For the quarter ended March 31, Lenovo’s net profit was $127 million, the company said on Thursday. Revenue shattered records and was at $7.8 billion, growing 4% from the same period last year.
In Lenovo’s home market of China, the company had an operating margin of 4.9%, an increase of 8% year-over-year. The company also saw continued profitability in its mobile devices business, which makes up 9% of its overall sales. At the end of the quarter, Lenovo’s smartphone shipments were up 206% year-over-year.
Globally, PC shipments were down 13.9% year-over-year in the quarter, the market’s steepest decline since research firm IDC began tracking the market in 1994. Lenovo itself posted flat year-over-year PC shipment growth in the period.
Smartphone and tablet popularity have hurt PC sales, according to analysts. Computers running Microsoft’s Windows 8 have also failed to drum up consumer interest in the previous two quarters.
Lenovo, however, has managed to weather the slowdown by taking advantage of the Chinese PC market, where it has an over 30% market share. Close to half of the company’s revenue comes from the country, now the world’s largest PC market.
The company is now close to surpassing leading PC vendor HP for the top spot. The company had a 15.3% share of the market in this year’s first quarter, while HP had a 15.7% share.
But the Chinese PC maker also plans to focus more of its investment on tablets, smartphones and enterprise hardware, the company’s CEO Yang Yuanqing said in a statement. Earlier this year, Lenovo also reorganized its operations to sharpen the company’s branding and compete better in high-end products.
For the current fiscal year, Lenovo aims to ship 50 million smartphones, up from 30 million last year, Yang said Thursday in an earnings call. It aims to ship 10 million tablets, a five-fold increase from the previous fiscal year.
Most of Lenovo’s smartphone sales come from China, but the company has also begun selling handsets in the emerging markets of Russia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. In addition, Lenovo is preparing to bring its smartphones to the U.S. and European markets, Yang said, without saying when.
The system, called Login Verification, gives users the option to have a verification code sent to their mobile phone every time they log in to Twitter. After a person enrolls, he or she will be able to enter a six-digit code sent via SMS each time the user signs in to twitter.com. The system is designed to provide a second check on top of a regular password to help ensure only authorized users log in.
The feature, which Twitter describes as a form of two-factor authentication, can be turned on from a user’s account settings page.
The release comes after numerous hacks targeted at companies including the Associated Press, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Jeep and even Burger King.
Twitter announced in February that the site itself had been breached.
Security experts have long called on Twitter to offer enhanced security features to its users such as a two-factor sign-in process. Those calls increasedfollowing the recent spate of cyberattacks.
Other large technology companies in Silicon Valley such as Apple, Facebook and Google already offer two-step authentication as an option.
In its announcement of Login Verification, Twitter seems to be acknowledging users’ security concerns. Usually, “login attempts come from the genuine account owners, but we occasionally hear from people whose accounts have been compromised by email phishing schemes or a breach of password data elsewhere on the web,” wrote Jim O’Leary, of Twitter’s product security team, in a blog post.
Seagate has announced what it claims is the “industry’s first” 4TB video hard disk drive, that is, a 3.5in HDD that is engineered specifically for use in video applications such as digital video recorders (DVRs), set-top boxes (STBs) and surveillance systems.
“Purpose-built for video solutions, the Video 3.5 HDD can store up to 480 hours of HD content making it the industry’s highest-capacity drive designed specifically for video,” the firm said.
When we asked how the hard drive is engineered for video applications and is not just a bog standard hard disk drive, Seagate explained that the hard drive supports up to 16 HD video streams or 20 standard definition video streams simultaneously, as well as having 24×7 operation capabilities.
To clarify what exactly this means, we asked Seagate to explain how the video hard drive differs from a desktop hard drive. A Seagate spokesperson said that the video hard drive is built for DVR like applications that run 24 hours a day seven days a week in warmer environments, such as a DVR inside an entertainment center, with support for profiles to ensure continuous smooth delivery of video content.
“They’re built to support an ATA-8AV command set which means they’re optimised for streaming, meaning we can support 30 percent more HD streams on this drive than on a laptop drive,” Seagate explained.
“ATA commands are also paired with command completion times that are optimised for video so if your drive has corrupt data, which likely is a single pixel on one frame of your screen, the drive knows to skip over it rather than go back to correct or rebuild that data which would cause your video to pause while this happens.”
