an e-wallet isn’t especially new, but it did take the advent of the iPhone four years ago to bubble up the sort of possibilities that didn’t depend on storing information in a SIM card (which isn’t the prevalent wireless technology in the United States anyway). PayPal pioneered the notion that you could use a pocket electronic device you always carried to pay a restaurant bill or for a latte from Starbucks. (Sure, the device was a Palm Pilot, which means nothing to most 20-somethings. And yes, PayPal in its infinite wisdom stopped the person-to-person payment functionality very early in their history.)

That’s how far we’ve come — and haven’t.

One of the problems about dumping payment and loyalty cards is that the established credit card players are very well entrenched. Part is a visceral reluctance to believe that using your phone to store and convey payment and bank account information is much safer than brandishing plastic cards with an electronic strip.

Microsoft: mobile getting better, no numbers yet

Microsoft  made a big deal of the launch of three U.S. phones running its Windows Phone 7.5 software, the latest upgrade to Windows Phone 7, which represents a complete overhaul of the Microsoft mobile phone software.  They built a giant model of a phone in Herald Square, New York City and had rappers and dancers performing around it on Monday, while pizza was handed out to bemused onlookers.

Andy Lees, who leads Microsoft’s phone business, was on hand to talk up the software, which he said has been very well received by consumers.

“When people use it they love it,” he told reporters. “We’re definitely on to something.”

Rumors of RIM’s death…

…would be greatly misspelled, ungrammatical and take five times as long to send on an iPhone By Maureen Tkacik
The opinions expressed are her own. Possessing an ancient affliction known as “shame” I generally try to avoid brandishing opinions in the arena of “investment advice”, as hilarious as that would be. But a few weeks ago I nearly broke this rule when the PE ratio of a company whose products I actually use dipped below my height in feet (5.5.) “There’s gotta be a price for everything,” I figure; and I like to think that even I, were I a publicly traded security, would have levels at which I’d be a “Buy.” Well, four weeks after my editors wisely ignored that column, the PE ratio of the stock in question now looks like it could hit 3.14159.  

Moral: if I were a stock, I’d be Research In Motion. And me giving out stock tips is like BlackBerry trying to recommend new bands. As someone who fantasizes daily about bartending, retail, law school, hackccess journalism, and pretty much every other plausible paycheck alternative with the exception of teaching kids, I can totally sympathize with the impulse here. But ultimately these alternate realities don’t really play to any of my strengths, whereas wasting time thinking about them plays right into the hands of my epic self-loathing. (A self-destructive cycle RIM seems to be experiencing right now.)

Which is why I feel compelled to step in right now and tell RIM to get a hold of itself. RIM didn’t bounce three checks last week; RIM still has a job to do and millions of users depending on it. What the market seems to assume is an existential breakdown is actually not much worse than the maddening spiral of despair I experience…every time I lose my phone and attempt to communicate using someone else’s iPhone.

Motorola bets on recycled Razr brand

Razr is back. After  being criticized for depending on the four letter brand for too long,  Motorola is hoping to draw some more blood from the stone with the new Droid Razr in the U.S. market. It will be called plain old Razr in the rest of the world.

Analysts are already predicting that the new phones won’t reach the 130 million unit sales that Motorola boasts for Razr over several years. But the jury is still out on whether using the old brand that came to symbolize the company’s downfall will help sales of the latest phone, which it is touting as the world’s thinnest smartphone.

“We tend to see it more in the auto industry where Dodge brought back the Charger and Volkswagen brought back the Beetle. Volkswagen did well,” said NPD analyst Ross Rubin. But the modern Beetle is an updated model that is recognizable as a descendent of an old car that dates back to pre-war Germany. The Droid Razr is a tablet-like device with a 4.3 inch display that looks nothing like the original flip-phone Razr.