Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto doesn’t want to make games for “passive” people; the attitude that games ought to be to be a roller-coaster ride, to entertain without challenge, is, to his mind, “pathetic”. That was the message from the legendary game designer in an E3 interview with Edge magazine, published in this month’s edition; it’s been presented by other news outlets as a sign of a Nintendo U-turn, moving away from the casual market it sought with the Wii and the DS in favour of re-engaging core gamers.
That’s exactly the sort of message that most of the games media wants to hear, of course. The media, after all, speaks exclusively to core gamers; casual players generally don’t bother with specialist media. “Nintendo has seen the error of its ways and realised that the only people worth making games for are you, my dear brethren!” is a crowd-pleaser of a message; but it’s also a pretty big leap to make from the comments Miyamoto actually made.
First, the context. Edge had just challenged Miyamoto over the fact that his prototype games at E3 were all somewhat difficult to play. They used the Wii U GamePad in new ways which it took a while to get accustomed to; the question implied in the text of Edge’s interview isn’t about casual games at all, but about the difficulty level of the prototypes. Miyamoto’s response does make clear a mental distinction between different types of game consumer and a preference for those who enjoy some challenge in their entertainment, but to extrapolate that into a U-turn in Nintendo’s development priorities is an overreach.
In fact, Miyamoto’s comments – equating passivity with “the sort of people who, for example, might want to watch a movie. They might want to go to Disneyland. Their attitude is ‘OK, I am the customer; you are supposed to entertain me’” – are punching in a number of directions at once. Certainly, he’s frustrated by people who play games without ever really engaging with them as a challenge; I doubt he’s a fan of free-to-play systems that allow you to pay money to bypass challenges. Equally, though, those comments are an attack on some approaches to AAA game design; barren technological wonders which serve as little more than on-rails galleries for artwork and pale narrative. Miyamoto isn’t saying “casuals have ruined the market”; far from it. He’s saying that there are consumers who demand spoon-fed entertainment at all points of the spectrum from core to casual, and that he doesn’t want to make games for any of them. (It’s also worth noting that he’s not really blowing his top over this; “pathetic” doesn’t carry the same kind of stinging indictment in Japanese that it does in translation.)
Later in the Edge interview, Miyamoto veers back to similar territory when he talks about the proliferation of mainstream game-capable platforms like iOS and Android devices. While adamant that Nintendo needs to continue to make hardware as well as software, he’s delighted that these new platforms exist, because they provide an “on-ramp” for consumers who haven’t engaged with games before. Nintendo previously saw itself holding a responsibility to try to open up new demographics for the games industry; now it seems that we’ve reached a tipping point, technologically and culturally, where that’s happening by itself.
Edge speculates that this means Miyamoto (and hence Nintendo) believes that the window has shut on making games for entry-level gamers. Titles like Brain Training, which opened up the DS to a huge audience of people who had rarely if ever played games before, may now be pointless; the consumers they ought to target are all playing games on their phones and tablets, so there isn’t an addressable market remaining there for dedicated hardware and more expensive (non-F2P) games. This is fair analysis, and indeed, it probably features in Nintendo’s thinking; let iOS serve as the entry level for new gamers and then hope that those who enjoy the experience will ultimately upgrade to the superior offerings available on a dedicated console.
At the same time, though, Nintendo itself has a conception of “casual” and “core” that probably isn’t shared by the majority of sites reporting Miyamoto’s comments. Miyamoto talks not about themes but about enjoyment of challenge as the distinction between the two groups. To him, a supposedly “adult” game full of blood and ripe language could be utterly casual if it spoon-feeds players with dull, linear gameplay. Meanwhile, a brightly coloured Mushroom Kingdom epic could qualify as “core” if it challenges players in the right way. Consequently, Nintendo’s family-friendly IP and the broad appeal of its themes is entirely compatible with a focus on “core games”, to Miyamoto’s mind. What he’s talking about changing is something at the root of design, not the thematic wallpaper of the company’s games; he wants to challenge people, not to force Nintendo’s artists to remove all the primary colours from their Photoshop palettes.
Viewed in this light, Miyamoto’s comments are an earnest and down-to-earth appraisal of Nintendo’s present situation; still recovering from the heady days of the Wii and figuring out how much of that flash-in-the-pan market is really sustainable, but knuckling down to the challenge of entertaining and delighting (and of course, selling to) those within the audience who really enjoyed games rather than latching onto the platform as a fad. Contrary to the more excitable reportage on his comments, Miyamoto is promising no major changes to Nintendo’s approach; rather, he’s re-committing himself and the company to the same course of action which delivered games like Mario Kart 8, a title firmly within the family-friendly Nintendo tradition and absolutely celebratory of challenge and good design.