The video drive has also been built for low power consumption and heat emission so device designers and manufacturers can build the drive into designs more flexibly. It also offers “superior acoustic management” to limit audible distractions during operation of DVRs and STBs, so designers can build nearly silent home entertainment systems.
“Boasting near silent acoustics, the drive operates below the range of audible sound for the human ear at just 2.3 decibels providing optimised acoustics for home entertainment components, crucial for consumer electronics and video applications,” the firm added.
4TB of data is capable of storing around 100 full length DVD quality movies. Compressed movies take up much less space, with the drive being able to store around 4,000 lower quality films. For movies that have been condensed into the popular HD compression format Matroska video (MKV) at HD 720p, the drive can store around 1,000 two-hour movies, or 120,000 minutes of video, making it idea for storing all your favourite episodes of cheesy American TV shows such as Gossip Girl or 90210.
Seagate hasn’t yet announced a release date or pricing for its 4TB video hard disk drive.
That’s one of the tools the world’s largest retailer plans to use to improve the in-store shopping experience as it looks to mobile-influenced purchases outpacing e-commerce sales, said Gibu Thomas, Wal-Mart’s global head of mobile, in a CTIA Wireless keynote speech on Wednesday.
“The future of retailing is the history of retailing, of a personalized interactive experience for every customer delivered through a smartphone,” Thomas said. Citing independent studies of the U.S. market, Thomas said in-store buying influenced by mobile use was on track to be about twice as big as e-commerce sales by 2016.
Mobile already drives about one-third of the traffic to Walmart.com, spiking to more than 40 percent during the holiday season late last year, Thomas said. The store’s smartphone app also boosts buying: Customers who have the app make more trips to Wal-Mart and spend as much as 40 percent more there, he said. A majority of Wal-Mart’s customers have smartphones.
The app already includes a shopping-list function, which can tell customers where to find their products in the store and give them relevant digital coupons they can redeem through the phone. Wal-Mart is testing a system called “Scan and Go” with which shoppers can scan each their purchases with the Wal-Mart app and then scan their phone once at a self-checkout register to pay, Thomas said.
But through analyzing what customers usually buy, the company now thinks it can automatically compile a list that will come up whenever the shopper opens up the app. It’s designed to anticipate what the customer will need.
“The best shopping list is the one you don’t have to create, so that’s the one we’re working on,” Thomas said.
Although the iPhone remained the top smartphone by customer satisfaction, with a score of 81 in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) published Tuesday, Apple’s lead largely evaporated. Not only did Apple’s score fall two points from the year before, satisfaction in competitors’ devices jumped.
Samsung’s satisfaction score grew the most, increasing by five points to 76, a 7% gain. Motorola’s score climbed 5.5% to 77 points, while Nokia’s gained a point to close at 76, a 1.3% increase. Other smartphone manufacturers’ scores slumped: Those of HTC and LG slid 4% and 5.3%, respectively.
2012′s eight-point gap between Apple and the best of the rest was halved in 2013, as Apple now leads the next-closest, Motorola, by just four points.
ACSI’s director, David VanAmburg, attempted to explain Apple’s shrinking lead.
“While the iPhone 5 had strong sales, it has not bolstered Apple’s overall customer satisfaction,” said VanAmburg in a report accompanying the survey results. “[And Samsung's] improvement is the largest yet for any cell phone manufacturer.”
VanAmburg credited the 2012 launch of the Galaxy S3 for the boost to Samsung’s score, and noted that the 81 scored by the iPhone lagged behind the 86 garnered by Apple’s Mac personal computers and iPad tablets last September.
ACSI’s results generally conformed with media coverage and customer reactions to the iPhone 5 — which was seen as a minor upgrade, even though it sported a slightly larger screen — and Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and S4, which have been applauded. Most analysts, for instance, have portrayed Samsung as Apple’s only real competitor.
According to IDC, Samsung shipped 71 million smartphones in the first quarter, while Apple shipped 37 million iPhones, or just over half as many. Apple’s share shrunk to 17.3% for the quarter, down from 23% the same period in 2012; meanwhile, Samsung’s share climbed from 28.8% to 32.7%.
The Internet company nabbed the 92nd spot in the annual list of global companies from multiple industries including technology, retail and service, released Tuesday by BrandZ, a brand equity database. The ranking gave Yahoo a “brand value” of US$9.83 billion, which is based on the opinions of current and potential users as well as actual financial data.
