Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

Apple and Microsoft have not had a lot of good press lately, but in spite of the issues both companies have faced, their quarterly reports released this week showed two companies that are still extremely profitable.

[B]Microsoft Comes Through
[/B]
In spite of [URL="http://www.daniweb.com/news/story295211.html"]giving up on the Kin[/URL] and a mobile strategy that seemed in shambles, Microsoft rode the wave of its old chestnuts, Windows and Office, to a very profitable quarter. They reported a "record fourth-quarter revenue of $16.04 billion for the quarter ended June 30, 2010, a 22% increase from the same period of the prior year." Not too shabby all things considered, but there is an underlying issue there.

You have to wonder how long they can continue to depend on Windows and Office. Sure, XBox did OK and Bing helped, but it was really their old standards that won the day. As more free and low-cost services including Google, crowd out these expensive options, Windows and Office can't sustain the company forever. While [URL="http://www.microsoft.com/msft/earnings/fy10/earn_rel_q4_10.mspx"]the press release[/URL] made noise about their cloud strategy and the hype machine is in full gear for the upcoming release of Windows 7 Mobile in the Fall, Microsoft still leans heavily on its standard bearers.

[B]Apple Does Even Better[/B]

As good as Microsoft's numbers were, Apple's were even better. When you consider the [URL="http://www.daniweb.com/news/story294002.html"]issues it had with the iPhone 4 antenna[/URL], you would think perhaps they were faltering a bit, but you would be wrong. [URL="http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2010/07/20results.html"]According to numbers released by Apple[/URL] this ...

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

Last week's Economist (July 16-20, 2010 issue) has an [URL="http://media.economist.com/node/16539424"]interesting story[/URL] on three large internet companies in Russia, China and Africa. That these three emerging regions have growing internet powers is interesting in itself, but there was something else in the story that caught my eye. Russian Internet giant, [URL="http://www.dst-global.com/"]DST[/URL] purchased a stake in Facebook last year, beating the typical American venture capital firms to the punch.

[B]Russian Aggression[/B]

According to the article, DST took advantage of being cash rich at a time when US financiers were sitting back afraid to act because of the horrible recession gripping the world at the time.

While even highly valued companies like Facebook struggled to find capital, DST decided to pounce. Possessing both the money and the ability to act quickly and make fast decisions, they swooped in and made an offer that was difficult for Facebook to refuse.

[B]Show me the Money[/B]

Like many internet startups, employees are stock rich, but cash poor because Facebook has not yet gone public. So DST made a particularly attractive offer. They bought the stock directly from employees, providing them with cash they so desperately wanted. According to the article, this was like an "IPO substitute" for Facebook employees. They invested a reported $800 million US, which translated into a 10 percent stake in the company. DST was rewarded handsomely when another company, Elevation Partners, recently estimated Facebook's value to be a whopping $23 billion, which if true, means DST has already tripled its initial investment ...

Techwriter10 42

Probably a different story in Paris where there is likely much more reliable networks than where I'm staying in the country operating via a satellite, but I admit that mine is just one experience and others may have more positive results than I did.

Thanks for the comment.

Ron

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

I'm on vacation this week and the airlines lost my luggage; I mean they lost them big time. It took more than a week of cajoling before I finally got my my suitcase from Aer Lingus. I'm staying in France and can't use my iPhone here without incurring huge charges, so I've turned to the Skype app to call the airline and found it failed miserably.

I remember reading where someone suggested that you could save lots of minutes (or even do without a network) if you had Skype on your iPhone. There were even suggestions that AT&T didn't want Apple to allow a Skype app precisely for this reason. I'm here to tell you that AT&T has nothing to fear.

[B]Wireless Network Wonkiness[/B]

First of all you need to rely on the WiFi network. Where I'm staying in the country, it's not great, but the satellite service isn't terrible either. Still my conversations went something like this:

Me: Hello

Aer Lingus employee: Hello?

Me: Hello?

Aer Lingus employee: Hello?

