MediaFile

Tech wrap: RIM profit tanks

Research In Motion quarterly adjusted net profit fell 47 percent to $419 million, on revenue of $4.2 billion, hurt by an aging lineup of BlackBerry smartphones that was only refreshed very late in the quarter and tepid sales of its PlayBook tablet. RIM shipped 10.6 million smartphones and 200,000 PlayBook tablet computers in the three months to August 27, sharply below the average estimate of analysts.

Fifteen Democratic lawmakers asked the Obama administration to approve AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile USA. Representative Heath Shuler and 14 other Democrats sent a letter to President Obama arguing that the deal would reduce joblessness and encourage investment.

A proposed update of the U.S. online privacy rule for children would revise definitions of personal information and beef up parental consent mechanisms to reflect technological changes. The Federal Trade Commission plan would modify its Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule that gives parents a say over what information websites and other online providers can collect about children under the age of 13.

Bipartisan support is growing to allow private companies to quickly tap thousands of small investors through a strategy called “crowdfunding.” The Obama administration and Republican lawmakers have drafted legislation that would let investors take small stakes in private startups over the Internet, touting it as a way to supercharge job growth and innovation. The Securities and Exchange Commission is also considering revamping its offering rules, but is taking a cautious approach. It fears that loosening registration rules could open the door to fraud and weaken investor protections.

Tech wrap: Broadcom buys NetLogic

Chipmaker Broadcom Corp plans to buy NetLogic Microsystems Inc for about $3.7 billion to expand its lineup of chips used in wireless network equipment to take advantage of growing demand for mobile data services.

Google Inc’s effort to break into the daily deal industry and challenge industry leaders Groupon and LivingSocial is not going well, according to data released on Monday.

Analysts are predicting that Nintendo will sell fewer 3D handheld players according to Bloomberg.  3DS sales are expected to be 16 percent less than Nintendo’s annual goal of 16 million units.

Tech wrap: HP spinning off PC division

Hewlett-Packard is close to a deal to buy software company Autonomy for $10 billion and will announce a long-rumored spinoff of its PC division.

Autonomy, which counts Procter & Gamble among a long list of major corporate customers that use its software to search and organize unstructured data like emails, confirmed it was in talks with HP.

Google+, which has picked up more than 25 million users since launching in June, is headed down the right path and is the first serious challenge to Facebook’s dominance.

Tech wrap: Is Groupon’s IPO window closing?

As the Nasdaq Composite index continued its week-long tailspin, tech investors and analysts are wondering what the stock plunge could mean for the pending IPOs of companies like Groupon and Zynga.

The coming week, which has about a dozen IPOs scheduled to price, will be a good test of the severity of the selloff, according to Nick Einhorn, an analyst at Connecticut-based IPO research house Renaissance Capital. “Less mature, less profitable companies could have a tougher time going public,” Einhorn told Reuters.

If there was to be another recession, writes Investor Place’s Tom Taulli, “the IPO market will freeze up. It will mostly be only standout companies – such as Zynga and Facebook – that will get traction. A company like Groupon, which has substantial losses, may have to delay its offering or cut the valuation.”

Tech wrap: Biggest series of cyber attacks exposed

Security company McAfee uncovered the biggest-ever series of attacks on the networks of 72 organizations including the U.N., governments and companies around the world and claimed there was one “state actor” behind them but declined to name it. One security expert who has been briefed on the hacking said the evidence points to China.

Some of the victims in the five-year campaign include the governments of the U.S. and Canada; the International Olympic Committee; the World Anti-Doping Agency; and various companies, from defense contractors to high-tech enterprises.

RIM unveiled two new versions of its touchscreen BlackBerry Torch, including an all-touch model. The three touchscreen phones, running on the new BlackBerry OS 7, boast improved screen displays and pack a 1.2 GHz processor from Qualcomm, the most powerful ever for a BlackBerry phone. They also have a dedicated graphics processor that should make video and gaming sharper and more responsive. The browser is 40 percent faster than the original Torch, RIM’s last major phone launch, which hit shelves almost a year ago. All three devices will be launched by carriers around the world by the end of August, RIM said. The slider Torch will be exclusive to AT&T in the United States, the carrier said.

Tech wrap: Netflix sees subscriber slowdown

Netflix says it’s expecting its subscriber growth in the United States to slow in the coming quarter. The warning to investors came as the popular video rental company also reported second-quarter revenue that missed Wall Street expectations. The double-shot of bad news sent the company’s shares down about 9 percent in late trading.

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion delivered on a promise it made last month to pare back its global workforce  . . . and then some. The Canadian company announced it is laying off 2,000 staffers – or 11 percent of its workforce – in an effort to cut costs and offset sales declines in the mobile market, which is increasingly dominated by Apple and Google. Analysts are split on whether the cost cuts will do much to help the firm regain a competitive position. “The problem is you can’t cut your way into growth or market leadership, and while I’m sure there was fat at RIM, the core problem sits squarely with management,” Ed Snyder from Charter Equity Research told Reuters. Another analyst, however, argued that the cuts were a necessary step for RIM as it adjusts to a “new growth, or sales, reality.”

