Pandora Media Inc, owners of the leading Internet radio service, reported a lower-than-expected increase in listeners in the third quarter, sending the company’s shares down 6 percent in extended trading on Thursday.
Pandora said it had 76.5 million active listeners as of Sept. 30, an increase of 5.2 percent from a year earlier.
Analysts, on average, had expected 76.7 million, according to market research firm StreetAccount.
Total listener hours rose to 4.99 billion from 3.99 billion, but again fell short of the average estimate of 5.02 billion.
Pandora’s profit and revenue both beat market expectations, however, as more people listened to streamed music on their mobile phones.
Mobile revenue increased 52 percent to $188 million, while local advertising revenue rose 118 percent to $41.8 million.
Despite its huge user base, Pandora faces stiff competition from Spotify, Apple Inc’s Beats online streaming service, Google Inc, and Amazon.com Inc in the fast-growing music streaming business.
After several years of accelerated growth, the U.S. market is feeling the effects of market saturation and smartphone ownership that’s lasting longer than once expected, Ramon Llamas, an analyst IDC, said in an updated forecast.
IDC’s five-year forecast issued for October significantly undercuts its April forecast, dropping expectations for U.S. smartphone and feature phone shipments by manufacturers to retailers. IDC now expects 1.7 million fewer phones shipped in 2104 than it had expected in April; it predicts 174 million phones will ship this year, with that figure declining gradually to 169 million in 2018.
Smartphone shipments alone will grow just slightly through 2018 in the U.S., but about 5% less than earlier expected, rising from 150 million in 2014 to 160.5 million in 2018. Feature phones shipments have dropped off faster than earlier expected.
Llamas said the signs of decline started in late 2011, prompting carriers in the past year to try to get customers to replace phones more often with easy trade-in plans and relaxed contracts.
It’s too soon to say what effect the early trade-in plans will have on the market, Llamas said. The life of an average smartphone still lasts about two years, but that could be changing.
Paying on installment plans “could really change the market,” Llamas said in an interview. “But if people pay off their devices and then realize they don’t have to pay the carrier as much [at the end of the payoff period] and only pay for wireless service, they might just hold onto their phones. I think people will hold onto their phones as long as they can after they are paid off. If this plays out and they hold on and don’t update, we’ll see flattening of sales volumes year after year, or even declines, all in the name of saving money.”
Realizing what’s happening in the U.S. and among other major economies, both Apple and Samsung have concentrated heavily on selling their new smartphones in China and other areas where smartphone sales are still strong.
The WiGig standard has been around since 2009, but we haven’t really seen it hitting that many retail devices. Back at IDF 2014, Intel demonstrated WiGig 802.11ad video, peripherals, 4K video transfer and it promised that Skylake based laptops will come out of the box with the technology.
WiGig will let you transfer up to 7Gbpps of audio, video or data via 2.4, 5 or 6GHz bands and is as fast as eight-antenna 802.11ac and nearly 50 times faster than highest 802.11n rate. It is backward compatible with WiFi standards, but due to its high frequency it is limited to short distances, usually up to 10 meters, cannot really penetrate walls but it can propagate by reflecting off of walls, ceilings or objects using beam forming.
Now Qualcomm showcased this technology for the first time and promised it inside Snapdragon 810 based devices. Qualcomm demonstrated peer-to-peer connection and transfer of 4K video between two 20nm Snapdragon 810 based tablets. One of the tablets was the sync side and it was connected directly to a 4K TV and it was clear that you could play a content from one tablet and sync it to the second one.
WiGig’s 7Gbps translates to 875MB per second in the best case scenario. The Qualcomm demo shows a Plutonium MSM8994 based tablet hitting up to 187MB a second (1.5 Gbit per second) available for data transfer, with 4K multi-device streaming on the side. WiGig can possibly get to external storage, enabling faster NAS systems, future peripherals such as keyboard and mouse and on a longer run it can completely eliminate the necessity for docking stations. It will take some time but this is the grand idea.
It remains to be seen when we will be able to buy first Snapdragon 810 device with 802.11ad WiGig abilities. Qualcomm mentioned 2015 a number of times, but there’s nothing more specific than that. A potential problem for this standard might be the speed of flash storage that is used in tablets and phones today. According to Androbench, the HTC One M8 can sequentially read 92.29 MB/s, sequentially write only 17 MB/s, while Nvidia’s Shield tablet can sequentially read 67.75 MB/s, and write only 14.09 MB/s.
