Yesterday, 5:23 PM
- IDC estimates global PC shipments fell 10.8% Y/Y in Q3 to nearly 71M units, a drop nearly as large as Q2's 11.8% and above a 9.2% projection. Gartner estimates shipments fell 7.7% to 73.7M.
- IDC: "Across many regions, the channel remained focused on clearing Windows 8 inventory before a more complete portfolio of models incorporating Windows 10 (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) Skylake processors comes on the scene ... Though easing a bit, currency devaluation continued to inhibit PC shipments in the third quarter. While Windows 10 has generally received favorable reviews and raised consumer interest in PCs, many users opted to upgrade existing PCs rather than purchase new hardware."
- Nonetheless, IDC is "optimistic" about a demand pickup. "While PC shipments will be hampered in the short run by the availability of a free upgrade to Windows 10, the improved PC experience across user segments should drive longer-term demand for new PC hardware..."
- Likewise, Gartner expects "more stable market conditions" in 2016. It's also pleased the U.S. notebook and "premium ultramobile" segments saw positive growth. Various analysts have reported seeing signs of stabilizing PC demand.
- With tablet sales also under pressure, tablet cannibalization is less of an issue than before. The ability of older PCs to handle mainstream computing tasks without trouble (including on Windows 10) may be a bigger problem. Many in the industry are hoping 4K video and/or virtual reality will fuel upgrades.
- The market's four biggest players all grabbed share from smaller firms with less scale. IDC estimates market leader Lenovo's (OTCPK:LNVGY) unit share rose 130 bps Y/Y to 21%, #2 HP's (NYSE:HPQ) 110 bps to 19.6%, and #3 Dell's 120 bps 14.3%.
- Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), aided by 1H15 MacBook refreshes, came in at #4 with a 7.5% share, up 60 bps (revenue share is likely closer to 15%). A 4K 21.5" iMac is reportedly launching next week.
- Acer (OTC:ASIYF) rounded out the top-5 with a 7% share, down 150 bps. Everyone else collectively fell 270 bps to 30.6%.
- Related tickers: AMD, NVDA, STX, WDC, HTCH
Wed, Oct. 7, 8:14 PM
- Good news for Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) in the Nielsen Game Rank study, as its Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is the most anticipated multiplatform video game for the holiday season.
- The game got a 98% rating in the Nielsen study, which measured overall anticipation for games to be released in Q4.
- Tied for second place were Fallout 4 from Bethesda Softworks and Ubisoft's (OTCPK:UBSFY +1.8%) Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, each at 95%.
- Eagerly awaited Star Wars: Battlefront, from Electronic Arts (EA -0.7%), was a surprising fifth place with 88% behind EA's new Need for Speed title at 92%.
- Among console exclusives, the top rankers vary: For the Xbox One, it's Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Halo 5: Guardians (100%). For the PS4 (NYSE:SNE), Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (79%). For Nintendo's (OTCPK:NTDOY) Wii U, it's Yoshi's Woolly World (91%).
Tue, Oct. 6, 11:20 AM
- The second-gen version of Microsoft's (MSFT +1%) Band fitness tracker features a curved OLED display protected by Corning's Gorilla Glass 3, along with a GPS radio. Sleep/calorie-tracking, guided workouts, and UV monitoring are supported, as is integration with Cortana and a Microsoft Health mobile app. (event live blog)
- Content partners for the new Band include Facebook, Twitter, Starbucks, Uber, and Subway. The device will sell for $249 (more expensive than all but one of Fitbit's devices), and ship on Oct. 30.
- Fitbit (FIT -3.9%), still the dominant player in the fitness band/activity tracker market, has sold off following Microsoft's announcement. The company has already been competing with a slew of rivals, including Jawbone, Garmin, and (indirectly, via the Watch) Apple.