Apple occupied the number-one position on the list, with a brand value of $185 billion. Google was number two, with a value of roughly $114 billion.
The BrandZ ranking, commissioned by the advertising and marketing services group WPP, incorporates interviews with more than 2 million consumers globally about thousands of brands along with financial performance analysis to compile the list. Yahoo last appeared on the list in 2009 at number 81.
Yahoo’s inclusion on the 2013 list comes as the Internet company works to reinvent itself and win back users. Previously a formidable player in Silicon Valley, the company has struggled in recent years to compete against the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter.
Improving its product offerings on mobile has been a focus. New mobile apps for email and weather have been unveiled, along with a new version of the main Yahoo app, featuring news summaries generated with technology the company acquired when it bought Summly.
Most notably, Monday the company announced it is acquiring the blogging site Tumblr for $1.1 billion in cash. Big changes to its Flickr photo sharing service were also announced.
Yahoo’s rebuilding efforts have picked up steam only during the last several months, but the 2013 BrandZ study was completed by March 1.
However, last July’s appointment of Marissa Mayer as CEO likely played a significant role in the company’s inclusion in the ranking, said Altimeter analyst Charlene Li. “Consumer perception has gone up since then,” she said.
“Yahoo’s leadership has a strong sense of what they want to do with the brand,” she added.
Yahoo’s 2012 total revenue was flat at $4.99 billion. However, after subtracting advertising fees and commissions paid to partners, net revenue was up 2 percent year-on-year.
The new bid marks a significant boost from its earlier offer of $2.97 per share and beats Dish’s $3.30 bid. Clearwire shareholders had been scheduled to vote on Sprint’s offer at a special meeting Tuesday, but that meeting has now been postponed until May 30.
Sprint already owns roughly half of Clearwire, which has been its partner for 4G WiMax service since 2008. After Softbank agreed to invest $20 billion in Sprint and take a 70 percent share in the company, Sprint moved to complete its ownership. It plans to use Clearwire’s spectrum to beef up its new LTE network.
But Dish, a satellite TV and broadband provider, has made offers for both Sprint and Clearwire in an attempt to get into the relatively fast-growing mobile business. On Monday, Sprint announced it had received permission from Softbank to negotiate with Dish on its $25.5 billion offer, though Sprint said it still favored the Softbank deal.
Clearwire’s board of directors agreed to Sprint’s offer in December, but some minority shareholders in Clearwire had vowed to reject the deal, saying it undervalued the company and its significant spectrum holdings. Sprint had already increased its offer once, in December, from $2.90 per share to $2.97.
GrubHub and Seamless, which allow consumers to easily order online from various restaurants, are part of a group of fast-growing businesses that standardize local services under a national umbrella. Think restaurant reservations, where OpenTable dominates, or car services, where privately held startups such as Uber are making significant inroads.
“Internet sites are able to aggregate local merchants, and we’re right in the sweet spot,” said Matt Maloney, GrubHub chief executive, in a phone interview.
The services did not disclose financial terms of the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval. It is expected to close by August, the services’ executives said.
Online takeout services allow consumers to browse hundreds of menus online, along with reviews by fellow diners, and then order from the service, which notifies the restaurant. The services store payment information, cutting back on the time it takes to order food.Restaurants like the services because they cut back on phone calls at peak times.
Last year, GrubHub and Seamless coordinated $875 million in takeout sales, resulting in more than $100 million in combined revenue, they said in a statement.
But the overall U.S. takeout business is worth around $69 billion annually, with most of those sales coming from diners picking up the phone and calling the restaurant. “Our number one competitor is the paper menu,” Maloney said.
Both companies have attracted significant backing, including more than $84 million for Chicago-based GrubHub from investors such as Benchmark Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
New York-based Seamless’s backers include private-equity firm Spectrum Equity, which paid $50 million two years ago for a minority stake in the business.
GrubHub is the larger of the two services, covering 20,000 restaurants in 500 cities. Maloney, its founder and chief executive, will become CEO of the combined company, while Seamless CEO Jonathan Zabusky will serve as president.
Seamless currently works with 12,000 restaurants in 40 cities, including in London.
The combined company will have 600 employees.
Finnish startup Jolla has announced its first smartphone, which debuts its Sailfish OS on a 4.5-inch screen. The device integrates the company’s unique back covers with the software, allowing the look to change and new features to be added.
