Tuesday, 23 July 2013

iPhone sales soar but lackluster earnings put pressure on Apple

  With Apple's (AAPL) announcement Tuesday of record iPhone sales but another round of lackluster earnings, the pressure is turned on high.
  Apple and CEO Tim Cook now face a nearly six-month trial by fire. After changing the world with the iPhone and iPad, the tech icon has seen its performance slow and its stock price plummet, in large part because of a glaring absence of new products. Investor and fan fervor is cooling, and some experts say time could be running out for Apple to prove it still has the mojo that co-founder Steve Jobs unleashed upon the world.
  "Everyone is watching and everyone knows that this is either the earnings trough -- it better be the earnings trough -- or else Apple is in real trouble," said Laurence Balter, an analyst atOracle (ORCL) Investment Research. "It's important for management to communicate to shareholders that this is not the end for Apple, but rather the beginning of the next phase. And they really need to say that because shareholders have lost faith."
  But while analyst Colin Gillis with BGC Financial conceded that "Apple's flagship product is doing just fine," he said that Cook, after having proved himself to be a "fantastic" chief operating officer, needs to prove himself as CEO.
  Analysts agree that Apple must not only say the right things in coming months, but come up with another blockbuster, such as a new and improved Apple TV.
  Balter said the next obvious chapter in the Apple story is the integration of the iPhone into the rest of our lives, such as our cars and kitchens and living rooms. Others think Apple could recapture the groove it found with the 2007 launch of the first iPhone by jiggering the shape and size of existing products.
  "We will be looking for signs of new products such as the low-priced handset," Societe Generale analyst Andy Perkins wrote in a note to investors, "and possibly the iWatch."
  What Apple pulls out of its hat in the next few months could be far more important than the comparatively tepid earnings it reported Tuesday. Its revenues were $35.3 billion, slightly above analysts' estimates of $35 billion and essentially flat with the same quarter last year.
  It reported profit of $6.9 billion, or $7.47 a share, above analysts' estimates of $7.33 a share in a survey by FactSet but well below the $9.32 a share it reported a year ago.
  In the most encouraging number in the otherwise lackluster earnings, the company said it had sold 31.2 million iPhones, setting a record for the June quarter and handily beating the 26.5 million analysts had expected it to sell.
  Before the announcement, Apple shares had closed at $418.99, down $7.32, or nearly 2 percent. But the stock was up about 4 percent in after-hours trading.
  Meanwhile, analysts are forecasting little or no revenue growth in Apple's current fourth quarter for the first time since the debut of the iPhone six years ago. They expect $35 billion in revenue again.
  Clearly, Apple has lost the red-hot momentum it had going into the end of 2012, when it announced the iPhone 5 to great critical acclaim.
  It's been an underwhelming year so far for Apple, prompting many to wonder if the tech icon has run adrift. Investor angst has hammered the company's stock price, at one point dragging it below $400 a share after it was hovering near $700 a year earlier. After years of exciting launches, including variations of the iPhone and iPad, there've been no new product announcements in 2013.
  "This has been a very tough period for Apple and it's made worse by the fact that the company doesn't talk openly with people, so you don't know what's really going on inside," said analyst Roger Kay with Endpoint Technologies. "But it does seem as if there's been a dearth of announcements the entire year and the momentum Apple had before is almost entirely dissipated."
  Kay said it's now showtime. Apple needs to prove it still has the goods, he said, and it needs to start talking about them "in the next few weeks."
  Or as fellow analyst Van Baker with Gartner Research put it:

Certain iOS can also be a telephone platform

  The iPad garnered the reputation as a brand new form of device made for doing entertaining items at household. People were promptly taken using the reality that the iPad could do a great deal of exciting factors, endearing it for the masses. Then developers started writing a huge number of apps for the iPad that started to bridge entertaining stuff with activities generally done on a Pc, even Windows PCs. Buyers noticed that the Windows Pc (desktop or laptop) that they kept at dwelling was being made use of less and less. Ultimately they had been only utilizing Windows at operate.

