Tag Archives: microsoft

Sony Makes Brilliant Move

13 Jun
Sony Playstation

Sony made brilliant use of Xbox’s PR fumbles.
Image: Shutterstock

If you aren’t a gamer, you may not be aware of the recent waves in the gaming industry as the next generation of console development is rolling out.  It began with Microsoft’s announcement of the Xbox One in late May.  Microsoft has fumbled the promotion of the new console, not only upsetting the gaming community with its lackluster game development but with a feature that many game enthusiasts have long feared.  Not only will the system require an online connection to play, but will essentially render used or borrowed games useless without a significant fee to Xbox for a new verification code.  While Microsoft scrambled to clarify the online features and announce more game titles, the sour taste from the original announcement is still fresh in consumer minds.

Especially now that Sony has swiftly used the bad PR to its advantage with its announcement of the Playstation 4 console. Not only did Sony include a montage of new games during their announcement at a major electronics conference, but also practically bragged that it would be a hundred dollars less than the Xbox.  Two complete its One-Two punch to Microsoft, Sony made a twenty-two second instructional video on how to share used games (you hand your game over to your friend).

Sony stocks spiked right after the Xbox announcement, indicating that Xbox may have some trouble peddling its new wares to the market.  However, it ultimately seems that Xbox is targeting another market entirely.  The promotion for the device has heavily stressed its cloud computing capabilities, indicating the ability to streamline a wide variety of media consumption at record speeds.  Television and movies are more important to the Xbox One marketing strategy, and may attract buyers who are not as upset about not being able to buy used games.  Meanwhile, Playstation is executing a pro-gamer strategy perfectly, using everything from pricing to humor to rake in loyalty. It will be interesting to see which one pays off.

Roku Begins its Battle for Your TV Time

4 Jun
Roku capabilities include Netflix, Hulu, and even Angry Birds. Image: Amazon

Roku capabilities include Netflix, Hulu, and even Angry Birds.
Image: Amazon

In several rounds of fund raising efforts, media streaming device company Roku has managed to gather $60 million in investments from media giants Hearst and News Corp and British Sky Broadcasting.  Originally developed to stream Netflix movie and show selections to televisions, Roku has expanded their media selection to music and other media, incuding Hulu.com and internet gaming sensation Angry Birds.  Founder and CEO Anthony Wood says Roku intends to use the money to expand access to Roku services, such as partnering with companies to make “Roku Ready” televisions and other hardware devices.

The announcement comes hot on the tails of the Microsoft’s announcement to release the Xbox One, a revamped gaming console with a major focus on television viewing.  Both Roku and Xbox are setting themselves up to compete for precious consumer free time and leading the charge to move people away from cable and onto customizable online media.  Apparently Hearst and News Corp believe in their intention.  However, at a much lower price point, Roku may have the mass market appeal that Xbox will not.  The retail price for the Xbox One in set at $400, leaving it mostly to the enthusiastic gamer population to buy it.

Is the end of cable TV near? Image: AllMyFaves

Is the end of cable TV near?
Image: AllMyFaves

If Microsoft, Roku, Netflix and major media moguls push the entertainment industry to online streaming, one cannot help but wonder what is in store for cable companies and broadcasters.  It remains unclear whether organizations like NBC, ABC or CBS will do when they lose ground for consumer attention, especially since online streaming will likely have the ability to customize ads for the user, the way Google or Amazon can.  Will we see the death of television? It certainly looks possible.

1st Quarter Earnings Emerge

19 Apr
profit up

1st Quarter earnings results are (mostly) out.
Image: Shutterstock

The first quarter of 2013 has already come to an end, believe it or not. For the last month and for the coming weeks, business junkies and investors alike will see a surge of earnings reports and listen in on many conference calls as well. So who is slated to release earnings soon, and who has already announced profits?

GE is scheduled to show its figures on Friday, April 19th, with a webcast hosted by CEO and Chairman Jeff Inmelt, Vice Chairman and CFO Keith Sherin, and VP Investor Communications Trevor Schauenberg. The webcast will begin at 8:00 AM EDT.

Moody’s Corporation will share its first quarter results on Friday, May 3rd via teleconference. Ray McDaniel, President and CEO of Moody’s Corporation, and Linda Huber, Executive Vice President and CFO will host the teleconference, set to begin at 11:30 AM Eastern Time.

BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset manager, reported that its first quarter earnings were up about 10%. Assets are at their highest ever for the company, revenue is up, and the company heads into the second quarter looking strong.

Mattel, the massive toy corporation, reported a quadrupled net income due to increased sales of Disney Princess, American Girl and Monster High dolls. Unsurprisingly, the company saw a surge in share value, which rose more than four percent to its highest in fifteen years.

Volume leaders of NASDAQ include Intel, Sirius, PowerShares QQQ Trust, Microsoft, Yahoo, Micron, Apple, Cisco, Research in Motion, and Facebook.