You get the idea. I could hear him, but he couldn't hear me. It was as frustrating as the luggage odyssey itself. I learned if I went into the room with the wireless router I had a fairly strong and consistent signal, but that was only part of the problem.

[B]Skype Network Inconsistencies[/B]

Not only did I have to deal with my wireless network, I had to deal with Skype's and would get messages that the network was having issues. ...

Techwriter10 42

Hi Lubor:
I'm not a big Business Insider fan either, but those quotes were rather juicy, you have to admit.

I was looking at this from the angle of two big companies facing a bunch of negative reports, so from that perspective, Google didn't exactly fit.

But it seems that Google is doing quite alright for itself. Still Google and Microsoft make an OS that appears on many phones and have basically both failed when they tried to sell branded phones. Apple only sells its own phone. So it's tough to compare them on that level.

Android is going to grab a piece of the mobile market, there is little doubt about that, but what's not clear is at whose expense. I think so long as Apple deals with its PR problems in a timely manner, it will be fine and there is plenty of room for both Google and Apple (and even Microsoft). The question is will Microsoft recover with the Win 7 Mobile phone release later this year.

The fact is they better hit a homerun to stay in the game (and even that might not be enough).

Thanks for the comment.

Ron

Techwriter10 42

Hey GT212:
Thanks for sharing your experience and the good information. Always good to get first-hand views. I saw the case today too that everyone is complaining about paying $29 for and I thought it was a really nice case actually.

So ya, your mileage may vary and it's worth keeping that in mind.

Thanks for the great comment.

Ron

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

Microsoft and Apple haven't had a great time of it recently with mobile consumers. For Microsoft, the market roundly rejected the Kin, which just about anyone who follows the cell phone market knew would happen. Meanwhile, Apple is taking it on the chin about how they are handling the iPhone 4 antenna debacle and there is clearly growing discontent among consumers.

The big difference here, however is the sales picture. Apple, for whatever reason, continues to live off its reputation and sell iPhones hand over fist, while Microsoft's mobile strategy continues to flounder.

[B]Microsoft's Mobile Woes Continue[/B]

Microsoft has pretty much screwed up its entire mobile strategy, something that even [URL="http://video.allthingsd.com/video/d8-video-steve-ballmer-on-microsoft-mobile-biz/581B9949-6BDB-4808-A406-5FCB6052C5A9"]Steve Ballmer admitted as much[/URL] on video at the D8 conference recently. He said they missed a whole development cycle. He's right and the Kin only made the situation worse. A report in[URL="http://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-rank-and-file-felt-embarassment-all-over-campus-from-kin-failure-2010-7"] today's Business Insider[/URL] quotes one present and former mobile Microsoft employee after another stating how poorly Microsoft handled the Kin launch. Here's a taste:

[QUOTE]"I for one can't believe that no one has been axed over the Kin debacle. Billions of dollars were wasted, not to mention all of the smart people over there who spent 3 years with no return on the investment."[/QUOTE]

Indeed, Microsoft should be embarrassed and heads should be rolling, perhaps starting with the CEO (as my colleague Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols [URL="http://blogs.computerworld.com/five_reasons_to_fire_ballmer"]recently suggested[/URL] in his Computerworld blog).

[B]Apple's More Together, But Losing Consumer Confidence[/B]

Apple continues to sell phones, but it's clear that ...

Techwriter10 42

No, but I'll have to add it my growing list of must-read books. :)

Thanks,
Ron

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

In a recent [URL="http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/jul/05/clay-shirky-internet-television-newspapers"]interview[/URL] with The Guardian, [I][URL="http://www.amazon.com/Cognitive-Surplus-Creativity-Generosity-Connected/dp/1594202532"]Cognitive Surplus[/URL][/I] author, professor and thinker [URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clay_Shirky"]Clay Shirky[/URL] talked about the transformative power of social media to put the power to produce content in the hands of every individual. While he acknowledged that sometimes this power produced what is essentially trash, that didn't matter because for every bit of trash was a group of people coming together to help solve a problem, whether that's simply answering a query on Facebook or Twitter or producing a program to help automatically sort and categorize blog comments.