The performance gets even less impressive with smaller files, but with numbers we are getting from latest 2014 devices, the flash has to increase speed up to 10 times in order to be ready to write files at 150MB. For theoretical maximum of ridiculously fast 875 MB/s we need about 50 times faster memory that the 14-17MB/s write speed available in the current generation of high end mobile devices.
Twitter Inc will allow users to play podcasts, music and other audio clips direct from their timelines, or message feeds, by using a new feature designed in partnership with Berlin-based audio-streaming service SoundCloud.
The online messaging service introduced what it dubbed “Audio Card,” through which users can listen to a variety of content whilst browsing their timelines.
For starters, Twitter has promised audio from SoundCloud’s partners, which include such diverse sources as NASA, the Washington Post, CNN, David Guetta, Coldplay and Warner Music.
But it’s trying to snag more content partners in future, Twitter said in a recent blog posting.
Twitter didn’t say how Audio Card might evolve, except to stress that it offers musicians a chance to post exclusive clips.
“Many more musical artists and creators will be able to share exclusive, in-the-moment audio to millions of listeners on Twitter,” the company added.
Twitter’s new feature comes after rivals from Apple Inc to Google Inc have jumped into the business of music-streaming, considered the fastest-growing segment of a music market dominated by iTunes.
Twitter had reportedly been in discussions to acquire audio-sharing website SoundCloud, which has been called the Youtube of music, as far back as June.
Gartner and IDC both recently dramatically lowered their tablet shipment and sales estimates for 2014 and coming years, citing primarily the longer-than-expected time customers keep their existing tablets. (That phenomenon is called the “refresh rate.”)
Gartner said it had originally expected 13% tablet sales growth for the year globally; it has now lowered that growth rate to 11%. IDC’s forecast change was even more dire: In June, it predicted shipment growth this year would be 12.1%, but in September it cut that number to 6.5%.
In the U.S., things are worse, because more than half of households have a tablet and may hold onto it for more than three years, well beyond analysts’ earlier expectations.
IDC said in its latest update that tablet growth in the U.S. this year will be just 1.5%, and will slow to 0.4% in 2015. After that, it expects negative growth through 2018. Adding in 2-in-1 devices, such as a Surface Pro with a keyboard, the situation in the U.S. improves, although overall growth for both tablets and 2-in-1′s will still only reach 3.8% in 2014, and just 0.4% by 2018, IDC said.
“Tablet penetration is high in the U.S. — over half of all households have at least one — which leads to slow growth…,” Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Gartner, said in an interview. “A smartphone is a must-have item, but a tablet is not. You can do the same things on a laptop as you do with a tablet, and these are all inter-related.”
Tablets are a “nice-to-have and not a must-have, because phones and PCs are enough to get by,” added Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel.
In a recent Kantar survey of 20,000 potential tablet buyers, only 13% said they definitely or probably would buy a tablet in the next year, while 54% said they would not, Milanesi said. Of those planning not to buy a tablet, 72% said they were happy with their current PC.
At IDC, analyst Tom Mainelli reported that the first half of 2014 saw tablet growth slow to 5.8% (from a growth rate of 88% in the first half of 2013). Mainelli said the meteoric pace of past years has slowed dramatically due to long device refresh cycles and pressure from sales of large phones, including the new iPhone 6 Plus. That phone has a 5.5-in. display, which is close to some smaller tablets with 7-in. displays.
Juniper Research now estimates smartwatch shipments will hit 100 million by 2019. The firm expects several high-profile products to launch over the next year or so, helping boost mainstream awareness.
However, the figures are anything but encouraging.
The report, titled ‘Smart Watches: Market Dynamics, Vendor Strategies & Scenario Forecasts 2014-2019′, expects growth will decelerate from 2016 onwards. The first batch will ride the hype, but moving forward it won’t do much for mainstream adoption.
However, the forecast also examines the possibility of sustaining 2014-2015 growth in the long term.
If consumers discover a ‘key use case’ or cases for smartwatches, backed by more product releases on the back of higher demand, higher growth could be sustained. In plain English, if people actually find a use for smartwatches, they will see more growth.
Unfortunately the case is hard to make at this point. Smartwatches face a number of hardware limitations and software support is still limited, which means they are not very useful at the moment. Juniper expects more vendors to integrate GPS, NFC and other technologies, but the downside is that smartwatches are not expected to become very cheap. The firm estimates premium branding and high functionality to keep prices at $200+ until the end of the decade.
