MediaFile

Tech wrap: Apple beats Google to the music cloud

Storm clouds gather over Hanoi's skyline September 21, 2009. REUTERS/KhamApple has completed work on an online music storage service and is set to launch it ahead of Google, whose own music efforts have stalled, according to several people familiar with both companies’ plans. The sources revealed that Apple’s plans will allow iTunes customers to store their songs on a remote server, and then access them from wherever they have an Internet connection and that Apple has yet to sign any new licenses for the service and major music labels are hoping to secure deals before the service is launched. Amazon.com launched a music locker service earlier in April without new licensing agreements leading to threats of legal action from some music companies.

Verizon gained wireless subscribers with Apple’s iPhone, but the device’s affect on its financials failed to impress investors. Verizon Wireless posted 906,000 net new subscribers, roughly in line with expectations. That was much better than AT&T, which added only 62,000 net subscribers in the quarter as it lost iPhone exclusivity. However, a key sticking point for investors when comparing the two operators was the fact that AT&T won more new iPhone customers in the quarter than Verizon. Verizon announced that it would sell a new version of the iPhone later this year that, unlike its current iPhone, would work globally.

The risky attempt by The New York Times to charge fees to website readers looks to be paying off, although it still faces stiff challenges in turning around a fall-off in print advertising revenue at its core business. The company gained more than 100,000 new subscribers since it introduced its digital subscription service on March 28, representing at least an estimated $26 million in annual revenue and trouncing early expectations for the service.

Disruption to Amazon servers that host Internet services took down a raft of social networking websites including social network foursquare and Q+A aggregator Quora. Amazon’s “Elastic Compute Cloud,” part of the online retail company’s cloud-computing service that hosts websites for startups, experienced latency problems and other errors, according to Amazon’s status page. The latest update on Amazon’s status page said the company was “now seeing significantly reduced failures and latency and … continuing to recover. We have also brought additional capacity online in the affected availability zone.”

Cloud computing solutions have advanced beyond storage to the point where they now provide businesses with ways to improve operations, writes Microsoft’s Cindy Bates. Among her tips for businesses to get more from the cloud: Deploy cloud-based versions communication/productivity tools such e-mail, phone, chat, contacts, calendars, and document creation software to gain access to enterprise-level capabilities; if your business provides Web services to customers, moving applications to the cloud will allow you to scale them up or down depending on your needs and gives your developers more choice in where and how they manage, deploy and store data; and the cloud can give your business the ability to maintain a remote workforce. Workers can access e-mail, documents, calendars and more, as well as collaborate with colleagues through document-sharing programs and video conferencing technology, essentially experiencing “in-office” scenarios wherever they have access to an Internet connection, Bates argues.

Tech wrap: Apple raises the earnings bar

A shop assistant in Sydney gestures in front of an advertising sign moments before Apple's iPad 2 became available for direct purchase in Australia March 25, 2011.  REUTERS/Tim Wimborne Apple reported quarterly revenue of $24.67 billion on strong iPhone and Mac sales, racing past Wall Street estimates. In the quarter, the company sold 18.65 million iPhones and 3.76 million Macintosh computers. Analysts expected 16.3 million and 3.64 million, respectively. Sales of iPads and iPods fell short. The number of iPads sold was 4.69 million, shy of the 6.3 million expected. Sales of iPods were 9 million, versus expectations of 9.85 million.

Analysts said that the weaker-than-expected iPad sales will not detract from strong long-term demand. “We can attribute some of the weakness to stocking issues at some of the retail outlets and obviously the supply chain issue in Japan,” said Capital Advisors Growth Fund’s Channing Smith.

The next-generation iPhone will have a faster processor, look largely like the iPhone 4 and will begin shipping in September, three people with direct knowledge of the company’s supply chain said.

Live Coverage: Will Apple finally disclose iPad 2 sales figures?

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Apple should report another spectacular quarter, but tempered by growing caution over how supply constraints will squeeze margins and restrain iPhone and iPad sales.