This got me thinking that this social largesse was not unlike the open source movement. When left to their own devices people will help for free for the sake of helping and the social web helps drive this desire.

[B]LOLcats and Social Change[/B]

Two years ago in [URL="http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_cognitive_surplus_will_change_the_world.html"]this TED video[/URL] (well worth taking the time to watch) in which he explained the notion of "cognitive surplus," Shirky talked about the two ends of the social internet spectrum. On one hand, you had [URL="http://icanhascheezburger.com/"]LOLcats[/URL], the collection of cute cat photos. On the other you had a couple of programmers coming together to help a blogger in Kenya automate the process of gathering information from a variety of sources, aggregating it and displaying it on a map. Shirky tells how in 72 hours they stood up this site, [URL="http://www.ushahidi.com/"]Ushahidi[/URL] (which according to Shirky means "witness" or "testimony" in Swahili) and helped a blogger in the middle of a political crisis solve ...

Techwriter10 42

I don't agree that someone has to get hurt. The customer will get hurt if the purchasing company is making the purchase for the purpose of moth-balling the products. In the case YouTube, 3-Com, VMware and Skype, that didn't happen. The brands live on and the purchasing companies continue to improve and support the original products (although in the case of Skype and YouTube we are talking about free services; but they have continued to upgrade and support them). We just don't know about MySQL or Palm because it's simply too soon to say.

I have seen cases where it does play out as you describe and the customers don't get a good deal, but it doesn't have to be that way. Often, the company that's purchased has to deal with layoffs because of redundancies between the two companies, but that's a different story.

Good piece.

Ron

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

Last week was a tough week for Apple followers as we were bombarded with a slew of stories that sounded dire, but upon further examination maybe weren’t so bad (or maybe they were).

Confused yet? You’re not alone. Let’s look at three stories from last week that illustrate this issue.

[B]The iPhone 4 Antenna Issue[/B]

I wrote about this issue on Friday in [URL="http://www.daniweb.com/news/story294002.html"]Apple iPhone 4 Explanation Letter Borders on Surreal[/URL]. We had people saying [URL="http://www.pcworld.com/article/200206/apple_cant_wish_away_iphone_4_antenna_woes.html"]there was a real issue[/URL]. We had [URL="http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2010/07/02appleletter.html"]Apple’s convoluted letter of explanation[/URL] that it was an issue, but not really. We had[URL="http://www.pcworld.com/article/200453/antenna_expert_apple_is_right_iphone_4_signal_woes_overblown.html"] antenna experts telling us Apple was right[/URL] and [URL="http://blogs.consumerreports.org/electronics/2010/07/apple-iphone-4-antenna-problems-dropped-calls-att-signals-bars-os-software-bugs-glitches-os-os4-iphone4-reception-problems-in.html"]Consumer Reports[/URL] telling us the problem wasn’t so bad.

I had one DaniWeb community member tell me he tried squeezing his BlackBerry and the bars did drop. That prompted me to look at how I held my iPhone 3G. In most cases I held it fairly loosely, even when talking on the phone, but even when I tried to squeeze it (which seemed silly), I had no bars drop.

Who's right? It’s hard to sort through all of this as a consumer that’s for sure.

[B]The Steve Jobs email[/B]

Then there was the story of the [URL="http://www.boygeniusreport.com/2010/07/01/exclusive-conversation-with-steve-jobs-on-the-iphone-4-antenna-problems/"]Steve Jobs email[/URL]. Boy Genius first reported of a supposed email from Steve Jobs, in which he stated, “Relax it’s just a phone, or words to that effect. Then we had [URL="http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2010/07/01/apple-pr-steve-jobs-iphone-4-conversation-is-a-fake/"]Apple public relations [/URL] releasing a statement it was a hoax, then we had a slew of condemnations ...