  A familiar sight in public is somebody with an iPad in hand, or one being utilised using a keyboard case. Exactly where it made use of to be more frequent to find out individuals applying Windows laptops of varying sizes in public venues many of them have already been replaced with the buy windows 8 pro pack iPad. Far more drastically, iPad users aren't just performing enjoyable stuff that tablets are believed to be created for, they may be undertaking every thing they applied to do with all the forgotten Windows laptop back at property.
  Microsoft saw this coming and radically changed the style of Windows to perform on tablets, desktops, and laptops. The people in Redmond saw the writing around the wall and knew they had to transform the OS into a tablet OS to help keep Windows within the residence. They already had the enterprise locked up so bringing Windows to the tablet was an work to help keep people employing the OS at household.
  Make no error, the Surface RT was firmly aimed at receiving customers to visualize Windows on dwelling tablets, and that effort has failed. Those wanting to utilize a uncomplicated tablet at house have fairly a lot currently adopted the iPad. It sports a mobile type element that runs a straightforward OS developed especially for the tablet. Certain iOS can also be a telephone platform but Apple has adapted it to handle the iPad nicely. It was also capable to obtain app developers to adapt or produce iPad-specific versions of apps to operate nicely around the slate.
  I like my ThinkPad Tablet two, a nice Windows tablet. It takes advantage of Windows eight, specially all of the tablet options Microsoft implemented for that objective. But when I show it (or any Windows tablet) to people I get quite a great deal precisely the same reaction.
  The discussion proceeds with me explaining how you can run Windows apps and how new apps are getting written for the Windows eight app shop. This can be followed by a conversation that tends to make it clear the other celebration not just has no wish to run Windows and its apps on a tablet, they genuinely can not see why any individual would wish to do that. The iPad does all the things they want a tablet to accomplish and more so why would they would like to use a tablet with Windows?
  For many buyers Windows represents operate. It really is on the computer system within the office and they "have" to work with it there. They keep in mind each of the times they had to obtain the IT people to come fix the Computer that stopped carrying out something. They assume of how they cannot go to each of the cool websites for the reason that they may be blocked at work, which they come to assume of as a Windows thing. They think of how trouble-free their property computing has come to be due to the fact they just naturally started carrying out it all around the iPad at dwelling.
  A lot of the folks I interact with about Windows on tablets who like it, and are excited about Windows eight, are people who either make a living within the Windows ecosystem or possess a unique need to have for making use of Windows outside the scope of common residence computing. Possessing full Windows within a tablet type is just what they ought to do what they want each for perform and at residence.
  Regrettably for Microsoft, there aren't sufficient of those enthusiasts to produce a difference, as verified by both the Surface RT debacle, and low Surface Pro sales (in comparison with the iPad). The vast majority have already been shown that their beloved iPad is all they want outside of operate. The iPad has entirely replaced Pc usage within the dwelling for a lot of owners and kicked Windows back towards the office.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Apple hires fresh talent for ‘iWatch’

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  Apple has embarked on a hiring spree to tackle design problems with its “iWatch” wrist computer, bringing in fresh expertise amid concern that the launch of its first new product since the death of Steve Jobs could be at least a year away.
  The company has begun hiring “aggressively” for the project in recent weeks, say people familiar with Apple’s plans for the wearable device, a move that shows it has stepped up development but which raises questions over the ability of its own engineers to develop wearable technology.
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  As Apple moves from iPods, iPhones and iPads into an entirely new category of product, it is looking beyond its existing staff in Cupertino for the talent required to build it – an indication that the endeavour involves “hard engineering problems that they’ve not been able to solve”, according to one source.
  Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, could still decide not to launch the product, just as past ideas have been scrapped, these people said. However, the iWatch – a brand for which Apple has made several applications to trademark – has now progressed from an exploratory phase to having several dozen employees dedicated to its development.
  The timing of the hiring spree implied the iWatch would not be ready for launch until the latter part of next year, said people familiar with Apple’s thinking, a blow to some investors who have been eager to see evidence that Apple’s innovators still have the ability to create or redefine new product categories.
  Apple declined to comment, but Mr Cook said in April’s earnings call: “Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software and services that we can't wait to introduce this fall and throughout 2014.”
  While that is expected to include a new lower-cost iPhone with colourful plastic casing later this year, Mr Cook has recently expressed enthusiasm for wearable technology. Speaking at an AllThingsD conference in June, he said it was an area “ripe for exploration” and “incredibly interesting”.
  Earlier this month, Apple hired Paul Deneve, the outgoing chief executive of fashion house Yves Saint Laurent, to work on undefined “special projects”, reporting to Mr Cook. His experience in fashion and luxury goods has been seen as potentially useful in a move into watches, as well as branding.
  Apple’s iWatch recruitment drive has included seeking out acquisitions of early-stage start-ups working on connected devices. Making so-called “acqui-hires” such as this has become common practice in Silicon Valley, where engineering talent carries a high premium, even for top companies such as Apple.
  But with its stock price still far below its highs and facing growing interest in hardware and mobile software from neighbours such as Google and Facebook, retaining rank-and-file employees will be a challenge for Apple, say former employees and those recruiting at other firms.
  One senior member of the iWatch team, who had been considering leaving the company, decided to stay after being awarded a substantial pay increase, according to one source.
  Apple is not the only company looking to recruit talent for wearable technology in Silicon Valley. Almost all of Apple’s rivals, including Google and Samsung, as well as start-ups such as Pebble and even PC manufacturer Dell, are working on smart watches or similar devices.