Tops on the agenda will be the impact of Japan’s unfolding crisis on component prices and availability, while the spectre of Steve Jobs health and the uncertain timing of the next iPhone continues to hover in the background. Join us for a live chat at 5pm ET / 2pm PT after Apple reports its quarterly financials.

Tech wrap: Apple sues Samsung over “slavish” copies

An employee of Samsung Electronics demonstrates Samsung's Galaxy Tab tablet during a photo opportunity at a showroom of the company in Seoul January 18, 2011. Reuters/Lee Jae-WonApple sued rival Samsung Electronics claiming that Samsung’s Galaxy line of mobile phones and tablet “slavishly” copies the iPhone and iPad, according to court papers. The lawsuit, filed on Friday, alleges Samsung copied the look, product design and product user interface of Apple’s products. Samsung violated Apple’s patents and trademarks, the suit alleges.

Twitter is in talks to buy TweetDeck for around $50 million, The Wall Street Journal reported. TweetDeck is an add-on program that helps Twitter users view and manage their tweets and messages on other services such as those offered by Facebook and Foursquare. Twitter has allowed advertisers’ “promoted tweets”, that show up when users perform searches on Twitter, to appear on TweetDeck as part of a revenue-sharing agreement, The WSJ wrote.

Texas Instruments’s quarterly earnings missed Wall Street expectations by a penny as expenses rose after two of its Japanese factories were damaged in the country’s largest-ever earthquake. The company, which plans to buy analog chip maker National Semiconductor Corp for $6.5 billion, said one of its factories will “soon” resume full production, and added that it expects a strong second half.

Tech wrap: Google’s spending overshadows revenue growth

Google co-founder Larry Page in a file photo. REUTERS/Rick WilkingGoogle’s stunning 54 percent spending surge spooked investors already worried its new CEO Larry Page may take his eye off the bottom line to chase revenue growth, driving its shares more than 5 percent lower. Investors zeroed in on the stunning surge in expenses to $2.84 billion, which dwarfed a 29 percent jump in net revenue and reflected a record hiring spree, company-wide salary raises, and splurging on everything from marketing to technology. “If the expenses are targeted and result in future revenue streams, then good for Larry. If not, that results in an undisciplined spending approach”, said Colin Gillis, analyst at BGC Partners.

RIM’s PlayBook tablet bombed with influential technology reviewers calling the new iPad competitor a rushed job that won’t even provide RIM’s vaunted email service unless it’s hooked up to a BlackBerry. “RIM has just shipped a BlackBerry product that cannot do email. It must be skating season in hell,” New York Times’s David Pogue wrote. Even though the odd system on the PlayBook, aimed at pleasing security-concerned corporate customers, “is a neat technical feat, it makes the PlayBook a companion to a BlackBerry phone rather than a fully independent device,” wrote The Wall Street Journal’s Walter Mossberg.

Suppliers to Apple began production of white iPhones after a delay of almost 10 months, pointing to a launch date of within a month, two people familiar with the situation said.

Tech wrap: HTC trumps Nokia

An employee holds a HTC Sensation mobile phone during its launch in London April 12, 2011. Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC unveiled on Tuesday a new handset model that offers a library of movies and TV shows via a wide screen that will be available on the Vodafone network. REUTERS/Luke MacGregorHTC launched the HTC Sensation, offering an entire library of movie and TV shows via a wide screen, with a fast 1.2GHz processor. While Nokia, which dumped its once-dominant Symbian software earlier this year after falling behind Apple in the high-end handset market, launched two new models improved with better text input, faster Internet browsing and a refreshed Ovi Maps application, in a bid to stem customer defections while it works on a new offering.

“The new HTC Sensation phone reflects the mountain Nokia needs to climb to close the hardware and software gap with its rivals,” said Ben Wood, research director at CCS Insight. “On the day Nokia unveils the 600Mhz X7 ‘entertainment phone’ it has been trumped by HTC’s Sensation which has a dual-core 1.2Ghz processor”.