Jolla, which was founded by former Nokia employees who wanted to continue the development work the Finnish phone maker had done on the MeeGo OS, is with the introduction one big step closer to entering the ultra-competitive smartphone market.
“The earliest memories I have of things really crystalizing is from the summer of 2011. I was on holiday and there was a conference call I took on the beach, and the people that became Jolla, the founders and many of the early contributors were on that call. But to me the hard work really started in January 2012,” said Marc Dillon, who recently stepped down as the company’s CEO to focus on developing the first phone.
The LTE-smartphone — which is just called Jolla, for now — is powered by a dual-core processor and has an 8-megapixel camera. It also has 16GB of integrated storage which can be expanded using an SD card.
The smartphone has been designed to look like two thin slabs that have been bonded together, and users can change the color of the back one with different snap-on covers. The back cover isn’t just about the hardware design. It is integrated with the OS and can be used to add features and change the look, a concept Jolla calls “the other half.”
“This is one of the most powerful things we have … a very simple example could be that you have covers with different colors,” Dillon said. “So you change the back of the device to a red one in the evening and a black one for the office and that would also change the user interface because there is a connection there.”
The cover could also have more memory for extra content that could be used by artists to put out limited edition phones, according to Dillon.
The company’s core offering is the Sailfish operating system, which Jolla hopes will lure users away from competing platforms. To help boost the availability of apps, the OS will be able to run Android applications.
The heart of the OS consists of thumbnails of opened applications on the homescreen from which users also can access multiple features directly by scrolling from side-to-side or just clicking on them to access the main feature.
“The true multitasking is working in lots of different applications. You can have a video running in a thumbnail while you are doing something else on the device,” Dillon said.
The Jolla will start shipping during the fourth quarter and cost a!399 (US$510) including taxes in the EU. It can be preordered on Jolla’s website.
DAS (distributed antenna systems) using coaxial cable have been the main solution to the problem, but they now face some limitations. To address them, Corning will introduce a DAS at this week’s CTIA Wireless trade show in Las Vegas that uses fiber instead of coax all the way from the remote cell antennas to the base station in the heart of a building.
Cable-based DAS hasn’t kept up with the new world, according to the optical networking vendor. Though Corning is associated more often with clear glass than with thin air, it entered the indoor wireless business in 2011 by buying DAS maker MobileAccess. That’s because Corning thinks optical fiber is the key to bringing more mobile capacity and coverage inside.
The system, called Corning Optical Network Evolution (ONE) Wireless Platform, can take the place of a DAS based fully or partly on coaxial cable, according to Bill Cune, vice president of strategy for Corning MobileAccess. Corning ONE will let mobile carriers, enterprises or building owners set up a neutral-host DAS for multiple carriers using many different frequencies.
Though small cells are starting to take its place in some buildings, DAS still has advantages over the newer technology, according to analyst Peter Jarich of Current Analysis. It can be easier to upgrade because only the antennas are distributed, so more of the changes can be carried out on centralized gear. Also, small cells are typically deployed by one mobile operator, and serving customers of other carriers has to be done through roaming agreements, he said.
Corning ONE links each antenna to the base station over optical fiber, converting the radio signals to optical wavelengths until they reach the base station. Fiber has more capacity than coax, can handle higher frequencies, and requires just one cable from a MIMO antenna, Cune said. Because of fiber’s high capacity, it’s relatively easy to bring other mobile operators onto the DAS.
The system is based on optical fiber, but it can be extended over standard Ethernet wiring to provide backhaul for Wi-Fi access points. Each Corning ONE remote antenna unit that’s deployed around a building will have two Ethernet ports to hook up nearby Wi-Fi access points, which can use the fiber infrastructure for data transport to wired LAN equipment, Cune said.
The Android-based device will plug into a display’s HDMI port so that it can run applications or access files stored remotely. It will have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities and is aimed at users who do most of their computing on the Web.
Ophelia can turn any screen or display into a PC, gaming machine or a TV set-top box, said Jeff McNaught, executive director of cloud client computing at Dell. Users will be able to download apps, movies and TV shows from the Google Play store, McNaught said. Users will also be able to run Android games or stream movies from Hulu or Netflix.
It is meant to be an inexpensive alternative to tablets and PCs, McNaught said. However, users need to be close to a TV screen, display or projector with an HDMI port to use it.
