We all know that the PC industry is in dire straits at the moment, which has naturally led to speculation that Microsoft could also soon find itself in big trouble. But while Microsoft’s struggles to establish itself in the mobile consumer device market are well-documented, the company still has an ace up its sleeve in the form of enterprise cloud services. Barron’s points us to a new note from UBS analyst Brent Thill, who makes the case that Microsoft cloud offerings such as Office 365 and SkyDrive have the potential to give the company a more predictable revenue stream and make the company more like IBM, which for years has raked in high earnings despite being out of the consumer electronics spotlight. More →
Yahoo turned some heads this week when it announced that it was paying $1.1 billion to buy blogging platform Tumblr, but this isn’t the first time it has spent at least $1 billion to acquire another company. As NPR points out, Yahoo has bought several companies over the past 15 years that it has valued at $1 billion or higher, including most famously its $3.7 billion acquisition of GeoCities in 1999. Other failed Yahoo acquisitions include the $5.7 billion it paid for multimedia website Broadcast.com and the $1.63 billion it paid for search advertising pioneer Overture. In fact, all of these acquisitions make the $30 million that Yahoo paid for Flickr back in 2005 seem like a relative success story, since Flickr is still an operational service that the company is still pouring resources into. That said, when Flickr is seen as the best-case scenario for a Yahoo acquisition, it’s easy to see why Tumblr users are nervous.
It’s taken a while, but Microsoft’s big plan for conquering consumers’ living rooms is now finally coming together. For years, major tech companies have been obsessed with getting their software and applications onto television screens and have mostly employed a series of set-top boxes that have done little to spark consumer interest. But unlike Apple and Google, Microsoft has always had a secret weapon that it’s been waiting to deploy to make sure that its software becomes entrenched on users’ television sets: Namely, the Xbox. More →
We all know that Apple shares have been taking a beating over the past several months but is that really a reflection of a drop in the company’s underlying value as a brand? The latest brand value rankings from MarketingWeek suggest that the answer is “no,” since the publication found that Apple’s brand value has actually increased year-over-year and that it remains the best in the world. MarketingWeek says that a company’s brand value is calculated by multiplying its earnings by the “brand contribution” percentage that “is determined by the proportion of financial value that is generated by the brand’s ability to create loyalty.” More →
Microsoft on Tuesday finally took the wraps off its highly anticipated Xbox One, the successor to its Xbox 360 gaming console that will launch in time for the holidays this year. Earlier rumors have indicated that the new console will run on the “core” version of Windows 8 and will feature an 8-core 1.6GHz processor, 8GB of RAM, an 800MHz graphics processor, a 50GB 6x Blu-ray Disc drive and Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, but Microsoft finally put all of the speculation to bed on Tuesday during its big Xbox event. More →
It’s safe to say that Apple CEO Tim Cook won’t be having much fun on Tuesday when he testifies before the Senate about his company’s alleged tax dodging practices. The Hill reports that a new report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has found that Apple has allegedly “funneled money through three offshore companies to dodge billions in taxes,” which some senators say highlights major holes in U.S. tax law. More →
Major Internet service providers in the United States have long taken a beating in customer satisfaction surveys, but the latest survey from the American Customer Satisfaction Index has the grimmest news yet for American ISPs: They now have the lowest customer satisfaction ranking of any industry in America, worse than even airlines, health insurance companies and gas stations. The survey shows that American consumers are particularly unhappy with ISPs’ call center service, with the variety of Internet plans they offer and with their quality of online video streaming. More →
When Google unveiled its new Hangouts service last week, keen observers noted that there was a glaring omission in the company’s effort to cobble together all its messaging services onto one platform: Google Voice. But a new Google+ post from Google director of real-time communications Nikhyl Singhal suggests that Hangouts users won’t have to wait for Voice much longer. Specifically, Singhal says that while “today’s version of Hangouts doesn’t yet support outbound calls on the web and in the Chrome extension,” it will “support inbound calls to your Google Voice number.” He then adds that the company is “working hard on supporting both, and outbound/inbound calls will soon be available.” Singhal also says that Hangouts are “the future of Google Voice,” so it’s pretty clear that Google is placing all of its messaging service chips onto Hangouts for the foreseeable future.
Is Samsung’s Galaxy S4 really “a precious stone glittering in the dark” or is it just an overrated slab of plastic with a nice display? Consumer Reports weighed in on this important controversy on Monday and declared that the Galaxy S4 really does live up to the hype and should now be considered the best smartphone in the world. Overall Consumer Reports found that “the S4 delivered top-notch performance in the most critical areas of our tests, including the camera,” and was particularly impressed with the device’s display that it said “is sensitive enough to use with gloves on — handy during cold weather.” The publication also praised the device’s multitasking capabilities and said that watching videos while checking email on the Galaxy S4 was a snap. Needless to say, Samsung will likely be pleased with such a high-profile endorsement, although the company would still likely sell record numbers of the Galaxy S4 even if Consumer Reports had panned the device.
We’ve known for a while that Samsung wants to significantly decrease its dependence on Google and its Android platform, and now The Wall Street Journal reports that the company “will be hosting a global competition to lure developers to create apps for its Galaxy smartphones” that will pay 10 winners a combined $800,000 in prize money. The Journal says that Samsung is “particularly looking for apps that can be coordinated with” its new Group Play feature that debuted on the Galaxy S4 and that lets users quickly zap music, photos and other content via NFC from one phone to another. Samsung’s strategy with the Galaxy S4 hasn’t just been to deliver improved specifications from earlier models but to add several new software features that the company thinks will help its devices stand out in a crowded Android market.
Samsung is staying true to its word and will soon bring new features from its Galaxy S4 smartphone to its older Galaxy S III. SamMobile has got hold of a leaked version of the Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean update for the Galaxy S III and has found that it will bring several Galaxy S4 features to the Galaxy S III, including the new version of S-Voice, a revamped settings UI that will feature a tabbed interface and the Galaxy S4′s new lock screen system. SamMobile says that Samsung will push out the Android 4.2.2 update to Galaxy S III owners starting in June. Samsung said earlier this year that any new features for the Galaxy S4 that aren’t reliant on hardware will also be brought to its other flagship smartphones such as its Galaxy Note line of phablets.
One of the most intriguing concepts for the future of the PC industry we’ve heard lately has been Dell’s Project Ophelia, a USB thumb drive-sized “computer-on-a-stick” that can plug into any monitor’s USB port to transform it into a makeshift computer capable of running multiple operating systems. PCWorld reports that an early version of Ophelia that will only run Android will ship out to developers starting in July and could ship out to consumers as soon as August. The first version of Ophelia “will have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities and is aimed at users who do most of their computing on the Web,” says PCWorld, which means that monitors using Ophelia will be more like Chromebooks than traditional PCs. More →
With Apple’s “iWatch” likely to release this year, it’s not surprising that we’re starting to hear rumors about components being cobbled together just before the company starts ramping up production of the device. Japanese blog Macotakara points us to a new report from Taiwanese publication Economic Times claiming that Apple is testing out 1.5-inch OLED displays produced by RITEK subsidiary RiTdisplay for its upcoming smartwatch. Macotakara notes that earlier rumors claimed the iWatch would have a 1.8-inch display, so it seems that Apple may be thinking of reducing the device’s size if it’s really giving 1.5-inch panels a long look.