MediaFile

Tech wrap: Apple earnings lay waste to expectations

Apple’s fiscal first-quarter results blew past Wall Street expectations, fueled by robust holiday sales of its iPhones and iPads. Apple sold 37.04 million iPhones and 15.43 million iPad tablets, outpacing already heightened expectations for a strong holiday season. Sales of iPhones and iPads more than doubled from a year ago. Revenue leapt 73 percent to $46.33 billion, handily beating the average Wall Street analyst estimate of $38.91 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Apple reported a net profit of $13.06 billion, or $13.87 a share. Analysts had expected Apple to earn $10.16 per share.

“This is all about innovation, you have to out-innovate and delight the customer. Apple is the only company that knows how to do that. The guidance is phenomenal,” said Trip Chowdry at Global Equities Research.

Yahoo’s net revenue and profit fell slightly in the fourth quarter, the struggling Internet company’s last quarter before new Chief Executive Scott Thompson took the reins. Yahoo said it earned $296 million in net income in the three months ended Dec. 31, or 24 cents a share, compared with $312 million, or 24 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Yahoo, which fired former CEO Carol Bartz in September and appointed Thompson in January, projected that its net revenue in the first quarter would range between $1.025 billion and $1.105 billion.

A Dutch appeals court dismissed Apple’s appeal to have Samsung tablets banned in the Netherlands, confirming a Dutch lower court’s ruling. Apple and Samsung have been suing one another as the two technology giants jostle for the top spot in the booming smartphone and tablet markets.

Verizon may miss analyst expectations for 2012 earnings after posting disappointing fourth quarter results as it was hurt by hefty subsidies for the Apple’s iPhone. The company reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $2.02 billion, or 71 cents per share, compared with a profit of $2.64 billion, or 93 cents a share, a year earlier.

Google customizes search results with a smattering of your own content

Google rolled out a big change to its search engine on Tuesday that will allow people to find private items, such as online family photos, in their search results.

The new search feature, dubbed “Google Search, plus Your World,” essentially creates customized search results for different users, displaying publicly available Web content alongside any relevant personal online content.

Right now that means search results can feature private photos stored within Google’s Picasa service, as well as photos and posts from Google+, the company’s social network.

Is Scott Thompson the ‘back to basics’ guy Yahoo’s needed all along?

Yahoo has once again gone outside the company to breathe new life into the once-mighty Internet titan: Scott Thompson, most recently the president of eBay’s PayPal division, takes the helm on Monday, January 9th.

The four-month search ends the latest period of uncertainty for Yahoo, which has been struggling to regain its rightful place in the hearts and minds of the digerati — to say nothing of an indifferent Wall Street.

Investors have been sour on Yahoo for a while. The news of Thompson’s hiring was met with boos on NASDAQ, where Yahoo closed Wednesday at $15.78, down 51 cents. With a “fool me twice” attitude, potential will be no substitute for results. And given the spectacular flame out of former CEO Carol Bartz, investor patience must be wearing thin (if, that is, it still exists at all).

Tech wrap: PayPal darling takes Yahoo reigns

Yahoo named PayPal President Scott Thompson CEO as the company plows ahead with a strategic review in which discussions have included the possibility of being sold, taken private or broken up. Thompson, a former Visa payments software platform designer, joins the company five months after the firing of previous CEO Carol Bartz.

Thompson has been credited with driving growth at eBay’s online payments division. After the Yahoo appointment, some questioned if he could replicate his success as CEO of Yahoo. ”The risk element is that his background was in payments. And this is not a payment company, it’s a marketing, technology company,” said Lawrence Haverty, a fund manager with GAMCO investors, which owns Yahoo shares.

Eastman Kodak is working on a Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing that could be filed as soon as this month if it cannot sell its digital patents, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed sources. The newspaper said Kodak is in talks with lenders to secure about $1 billion in debtor-in possession financing to sustain it through any bankruptcy proceedings.

Tech wrap: RIM’s “BBM” trademark target of new legal challenge

Research In Motion, still smarting over having to change the name of its yet-to-come operating system, faces a similar trademark challenge to its popular instant-messaging service BlackBerry Messenger. The service, which allows BlackBerry users to send each other text and multimedia files and see when they are delivered and read, is widely known and even promoted by RIM via the shorthand BBM. That has proven an encumbrance to BBM Canada, which measures radio and television audience data and expects its day in a Federal Court against RIM by February.

RIM seems determined to keep using the BBM name and not to pay BBM anything. “We believe that BBM Canada is attempting to obtain trademark protection for the BBM acronym that is well beyond the narrow range of the services it provides and well beyond the scope of rights afforded by Canadian trademark law,” it said in an emailed statement.

Facebook, Google and Yahoo, and other internet firms, have been ordered by two Indian courts to remove material considered religiously offensive, the latest skirmish in a growing battle over website content in the world’s largest democracy. One court in the capital Delhi on Friday issued summons to 19 companies to stand trial for offences relating to distributing obscene material to minors, after being shown images it said were offensive to Hindus, Muslims and Christians, the PTI news agency said.

