With nearly two weeks gone in 2014, it looks like the tech
sector will see another eventful year. While some interesting
partnerships and products were announced at the Consumer
Electronics Show (CES) last week, more is sure to come at the
Mobile World Congress next month and Apple's WWDC soon after.
CES In a Nutshell
) shares recovered lost ground, helped by management statements
to the effect that its advertising revenues were nowhere near
what they could be. The decision to remove unwanted features like
Sponsored Stories also helped. Facebook continues to see a lot of
love from advertisers that are willing to pay more for ad slots
even as Facebook decides not to increase ad frequency.
) started off by announcing its Aviate acquisition, which
produces software that increases the intuitiveness of devices,
based on usage patterns of consumers. It also announced a number
of new products and advertising tools.
It made a huge push into content with offerings like
picture-rich "digital magazines" on a broad range of topics; a
news digest, which is basically an email alert comprising a
summary of the top nine news stories of the day; and Yahoo Smart
TV, which can send personalized recommendations from TV to online
It also simplified the ad buying process with new advertising
tools such as native ads, yahoo Audience Ads, Ad Manager, Ad
Manager Plus and Yahoo Ad Exchange. Management also mentioned
that Yahoo Stream Ads and Image Ads for mobile were actually
doing better than desktop ads.
) was also not to be outdone: the company introduced three new
technologies. The first was Jarvis, which is basically a pair of
smart ear pads that connect with a smartphone to answer natural
language questions. It also announced Edison, which is a circuit
board based on its Quark processor. The third was a beautifully
designed charging bowl with the ability to charge various devices
(including wearable devices) that are simply thrown into it.
Intel also said that it would be rebranding McAfee as Intel
Security and making it free for all mobile devices. But the
market largely discounted these positives and expressed
disappointment at its delays in the smartphone segment
(Merrifield). On the positive side, Intel-based tablets are
expected to gain traction this year.
) focused on the Internet of Things, and projected significant
cost savings in the next few years for governments, companies and
individuals based on their adoption of the concept.
), along with several other tech companies, formed an alliance
targeting the automotive market (see below).
The Automobile Is the New Computer
Or that is what technology companies would like it to be. Last
) announced its Open Automotive Alliance for the express purpose
of developing "a common platform that will allow automakers to
more easily bring cutting-edge technology to their drivers…and
passengers in a safe and scalable way", or in other words, to
encourage developers to build compelling aps for an
Google is less than a year behind
), which announced its automotive strategy at its WorldWide
Developers Conference in March last year. The list of Google
partners currently includes chipmaker NVIDIA and automakers
Honda, Audi, General Motors, and Hyundai, just slightly shorter
than the list of Apple's "iOS in the car" partners that includes
Honda, Mercedes, Nissan, Ferrari, Chevrolet, Kia, Hyundai, Volvo
Google's Open Automotive Alliance is reminiscent of its Open
Handset Alliance, which enabled it to come up behind Apple and
steal the leadership position in the fast-growing smartphone
market. Connected car is another upcoming market
(Marketsandmarkets.com forecasts a 41.2% CAGR from 2013 to 2018),
so this is another big opportunity for Google.
Microsoft CEO Search Continues as Mulally Says
Microsoft shares stumbled last week, as Ford's Mulally, the
favorite contender for the CEO position said that he would not be
joining the company. Microsoft has been saying for a while that
the list has been shortened, but we have had little other than
our surmises involving Satya Nadella, Tony Bates, Stephen Elop
and Mulally (now struck out) to go on.
But it now appears that the company will not be going for a
turnaround wiz, but will instead settle for a veteran
Microsofter. Shareholders would have liked new blood, but it
wouldn't really have changed things much. Because no matter who
comes next, Microsoft is already well on its way toward executing
its "devices and services strategy" (for better or worse).
Last 6 Months
Other stories you may have missed
Malvertising Hits Yahoo Ad Network
: Malvertising, malicious software that infects user computers
when they click on an ad, affected thousands of Yahoo users last
week. The company did not specify the number of people affected,
but did say that users in North America, Latin America and the
Asia/Pacific weren't affected.
PC Shipments Fall Again
Microsoft Acquires Parature
H-P's Claims About Autonomy Books Finds Support
: The U.S. Air Force found upon independent verification of
transactions regarding Autonomy that the latter had resorted to
accounting jugglery and fraudulent inflation of revenue and
) has had a hard time convincing shareholders that it was unaware
of these irregularities and in fact had to
pay dearly for the rich valuation
. On the positive side, the software has turned out to be highly
beneficial for the company's new approach to business.
Google's Privacy Battles to Continue
: French regulators slapped a $203,500 fine on Google for its
inability to provide details to users about the usage of their
private data. This follows a $900,000 euro fine by Spanish
regulators with similar penalties looming at other EU countries.
Google also lost an infrastructure contract with the Indian
government because of the Snowden episode.
But Google doesn't seem to have learned its lesson. It has now
merged Google+ technology with gmail such that a member of a
Google Circle can email another member even when he/she doesn't
know the email address. Not just that, Google robots are sending
automatic emails on behalf of members that are at times landing
them in trouble.
) Shares Take A Plunge
Amazon Discloses Some Vital Stats
: Online retailer Amazon announced last week that its third-party
sellers sold over a billion items in 2013, generating tens of
billions of dollars. Selles using its fulfillment services
business (Fulfillment by Amazon, or FBA) were up 65% during the
year. Analysts also estimate Amazon's growing position as an
apparel seller, all cemented by its Prime memberships, which are
now up to 20 million.
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