Europeans not too keen
One possible application that could generate more demand comes in the form of mobile payments. Apple Pay is coming to the Apple Watch, but the service will be limited to the US for quite a while and Apple won’t have an easy time launching it in other markets, where it enjoys a much lower market share.
The problem with mobile digital wallets is that they have not taken off yet. What’s more, new research indicates that Europeans are not sold on the idea of smartwatch wallets.
The survey, carried out by German market research firm GfK, found that just 20 percent of Germans and 27 percent of Britons are interested in contactless payments built into a watch. However, Chinese and American consumers are more open to the idea, with 40 and 54 percent saying they are interested.
Most consumers said they are interested in health applications and many said they would store identification data on their smartwatches.
The move by Groupe BPCE, France’s second largest bank by customers, coincides with Twitter’s own foray into the world of online payments as the social network seeks new sources of revenue beyond advertising.
Twitter is racing other tech giants Apple and Facebook to get a foothold in new payment services for mobile phones or apps. They are collaborating and, in some cases, competing with banks and credit card issuers that have run the business for decades.
The bank said last month it was prepared to offer simple person-to-person money transfers via Twitter to French consumers, regardless of what bank they use, and without requiring the sender know the recipient’s banking details.
“(S-Money) offers Twitter users in France a new way to send each other money, irrespective of their bank and without having to enter the beneficiary’s bank details, with a simple tweet,” Nicolas Chatillon, chief executive of S-Money, BPCE’s mobile payments unit, said in the statement.
Payment by tweets will be managed via the bank’s S-Money service, which allows money transfers via text message and relies on the credit-card industry’s data security standards.
BPCE and Twitter declined to provide further details ahead of a news conference in Paris later today to unveil the service.
Last month, Twitter started trials of its own new service, dubbed “Twitter Buy”, to allow consumers to find and buy products on its social network.
The service embeds a “Twitter Buy” button inside tweets posted by more than two dozen stores, music artists and non-profits. Burberry, Home Depot, and musicians such as Pharrell and Megadeth are among the early vendors.
Twitter’s role to date has been to connect customers rather than processing payments or checking their identities.
The terms of the settlement were not being disclosed, a spokeswoman for Bose said in an email, adding only that the dispute had been “resolved.”
Bose, which makes high-end sound systems and headphones, filed the case last July in federal court in Delaware, alleging Beats had willfully infringed upon five of its patents in its Studio and Studio Wireless line of headphones.
Privately held Bose said it had lost profits and sales as a result and was seeking unspecified damages from Beats, which Apple Inc acquired this year for $3 billion.
A document filed with the court on Friday said both sides would dismiss the case and bear their own costs and legal fees.
The two companies also asked the International Trade Commission to suspend its investigation into the matter. Bose had asked the commission to block the import of Beats’ noise-cancellation products from China, where they are manufactured.
Beats headphones have become popular with music fans since the company was founded by rap mogul Dr. Dre and music producer Jimmy Iovine in 2006. Besides headphones, Beats has also entered online music streaming, competing with the likes of Pandora and Spotify.
A representative from Beats was not immediately available for comment.
GT Advanced relied on Apple and it appears that made it vulnerable. Apple had withheld the last $139 million payment to the company and no one is sure why. This meant that GT Advanced had spent $248 million in cash in one quarter and had no money coming in.
That may have led to the company’s filing, since its cash, at $85 million, was below a $125 million trigger point that would allow Apple to demand repayment of about $440 million in loans it had advanced. Apple had agreed to lend GT a total of $578 million to help get a large sapphire factory in Arizona up and running. The tech giant reportedly withheld the last $139 million payment it was due to make.
While it might be normal in the cut and thrust business world, does look like Apple might turn out to be the bad guy in this story. We would not be surprised if it offers the bankruptcy accountants a deal to buy the company at a knock down price. After all most of the company debts seem to be owned by Jobs’ Mob.
Adobe has been accused of snooping on e-document readers and using spyware to feedback on user libraries.
The accusation comes from the Digital Reader website and Nate Hoffelder, its editor. Hoffelder said that he was tipped to the issue by a ‘hacker’ associate and has tested and confirmed its authenticity.
At the nut of the issue is Digital Editions 4, which has more features than its users expected.
“My source told me, and I can confirm, that Adobe is tracking users in the app and uploading the data to their servers,” he said.