The company is working on a keyboard-like technology for users to type when Ophelia is docked to a screen, he said.
Dell will demonstrate Ophelia on 19-inch and 55-inch screens at next week’s Citrix Synergy conference in Los Angeles. It was introduced in January at the International CES show.
The person acknowledged that other parties were involved, adding that DirecTV was “one of many” suitors. Media reports have previously identified Time Warner Cable Inc as another company weighing a potential stake in the company.
Representatives of DirecTV and Time Warner Cable declined to comment on Friday.
Reuters reported in April that former News Corp president Peter Chernin had bid around $500 million for Hulu, the service he helped create in 2007. Reuters also reported that Guggenheim had been hired to advise Hulu and was also contemplating a bid.
DirecTV had circled Hulu once before, when the video company put itself on the block in 2011. Other suitors at the time included Google Inc,Amazon.com Inc and Dish Network Corp. Talks collapsed over the price of that deal.
Hulu has more than 3 million subscribers paying $7.99 a month for its premium service, and generated revenue of around $700 million last year. It sells advertising for its free service.
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report DirecTV’s interest late last Friday.
Google Inc announced on Thursday a half-dozen apps specially designed to work on its Glass devices. News network CNN, fashion magazine Elle, as well as online apps Tumblr and Evernote were among the half-dozen new apps for Glass unveiled during Google’s annual developer conference in San Francisco.
Google Glass is a stamp-sized electronic screen mounted on the left side of a pair of eyeglass frames which can record video, access email and messages and retrieve information from the Web.
Google began distributing the devices last month to a limited number of developers, but it has yet to specify when a version will be available for consumers or at what price.
The futuristic-looking devices have been a common sight at the Google conference this week, with many of the attendees and staffers wearing Glass. But Google executives gave Glass short shrift during the more than three-hour keynote talks on Wednesday, barely mentioning Glass among the litany of new products and services discussed on stage.
There are multiple theories for the decline in pay, but a common one cited by analysts is simply that the new people being hired are paid less than those already on the job.
The average annual wage of all workers in the software services sector was $99,000 in 2012, about $2,000 less than the prior year, reported TechAmerica Foundation in its annual Cyberstates report.
The foundation is an affiliate of the industry trade group TechAmerca. It uses Labor Dept. data to assemble its report.
Matthew Kazmierczak, a senior vice president at TechAmerica, said if there is lots of hiring in an industry and the pay for new hires is below average, the average wage could go down.
The hiring could be below the overall salary average “if many of the new jobs are more ‘entry’ level or people without the same specialized skills or years of experience (managerial or otherwise) as a more seasoned employee,” said Kazmierczak.
“It is also possible that with the recession, wages [for new hires] dropped as more people were competing for jobs. So wages for new jobs are below average,” said Kazmierczak.
The Cyberstates report puts the tech labor force at 5.95 million in 2012, an increase of 1.1% from the prior year. Of that, 1.87 million workers are in software services jobs.
Software services, which includes government defined labor categories software publishers, custom programmers, computer facilities management and other computer related services, are the best paid and the largest segment of the tech work force.
Dell’s profit for the quarter, ended May 3, was $130 million, down 79 percent from $635 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue declined 2 percent to $14.07 billion.
Dell’s PC division was particularly hard hit. Sales for the quarter were down 9 percent to $8.9 billion, Dell said, and the group’s operating profit skidded 65 percent lower to $224 million. Laptop sales were hit especially hard.
Its enterprise business showed mixed performance. Sales of servers and network gear were up 14 percent but storage was down 10 percent. Dell’s services division reported a 2 percent increase in revenue.
Dell is trying hard to build an enterprise software business, which it hopes will eventually generate higher profits than its PC division. The software group reported an operating loss for the quarter, however, as Dell invested in new sales and R&D staff.
Dell’s earnings for the quarter on a pro forma basis, which excludes one-time items, were $0.21 a share, well off the analyst forecast of $0.35 a share, according to Thomson Reuters.
In a statement, CFO Brian Gladden said Dell’s profits were affected by steps it took to improve its competitiveness. “We’ll also continue to make important investments to support our strategy and drive long-term profitability,” he said.
Michael Dell announced in February that he planned to take the company private in a deal with Silver Lake Partners valued at $24.4 billion. The company founder has said he wants some breathing room to focus on long term investments without the constant scrutiny from Wall Street.