Tue, Mar. 31, 10:38 AM
- Pitched as a cheaper alternative to the Surface Pro 3 (starts at $799, launched last May), Microsoft's (MSFT -0.6%) Surface 3 tablet starts at $499 and eschews the Pro 3's Core i3/i5/i7 CPUs in favor of Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) less powerful/recently-launched Atom x7 (Cherry Trail). Its display is smaller (10.8" vs. 12"), and resolution slightly lower (1920x1280 vs. 2160x1440). In what might be the final nail in the coffin for Windows RT, the tablet runs on Windows 8.1 (free upgrade to Windows 10 later this year).
- The Surface 3 weighs just 1.37 lbs. and is only 0.34" thick (the Pro 3 is at 1.76 lbs. and 0.37"), and goes without its costlier sibling's fan. The rear and front cameras respectively have 8MP and 3.5MP resolutions vs. 5MP apiece for the Pro 3. Other features - a kickstand, optional type cover accessories, a business-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio, stereo speakers with Dolby (DLB -0.2%) audio support - are similar.
- Microsoft claims 10 hours of battery life when playing video. The Surface 3 begins shipping on May 5 (pre-orders start today); Verizon and T-Mobile will sell 4G-capable models later this year. To win over consumers, Microsoft is throwing in a free year of Office 365 Personal (normally $70/year).
- Following a rough start in 2012/2013, the Surface line has gained a following among businesses and consumers wanting a tablet that can double as a PC/productivity device. Microsoft's Surface revenue rose 24% Y/Y in calendar Q4 to $1.1B. IDC estimates Windows devices had a 5.1% 2014 tablet unit share via 11.6M shipments.
Mon, Mar. 23, 4:25 PM
- Three weeks after announcing Skype, OneDrive, and OneNote apps will be bundled with Samsung's Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge (along with 115GB of OneDrive cloud storage), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) states its Android Office apps (along with OneDrive, OneNote, and Skype) will be pre-installed on "select" Samsung Android tablets.
- The software giant has also announced Office pre-install deals with Dell and 9 other Android OEMs. The list includes major contract manufacturer Pegatron, Germany's TrekStor, and several emerging markets-focused OEMs. Financial terms are undisclosed.
- Also: Microsoft is partnering with Samsung to offer business versions of Office 365 that are bundled with Samsung's KNOX Android security platform. The deal comes a year after Microsoft entered the enterprise mobility management (EMM) software market with a suite that provides device/app management, identity/access control, and data protection services for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices.
- Last fall, Microsoft enabled document editing on its free iOS and Android apps - it was previously available only to Office 365 subs. In January, the company disclosed it has seen 80M+ downloads for its Office iPhone/iPad apps. The Google Apps productivity suite is free for Android and iOS users, while Apple's iWork suite is free to buyers of new iOS/Mac OS hardware.
Fri, Mar. 20, 2:15 PM
- The 3G-only Lumia 430 is Microsoft's (MSFT +1.4%) cheapest Windows Phone to date. It has a 4" 800x480 display and 8GB of storage, runs on Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) low-end Snapdragon 200 processor (dual-core, 1.2GHz.), and contains a 2MP rear camera to go with a VGA front camera.
- The 430, which goes on sale in April, also supports dual SIMs (important for emerging markets) and comes with up to 30GB of free OneDrive cloud storage. Its unveiling arrives three weeks after Microsoft launched the mid-range Lumia 640 and 640XL, and four months after it launched the low-end Lumia 535 (5" display and 3G-only, starts at €110).
- Low-end devices are believed to account for a big portion of the 10.5M Lumias Microsoft sold in calendar Q4. While costlier Lumias have struggled to gain ground against the iPhone and high-end Android hardware (thanks in part to iOS/Android's app support edge), cheaper models have fared well in many cost-sensitive emerging markets. The 430 aims to significantly lower the cost edge the cheapest Android devices still have.
- IDC estimates Windows Phone had a 2.8% global smartphone unit share in Q4 vs. 76.6% for Android (NASDAQ:GOOG) and 19.7% for the iPhone (NASDAQ:AAPL).
Wed, Mar. 18, 12:31 PM
- Polycom (PLCM +1.7%) plans to offer a line of videoconferencing products built specifically for Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) widely-used Skype for Business (until recently known as Lync) unified communications (UC) software platform.
