The government shutdown had some impact on technology stocks last week, but overall performance was not too bad.
Facebook Goes Even More Public
Facebook ( FB ) has never claimed that it respects privacy and it has now removed an additional privacy filter that allowed people to search for a person by name. Zuckerberg has been known to make statements about how people shouldn't be doing the things they want to keep secret, so it is apparent that privacy is the least of his concerns.
Facebook claims that since people can be traced through their posts or friend lists anyway, users shouldn't mind. It is now encouraging users to protect each individual post from the people they don't want to share with. Since this is naturally a cumbersome process, most people are likely to get careless about it over time. This is obviously the idea.
Of course Facebook has much to gain. Once everyone is compulsorily searchable, it greatly improves the effectiveness of graph search and makes the property more valuable for advertisers. The company is also rolling out custom advertising programs to further increase ROI for advertisers. Another possible future benefit is better data mining for ranking or rating restaurants, hotels and such other places that can later be provided as an additional or standalone service.
Cisco Gets Some FIRE
Cisco ( CSCO ) has now completed its acquisition of Sourcefire, a leading provider of intelligent cyber security solutions, most of which are based on Snort, an open-source intrusion detection system. The company paid $76 in cash for each share of Sourcefire and also assumed $2.7 billion worth outstanding equity awards.
The acquisition was highly strategic for Cisco, which had been losing share to Sourcefire in recent times. Therefore, the acquisition enabled it to pick up key technology and at the same time eliminate an important competitor.
Security is expected to play a key role in Cisco's future product strategy, as networks become more intelligent and virtualization goes mainstream. Additionally, the company is on track to become a major player in the "Internet of Everything" where security integration could be an important differentiating factor.
Microsoft Takes on Amazon
Gartner estimates that Amazon's ( AMZN ) public cloud services business is at least five times the size of its closest competitors, as the company was able to capitalize on its first-mover advantage and rock-bottom prices. Microsoft ( MSFT ) intends to make up for lost time by launching compelling services at competitive prices.
Therefore, in an attempt to take share in this fast-growing market, Microsoft will announce discounts for its Windows Azure cloud services on Nov 1. It will also discount prices and increase the flexibility of services for customers on long-term contracts, irrespective of their upfront commitment.
To build on its product portfolio, the company is launching Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2, which together enable the creation of advanced data centers without boundaries by virtue of its Hyper-V virtualization, cost effective storage and built-in SDN support.
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Microsoft Office for iPad : CEO Steve Ballmer has announced at a Gartner event last week that Microsoft will soon bring Office to iPad. The company has been reticent about taking its productivity solutions to iOS and Android platforms hoping that it would remain a USP for its own devices. But Microsoft's own Windows-based tablets remain less popular than rival devices and this is likely an attempt to ensure that Office doesn't lose market share. Both Apple and Google offer free productivity solutions.
Yahoo Redesigns Yahoo Mail : The redesigned Yahoo ( YHOO ) mail feels quite "Googley," since the company now groups emails as conversation threads the way Google does in its Gmail. It also offers 1 terabyte (1,000 GB) of storage compared to just 15GB offered by Google ( GOOG ).
Obama Upholds ITC ban against Samsung Devices : The Obama administration upheld the decision of the International Trade Commission to ban some older Samsung devices for infringement on Apple ( AAPL ) patents. Samsung believes that this will create confusion at customs, which may not be able to identify non-infringing devices that had been modified with a work-around.
The ITC has prepared a list of devices not infringing by virtue of this work-around system, so the administration felt that there wouldn't be such a difficulty. Apple claims that Samsung renames rather than remakes devices, so the ban should be extended to other devices as well.
U.S. Internet Advertising Grows 18% : According to a report produced by Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers, U.S. Internet ad revenue in the first half of 2013 grew 18% year over year on the back of mobile ad revenue, which jumped 145%. The growth rates in video, search and display of 24%, 7% and 9%, respectively were notably lower.