“Adobe is gathering data on the e-books that have been opened, which pages were read, and in what order. All of this data, including the title, publisher and other metadata for the book, is being sent to Adobe’s server in clear text. I am not joking.”
Hoffelder said that the data is sent from hardware to server in plain text, and that it takes other information with it, including metadata from e-books stored on the user’s hard drive. He added that he is shocked, and has put the issue to Adobe but failed to get a response.
We have followed suit and asked Adobe for comment or explanation as to what the system is and why it is happening.
Hoffelder has uploaded documents with information from tracking software Wireshark that shows material leaving his computer and going to an Adobe IP address.
“This is a privacy and security breach so big that I am still trying to wrap my head around the technical aspects, much less the legal aspects,” he said.
“I would highly recommend that users avoid running Adobe’s apps for the near future – ever again, for that matter. Luckily for us there are alternatives.”
Mobile metrics firms Mixpanel and Fiksu, which monitor the activity of iPhone owners via the analytics embedded in clients’ apps, have both noted an improvement in the ratio of the iPhone 6 Plus to iPhone 6 smartphones.
As of Sunday, for example, Mixpanel pegged the iPhone 6 at 6.02% of all iPhones, with the iPhone 6 Plus representing 1.34%. The ratio — 4.5:1, or 4.5 iPhone 6 handsets for every one iPhone 6 Plus — was an improvement for the iPhone 6 Plus from the 6.8:1 of two weeks prior.
Fiksu, another mobile app metrics provider, recorded a similar trend.
On Sunday, Fiksu’s ratio was 3.9:1 in favor of the iPhone 6, a stronger showing for the iPhone 6 Plus than two weeks before, when the ratio was 6.5:1.
In other words, about 18% to 20% of all iPhone 6 smartphones monitored by Mixpanel and Fiksu were iPhone 6 Pluses.
Apple still shows a delay between ordering and shipping for both models, but the lag for the iPhone 6 Plus — at “3-4 weeks” on its e-store — remained substantially longer than the iPhone 6 (“7-10 business days”) by a large margin.
But the increasing share of the iPhone 6 Plus in the usage data indicates that, even though it is harder to find than its smaller sibling, customers are acquiring it in larger numbers. That, in turn, hints that sales — or at least usage — of the iPhone 6 Plus are increasing faster than for the iPhone 6.
Most analysts expect the iPhone 6 Plus’s share to jump even more once the 5.5-in. smartphone goes on sale in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on Oct. 17. Customers in mainland China can pre-order the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus from Apple’s online store starting Friday, Oct. 10.
While the iPhone 6 Plus is out of stock on Apple’s online market, some of the Cupertino, Calif. company’s brick-and-mortar stores have devices to sell, according to iStockNow.com, a website that tracks iPhone retail availability.
Coated with white rubber, Yubi Navi looks a bit like a game controller or TV remote. It can link to a smartphone via Bluetooth and contains small actuators that twist it left or right or make it bulge slightly in the middle.
When used for navigation, it can guide a user to a destination by prompting him to turn left or right at a given intersection. When the goal is reached, it vibrates.
The idea is to free people from the need to keep looking at a map displayed on their smartphone.
At the Ceatec tech expo outside Tokyo, DoCoMo did demos of prototypes of the device, which were linked to a power source via wires. A screen displayed a 3D animation of the streets of a town through which attendees could virtually navigate with the help of Yubi Navi.
Aside from avoiding the dangers involved in not paying attention to one’s surroundings, this can help people enjoy a location more by noticing new shops and other attractions,” said Koji Okamoto of DoCoMo’s strategic marketing department. “In Japan, walking with smartphones is a big problem and we want to solve it.”
The device can also be used to send tactile “nudges” to other people as a form of communication, much like the haptic messaging functions of the Apple Watch.
DoCoMo also demonstrated one of its own wearables on Monday, a credit card-size sensor that straps on your forearm to tell you how much fat you’re burning.
The 54-gram prototype is a semiconductor-based gas sensor that can detect acetone molecules, which are emitted from the skin when fat is being burned.
DoCoMo managed to shrink the sensor from one that weighed 6 kilograms. It can link to a smartphone via Bluetooth and relay data on how much acetone it detects.
“We’d like to realize a healthier world just by wearing such a device that can measure various types of health indexes like fat burning,” said Satoshi Hiyama, an engineer with DoCoMo’s Frontier Technology Research Group.
The device could be further miniaturized to fit into fitness bands or smartwatches, Hiyama said.