Techwriter10 42

David,
It's true that TiVo did achieve this to some degree, but not to the full extent that I'm thinking about and certainly not to mass market delivery. What I'm thinking about here is not just Hulu and Netflix and Amazon downloads, but also accessing other services online like Facebook and eBay and many others. I wasn't suggesting that were blazing new trails, only that nobody has delivered it to the masses yet.

Ron

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

Make no mistake, Apple and Google both want to be the gateway to your TV. Back in May, Google [URL="http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/announcing-google-tv-tv-meets-web-web.html"]officially announced[/URL] its TV initiative. Just yesterday came rumors in [URL="http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/02/apple-hopes-to-re-enter-the-living-room/"]this New York Times blog post[/URL] that Apple is working to revamp its failed Apple TV.

Google and Apple, like many folks recognize that the long awaited merging of our PCs and our TVs has to come eventually, and there is definitely a growing sense that the joining could be finally near. That Google and Apple are fighting for our attention in this area proves it must be a worthwhile area to exploit.

[B]Look at the PS3[/B]

Those of you who have PS3s have recognized this power for some time. When my son connects his game system to the TV, he can access the internet and get services like Netflix, which we can’t get on our TV without connecting the PC to do it. Everyone recognizes that it will be a heck of a lot easier if you can access popular services directly from your TV, and that’s exactly what Google and Apple are attempting to do.

[B]It’s All About Ads[/B]

Why are they so hot to do this? Well it’s probably another ad selling channel. Google of course has been famously in advertising for many years. You could say it’s more of an ad selling company than a search one, but it could use some of the Google services like search to help us online. Imagine, for instance being able ...

Techwriter10 42

Alex,
My understanding is that they don't have multitasking on previous iPhones because they don't have the processing power to deal with it and it will kill the battery too quickly. The iPhone is an amazing computing device. You're probably right that Apple manipulates the upgrade path to some extent, but that's not necessarily sinister, it's just business.

It's not as though they are forcing you to upgrade just for multi-tasking. There are multiple other reasons including the improved display, improved battery life, faster processer, 5 mpixel camera, HD Video, Facetime, front and back camera, flash for the camera, telephoto zoom for the camera.... and so forth. They give you a lot of bang in the upgrade for the buck.

But I get your point. I just don't see that there's anything wrong with it.

Thanks for your comments. I welcome push back.

Ron

Techwriter10 42

Hey Tiger:
Thanks for sharing your experiment. I guess it's just not a real issue for most people unless you're feeling really tense that day and are gripping the phone so hard, it makes it happen.

I was having a little fun with that aspect of the letter, but I still think it's a ridiculous response that deserved ridicule.

There's plenty of room for multiple articles on a subject from multiple points of view.

Always great to hear from you.

Ron

Techwriter10 42

I'm not sure who your'e talking to Alex, but this is the first real problem I recall with iPhone. I've had my iPhone 3G for 2 years and I could use it for much longer. It' s not obsolete. It's just evolved as all phones do. Look at the Droid and now the Droid X as an example. All companies, whether they're cars or handbags come out with new models on a yearly basis. That's what businesses do. If you want the latest technology (or the latest fashion or model or whatever), you fork it over. If you don't care you hold onto the old one. It's not about fooling people, in my view. People can buy or not buy as they see fit.

Thanks for the comment.

Ron

Techwriter10 42

Yup I've read that. My link a couple of comments up references that post as a matter of fact. It's interesting that you think I'm an "Android" fan boy because I have the audacity to criticize Apple when they are really in an indefensible position on this one.

Fact is, I'm typing this post on my Mac Book Pro, I own an iPhone 3G and an iPad. I'm a big fan of Apple products, but that doesn't mean that they are a perfect company or they get a free ride when they do something incredibly stupid.

Imagine for a second that Microsoft came out with a similar problem. Do you think for a moment people would be suggesting that Android fan boys are simply trying to "jump all over Microsoft?"

