MediaFile

Apple’s new OS off to strong start

Apple’s new Snow Leopard operating system has hit the ground running, according to research data released Thursday

Sales during the first two weeks of Snow Leopard’s release “far exceed those of the last two Apple operating systems,” market research company NPD said. The group tracks U.S. retail sales. Snow Leopard launched Aug. 28, available as an upgrade at an affordable price of $29.

According to NPD, Snow Leopard sales were more than two times higher than those for the initial release of Leopard back in 2007, and almost four times higher than the Tiger OS in 2005.

“Even though some considered Snow Leopard to be less feature-focused than the releases of Leopard or Tiger, the ease of upgrading to Snow Leopard and the affordable pricing made it a win-win for Apple computer owners – thus helping to push sales to record numbers” NPD’s Stephen Baker said in a statement.

Apple is the No. 4 PC maker in the U.S., according to research group Gartner, with 8.7 percent of that market.

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)

Not rich enough to be a Mac person

Microsoft — ruffled by constant ridicule by Apple — launched its latest counter-punch last night with an explicit jab at its cool but expensive archrival in a prime-time ad featuring one thrifty young woman’s quest to find a 17-inch laptop for under four figures.

“Lauren”, a feisty, red-haired computer-shopper, is given $1,000 to score a laptop with a 17-inch screen, and told she can keep the change.

First stop: the Apple store. Cue disappointment. The cheapest Macbook laptop, with a 13-inch screen, is $999. Lauren consoles herself that she is “not cool enough to be a Mac person” anyway.

PC giants weigh in on Windows 7

Hewlett-Packard and Dell, the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 PC makers, weighed in Thursday on Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system, which is expected early next year.******Michael Dell, on a conference call following the company’s quarterly earnings report, was asked whether Dell is seeing any changes from enterprise customers related to Windows 7. He said:***

We’re starting to get pretty excited about Windows 7 and believe it’s going to be an important catalyst for growth. Having said that, it will also push purchases until Windows 7 comes out.

******Microsoft sounded a similar note at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference. CFO Christopher Liddell said Windows 7 could help PC sales bounce back next year. He also expects some users to delay buying a new computer to wait for Windows 7:***

We might see a bump (in PC sales) next year, just as a result of lower demand this year. It will be helpful, but it will not outweigh the general macro-economics.

******Earlier in the day at the Goldman conference, HP CFO Cathie Lesjak was also asked about the impact of Windows 7 on consumer and corporate demand:***

We didn’t think there was going to be a Vista moment. We don’t think there’s going to be a Windows 7 moment either… We are not expecting that there’s going to be this huge hockey stick effect when Windows 7 comes out. The good news is we’re hearing positive things about Windows 7.

A Yahoo and Microsoft deal? Search me

Two days ago, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Yahoo should team up with his company on search so they can take on Google. That’s not a new idea; after all, Ballmer’s been talking about a search deal of some sort at every public forum for months.

But then, Yahoo CFO Blake Jorgensen sent out a message loud and clear the following day, endorsing the idea of a search partnership. Yahoo is “not opposed” to doing a deal on search, he said, adding that such a deal could be in the form of a partnership or a sale of it search business. When Carol Bartz took over as Yahoo CEO last month, she said her first instinct was to hold on to search, but of course, “everything is on the table.”

So could something be brewing on that front?

Collins Stewart’s Internet analyst Sandeep Aggarwal thinks so. In a research note today, Aggarwal writes the “posturing” from both sides suggests that a search deal is in the offing:

Reshuffle at Yahoo, Microsoft shuffles on layoffs

Rumors of a Yahoo management reshuffling, two newspaper publisher bankruptcies and a bit of PR unsavvy on Microsoft’s part do not make for a quiet weekend. Although not exactly high-octane breaking news, the stuff kept happening in dribs and drabs throughout the weekend, leading me to update my Facebook status thus: “Anupreeta would have liked at least 30 percent more weekend.” But so it goes.

On Friday night, All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher reported that a major Yahoo management reorganization was underway, and could come as early as this week. The Wall Street Journal, which shares an owner — News Corp’s Dow Jones — with All Things D, followed with its own story a day later.

Then, Microsoft — a big employer of foreign workers which took some heat last month from politicians for announcing plans to lay off 5,000 people — dug its heels deeper into the mess. It seems the software giant overpaid some laid-off workers because of an accounting error, and now wants the money back. Yikes. Does Microsoft need to do more damage control than this?

Tech cos to H-1B workers: We feel your pain

Technology companies, which have laid off hundreds of thousands of workers, are already feeling the heat from politicians about their support of the H-1B foreign worker program at a time when many Americans are jobless. (Read the Reuters story explaining why, as a result, tech companies might have to tone down their campaign to hire more H-1B workers this year.)

Last month, Microsoft was the specific target of Republican Senator Charles Grassley, who shot off a letter to the tech bellwether saying it should lay off foreign workers before laying off domestic workers.

Microsoft responded it was laying off both H-1B workers and Americans, and that it was extending support equally to all affected employees. While that may be the case, foreign workers often have a harder time if they’re laid off.

Step aside, here comes Google

Google just keeps on truckin’. The Internet powerhouse posted results yesterday that show advertisers haven’t completely cut their spending — at least not on search.

Excluding one-time charges, profit was $5.10 a share, beating the average analyst forecast of $4.95 according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue rose 18 percent to $5.7 billion — a shadow of the 50 percent growth levels that Google used to enjoy, but considered by analysts to be a robust performance given the weak economy and corporate cutbacks in advertising spending.

Tech earnings: Up, down and all around

This is turning out to be an earnings season when all bets are off on how technology giants will perform. With tech earnings taking the market on a roller-coaster ride, it wouldn’t be surprising if investors are a little sick in the stomach already. 

The hits and misses so far among the biggest and brightest:

Intel: Missed expectations, profit fell 90 percent and they said they wouldn’t give a detailed quarterly forecast due to the economic uncertainty.

IBM: Beat expectations and gave an outlook above Wall Street estimates. Not only did IBM shares surge on the news, it even lifted major U.S. indexes.

Dark days in Hollywood

 If that notion of a recession-resistant entertainment industry hasn’t already been debunked, just get in touch with one of your pals out in Hollywood. They’ll tell you how bad it is — how jobs are disappearing.

Warner Brothers Entertainment is the latest to cut staff, announcing 800 jobs would be lost, or 10 percent of its worldwide staff.  NBC Universal and Viacom have already cut jobs, and industry watchers expect more job cuts to be announced by Walt Disney and Sony Pictures.

Perhaps more than other layoffs, the Warner Bros cuts send a signal of just how bad business look, The New York Times points out.