Apple's Mega Sep 9 Event
Apple launched the anticipated phones, watch and payments system in typical style, accompanied with the same level of excitement as always. But the novelty this time around was not the devices as much as the NFC-based payments system, a technology Apple has shunned in the past. It appears that Apple has been busy teaming up with a host of companies to ensure its success. And the efforts just might bear fruit considering the changes being implemented by the government to check fraudulent payments.
Americans will now be issued credit cards incorporating chip-level security that will necessitate the changing of POS terminals. Stores that do not upgrade by Oct 15 will be required to pay higher transaction fees. The biggest deterrent to NFC adoption was the cost of replacing payment terminals, but now there's every chance that the new terminals will be NFC enabled.
Alibaba IPO Drives Yahoo Shares
The Alibaba IPO news is getting old, but Yahoo ( YHOO ) shares are scaling high as the big day draws near. The shares could fetch as much as $21.1 billion, dwarfing Facebook's $16 billion. If underwriters sell additional shares, the company would be able to raise $24 billion.
Also, unlike other tech IPOs, prices may be expected to hold up and gain further because the company is not a startup and has a roaring business in one of the fastest-growing economies of the world. The shares will trade on NYSE under the BABA symbol from Sep 19. Yahoo shares are a good way to buy into Alibaba's success, so shares are likely to remain buoyant at least until then.
Intel at IDF
Apple drew much of the spotlight last week, so the Intel Developer Forum was almost a quiet affair. But Intel went ahead and announced its products and projects so developers can prepare for a strong 2015. Intel assured that Skylake (Broadwell's successor) was on track for a second half 2015 launch, meaning that Intel maintains its tick-tock strategy (the tick year gets you a new chip-architecture and the tock year its shrink to the next process node). So Skylake is based on 14nm. Intel is already testing yields at 10nm and below.
Developer tools from the company included an Intel Reference Design for Android, which includes software engineering and support for tablet makers. Analytics for Wearables, or A-Wear includes software tools and Cloudera data management, all of which will be offered free of cost to Intel's wearables partners. Edison, the tiny computer with built-in wireless is now available. Intel also announced that AT&T ( T ) was the exclusive carrier for its MICA bracelet.
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Other stories you may have missed -
Amazon's New Office in the UK : Amazon ( AMZN ) will be joining other U.S. tech companies at the technology hub in east London called Silicon Roundabout. The company has agreed to rent 400,000 square feet of office spaceBrookfield Property Partners that could house 5,000 employees. Amazon currently has 1,700 employees in the UK, which seems to indicate major expansion plans in the region.
Google Fails to Convince the EC : The European Union's Competition Commission has yet again set aside Google's ( GOOGL ) proposal to settle an antitrust claim. Microsoft and other competitors have raised fresh issues and provided information that made them reconsider. Google's competitors have alleged that Google gives preference to Google-branded services so they appear at the top of the search page. This is especially true for product listings, which hurts them directly.
Microsoft Lets You "Delve" : Microsoft ( MSFT ) has started rolling out Office Delve for business customers using the Microsoft suite of products. You could think of this as an office assistant that quietly looks into OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, Yammer, etc to bring up relevant information when you need it. Delve is based on a machine learning system that determines relationships between people, content and activity while you're using Office.
Twitter Tests Buy Button : Twitter ( TWTR ) had an eventful week, first because it is going to be closely integrated into Apple's Watch and second because it is getting into ecommerce. The Watch is likely to be a big deal for Twitter since the screen is kind of ideal for the short messaging service. How the ads and now, Buy button is going to fit in is not clear yet, but for now it's happy to provide you the tool to make the most of offers served right inside the Twitter apps for Android and iOS.
Cisco Transforms Multi-Screen Video Processing : Cisco ( CSCO ) announced enhancements to its Videoscape™ Virtualized Video Processing (V2P) solution, which facilitate the scaling and delivery of video for multi-screen TV. The technology enables virtualization and consolidation of workflows for media companies and pay TV operators, potentially enabling them to generate revenue faster and at a lower cost.
eBay to Enable Bitcoin Payments : Last week after Apple's new payments system sent eBay ( EBAY ) shares down, the ecommerce company made a couple of interesting announcements. The first of these was related to Bitcoin payments, which PayPal will now enable through its recently-acquired Braintree arm, which has partnered with Coinbase, a third-party Bitcoin payment processor. What makes this important is the fact that payments made with this digital currency continue to gain popularity according to CoinDesk, a website tracking its use. CoinDesk says that approximately 63,000 businesses handle Bitcoins and have set up more than 5 million digital wallets to keep their holdings.
Google Acquires Polar : It appears that Google+ is not dead yet, because Google has just agreed to acquire a polling startup so its employees can focus on making Google+ a better place to be in. The Polar service will be shut down by 2015.
Google Invests in Solar Plant : Google has agreed to spend $145 million to help SunEdison convert an old oil field into a solar power plant that could provide electricity to 10,000 homes. Investment in renewable energy fetches tax breaks, so all the large tech companies tend to spend in the area.
Facebook Pulling Content Producers from YouTube : "People familiar with the matter" told the Wall Street Journal that Facebook ( FB ) was luring away YouTube's biggest content creators. The social network has already proved that it is a good place for people to reach a large audience very quickly. Facebook has already attracted some popular content from Walt Disney Co's ( DIS ) Maker Studios and Collective Digital Studio that is available through Facebook news feeds and on individual creator's pages. Facebook has the potential to erode YouTube's relevance which would be a big blow to Google.
Google in Japan : Google is tying up with popular Japanese game developers to help them market their products overseas. Google will be providing translation and analytics support to help these companies. Japan is one of the largest app markets in the world and Google takes 30% of the proceeds of apps sold through Google Play. So it makes sense for the company to increase its employee base in the country and tap the growth potential.
Google and Astrolabs Join Hands : Google has come to an agreement with the co-founders of online shopping site Namshi to create a "Google for Entrepreneurs" tech hub in Dubai. The space will be inaugurated in 2015 and be run by Astrolabs.
Amazon Ties with U.S. Postal Service : Amazon's price cuts are well-known, but its gross margins remain something of a mystery. The company has done everything possible to hurt its margins, but its revenues keep increasing and shipping costs decreasing. Of course it's efficient, but that's not the end of the story. Localized warehouses and local pickup is part of the puzzle and now the ecommerce giant is taking it a step further.
The company has got the U.S. Postal Service to test-deliver groceries on its behalf. If all goes well, this could be expanded to other categories as well. Is it a coincidence that USPS has decided to lower its parcel delivery charges just when UPS ( UPS ) and FedEx ( FDX ) are forced to raise? We'll have to wait and see.
Amazon's Fire Snuffed Out : Amazon's entry into the smartphone market didn't go that well mainly because it takes more than ecommerce to sell a phone. The dynamics in the smartphone market are different and Amazon's app marketplace still has a ways to go. Apple's iPhone 6 being around the corner also could have hurt sales. Amazon responded by shaving $200 off the price. This means that the 32GB device is now available at AT&T for just 99 cents along with a 2-year contract and for $450 without the contract. The phone runs on a forked version of Android.
Netflix Expanding in Europe : Netflix ( NFLX ) set foot in six new European countries, the most significant of which are likely to be Germany and France. Industry observers estimate Netflix subscriptions to touch 29.9 million in Germany and 25.3 million in France this year. The company has done 6.05 million international subscriptions over the past year or so.
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