Tech wrap: Yahoo to cut Asian stake

Yahoo is considering a plan to unload most of its prized Asian assets in a complex deal valued at roughly $17 billion, sources familiar with the matter said.

The former Internet powerhouse’s increasing difficulty in competing with heavyweights such as Google and Facebook have forced it to explore proposals to revamp its business.

Weakening economies and falling prices of rival smartphones are hurting sales of Apple iPhones across Europe, data from research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech showed on Thursday.

Glimpses of Carol Bartz legacy in Yahoo’s rollout of expanded Facebook integration

Yahoo is expanding its Facebook “frictionless sharing” capabilities, letting users of its entertainment websites automatically broadcast their reading habits across Facebook’s social network.

Yahoo websites including Yahoo Movies, Yahoo TV and omg! – Yahoo’s celebrity gossip site – will now offer the type of Facebook integration that Yahoo introduced for Yahoo News earlier this year.

If you opt-in and choose to use the social sharing feature, every time you read an article on one of those websites, the name of the article and a link is instantly beamed into the newsfeed of all your Facebook friends.

Tech wrap: AT&T, Sprint admit using monitoring software

Phone makers RIM and Nokia denied installing on their mobile devices an app which can monitor what users are doing without their knowledge or consent while carriers AT&T and Sprint admitted to using it. The companies responded after a security researcher demonstrated in online videos how the “Carrier IQ” software worked on Google’s Android operating system and said that phones running RIM’s BlackBerry platform and Nokia’s Symbian OS also had the software installed. AT&T and Sprint said they use “Carrier IQ” to monitor network quality.

Blackstone Group and Bain Capital are preparing a bid for all of Yahoo with Asian partners in a deal that could value the Internet company at about $25 billion, a source familiar with the matter said. The potential bid by the consortium, which would include China’s Alibaba and Japan’s Softbank, has not yet been finalized, the source and two other people familiar with the matter said. E-commerce giant Alibaba, whose primary interest is in buying back a 40 percent stake owned by Yahoo, is keeping its options open and said it has not decided whether to participate in a bid for all of Yahoo.

Apple’s iPhone edged past major news events, celebrities and pop stars as the top searched term on the Web in 2011, according to Yahoo. The media company said the smartphone proved more popular than reality television celebrity Kim Kardashian, pop star Katy Perry and singer and actress Jennifer Lopez, who placed in the top five. Casey Anthony, the woman acquitted of the murder of her young daughter after a highly publicized trial, was No. 2.

Tech wrap: Microsoft allowed looks at Yahoo’s books

Microsoft has signed a confidentiality agreement with Yahoo, allowing the software giant to take a closer look at Yahoo’s business, according to a source familiar with the matter. Microsoft joins several private equity firms that are also poring over Yahoo’s books and operations, as they explore various options for striking a deal with the struggling Internet company. Microsoft’s signing of a nondisclosure agreement with Yahoo occurred “recently,” according to the source.

Shares of Groupon fell for a third day , sinking below the company’s initial public offering price of $20 less than three weeks after the daily deal company went public. Groupon raised more than $700 million in an IPO in early November, making it the biggest IPO by a U.S. Internet company since Google raised $1.7 billion in 2004. Analysts have cited concerns about increased competition, a greater availability of the company’s stock for short-selling, and a sharp reversal of market sentiment that is taking down more speculative companies. Groupon shares ended the day down 15.5 percent at $16.96.

Big-Box retailer Best Buy has no regrets about stocking Research In Motion’s PlayBook tablet, despite the product’s poor reception and subsequent sharp discounting. RIM says it has shipped 700,000 PlayBooks since its launch, a figure dwarfed by the millions of iPads Apple sells each quarter. “When a product is less successful, you do what you need to do, and you move to the next thing,” Best Buy’s president for the Americas, Mike Vitelli, told Reuters. “That kind of quick reaction by the suppliers, whether it is BlackBerry or HP with their product, I actually think that is good for consumers too,” Vitelli said.

AOL rocks the GOP vote

No doubt this is a politically divided nation; just go to a dinner party and see what happens when some half-in-the-bag neighbor brings up health care or gay marriage or taxes — or, apparently, absurdly, email providers.  If you can believe it, a new poll out today shows a major difference between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to picking their favorite email service.

It seems that Republican voters favor AOL over every other email provider, according to a survey of 1,184 registered voters by Poll Position. In fact, about 20 percent of them picked AOL as their preferred email provider, ahead of both Google (18.9 percent) and Yahoo (15.6 percent). Democrats took a completely opposite view, picking Google as their favorite (27.3 percent), followed by Yahoo (15.6 percent). And what about AOL? It didn’t fare well, with only 5 percent of Democrats picking it as the best service.

Why such a significant difference? Tough to know. I ran it past a number of people, and the best response I got, from a good friend and keen political observer, was this: “I would guess if you held age, location, and income steady, the differences would be negligible.”