April 20, 2013

Techzone 360 Week in Review


The tragedy that has taken place in Boston this week remains heavy on everyone's minds and we all remain deeply saddened by it. Fortunately all sorts of high tech capabilities - along with good old fashioned hands on investigative work and lots of video captures, allowed the FBI to quickly zero in on the right suspects. As the chase was unfolding, social media once again became the place to which many people turned in the face of a national crisis. There were thousands of tweets and Facebook comments related to the deadly attacks, and many simply sought refuge there. Our prayers go out to all who have been affected by the heartbreaking tragedy.

It is now that special time of the year, the first earnings report period of 2013, when we begin to see just how things are shaping up for many of the major high tech players, as well as the industry itself. This week brought us, among others, the likes of Verizon, Nokia, Yahoo, IBM, Microsoft and Google. Generally speaking they are all doing OK or at least as expected, with the exception of one possible surprise - IBM, whose numbers for Q1 2013 weren't quite up to speed. We're used to IBM always hitting the numbers - it gives us a sense of comfort, and over the years IBM's recent dynamic duo of CEOs - Lou Gerstner and Sam Palmisano have certainly become household names among us tech folk. IBM's newest CEO however, has yet to really score - the name is as yet ready for the shiny lights. In case you don't know it, it's Virginia Rometty. We hope this quarter was a mere anomaly for her.

Google on the other hand has started off its new fiscal year on a number of solid notes. The earnings call started off with CEO Larry Page providing an intro, and aside from the expected plaudits for the usual Google revenue generators, Page notably gave a shout out to Google's sales teams, and pointed specifically to Google Now and Google Voice, calling the former Google's unsung heroes and the latter, two exciting innovations. He's also quite excited by Google Glass. If only Yahoo could claim the same thing for its technologies and its financials - alas this quarter it was not to be.

And then there is Microsoft, the company that always delivers great numbers but hasn't see the light of day on its stock price in over a decade. Well, once again the stock isn't going anywhere, but in spite of all sorts of doom and gloom reports about the PC industry being in free fall the company still managed to deliver excellent numbers. Why is that? And why is the stock price still not going anywhere?

As we all know by now, a company that most certainly isn't going anywhere is Dell. Michael Dell had hoped to easily buy his way into taking Dell private for a song and a dance, and at first it seemed likely to happen. But then reality kicked in and some serious financial players got involved, including Carl Icahn and Blackstone Group. Blackstone was an interesting part of the action because it likely would have been the case that Michael Dell would have still forced himself into the CEO role if Blackstone were to pull off the M&A action. It was not to be - Blackstone got a closer look at what Mr. Dell has wrought over the last three years and opted to head for the hills instead.

Will Dell head the way of once proud Eastman Kodak? It certainly isn't a far-fetched thought. This week the once powerful company, which was completely overtaken by the emerging digital world - much as Dell has now been overtaken by the emerging mobile world - is now looking to sell $210 million dollars worth of assets to raise enough cash to work its way out of bankruptcy. We wish the company well.

Google has finally delivered on something that many of us iOS users have wanted for some time. The company has updated its YouTube iOS app to version 1.3, which now includes…let's have a drumroll…YouTube support for live streaming. That's definitely functionality that would have been nice for iPhone-toting music fans to have over the weekend, when the Coachella Festival live-streamed its performances to the Web-based version of YouTube.

Speaking of video, Facebook is planning on unveiling new video ads in early June. While each advertisement will cost only a mere $1 million, Facebook promises to make it all well worth the money with demographics the company will be able to tightly target ads to. Stay tuned - the coming video ad blitz is just a few short months away!

Finally, we'll wrap the week up by noting that the rumors that have been circulating about Twitter's upcoming music service, which was predicted to launch at last weekend's Coachella music festival, are no longer rumors. Twitter has indeed finally unveiled the launch of Twitter #music, a music service that will use Twitter activity to list popular songs, highlight emerging artists, and promote musicians' Twitter profiles.







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