Lessons from Google applicable to small businesses

12 Jun

Google is redefining big business in today’s technology world. While it sounds impossible, Google is one of the companies that some suspect may someday overpower Microsoft as the biggest name in the technology business. While most people believe that this puts Google as untouchable as Microsoft, it’s important to remember that Google was just a small garage business when it started. There are mantras in Google that can teach any business in any field some important lessons.

The first is to launch, and iterate. The most intelligent people in the world will never truly know how the public will react to a new innovation. For proof of this, one need only simply look at, say, Microsoft’s Zune. While the Zune had many useful features and was very user friendly, it simply did not take off with music lovers all over the world. There are many stories like this where a product has millions poured in to its development, but the public simply didn’t take. Google puts an imperfect product on the market, and constantly works to perfect it with the added benefit of consumer input. While failure, as another Mantra states, is inevitable, it’s important to look at it as a learning experience rather than a hurdle.

Google’s done a great job of putting innovation before their own pride, and have benefitted greatly for it. Anyone looking to be the next Microsoft or Google need only remember that failure isn’t the end for a company or product, it’s simply a new beginning.

Bing and Google’s new updates, and why it may change Microsoft’s fortunes

23 May

Bing, Microsoft’s pet project, has been at odds with Google for years. While it offers many of the same features, however, and even some original ones, thus far it has been unable to unseat the incumbent, even with music sampling and an attractive user interface. Microsoft’s new update may just be what Bing needs to settle the score, though.

One issue that no search engine has had progress has been the integration of social networks such as Facebook and Google plus. While both Bing and Google have made considerable efforts in incorporating the social aspect of the internet, neither has measured up to the expectations and needs of internet enthusiasts. Bing’s new, user friendly update may do what no other web service has before, and seamlessly integrate social networking and web surfing.

Google is also putting in time on a major overhaul update, and google circles is only one example of the miles of improvement they’ve made. Although their update is much more quiet within the company, they certainly are not out of the race. It will be exciting to see what this search engine giant has planned for the internet.

Microsoft’s envy of Google has been evident ever since they tried turning Bing in to a verb, like people now use Google. It’s possible Microsoft’s new update may change the balance of power just enough, perhaps enough that Microsoft can finally outstrip Google in one of the few arenas that Microsoft isn’t already the incumbent in.

Tilson’s lucky move puts T2 partners ahead 26%

17 May

Whitney Tilson’s recent financial decisions could easily be called gambling by a casual observer. For months now, Tilson, a well followed money manager, has stuck to a short sell order on Barnes and Noble, over what he felt was a crashing company. The Nook, so far a failing enterprise, got a second lease on life when Microsoft made its announcement of investing in the project.

Whitney Tilson’s company, T2 Partners, happily rode in on the coattails of the announcement when they performed a sharp about face, with a long strategy towards the rocketing company. The bit of impeccable timing helped add to the firm’s 26% increase in profits this year, well above the average index. Short selling Nokia, Tesla, and First Solar were also major contributors.

Not all of Tilson’s decisions strike gold, however. Netflix, the popular television and movie streaming service, is still hemorrhaging money, and Tilson’s continued conviction to the property is hard to defend when the company had a sharp 30% decline in April. He counters, explaining that over all this year it’s been one of the five biggest winners for the company, and is sure that it will continue to increase as time goes on.

Whether or not Barnes and Noble continues to power on ahead with the energy Nook has instilled in it remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt that there has been some big winners among the investors like Tilson who knew exactly when to switch the bets around.

Microsoft bails out Barnes and Noble

4 May

Thus far, Barnes and Noble’s Nook has made little headway in the tablet competition. With a heavily saturated market, e-book readers must really excel to get attention. Investors worried that Barnes and Noble’s tablet division wasn’t making the grade had their fears eased when Microsoft injected $300 million in Barnes and Noble for a minority stake in the company. Not only will the capital help the production of a new, competitive Nook, Barnes and Noble will also likely be releasing an app for the new Windows 8 tablet.

With Amazon’s highly popular kindle, and of course, Apple’s iPad, both Microsoft and Barnes and Noble have a fair amount of competition. Also, newcomers to the field such as Google aren’t making the highly competitive arena any easier. By joining forces, Microsoft and Barnes and Noble hope to do together what neither can do apart: Take first in the tablet and electronic book market.

Barnes and Noble’s market share price took off with the surprise announcement, skyrocketing to a three year high of $24.09. The jump was $10.41, a 76% increase from their prior cost. Microsoft’s stock also rose slightly less impressively to $32. An interesting fact on this deal is that Barnes and Noble’s tablet features technology from up and comer Google, working from their proprietary tablet operating system. This also means that when Microsoft releases its next volley of tablets, they’ll still be markedly different from Barnes and Noble’s offerings to the same field.