Apple made an error here. Let's be clear about that. The antenna is actually a real problem. The letter was a very clumsy attempt to deal with that problem.

Do you expect Apple to just get a free pass when they release products with issues?

I can't accept that, and I see it as my job to write about it when they release products with issues.

Thanks for the comment.

Ron

Techwriter10 42

Indeed. Sounds like a fair way to go. Hope you enjoy the weekend and thanks again for all of your comments. I enjoy the conversation and debate.

Regards,
Ron

Techwriter10 42

I can't disagree that mine was a bit of a rant, but I don't think I was wrong about it either. I have been querying my social networks about actual experience with the iPhone 4 and people are reporting they do have this problem (and have said things like "I was holding it wrong.") There shouldn't be a right or wrong way to hold a phone. If the design is flawed, they should have picked that up in testing.

Does it affect everyone? Probably not, but it affects enough people that it's a very real issue for Apple, and i don't think it was wrong to call them on their silly response.

Thanks for all of your comments.

Ron

Techwriter10 42

I like this article, which covers the research comprehensively:
[url]http://ow.ly/25XoR[/url]

Ron

Techwriter10 42

GaryREM:
If my phone says I have 4 or 5 bars and I actually have 2, that's not a slight problem, that's a dramatic problem.

Thanks for your comment.
Ron

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

Apple released [URL="http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2010/07/02appleletter.html"]a letter[/URL] this morning explaining its infamous iPhone 4 reception issues. I encourage you to read it and then come back. The letter is so bizarre to me I thought at first it was joke or a hoax like Steve Jobs' [URL="http://venturebeat.com/2010/07/01/steve-jobs-calm-down-email-is-a-hoax-says-apple/"]"Relax, It's a Only a Phone email[/URL]." I clicked the Home page to make sure, I was actually on the Apple web site. As far as I can tell, this is really their explanation. In the words of [URL="http://www.hulu.com/watch/13828/saturday-night-live-really-with-seth-and-amy"]Seth and Amy on SNL news[/URL]: Really Apple?! This is a serious "Really!?!" moment because if this is the best they can come up with, it's a joke.

[B]Don't Squeeze that Phone[/B]

First of all, Apple tells us that when you squeeze any phone too tightly, you lose reception. Really Apple?! I honestly hadn't noticed that, ever, and I'm guessing you are going to have a really hard time convincing the phone buying public that phone squeezing is really a universal problem.

[B]It's The Formula, Doncha Know[/B]

So there's the squeezing issue of course because we are all acutely aware of the famous phone squeezing-signal issue. (Isn't there a Wikipedia entry about it?) But there's more. Oh, yes. It gets better. An explanation that Apple calls "both simple and surprising." I guess that's one of looking at it.

It seems that Apple has been using the wrong "formula" to calculate the number of bars we are seeing on the iPhone, so if you're seeing 4, you might only have ...

Techwriter10 42

Yup, you may notice I referenced that IBM story in my opening paragraph. :-)

You're right there is no such thing as a perfect browser, and competition is always positive. I'm rooting for Firefox, believe me, but they really need to do a better job of managing memory. I can just watch the amount go up while I'm using it.

Thanks for the conversation.

Ron

Techwriter10 42

Yup, you may notice I referenced that IBM story in my opening paragraph. :-)

You're right there is no such thing as a perfect browser, and competition is always positive. I'm rooting for Firefox, believe me, but they really need to do a better job or managing memory. I can just watch the amount go up while I'm using it.

Thanks for the conversation.

Ron

Techwriter10 42

newmasket
That may be the case that world would be better as you say, but the news wasn't that Chrome gained even though you're right that they did, the news was that Microsoft gained and Firefox lost a lot of ground over a three month period.

Thanks for commenting.

Ron

Techwriter10 42

DaniWeb Zoomer:
What's interesting is that according to statistics I saw is that the majority of iPhone 4 buyers were like you, existing customers. What I wonder is how long Apple can continue to live on that upgrade path without incorporating new buyers.

