Techzone 360 Week in Review


Apple and Facebook both reported earnings this week. Following the earnings call that took place on Tuesday evening, the world was more or less flooded with a tale of two companies. By our count, roughly 50 percent of the tech and financial community thought Apple had done extremely well both in its fiscal Q4 2013 and for its full year. The other 50 percent were disappointed, as usual. We're not sure what Apple can possibly do to improve its numbers any more than it has given the world of competition in the marketplace. As long as the company delivers on innovation - and we believe it has with the Mac Pro, the iPad Air and the iPhone 5s - there isn't much more we can ask. Well, we can ask other vendors to stop competing!

Similarly, Facebook did enormously well in its fiscal Q3 2013 report, with both revenue and Income taking a significant positive spike based on Facebook's mobile efforts. No matter which way you slice it the results were outstanding. The company beat consensus analyst estimates on both revenue and net income, and when the numbers came out, the stock initially did a quick albeit short uptick. That said, the stock managed to slide a bit following its earnings call. Why? For the most part because Facebook noted that for the first time ever it had seen a decrease in active teenager participation. Well, although the CFO called the downtick here insignificant - and we agree with that - analysts delivered their usual knee-jerk reactions.

Speaking of knee jerk reactions, there is new legislation afoot in Washington to curb the NSA from collecting bulk phone metadata. Not everyone in Washington is on board with these curbs on the NSA's activities, with some suggesting that the benefit outweighs the negatives, which more often than not are nothing more than hype driven by media headlines looking for eyeballs. So then, knee jerk reaction or extremely important and needed legislation? Scope it out and let us know your thoughts.

And in trying to ascertain one's thoughts Facebook has been quite busy with experimenting with the idea of literally tracking in real time every user's cursor movements when they are on Facebook pages. Literally. Facebook now plans to uncover exactly where that curser is headed at all times, where it lands, where it sits, and what it means the user is doing and thinking about. It's all still a research project, and there is no mention of whether or not users will have the option to allow or not allowing tracking should it ever be rolled out. It's all, of course, in the name of every more precisely targeting Facebook users for advertisers and marketers.

Meanwhile, this week also saw Google unveil a large collection of new features for its Facebook alternate reality world, Google+. It appears that people who are very much interested in photography have taken a liking to Google+ and much of what Google SVP Vic Gundotra - who owns Google+ within Google - unveiled a host of photo-friendly new features. Oh, there was much more than that, including improvements to Hangouts, but the photography side, along with a bit of new video capability - definitely held center stage.

Also desiring to put things squarely on center stage this week was Netflix, which suggested that Netflix wants the ability to air new movies the very same day they become available in cinemas across its OTT service. It's hardly surprising of course for Netflix to want to do this. But what implications would such a move have for the entire movie value chain? Would a majority of movie theaters simply cease to exist? Would movie studios make more or less dollars?

As you ponder that, think about this as well - Michael Dell finally had his fondest wish come though this week as the shareholder approved leveraged buyout by Dell and his partner Silver Lake finally closed this week. That's right, Dell is now officially a former public company having finally become private. We have long held that Michael Dell was primarily responsible for sinking publically held Dell and we find it absurd that he was able to acquire the company at a hugely discounted price. But it is now a done deal. Will Dell blossom or go the way of BlackBerry? We ourselves expect the latter.

Tesla Motors this week announced that it has signed a huge - we mean huge - new battery deal with its partner Panasonic. Things are clearly going well for Tesla.. You may recall the recent Tesla fire investigation, wherein it was concluded that Tesla's battery package resulted from firefighters punching holes in the car's battery - a major mistake. In fact Tesla's safety features worked exceedingly well during the incident, with the battery suffering no ill effects in terms of reputation. So full speed ahead as Tesla prepares to get a great many Tesla vehicles on the road and into the hands of numerous enthusiastic drivers.

Well, that's a high end purchase of $70,000 or more. How about something a bit more affordable? What might $150 buy you this week? Well, Livescribe just announced the release of its new Livescribe 3 smart pen. This new smart pen is the quickest way to transfer your handwritten notes to a tablet or smartphone. It is an elegant looking pen that requires nothing more than a simple twist of a ring to begin writing. You can watch your text appear in the Livescribe+ mobile app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Hey, some of us still like to occasionally take pen to paper - here's the electronic version.

Have a great weekend!

Edited by Tony Rizzo
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TechZone360 Senior Editor

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