MediaFile

AT&T’s ad spending outpaces Verizon’s — by a long stretch

Anybody who wondered how AT&T managed to stand up against the Verizon Wireless  February iPhone launch wasn’t paying much attention to their TV set.

AT&T had been assuring investors for much of 2010 that its numbers wouldn’t fall off a cliff  if  arch-rival Verizon Wireless got its hands on iPhone, ending its exclusivity.  The logic was that customers wouldn’t want to break their two-year contracts.  Most customers were also tied to AT&T via family plans, making it even more tricky for them to leave.

Still, AT&T wasn’t about to leave it to chance. So it went about things the old-fashioned way: it threw money into advertising.

New figures show AT&T’s first-quarter  wireless marketing budget was double that of  Verizon Wireless. In the first three months of the year AT&T spent a whopping $451.83 million on wireless advertising compared with Verizon’s relatively modest $227 million spend, according to a report from advertising research firm Kantar Media.

And when it came to iPhone-specific ads  AT&T’s spending stood out even more, at  triple that of Verizon’s. AT&T spent $100.9 million on iPhone advertising in the first quarter compared with a $34.5 million outlay at bigger rival Verizon Wireless, according to Kantar, which said the vast majority was spent on TV ads.

Apple and Twitter: A New Power Duo?

One big winner coming out of Apple’s developers’ conference on Monday is Twitter.

Apple announced that the Internet microblogging service will be integrated directly into future versions of the iPhone and iPad software.

That means iPhone users can quickly publish information on Twitter by tapping on a photo taken with the iPhone’s camera, or by tapping on a news article in the phone’s Web browser.

Tech wrap: Steve Jobs pitches Apple’s iCloud

Apple CEO Steve Jobs emerged from medical leave to launch an Internet-based service for consumers called the iCloud, which lets users play their music and get access to their data from any Apple device. Jobs walked briskly onstage after James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good)” blasted over the sound system, but shared the spotlight with other Apple execs who showcased Apple’s enhancements to its PC operating system and mobile platform.

Jobs laid out his vision for the iCloud with the elminiation of MobileMe, a subscription-based collection of online services and software. Jobs said the iCloud will allow people to share book purchases, music and data in general, such as calendar items, across different devices, while backing up and updating information regularly.

Among the new features for Apple’s OS X Lion operating software were an improved email infrastructure and multi-touch features. Early impressions by experts watching the presentations were favorable.

Live coverage: Steve Jobs at Apple’s 2011 developers conference

Apple CEO Steve Jobs leaps back into the spotlight to unveil the iCloud, an online music storage and streaming service that investors hope will be the next source of growth for the maker of the popular iPhone and iPad mobile devices.

Reuters covers the event live, starting at 10:00 a.m. PT ( 1 p.m. ET).

Tech wrap: LinkedIn shares skyrocket in debut

LinkedIn made its remarkable debut on the New York Stock Exchange, at times trading more than 171 percent above its IPO price of $45. The stampede to buy the stock had some remembering back to another time when investors also loved tech stock IPOs: the 1990s and the dotcom bubble.

Does the response to LinkedIn suggest investors are in for another bubble that bursts when the fundamentals overtake the hype? Or is it a sign that investors are hungry for any piece of the social media pie and LinkedIn’s happens to be first out of the oven? While Facebook, Groupon, Twitter and Zynga are still expected to go public, LinkedIn Chief Executive Jeff Weiner cautions that his company’s spectacular debut should not be seen as a proxy for them.

While American social media companies are testing the IPO waters, their European counterparts at Viadao, Mind Candy, Sulake and Telmap are expressing skepticism at the Reuters Global Technology Summit about the sky-high valuations of U.S. start-ups and the potential for another bubble.

Tech wrap: How bold is the new BlackBerry?

RIM showed off a new version of its BlackBerry Bold phone with upgraded software, aiming to regain its stride after last week’s profit warning and other recent stumbles. RIM also said it will manage corporate and government communications sent using Apple’s iPhone and iPad, and devices running Google’s Android software, through its secure BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

The BlackBerry Bold Touch, the model most geared toward the business market, has a 2.8-inch screen and retains the company’s trademark physical qwerty keyboard with a 1.2 GHz processor. It will ship with a near-field communication (NFC) chip, allowing the phone to be used as a mobile wallet, executives said at the annual BlackBerry World conference in Orlando. The Bold Touch running on Blackberry OS 7 will be released sometime this summer. The new OS won’t be supported on older devices, the company said.