I think you're right, by the way, and Apple will probably weather this storm, but it does at least plant a seed of doubt in the buying pubic and that's certainly unusual where this company is concerned.

Thanks for the comment.

Ron

Techwriter10 42

Ndoom:
Probably would have been wiser never to have released it. :-)

Thanks for your comment.
Ron

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

Microsoft got some good news this week when new data showed they had gained market share on rivals Firefox and Chrome last month. It might very well be a temporary data glitch, especially when news came out today that [URL="http://www.networkworld.com/news/2010/070110-ibm-employees-use-firefox.html?source=NWWNLE_nlt_daily_pm_2010-07-01"]IBM was recommending that its 40,000 employees use Firefox[/URL] instead of Internet Explorer. For today, however, Microsoft was very happy for the change, even if it's not quite as great as the headlines (or Microsoft) would suggest.

[B]A Closer Look at the Data[/B]

According to data from a site called [URL="http://www.netmarketshare.com/browser-market-share.aspx?qprid=1"]Net Marketshare[/URL], dating back to August 2009, IE has been steadily losing market share.

[LIST]
[]They had a high of 66.97% in August, 2009
[
]It dropped steadily every month until May when it had dipped down from that high all the way to 59.75%
[*]Then in June it popped up again to 60.32%.
[/LIST]

[B]Microsoft is Happy Enough[/B]

Microsoft certainly noticed. [URL="http://windowsteamblog.com/ie/b/ie/archive/2010/07/01/net-applications-share-update-for-june.aspx"]In a blog post [/URL]on their Exploring IE blog, Ryan Gavin of Microsoft wrote:

[QUOTE]"Today, Net Applications released their usage share numbers for June and the positive news continues. In June, Net Applications shows overall Internet Explorer share growing by 0.57% worldwide." [/QUOTE]

Gavin admitted they don't typically judge the business on such small time samples, but they still couldn't help but point it out, and who can blame them? It's the first good browser market share news in 10 months.

[B]Firefox Takes a Hit[/B]

Firefox, on the other hand, which had been mostly on an upward trend for about ...

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

Apple had a great week last week when it launched the iPhone 4 to much fanfare. [URL="http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jun/29/business/la-fi-iphone-sales-20100629"]1.7 million units[/URL] reportedly flew out the door in the first three days alone setting sales records. People [URL="http://www.pcworld.com/article/199761/hundreds_wait_in_line_as_iphone_4_goes_on_sale.html"]waited in long lines[/URL]; reportedly longer lines than for the iPad debut or the iPhone 3G last year, but the glow was only momentary.

The initial good sales news was quickly followed by [URL="http://www.informationweek.com/news/hardware/handheld/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=225701876"]reports of supply issues[/URL], then came the [URL="http://www.pcworld.com/article/200206/apple_cant_wish_away_iphone_4_antenna_woes.html"]antenna news[/URL]--that you could get lousy reception if you didn't hold it correctly. Just the other day came rumors of a possible[URL="http://mashable.com/2010/06/29/verizon-iphone-january/"] Verizon iPhone[/URL] at the beginning of next year, which could mean some potential customers will hold off until then (assuming it's true, which isn't clear).

It got me thinking that when you look at all of these factors, could this eventually have an affect on sales after that initial burst last week?

[B]Waiting Leaves Time For Thinking Instead of Buying[/B]

One thing Apple should absolutely be aware of is that they need to strike while the market is hot. The company worked extremely hard to rev up demand, and people got very excited coming out [URL="http://www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/wwdc10/index.html"]the Keynote address by Steve Jobs at WWDC[/URL] earlier this month. The fact they sold 1.5 million units on the first day illustrates this, but what about those who didn't get one, but wanted one, and are hearing all these negatives now? Will Apple come to regret the supply issues that gave people time to think about it? What ...

Techwriter10 42

Worth noting that Microsoft canceled the Kin today.

[url]http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38026086/ns/technology_and_science-wireless/[/url]