- Three months after paring back its phone ambitions and announcing fresh job cuts, Microsoft has unveiled two new high-end Windows Phones, the Lumia 950 (5.2" display) and 950XL (5.7" display). The devices sport 2K displays, 20MP PureView rear cameras, liquid cooling (normally seen in PCs rather than phones), and support for Display Dock, a tiny device that (with the help of USB, HDMI, and DisplayPort connections for connecting to a monitor and peripherals, and Windows 10's universal apps) turns a Windows Phone into a PC.
- The 950 will sell for for $549 unsubsidized starting in November, and the 950XL for $649. The Lumia 550, a new low-end phone (4.7" 720p display, 5MP rear camera), will go for $139 starting in December. To date, Windows Phone sales have skewed heavily towards the low-end.
- The Surface Pro 4 tablet/convertible sports a 12.3" display, is 8.4mm thick, runs on Intel's recently-launched 14nm Skylake CPUs, and supports an improved Surface Pen. Microsoft promises a ~30% performance boost relative to the Surface Pro 3 (launched in May 2014). The Pro 4 starts at $899, and ships on Oct. 26.
- Also: 1) Microsoft has announced HoloLens development kits will arrive in Q1, and go for $3K apiece. Satya Nadella has suggested Microsoft will initially target developers with HoloLens, and then enterprises. 2) Windows 10 installations have now topped 110M. They were above 75M in late August.
- Update: One more product launch: The Surface Book, a 13.5" touchscreen laptop/MacBook Pro rival with a high-res display, glass trackpad, Nvidia GPU, and the ability to detach into a tablet. 12 hours of battery life are promised. "Ounce for ounce the fastest 13" laptop ever made," Microsoft promises. The Surface Book starts at $1,499, and ships on Oct. 26.
Tue, Oct. 6, 2:45 AM
- Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) big event in New York City today (10 a.m. ET) will display a full range of devices that run across the tech giant's new, flagship operating system, Windows 10.
- What's on tap? Two new versions of Lumia smartphones (featuring Continuum), an updated Surface Pro tablet and the possibility of more details regarding HoloLens - an augmented reality headset.
- Microsoft brand excitement doesn't stop at today's showcase. The company's first flagship store will open in NYC on October 26.
Fri, Oct. 2, 2:30 PM
- Microsoft (MSFT +0.9%) has bought Havok, developer of a widely-used 3D physics engine and related tools for game developers, from Intel (INTC +0.7%) for an undisclosed sum. Intel bought Havok in 2007, reportedly for ~$110M.
- Game developers that have used Havok include Activision, Electronic Arts, Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft itself. Microsoft declares the purchase complements its existing developer tools and platforms, such as Visual Studio, DirectX, and Azure, and promises to continue supporting 3rd-party game developers and Sony/Nintendo consoles.
- Microsoft: "Havok shares Microsoft’s vision for empowering people to create worlds and experiences that have never been seen before, and we look forward to sharing more of this vision in the near future." The purchase follows last year's $2.5B acquisition of Minecraft developer Mojang, and comes as Redmond both gets set to launch its HoloLens augmented reality headset (will support gaming in addition to enterprise/productivity apps). and partners with Oculus to support the use of its Rift VR headset with Windows 10 PCs.
Wed, Sep. 30, 5:30 PM
- Google (GOOG, GOOGL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) have ended a long-running patent spat involving about 20 suits in the U.S. and Germany. Financial terms are confidential.
- Microsoft, which collects royalties from Samsung, HTC, and many other Android OEMs, had alleged Google's former Motorola Mobility unit (sold to Lenovo) infringed its IP. Google, which held onto most of Motorola's patents following the Lenovo deal, alleged Xbox consoles infringed its patents.
- Much like Google/Motorola's settlement with Apple last year, the Microsoft deal comes with an agreement to cooperate on various patent issues. The tech giants plan to work on a royalty-free video codec meant to improve download/streaming speeds - Amazon and Netflix also back the effort - and lobby for a unified European patent system.