Cisco Systems will dump its Flip video camera division, retiring the popular brand rather than selling it in a first step toward reviving a company CEO John Chambers admits has lost its way. The decision to nix Flip, along with a planned folding of its Umi home videoconference business into the more successful TelePresence arm, underscores Chambers’ need to whittle down a money-losing consumer division that also includes Scientific Atlanta set-top boxes and Linksys home routers. Among the steps announced, Cisco plans to combine its lackluster Umi service with its TelePresence system for corporate clients. The company will also change the way it manufactures its Linksys line of networking equipment.

Poll: After Cisco’s Flip, what’s next for the smartphone serial killers?

The iPhone and its rivals claimed another scalp in the consumer electronics industry this morning when Cisco announced it was powering down its Flip video camera business. The market for dedicated digital video recorders has looked precarious even since Apple added video to the iPhone with the launch of the 3GS model in June 2009, just three months after Cisco announced the Flip acquisition. Since then, the ever-improving functionality of the iPhone and Android devices have steadily eroded demand for still cameras, GPS devices and a host of other gadgets. Which ones have you stopped using?

My phone is so smart, I no longer see the need for a separate:

    Stills camera Video camera Email device GPS MP3 player E-book reader Portable game player Kitchen timer Life partner

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Tech wrap: iPhone 5 home for Christmas, maybe

An Apple staff demonstrates a new Verizon iPhone 4 at Verizon's iPhone 4 launch event in New York January 11, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermidApple’s iPhone 5 isn’t expected to hit the market until Christmas or early next year, according to Business Insider’s Jay Yarow. Avian Securities said in a note, based on conversations with a “key component supplier” to Apple, that the the iPhone 5 should go into production in September and that Apple could also be developing a lower price/lower spec iPhone model, Yarrow writes.

The $214 billion cellphone industry is bracing for a hit to its supply of components as top phone makers get set to report quarterly earnings next week. “We believe the shortages will start to bite in the third quarter, when we’ll get a clearer picture of who is most affected,” said Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight.

On average analysts expect global cellphone sales volumes to have grown 10.8 percent in January-March, according to 18 analysts in a Reuters poll. The phone market has recovered from a slump in 2009, but growth is expected to have peaked in the first half of 2010, with a slowdown to 9 percent forecast for 2011, the Reuters poll showed.

Tech wrap: Android takes over

A T-Mobile G1 Google phone running Android is shown photographed in Encinitas, California January 20, 2010. REUTERS/Mike BlakeGrowing demand for phones running on Google’s Android platform will help the smartphone market grow in 2011, boosting companies like HTC and Samsung who are betting on the platform, analysts said.

The smartphone market will grow 58 percent this year and 35 percent the next, research firm Gartner said. Android, a distant No. 2 to Nokia’s Symbian platform just last year, will increase its market share to 39 percent in 2011, while Symbian’s share will roughly halve to 19 percent following Nokia’s decision to dump the platform. Apple’s iPhone platform will be slightly bigger than Symbian this year, while Research In Motion will control 13 percent of the market and Microsoft Windows Phone 6 percent.

Sales of cameraphones will grow to more than 1 billion handsets this year, helped by fast growth at the high end of the market, Strategy Analytics said.

Tech wrap: Amazon offers Android apps, gets sued by Apple

A demonstrator plays a racing game on an Android-based Motorola Atrix smartphone during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 6, 2011. REUTERS/Steve MarcusAmazon.com opened its store for Google Android smartphone applications, ratcheting up its fight with Apple after the iPhone maker sued Amazon in a bid to stop the online retailer from improperly using its App Store trademark.

A New York court rejected a class action settlement hammered out between Google and publishers that would allow the Web search leader to scan millions of books and sell them online.

U.S. wireless operators will have to pay higher subsidies for cellphones as they come with more features, Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse said during a chief executive panel at the annual CTIA wireless industry conference.