- The first product created for the offering, the RoundTable 100, is aimed at SMBs; Polycom claims it takes "just minutes to set up and start using. In addition, Polycom's CX videoconferencing hardware line will join the RoundTable line, and its VVX business phones will support an upcoming Office 365 cloud VoIP service.
- Synergy Research just estimated Microsoft had a 13% Q4 UC collaboration market share, second only to (Polycom archrival) Cisco's (NASDAQ:CSCO) 16%. Polycom was assigned a 3% share (#5 overall). Overall, the market grew only 2% Y/Y, with declining enterprise voice and telepresence product sales offset by growing demand for hosted voice, hosted contact center, cloud UC, enterprise social networking, and enterprise presence/IM offerings.
Wed, Mar. 18, 10:42 AM
- Windows 10 (MSFT +0.1%) "will be available this summer in 190 countries and 111 languages," OS chief Terry Myerson writes in a blog post. COO Kevin Turner previously said Windows 10 would be available in in late summer or early fall.
- Meanwhile, during a talk with Reuters, Myerson stated Microsoft will be "upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10." He asserts Microsoft's goal with the initiative is to "re-engage" with Chinese Windows users, a huge percentage of whom have pirated copies.
- To further its Chinese Windows reach, Microsoft has struck distribution deals with Lenovo, Tencent, and Qihoo; Lenovo will offer Windows 10 "upgrade services" at 2,500 service centers and retail stores, while Tencent and Qihoo will provide the OS to the hundreds of millions of users of their Web services.
- In January, Microsoft promised Windows 10, which contains many features meant to win over enterprises that shunned Windows 8, would be a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8.1 users. The company has suggested it will rely more on services to monetize Windows (already free or discounted for smaller/cheaper hardware) going forward.
- Microsoft is coming off a December quarter in which its Windows OEM Pro and non-Pro revenue both fell 13% Y/Y, thanks largely to discounts and slowing business PC sales. Intel's Q1 warning (blamed on business weakness and lower-than-expected customer inventories) suggests PC demand has remained soft thus far in 2015.
- Also: Myerson says Microsoft is launching a free version of Windows 10 for small-footprint embedded/IoT devices. Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) is among the early supporters, launching a development kit that features its mid-range Snapdragon 410 processor.
Wed, Mar. 18, 1:50 AM
- Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has confirmed that it will not use the Internet Explorer name for the main browser it plans to ship with Windows 10.
- The revised software, codenamed Project Spartan, is intended to catapult Microsoft beyond the Web 1.0 world for which IE was designed.
- Although being pushed into retirement, the Internet Explorer name will live on, and will be included in the next Windows launch for enterprise compatibility.
Fri, Mar. 13, 1:04 PM
- Microsoft (MSFT -0.1%) has "generated $1 billion in total worldwide revenue from Azure since 2011," BI's Julie Bort reports after talking with sources. Bloomberg reported in 2013 Microsoft had produced $1B in Azure-related revenue; however, that figure also included software purchases tied to deployments of the cloud infrastructure/app development (IaaS/PaaS) platform.
- Bort adds over 3K companies have added Azure to their existing enterprise contracts, and that many of them "are not using Azure at all, or have dabbled with it and then ignored it." Salespeople have reportedly been pressured to boost Azure sales, and have "sold Azure by discounting other software and adding the money saved on that software back into the contract as credits to try Azure."
- Microsoft hasn't broken out Azure revenue by itself; it's only reported as part of a Commercial Cloud segment that also includes commercial Office 365 and cloud Dynamics app sales.
- BI's figure suggests Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ:AMZN) still has a sizable revenue lead over Azure. Amazon's "Other" revenue, which is dominated by AWS, totaled $5.6B in 2014 (+42% Y/Y). Synergy Research estimates Amazon had a 30% Q4 IaaS/PaaS revenue share on the back of 51% Y/Y growth, and Microsoft a 10% share (#2 overall) with 96% growth.
- GeekWire reports (citing a memo from Satya Nadella) Microsoft is moving its MSN online services group from its apps/services division (run by Qi Lu) to its OS division (run by Terry Myerson). The shakeup could yield efforts to more tightly integrate MSN's services with Windows.
- Reuters reports Microsoft is prepping a more advanced version of Cortana called Einstein that will ship with Windows 10, and also be available via standalone iOS and Android apps. Like Google Now, the new version of Cortana will read/analyze e-mail to push location and time-sensitive info to users.