Sohaib Athar, a resident of Abbottabad, the Pakistani city where Osama bin Laden was holed up in a fortified mansion, “liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it”, setting off a firestorm of activity on Twitter.

Tech wrap: RIM shares dive ahead of BlackBerry World

RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook is seen in a handout photo. REUTERS/RIM/Handout

Research in Motion shares tanked to their lowest level since October after the BlackBerry maker slashed its sales and earnings forecasts Thursday, an unexpected blow that followed an anemic forecast in late March and last week’s troubled launch of its PlayBook tablet. “We’ve heard for too long about RIM’s great product roadmap. Consumers are not listening nor waiting,” National Bank analysts said in a note. “RIM does not even seem to have dual cameras on its upcoming BlackBerry product line-up. The last time we checked, video is the future.” All hope seems to rest on what the Canadian company pulls out of its labs and onto center stage at BlackBerry World, starting Monday, where the company will unveil a new generation of touchscreen BlackBerrys.

Microsoft shares fell their most in almost two years, a day after reporting a dip in Windows sales. Investors were concerned with lower personal computer sales nagging at Windows, Xbox sales bringing down profit margins and losses in Microsoft’s online business.

Strong demand for smartphones gave a further boost to overall cellphone market volumes in January-March and made Apple a rare winner on the market, research firms said. IDC saw January-March market growth of 20 percent, helped also by strong gains by smaller vendors as the three largest phone makers — Nokia, Samsung and LG — lost market share. Apple’s iPhone sales more than doubled from a year ago, buoyed by strong sales on Verizon Wireless and additional carrier deals elsewhere, with market share rising to 5 percent.

Tech wrap: Microsoft earnings fail to excite

Microsoft reported a dip in quarterly sales of its core Windows operating system, mirroring a recent downturn in personal computers. The world’s largest software company met Wall Street profit estimates, as strong sales of its Office suite of applications and game systems took up the slack. “Microsoft to me is no longer a growth stock but it is a very attractive value stock. They continue to generate tremendous free cash flow. Their balance sheet is really unmatched,” Channing Smith of Capital Advisors said.

Sony could face legal action across the globe after it delayed disclosing a security breach of its popular PlayStation Network, infuriating gamers and sending the firm’s shares down nearly 5 percent in Tokyo Thursday.

Mobile privacy safeguards should also extend to third party application developers, two lawmakers said after reviewing the practices of four major U.S. wireless carriers.

Tech wrap: Privacy storm strikes Sony, passes Apple

Apple denied it is tracking the movements of its iPhone customers, but said it will provide a software update that stores less location information on phones in response to public outcry over privacy issues. Apple plans to release a software update that would cut the size of the wireless hotspot location database stored on its iPhones, and stop backing up that information. The software will be released in the next few weeks, it said.

Users of location-based services like those offered on iPhones have a hard time reconciling the security and privacy implications that come with allowing third parties access to their information, writes Mashable’s Christina Warren.

Sony’s delay in announcing that hackers had stolen names, addresses and possibly credit card details from the 77 million user accounts of its video game online network sparked an online furor from users. Some gamers writing in online forums called for a boycott of Sony products, while shoppers at London video-games stores said they might leave the PSN network, which allows them to play games with other members and buy games online. A Sony spokesman said that after learning of the breach it took “several days of forensic investigation” before the company knew consumers’ data had been compromised.

Tech wrap: Sony admits PlayStation Network privacy breach

A visitor plays with a Playstation at an exhibition stand at the Gamescom 2009 fair in Cologne in this August 22, 2009 file photo. Reuters/Ina Fassbender

An unauthorized person stole names, addresses and other personal data belonging to about 77 million people who have accounts on Sony’s PlayStation Network, Sony said. The person gained access to people’s names, addresses, email address, birthdates, usernames, passwords, logins, security questions and more, Sony said on its U.S. PlayStation blog.

Amazon.com’s quarterly sales beat expectations but earnings fell steeply as it spent heavily on everything from online multimedia services to its Kindle e-reader. Net income for the world’s largest online retailer was $201 million, down 32.8 percent from $299 million, a year earlier. Revenue was $9.86 billion. “This is another investment year…It’s probably not going to be until Q4 that we see some leverage from that,” Lazard Capital Markets’ Colin Sebastian said.