MediaFile

Twitter and Bing: A cold September

For two of the Web’s newest sensations, September was not a good month.

The robust growth that Twitter and Microsoft’s Bing search engine enjoyed in recent months appeared to come to an abrupt halt last month.

Twitter, the microblogging service cherished by everyone from Shaq to Al Gore, saw its growth stall in September — at least in terms of U.S. visitors to its Web site.

The number of unique visitors to Twitter’s site in the U.S. reached 20.89 million in September – virtually flat compared to the 20.83 million visitors the month before, according to the latest comScore data.

As the blog TechCrunch pointed out on Tuesday, Twitter’s flat September came as Facebook, the world’s No.1 Internet social network, lured more than 3 million additional unique visitors to its site that month.

Of course, Twitter’s growth is still up a whopping 1,703 percent on a year-over-year basis. And the comScore numbers don’t tell the whole story, since many Twitter users access the service through third-party applications and thus would not be counted as unique visitors to the Twitter site.

from Breakingviews:

Necessity is mother of invention at Microsoft

Microsoft CEO speaks of economic reset in LondonMicrosoft has adopted a tough mantra for an age of austerity, arguing that innovation must take a back seat to cost-cutting and productivity gains when it comes to selling technology.

"Things have come down. I see them staying down and slowly growing," Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive, said today in a speech to British business leaders.

But does Microsoft's "New Efficiency" slogan describe the future of the technology industry?  Or just the software giant's own subdued outlook?

from DealZone:

Pricey Palm attracts attention

If you want to take a bite out of Apple’s piece of the staggeringly huge (but difficult to quantify in $$$ terms) smartphone market pie, you’d better either have the magical new “thing” or be willing to spend to buy it.

As Anupreeta Das reports, Palm – one of the stalwart originals in the mobile handset space -- has remade itself into a terrific target with the success of its Pre. Palm’s stock got a jolt this week on talk that Nokia could be considering a bid. But as she explains, Palm may prove to be too pricey a purchase, even for those with deep pockets.

Since introducing the Pre, Dell, Microsoft, Nokia and Motorola have been mentioned as possible suitors. If one of these cash-rich companies was to bid for Palm today, it would be targeting a stock that has quadrupled this year. Complicating matters, “details on how many units it has sold are skimpy, making it difficult to value the success of Palm's turnaround story,” she reports.

Here comes Windows Unicorn

Thousands of Microsofties yucked it up at the expense of rival Apple at their annual get-together at Seattle’s Safeco field on Thursday.

Saturday Night Live star Seth Meyers set about the old foe, which had its own festival of self-congratulation yesterday.

“Who at Apple let an 8-year-old girl name their new operating system Snow Leopard?,” Meyers asked, according to one employee spreading the good word on Facebook. “What, was Unicorn taken? Was Pony not available?”

from The Great Debate:

Forget Microsoft, Yahoo’s value is overseas

-- Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

eric_auchard_columnist_shot_2009_june_300_px2The fate of Yahoo Inc has become intertwined in the public's imagination with the success or failure of its dealings with Microsoft Corp in recent years.

That's despite the fact that as much as 70 percent of the value investors put on Yahoo's depressed shares are tied up in its international assets or cash holdings -- factors that have nothing to do with Microsoft.

Yahoo's operations trade for just $5 to $6 per share out of its current $15 share price, once you exclude its Asian investments and the value of its cash. Its hidden assets in Japan and Chinese affiliates -- Yahoo Japan Corp and China's Alibaba Group -- alone are worth around $6 to $7 per share.

Sony cuts PS3 price, sounds confident about holidays

The long-anticipated price cut on Sony’s PlayStation 3 video game console might have come just in the nick of time, as industry sales continue to wilt in the heat of summer. Both game hardware and software sales have been flagging, but console price cuts typically spur game sales.

Sony took the PS3′s price to $299 from $399, and the company sounded bullish on its prospects for the holiday selling season.

“With this price move, we’re extremely confident,” said Jack Tretton, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, in a interview. “I don’t think there’s anything more that we could realistically ask for in terms of putting us in a position to be successful this holiday, I really feel like everything’s lined up for us.”

Epix nears launch date — more distribution deals coming?

Suddenly, after limited news over the past year, Epix has been very much the talk of the town in recent days. A number of publications, including Reuters, have picked up on some announcements out of the pay TV site jointly owned by Paramount, Lions Gate, and MGM.

The key bit of news, of course, was the announcement that it had reached its first distribution deal, with Verizon. Chief Executive Mark Greenberg suggested to us that other deals should be coming soon — that he is talking to everybody and “some are further along than others.”

This is key, in the eyes of Wall Street. Distribution deals are always a bit tricky, and even tougher in the current economic environment. But analysts want to see Epix sign a deal with one of the big players — one with a ton of subscribers. We’re talking about Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV. So far the reaction has been a little lukewarm from some of the big boys but that could just be a negotiating tactic.

from Commentaries:

Revolution?

Video compression technology can be interesting, really.

On2 CEO on Beet TVMost people forget how online video worked before YouTube popularized the embedded Flash video player. Remember the frustration of making sure you had the right video player to play this or that web video? It was YouTube that popularized giving people one-click access to videos.

On Wednesday, Google said it had agreed to acquire On2 Technologies, a maker of video compression technology, in a deal that could have sweeping effects for how video works on the web. The Internet search leader has a bland blog post about how it intends to use On2 to innovate in how video working on the Web, but it isn't at all clear how far it Google is ready to go.

On2 stock chart before and after Google offerThere's lots of speculation that Google may choose to open source, or give away, On2's video compression technology, undercutting royalty-bearing video compression technologies in use across the Web. That could undermine Adobe and its widely used Flash player, Microsoft, with its Silverlight alternative, not to mention Apple Inc and RealNetworks. Dan Frommer at Silicon Alley Insider spells out how far-reaching the Google gambit could be.  As a counterpoint, Dan Rayburn of StreamingMedia.com argues the Google move is no big deal.

from Commentaries:

Tech Links: Phones, more phones and communion wafers

HTC Android phoneBetter luck next year for Android
Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC has warned of a revenue shortfall, saying it has too many new phone models chasing too little revenue. Revenue growth will turn negative in 2009, instead of growing 10 percent, as the company had previously forecast.

Chief Executive Peter Chou says: "Momentum on both the Windows Mobile and Android platforms are also turning out to be weaker than expected."

HTSEC weighted indexTC said it is boosting its marketing spending to more than 15 percent of revenue from 13.5 percent to fend off market leader Nokia and the Apple iPhone juggernaut.

Ballmer skeptical of Apple share gains

Never one to let an opportunity pass to tweak a competitor, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer got off a few zingers at long-time rival Apple at the software giant’s analyst meeting on Thursday.

“Share versus Apple, you know, we think we may have ticked up a little tick, but when you get right down to it, it’s a rounding error,” he said. “Apple’s share change, plus or minus from ours, they took a little share a couple quarters, we took share back a couple quarters. But Apple’s share globally cost us nothing. Now, hopefully, we will take share back from Apple, but you know, Apple still only sells about 10 million PCs, so it is a limited opportunity.”

Shipments of Apple’s Mac PCs rose 4 percent in the June quarter, while the global PC market shrank 5 percent, according to Gartner.