“Core gamer” is a phrase that’s picked up a strong whiff of soi-disant elitism and exclusion over the past few years; the phrase “as a core gamer…” in a forum post or comment thread is this odd little corner of society’s equivalent of “I’m not a racist, but…”, indicating a post that’s probably going to brim with self-important awfulness. The bête noire of the core gamer is the “casual”, and just as any move by a game creator or publisher to cater to “casuals” is despised and derided, any prodigal son who declares their abandonment of the casual market and return to the core is greeted with an I-told-you-so roar of delight. This is a thin sliver of the market overall, of course, but a noisy one; as such, it’s worth reiterating that what Miyamoto absolutely did not say is that Nintendo is resetting its course to please these people. Nintendo, for many years to come, will still be a company defined by games that are broadly appealing, generally family-friendly and enormously accessible. Under Miyamoto’s watchful eye, they’ll also be challenging and engaging; but anyone taking his comments on “passivity” as near-confirmation that we’ll see Grand Theft Mario down the line is utterly misreading the situation.
Top executives at Dell and BlackBerry Ltd scoffed at the threat posed by the alliance, arguing the tie-up is unlikely to derail the efforts of their own companies to re-invent themselves.
“I do not think that we take the Apple-IBM tie-up terribly seriously. I think it just made a good press release,” John Swainson, who heads Dell’s global software business, said in an interview with Reuters in Toronto last week.
PC maker Dell and smartphone maker BlackBerry are in the midst of reshaping their companies around software and services, as the needs of their big corporate clients morph.
Swainson, who spent over two decades in senior roles at IBM, said, “I have some trouble understanding how IBM reps are going to really help Apple very much in terms of introducing devices into their accounts. I mean candidly, they weren’t very good at doing it when it was IBM-logoed products, so I do not get how introducing Apple-logoed stuff is going to be much better.”
While conceding that Apple products hold more allure, Swainson said they lack the depth of security features that many large business clients like banks covet.
IBM and Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.
BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen similarly downplayed the threat of the alliance in an interview with the Financial Times, likening the tie-up to when “two elephants start dancing.”
A new survey commissioned by IHS in partnership with Gamer Network has shown that E3 gave a huge boost to the number of people interested in buying a Wii U, with purchasing intent growing by 50 per cent over the course of the event.
Around one thousand core gamers were surveyed on various purchase intentions before and after the LA show, revealing that, whilst Nintendo’s platform started out with the lowest number of people looking at buying it, it saw the biggest benefit from the show’s exposure. 20 per cent of respondents now intend to buy the machine, equal to those who are looking at an Xbox One, which saw a seven per cent increase in popularity.
Sony’s PS4, a clear leader going in to E3, lost ground to its competitors, sinking below 30 per cent of respondents.
In terms of anticipated games, consumers are champing at the bit for 2015′s third-party releases, with Warner’s Arkham Knight leading the charge with an incredible 60 per cent of those surveyed intending to buy the game for at least one platform. Gamers are slightly less excited for 2014′s titles, but Activision’s Destiny is the narrow leader for this year, edging out AC: Unity and GTA V with just under 50 per cent. Both Battlefield Hardline and CoD: Advanced Warfare are lagging behind slightly.
As might be expected, purchasing intent is higher amongst first-party exclusives for current platform owners. On PS4, Uncharted 4 was the most popular game both before and after E3 with 76 per cent of PS4 owners expected to buy it. On Xbox One, it’s Halo which pays the piper, garnering support from 77 per cent of One owners. Over on the Wii U and amazing 89 per cent of owners expect to buy the new Zelda game when it’s released. None of these platform-exclusive heavy hitters will land until 2015 at the earliest, which IHS predicts will increase pre-Christmas reliance on multi-platform games for Microsoft, Sony and, to a lesser extent, Nintendo.
“Although there are other exclusive titles coming in 2014 or already available,” the report reads, “none hold the influence that these leading titles have in terms of selling console hardware, with the exception of Mario Kart 8 for Wii U. As a result, the success of console sales this holiday shopping season will depend more heavily on the total value and content proposition including exclusive content offered by multi-platform games rather than a single, very influential system-selling exclusive. This factor will impact the marketing strategies of the platform holders as we move into 2014′s main shopping season.”
The 3DS stumbled at launch, enduring sluggish sales until Nintendo instituted a drastic price cut on the hardware. While Moffitt noted the impact of the price cut, he said a pair of first-party releases was another key driver in reversing the handheld’s fortunes.