Recognized as Common Distribution Release 2

  Microsoft published specifics of its upcoming Windows Phone 8 update on Thursday, revealing the minor modifications which can be as a consequence of roll out shortly. Recognized as Common Distribution Release 2 (GDR2), the update contains fixes to Xbox Music to supply correct metadata, the restoration of the FM radio function, a Information Sense app that's not exclusive to specific carriers, and a new choice to set a Lens app as the default camera. You can find some HTML5 updates in World-wide-web Explorer, enhanced Skype and Lync stability, and Gmail CardDAV / CalDAV assistance, but general the alterations are extremely minor for an update eight months just after the original Windows Telephone 8 release.
  In accordance with sources acquainted with Microsoft's Windows Telephone plans, the enterprise is inside a "shut up and ship" mode. We're told that the lack of significant adjustments is resulting from the focus on Windows Phone's "Blue" update. The future update, anticipated in early 2014, looks set to include a notification center, improved multitasking, and alterations to built-in apps. We realize that Microsoft is taking into consideration back porting a few of the "Blue" options, such as a rotation lock selection, to a GDR3 update due later this year. Any ported attributes are mentioned to support future hardware arriving later this year, and occasionally in the request of particular phone makers like Nokia. In comparison, Windows 8.1 consists of a complete host of adjustments and feature additions made for tablets and PCs that is anticipated to be delivered in late August ?a just ten months following the original Windows 8 release.
  We've learned that Microsoft had planned to roll out a variety of Windows Telephone updates more frequently, but delays in testing new chipsets and bugs in some of the GDR updates have slowed down feature additions. A single unique bug with unbranded devices not sold by carriers is said to possess impacted the way a handset is identified on a network. We're told that Microsoft had a hard time fixing this distinct challenge, resulting in delays to other planned operate.
  We're told that a lot of the concentrate for Windows Phone software improvements is related to hardware release and refreshes. The future GDR3 update will include things like support for 5- and 6-inch Windows Phones with 1080p resolutions, and quad-core chipsets. These devices will debut later this year, and Microsoft has been operating closely with OEMs to make sure Windows Telephone involves the hardware help needed. Microsoft revealed on Thursday that together with Nokia it "shared early builds of application and hardware" to ready the Lumia 1020. "I wrote greater than ten pages of feedback myself on the Nokia Pro Camera app because it was becoming developed," says Microsoft's Joe Belfiore.
  The message from Microsoft on Windows Phone updates is mixed. Though the business promised a year ago that it was making an enthusiasts program to provide early access to updates, Microsoft has however to detail when it plans to deliver it. The system was said to "keep your phone fresher than ever prior to." For now though, all update signs point to early 2014. Microsoft confirmed it is arranging a "feature pack" update in the first half of subsequent year that could contain some enterprise improvements and VPN support. Regrettably, it is not sharing additional info about any other additions. It leaves Nokia and also other phone makers obtaining to depend on hardware selling points, realizing full well that the Windows Telephone software program and ecosystem nonetheless lags the competitors.