In addition, RIM announced a number of changes to the roles and responsibilities of some of its senior managers. Most notably, the company said one of its three chief operating officers, Don Morrison, is retiring and that his responsibilities would fall to the remaining two, Thorsten Heins and Jim Rowan. As AllThingsD points out, though, the changes fail to address shareholder concerns that the real shakeup needed is at the very top with Mike Lazardis and Jim Balsille, who share CEO and chairmen duties.

Tech wrap: Microsoft’s Office shines, Windows lacks luster

Microsoft reported a greater-than-expected 30 percent increase in fiscal fourth-quarter profit, helped by sales of its Office software, but profit from its core Windows product fell on soft PC sales. Microsoft posted net profit of $5.87 billion, or 69 cents per share, compared with $4.52 billion, or 51 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. That easily beat Wall Street’s average estimate of 58 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“These are great results given a slower PC environment and it highlights how the company has multiple revenue streams. The $17 billion unearned revenue, which is a forward indicator of business, shows they signed a lot of deals this quarter,” said BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis.

AT&T posted better-than-expected subscriber growth for the second quarter, pushing its profits and sales past Wall Street estimates despite the loss of exclusive U.S. rights to sell the Apple iPhone.

Tech wrap: Apple’s valuation flirts with Exxon’s

Apple shares neared a record $400, a day after the world’s most valuable technology company posted blockbuster results and triggered a spate of brokerage upgrades. Apple’s climb brought the maker of the iPhone and iPad within shouting distance of Exxon Mobil’s market value of more than $400 billion despite the oil and gas producer raking in more than four times Apple’s annual revenue.

“We expect Apple will become the largest market cap company on the planet when the stock hits approximately $445, which is only about 13 percent away from aftermarket levels,” said Gleacher & Co analyst Brian Marshall, based on the assumption that Exxon shares remain flat. Apple shares rose to a high of $405 in after-hours trading on Tuesday.

Intel posted second-quarter revenue above expectations, defying investors’ concerns about slowing personal computer sales. Intel’s revenue in the June quarter was $13.1 billion, up 22 percent over the year-ago period and  above the $12.83 billion expected by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Tech wrap: Netflix jacks prices, adds DVD-only option

Netflix subscribers could see their monthly bill increase starting this fall. The company announced it is doing away with a combo plan that lets customers watch unlimited movies and TV shows online and get DVDs by mail for $9.99 a month. Starting in September, current subscribers who want both services will have to pay $7.99 per month to rent one DVD plus an added $7.99 for unlimited streaming, for a total of $15.98 a month. That’s an increase of 60 percent. The new pricing begins immediately for new customers. Old-fashioned types who just want DVDs now have the option of an unlimited DVD-only plan that costs $7.99 for one at a time or $9.99 for two at a time. Good or bad news, depending on how you use Netflix.

Changes are afoot in Apple’s legal department. The tech giant’s chief patent lawyer Richard “Chip” Lutton Jr. plans to leave the company soon, sources close to the matter told Reuters. So who will Apple tap to oversee the many legal battles it’s fighting against rival smartphone makers around the world? Apple is mum on the matter, but BJ Watrous, a former deputy general counsel with Hewlett-Packard, is now listed as Apple’s chief intellectual property counsel on Watrous’s LinkedIn Web page.

Would Research in Motion be better off as two companies? That’s an idea that was floated on Tuesday by an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, who argued that the BlackBerry maker could spur innovation by splitting itself up into separate network and handset businesses. The Waterloo, Ontario-based firm has fallen behind rivals in recent months, leaving investors hungry for news about how the company intends to reverse its lackluster performance.

Tech wrap: Apple vs HTC, round two

Apple has kicked its intellectual property dispute with Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC up a notch. The company filed a new complaint against HTC with a U.S. trade panel over some of its portable electronic devices and software, according to the panel’s website.  Apple filed a similar action against the company last year and could be trying to strengthen the case against its rival by adding new patents to its claim this time around, notes AllThingD’s John Paczkowski. “It’s another broad warning to the industry,” he writes.“If you’re bringing a new smartphone to market, you had better make damn sure it doesn’t infringe on Apple’s IP.”

The first e-reader to fully integrate Google’s eBooks platform into its design goes on sale exclusively at Target stores across the U.S. next weekend, Google said in a blog post.  The iRiver Story HD lets users buy and read e-books from the service over Wi-Fi and store their personal collections in the cloud. Google offers more than 3 million free titles for download through its eBooks service, with hundreds of thousands more for sale.

LinkedIn, the online networking website aimed at professionals, surpassed Myspace in June to become the second-most popular social network in the United States, according to a new survey from comScore. Just how much more popular is LinkedIn now? According to the figures, LinkedIn had 33.9 million unique visitors in June, a jump of about a half a million from May. Myspace, on the other hand, saw its traffic decline to 33.5 million American visitors, a drop of about 1.4 million users from the previous month.