Fri, Mar. 13, 3:21 AM
- In the latest sign of weakening demand for personal computers, International Data Corp. predicts global shipments of PCs will decline 4.9% this year to 293.1M units, a bigger drop than its previous guidance for a 3.3% decrease.
- According to market research firm, the PC market declined 0.8% to $201B last year and is expected to drop an additional 6.9% in 2015, with smaller declines in coming years, reducing the market to $175B by 2019.
- Previously: Intel -4.1% on Q1 warning; other PC industry names also fall (Mar. 12 2015)
- Related stocks: OTC:ASIYF, AMD, HPQ, INTC, OTCPK:LNVGY, MSFT, MU, NVDA, SNE, STX, OTCPK:TOSYY, WDC
Thu, Mar. 12, 9:17 AM
- Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) now expects Q1 revenue of $12.5B-$13.1B, below prior guidance of $13.2B-$14.2B and a $13.7B consensus. Gross margin guidance remains at 60% (+/- 2%), with lower volumes offset by higher ASPs.
- "All other expectations" have been withdrawn - that presumably includes full-year guidance for mid-single digit revenue growth. Guidance will be updated during Intel's April 14 Q1 report.
- The chip giant blames the warning on "weaker than expected demand for business desktop PCs and lower than expected inventory levels across the PC supply chain." In particular, it thinks "lower than expected Windows XP* refresh in small and medium business and increasingly challenging macroeconomic and currency conditions, particularly in Europe," are taking a toll on sales. Server CPU division sales are "meeting expectations."
- Other PC-exposed names are following Intel lower: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) -2.4% premarket, AMD -2.8%, Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) -2.5%, HP (NYSE:HPQ) -2.3%, Seagate (NASDAQ:STX) -2.5%, Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC) -2.7%, Micron (NASDAQ:MU) -3.6%.
- Update (11:35AM ET): While Intel is still down over 4%, Micron and Seagate have turned positive, and HP is close to breakeven. Microsoft, Nvidia, and Western Digital have pared their losses, but remain lower.
Wed, Mar. 11, 7:18 AM
Fri, Mar. 6, 6:48 AM
- While HBO (NYSE:TWX) is in high-profile talks with Apple to launch its streaming HBO Now service on Apple TV, other providers will be joining in at some point or even at launch day yet, including Google and TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO) among others.
- Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may be first to agree to the launch, Bloomberg notes, because its negotiation is simpler than that with HBO's longtime pay TV partners.
- Cox Communications and Cablevision (NYSE:CVC) are also linked to discussions, though traditional cable/satellite providers are a tougher sell, accustomed as they are to the traditional arrangement (and income stream).
- It's safe to assume all the partners marketing HBO's current HBO Go offering are likely to engage in some level of talks with TWX to offer HBO Now -- including Roku, Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox, Sony's (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation, and Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN).
- Cable repercussions? Several pay TV operators had started lowering their price for HBO via promotions, a possible move to brace for HBO Now's direct launch: Comcast lowered its monthly HBO rate from $18.95 to $15, or $10 if you order online. Verizon's offering HBO for $9.99/month for first 12; Time Warner Cable is offering $9.99/month for online orders; Cox is offering $10/month for the first six.
- As for HBO Go -- the current service that allows mobile viewing for authenticated existing HBO customers -- it appears it will continue to exist as is for now, despite the likelihood of product confusion.
- HBO's targeting 10M broadband subscribers who don't have cable or satellite -- at this $15 price point, it makes a huge competitive interface with Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX).
Wed, Mar. 4, 1:58 PM
- A day after slumping to new post-IPO lows and coming within $0.03 of $80, Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) has seen dip-buyers emerge in large numbers. Naturally, Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) is along for the ride.
- The gains come as a Chinese publication reports Jack Ma once said he considered acquiring Yahoo, which plans to spin off its Alibaba stake into a publicly-traded company in Q4. Ma's alleged comments: "The acquisition of Yahoo is something I worked [on] a couple of years ago, this is a political problem, not an economic problem, Yahoo is a media [company], more sensitive."
- There has already been speculation Alibaba will try to buy Yahoo's spinoff (much less politically challenging than buying the whole of Yahoo) at some point. Bloomberg's Matt Levine has noted the spinoff will have to wait a year before a deal occurs, in order to maintain its tax-free status.
- Meanwhile, Alibaba's Aliyun cloud services unit (a giant in the Chinese cloud infrastructure market) has opened a Silicon Valley data center, its first in the U.S. For now, the data center will cater to Chinese companies with U.S. operations, but it plans to go after non-Chinese clients later this year. When it does, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and a slew of other incumbents will be waiting.