- Separately, in a move that could partly be a response to ad-blockers, Google states its display ad network will now only charge advertisers for ads that are 100% viewable by by users. The company estimates 56% of display ads "never had a chance to be viewed because they were below the fold, scrolled out of view, or in a background tab."
- Concerns about ad-blockers have grown following the recent launch of iOS 9, which supports blockers for Mobile Safari. JPMorgan has downplayed those concerns, arguing most ad-blocking takes place on desktops, that far more time is spent on mobile apps (largely immune to ad-blocking for now) than browsers, that publishers are starting to withhold content from those using ad-blockers, and that ad spend is shifting towards formats more immune to ad-blocking (e.g. native ads). The firm is concerned, however, about the fact ad-blockers prevent valuable tracking data from being collected.
Mon, Sep. 28, 5:00 PM
- Two years after unveiling a new reporting structure - it featured a Devices & Consumer segment with Hardware, Licensing, and Other subgroups, and a Commercial segment with Licensing and Other subgroups - Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has done it again.
- The new reporting segments: 1) Productivity and Business Processes, which features consumer and commercial Office/Office 365, as well as Dynamics and Dynamics CRM Online business apps. 2) Intelligent Cloud, which covers server software (Windows Server, SQL Server, System Center), Azure, and enterprise services. 3) More Personal Computing, which covers Windows, search, games, and hardware (Xbox, Surface, Lumia, HoloLens, etc.).
- The revamped structure will make its debut in Microsoft's FQ1 report, which is due on Oct. 22; revenue and op. income for each segment will be given. A CC will be held tomorrow at 12PM ET (webcast) to discuss the change.
Mon, Sep. 28, 12:31 PM
- The Nasdaq is down 2.3%, but Intel (INTC +0.3%) remains up slightly. Possibly helping: Pac Crest's Mike McConnell (Overweight rating, $35 target) reports September notebook shipments appear set to top expectations by 5%-10%, that desktop motherboard makers are seeing improved demand from OEMs, and that server-related chip demand from cloud service providers is rebounding strongly following a recent slowdown.
- Citi and Wells Fargo argued PC demand is stabilizing earlier this month, while citing healthy August sales data from Taiwanese contract manufacturers. Windows 10 launched on July 29, and Intel began a large-scale rollout of its 14nm Skylake CPUs 4 weeks ago.
- PC sales expectations have been depressed: IDC estimates shipments fell 11.8% Y/Y in Q2 and 6.7% in Q1, and has forecast they'll drop 8.7% over the whole of 2015 to 281.6M.
- In other Intel news, Digitimes reports Intel, which has been looking to narrow its heavy mobile chip losses, plans to end price discounts (reportedly ~$4 for Windows tablets and ~$8 for Android tablets) for its 22nm Bay Trail Atom CPUs in October. Bay Trail CPUs are said to carry a list price of $12, and 14nm Cherry Trail Atom CPUs (discounted by $2-$3) a list price of $15.
- Related tickers: MSFT, AMD, NVDA, HPQ, MU, STX, WDC, HTCH
Thu, Sep. 24, 3:54 AM
- More partnerships between Chinese and U.S. technology firms are being announced during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the United States this week.
- Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) is forming a joint-venture with server maker Inspur to sell networking and cloud computing products in China, where the company faces political pressure and declining sales.
- Meanwhile, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is partnering with Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) and Tsinghua Unigroup to sell cloud services to Chinese state-owned enterprises. Microsoft also struck a deal with China Electronics Technology Group to explore ways to deploy a "localized" version of Windows 10.
Tue, Sep. 15, 5:53 PM
Fri, Sep. 11, 7:09 PM
- "Taiwan notebook ODM shipments increased 16% MoM in August, above our Citi Asia Hardware Analyst William Yang’s estimate of up 10% MoM and above the three year average of up 6% MoM," writes Citi's Chris Danely, arguing PC demand is improving after a very rough Q1 and Q2.