EBay Inc’s agreement to spin off PayPal next year will give the unit more flexibility to strike deals in the constantly evolving payments arena as growth at the company’s traditional e-commerce business slows.
The surprise move is a huge about-face for eBay’s leadership, including Chief Executive Officer John Donahoe, who resisted shareholder activist Carl Icahn’s calls for a split earlier this year and led a months-long campaign to convince investors that eBay should remain intact.
Icahn, eBay’s sixth-largest shareholder, eventually backed off in April. But eBay directors and executives shifted their stance on the split in June after a six-month internal study of the payments landscape, Donahoe said in an interview.
“We felt like a couple things were changing,” Donahoe said. “Most notably, the pace of change in this competitive environment, and payments and commerce is accelerating and will continue to over the next three to five years.”
By splitting off PayPal, the fast-growing payments division and the new eBay would have “more focus, more flexibility, more agility, more ability to move quickly,” said Donahoe, who will step down as CEO after the spinoff in the second half of 2015.
Donahoe and Chief Financial Officer Bob Swan, who will also leave next year, plan to serve on the boards of one or both companies after the split. EBay will spin off PayPal as a publicly traded company in a transaction that will be tax-free to shareholders.
PayPal’s next CEO will be Dan Schulman, former head of American Express Co’s online and mobile payment business. The new eBay will be headed by Devin Wenig, president of eBay marketplaces and former head of the markets division at Thomson Reuters Corp.
By freeing itself from the slower-growing parts of eBay, PayPal can build partnerships with e-commerce rivals and seize market share from payment startups like Stripe, backed by several PayPal founders, and technology behemoths like Apple Inc, which unveiled its own mobile payments initiative earlier this month.
“There are those who have not embraced PayPal because they’re part of eBay,” said Richard Sichel, chief investment officer of The Philadelphia Trust Co, which manages $2 billion and owns eBay shares. “It’s more of a pure play then.”
The split highlights the slowing growth of the marketplace business, which may be less alluring for some investors on its own. PayPal was founded in the late 1990s, went public in 2002 and was acquired by eBay soon after for $1.5 billion.
The “transaction implies negative trends for the eBay marketplace business, which has been suffering from greater competitive headwinds recently,” RBC Capital analyst Mark Mahaney said in a research note.
The move, the first announced by a major insurer, allows Humana customers to more easily manage fitness data and other personal health goals, the company said in a statement.
Humana’s wellness program, called HumanaVitality, rewards members for hitting these goals, which include being more active, eating better or losing weight, with items such as movie tickets and fitness equipment.
Apple’s HealthKit gathers data such as blood pressure and weight from various applications, enabling it to be viewed by consumers and doctors in one place. Its ease of use is expected to increase the data sharing between doctors and patients.
Apple delayed the launch of HealthKit earlier this month when it pulled back its iOS 8 operating system for iPhones and iPads. HealthKit and the new Humana application, which has about 3.8 million eligible members, launched lastFriday.
Kuddle, a Norwegian photo-sharing app created for children, plans to roll out a child safe tablet with Microsoft on Dec 1, and expects to sign funding deals with several venture capital firms within weeks, its chief executive said on Monday.
The Oslo-based company said it was on track to reach its goal of one million users by year-end and plans to soon raise another $5 million of fresh funds on top of the nearly $6 million it has already raised.
“We are working with Microsoft on several child safe devices which will be sold on our online store,” Chief Executive Ole Vidar Hestaas said. “The first device will be an Ipad Mini sized tablet prized under $100 that will be ready ahead of the Kuddle Store launch.”
“This is a child friendly device and it is not possible to download games like GTA (Grand Theft Auto) or apps like Snapchat,” Hestaas said.
Kuddle, which bills itself as a rival to Instagram, lets parents monitor what their children publish and keeps access to content restricted, preventing strangers from seeing and sharing pictures. There are no hashtags or comments to prevent online bullying and “likes” are anonymous.
Hestaas said the company also is in talks with Samsung and Microsoft’s Nokia phones unit on similar cooperation, and that it was also working on deals with European telecoms operators Telenor and Vodafone for child safe Kuddle SIM cards to be sold separately or linked up to one of its devices.
The app, which has a target of 1 million users by the end of 2014, is now available in 7 languages. The most significant growth has recently come from Brazil and the US.
Hestaas said he expects to conclude funding deals with several major international venture capital funds within weeks.
The firm’s present investors include Norwegian golf ace Suzann Pettersen.