Tue, Mar. 3, 3:58 PM
- As part of a growing move into digital services, mega-telecom Telefonica (NYSE:TEF) says that it plans a voice-command search engine to compete with Google Now (NASDAQ:GOOG), Apple's Siri (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft's Cortana (NASDAQ:MSFT).
- The offering, detailed by the company's Ana Segurado in an interview at Mobile World Congress, was developed by Spanish firm Sherpa working with Telefonica on an "alternative to traditional search" for smartphones. Sherpa has a search app on Google Play.
- Segurado is managing director of Telefonica's Open Future unit, working on startup support and venture capital investments.
- In a fall query test, Google Now dominated competitors in accurately answering questions.
- Previously: Report: Google talks with H-P about bringing Now to enterprise (Aug. 13 2014)
Mon, Mar. 2, 12:51 PM
- In a deal that furthers Microsoft's (MSFT +0.4%) iOS/Android push, the company's Skype, OneDrive, and OneNote apps are pre-installed on Samsung's just-launched Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, and placed within a "Microsoft Apps" folder pinned to the phones' home screens.
- S6/S6 Edge users also get 115GB of free OneDrive storage. Microsoft's Office apps weren't found on demo units, but past rumors suggest they could be part of the package. The deal comes after Microsoft and Samsung ended their Android royalty squabble.
- Meanwhile, Microsoft has launched the Lumia 640 and 640XL, new mid-range Windows Phones that come with a free year of Office 365 Personal (normally costs $70). The 640 has a 5" 720p display, and respectively sells for $155 (3G) and $178 (3G/4G). The 640XL has a 5.7" 720p display, and sells for $211 (3G) and $245 (3G/4G). Both devices use Qualcomm's quad-core/mid-range Snapdragon 400 processor.
- The software giant has also announced it won't release a new flagship Lumia until the mobile version of Windows 10 is ready. IDC estimates Windows Phone had a 2.8% smartphone unit share in Q4, down from 3% a year earlier.
Thu, Feb. 26, 2:25 PM
- The Nikkei and Chinese media report Microsoft (MSFT -0.1%) plans to cut 9K jobs at two Chinese phone manufacturing plants that originally belonged to Nokia. A local Microsoft exec is quoted as saying the plants will be shuttered by the end of March, with production capacity transferred to Vietnam.
- Microsoft announced last July it's cutting 12.5K phone division jobs, and 18K within the company overall. The software giant is in the midst of significantly paring back the division's declining feature phone ops; it sold 39.7M non-Lumia phones in the December quarter to go with 10.5M Lumias.
- The job cuts come as Microsoft continues dealing with a Chinese antitrust probe, and a far-reaching effort by China to lower its dependence on foreign tech suppliers. The company laid off its Chinese Xbox R&D team last fall.
Fri, Feb. 20, 7:31 PM
- Though more complex to run that standard public cloud solutions, hybrid clouds are "likely to grow as a percentage of total cloud deployments in the next two to three years" due to strong corporate interest, argues Pac Crest's Brendan Barnicle. He expects Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), which has made an aggressive hybrid cloud push via Azure and its integrations with various on-premise Microsoft products, to benefit.
- While Amazon and Google overwhelmingly focus on public cloud services, Barnicle observes many enterprises are more partial to a hybrid approach in which mission-critical apps and data are kept on-premise, while other workloads are moved to public clouds. He also points out hybrid clouds enable new backup, disaster recovery, and archiving services, among others.
- In addition, Barnicle argues a server upgrade cycle resulting from Microsoft's ending of Windows Server 2003 support (set for July 14) will boost Azure demand. "We believe many of these customers will be upgrading to Windows Server 2012 R2, which would allow hybrid cloud deployments. Additionally, most of the SMB customers that need to upgrade are likely to transition to a public cloud solution such as Azure."
- Rackspace, IBM, and other backers of the OpenStack cloud infrastructure platform are also betting heavily on hybrid clouds. Meanwhile, Google struck a deal last month with VMware to make several Google public cloud services available on VMware's vCloud Air hybrid cloud platform.
- Microsoft hasn't broken out Azure's revenue by itself. The company did recently announce its Commercial Cloud revenue (covers Azure, Office 365 for businesses, and other offerings) is now on a $5.5B/year run rate.
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