- Danely adds Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) has "indicated PC demand appears to have bottomed, and PC OEMs have started to replenish inventory driven by the Skylake processor ramp," and that Micron (NASDAQ:MU) has "stated DRAM spot prices have started to stabilize, which the company believes is a sign of a bottom in the PC market." IT distributor Ingram Micro (NYSE:IM) is also said to be seeing stabilizing demand.
- Wells Fargo's David Wong sings a similar tune. "There have been signs of a seasonal pickup in PC builds. Month of August sales data reported by Taiwanese notebook and motherboard/computer makers shows a clear month-over-month lift in PC builds in August, and solid growth in the first two months of the September quarter compared to the first two months of the June quarter."
- Likely helping: Windows 10 (free upgrade to Windows 7/8 users) launched in late July to decent reviews, and Intel has since gradually rolled out its 14nm Skylake CPU line. After starting off by launching the gamer/enthusiast-focused Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K desktop CPUs, Intel has rolled out the Skylake Y-series (meant for tablets and compute sticks), U-series (ultrabooks/convertibles), H-series (notebooks), and S-series (desktops). Sizable power/efficiency and GPU performance gains are generally promised relative to comparable 14nm Broadwell CPUs.
- Related tickers: MSFT, AMD, NVDA, STX, WDC, HTCH
- Two months ago: IDC estimates PC shipments fell 11.8% Y/Y in Q2
Fri, Sep. 11, 5:27 PM
- Videogame sales slipped in August, despite the "annual Madden," with new physical games and hardware down 2% to $548M, according to NPD Group.
- That's due to a bigger decline in software sales, though hardware slipped as well. Game sales fell 10% to $207.9M on tough comps against last year's Diablo III console launch and Sony's The Last of Us.
- Spending on hardware dropped a comparatively lighter 2% to $190.5M. Accessory sales rose, however, up 12% to $150M. Current-gen consoles rose to 68% of software sales from the prior month's 61%, according to Piper Jaffray.
- Madden NFL 16 (EA +0.3%) was the unsurprising leader in software for August after its late-month release, ahead of a pair of Microsoft (MSFT +0.4%) titles, Minecraft and Gears of War: Ultimate Edition.
- “New physical software sales for [Xbox One and PS4] consoles, up 34%, did not offset the 51% decline in [last] generation console sales as well as the 24% drop in portable software sales,” said NPD analyst Liam Callahan.
- Piper's Michael Olson reiterated Overweight ratings on Activision Blizzard (ATVI +0.3%), EA and Take-Two (TTWO +0.1%), as well as on GameStop (GME +1%). "We expect that 2015 and 2016 will be the equivalent to 2007 and 2008 during the prior console cycle," he writes; "both were years that experienced significant industry software growth, following several years of decline or limited growth in the space."
- Meanwhile, Sony (SNE +0.9%) confirmed its PlayStation 4 outsold competing hardware from Microsoft and Nintendo (OTCPK:NTDOY -1.5%) yet again in August.
Fri, Sep. 11, 2:46 PM
- A buyout rumor has once more given a lift to AMD (AMD +9.8%): This time, Fudzilla (citing "industry sources") states Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is "seriously talking" to the hard-luck chipmaker about acquiring it.
- A number of AMD buyout rumors have come and gone over the years without panning out. KitGuru reported in June Microsoft "may acquire" AMD.
- AMD was previously trading near breakeven in spite of an upgrade to Market Perform from Bernstein's Stacy Rasgon, who argued bad news has been priced in and that "the possibility of a lifeline may be growing."
Fri, Sep. 11, 2:10 PM
- Brad Smith, Microsoft's (MSFT +0.2%) general counsel since 2002, has been named President and Chief Legal Officer. Bloomberg notes Smith is the first company-wide President since Rick Beluzzo, who resigned in 2002.
- Satya Nadella: "Brad has long had a broad role at the company and now I’m asking him to lead more new initiatives working closely with his peers on the Senior Leadership Team ... I’ll look to Brad to play a bigger role in strengthening our external relationships and representing the company publicly." He adds lawyers on Smith's team will now handle some of his past legal duties.
- Smith's promotion follows a June restructuring declared by Nadella to leave Microsoft with 3 engineering groups - Windows and hardware, cloud/enterprise products, and apps/services - that "work together to deliver on [Microsoft's] strategy and ambitions."
Thu, Sep. 10, 1:11 PM
- The latest major update to Microsoft's (MSFT +0.9%) Office cash cow will officially roll out on Windows in 12 days. An IT pro/developer preview has been available since March, and a public preview since May.
- Office 2016 brings with it real-time co-editing/collaboration features previously available through the Office Online apps, and which have long been a strong point for Google Apps. It also delivers easier cloud document syncing, new IT admin and security tools such as Data Loss Prevention and multi-factor authentication, better Outlook performance, and an improved software update model for businesses.
- Separately, Microsoft is updating its Office iPad apps, in part to better support the 12.9"/enterprise-focused iPad Pro (announced yesterday). iOS 9's Split View and Slide Over multitasking features (available on the Pro and certain other iPads) will be supported, as will annotation via the Apple Pencil stylus. Microsoft exec Kirk Konigsbauer made a surprise appearance yesterday at Apple's product launch event.
- With the Office 365 transition (pushes out revenue recognition relative to up-front license sales) and soft PC sales weighing, Microsoft's Office Commercial revenue fell 4% Y/Y in calendar Q2. Traditional Office consumer license revenue fell 42%, while consumer Office 365 subs rose by nearly 3M Q/Q to 15.2M.
Wed, Sep. 9, 2:12 PM
- "We believe the future of television is apps," says Tim Cook (AAPL +0.1%) just before he unveils a next-gen Apple TV set-top. "The television experience has been virtually standing still while innovation in the mobile space has been racing ahead. Today, we are going to do something about that."
- In-line with rumors, the new Apple TV features an App Store, a new OS (called tvOS), Siri and gaming support, universal content search, and a revamped remote with a Siri button and glass touchpad. Siri is emphasized - among other things, it can be used to control content, navigate the UI, and pull up info related (and unrelated) to a show.
- The set-top directly squares off against Roku's hardware, Amazon's Fire TV, and devices running Google's Android TV, and indirectly against gaming consoles. Pricing (not yet announced) has been rumored to start at $149.
- The iPad Mini 4 has also been (briefly) announced: It's said to feature the iPad Air 2's internals in a smaller form factor, and starts at $399. The iPad Mini 2's price has been cut by $30 to $269; the Air and Air 2 still respectively start at $399 and $499.
- Microsoft exec Kirk Konigsbauer (NASDAQ:MSFT) appeared on stage at Apple's event, demoing the use of Office iOS apps on an iPad Pro for corporate viewers. The use of the Pro's multitasking features and Pencil stylus have been shown off.
- Continuing a theme of making nice with rivals, Adobe (ADBE -0.2%) exec Eric Snowden has also appeared, pitching creative pros on the ability to do advanced photo/document-editing on the Pro via Adobe apps.
- As expected, the 32GB Wi-Fi-only iPad Pro will sell for $799. 64GB (Wi-Fi) and 128GB (Wi-Fi/4G) models respectively go for $949 and $1,079. The Smart Keyboard and Pencil accessories will respectively go for $169 and $99. The Pro becomes available in November.
- Apple livestream. Live blogs: The Verge, Engadget.
- Earlier: Apple unveils 12.9" iPad Pro, new Watch finishes/accessories
- Update (2:27PM ET): A 32GB version of the new Apple TV set-top will sell for $149, and a 64GB model for $199; the devices launch in late October. The current Apple TV will continue to be sold for $69.
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