“We had the price cut in August , and then we had Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land, which really drove sales that first holiday, and on 3DS we haven’t looked back,” Moffitt said. “So we’ve had momentum ever since that first holiday and we’ve got now 260 some games in the library and some of the best, most highest rated, most highest quality content we’ve ever had on that platform. Everything we launched seems to do above forecast and surprises us on the positive side.”
The situation with the Wii U is similar, Moffitt said, adding that the console is about to reach a very similar tipping point.
“As I look at what we have coming this holiday, now with Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros, plus the innovation of Amiibo, I think we are right at that tipping point where we have a lot of great content that is about to be released for that platform that’s going to tempt gamers into buying the system,” Moffitt said. “From the comments I’m reading online, and following gamers’ comments, I think there are a lot of people that are going to have a hard time resisting buying a Wii U once Smash Bros comes out. I think that’s going to be a major hardware driver for us. So that’s the narrative we hope that plays out and that I think we are starting to see play out.”
One avenue that Nintendo won’t be pursuing to spike Wii U sales is an unbundling of the GamePad, Xbox One Kinect-style. Both companies pitched the peripherals as essential components of their visions, but when Xbox One sales lagged, Microsoft found the demands of potential customers more convincing than their original plans. While Moffitt said Nintendo is still working to create gameplay experiences that demonstrate the true benefits of the Wii U GamePad, he said removing it from the hardware bundle is not in consideration.
“We think GamePad is the only innovation that’s come in this new generation of consoles. So we have the only real point of difference. Certainly graphics are faster, graphics are better. This is not a real innovation for gamers. We are fully committed to leveraging the GamePad, to keeping it bundled with the system.”
As for the problem of third-party support for Wii U, Moffitt namechecked the continued efforts of partners like Sega, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and Activision. While some big companies who have dropped the system, Moffitt understood why that would have happened and acknowledged it was Nintendo’s problem to fix.
“It’s all about driving the install base and so that’s our work to do, right? We need to get to a critical mass where it makes financial sense for them,” he said.
Moffitt added that third-party games don’t all come from the big AAA publishers. He touted the company’s efforts in lowering the barriers to entry for indie developers looking to publish on Nintendo platforms.
“We talked to a lot of them before launching the Wii U and we addressed some of the issues that really were holding some of them back from developing realistic content on our platform,” Moffitt said. “At least for the indie community, we’ve become a lot easier to do business with and we’re seeing a steady flow of content now.”
However, those efforts were largely invisible at E3. Where Microsoft and Sony devoted sections of their booths to indie developers working on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 respectively, there was no such equivalent in Nintendo’s booth.
“With any show, you have choices to make,” Moffitt said. “Every time I go down to our booth floor and see how many people are waiting to play Super Smash Bros, when I look outside at the Best Buys… Last night we had four hours of game play on Super Smash Bros. and we had 1,000 people in line. We had to turn people away. So it’s a tough choice for us as a platform holder. We don’t have enough game stations down there on Smash Bros. We try to feature as much content as we can in the limited space that we have. Right now we just have a lot of demand for Super Smash Bros. We could have used 10 more game stations on that game alone. Choices have to be made.”
Finally, Moffitt weighed in on the VR trend. While Nintendo has a distant history in the field with the Virtual Boy headset, Moffitt suggested Nintendo was taking a wait-and-see approach toward returning to it
“What I’d say is it’s appealing technology,” Moffitt said. “It’s interesting. We’re going to follow it closely to see where it goes. It’s got a lot of advantages. It’s got one disadvantage relative to what we know is often very fun for gamers, which is playing games socially in a living room. This is a very single player solitary gaming experience. Not all of our games are fun to play with multiple people in a living room in front of a game console but it doesn’t lend itself to that kind of an experience as well as what Wii U does now. That would be a disadvantage of going in that direction. Could it be a nice addition to our hardware platform? Sure.”
The company, whose software powers the Siri feature on Apple Inc’s iPhones, recently spoke to Samsung Electronics Co and some private equity firms for a possible deal, the Journal said.
Shares of Nuance, which has been struggling to hold on to its pricing in the handsets business, rose as much as 11 percent earlier in the week on the Nasdaq.
Carl Icahn reported a 15.9 percent increase in his stake in the company to 60.8 million shares for the quarter ended Dec. 31.
The activist investor, Nuance’s largest shareholder, held about 19.08 percent stake in the company as of March 31, 2014.
The company’s current market capitalization is about $5.45 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.
It wasn’t clear where the talks, some of which happened earlier this year, currently stand and whether they would result in a deal, the Journal said.
Oracle has added systems to its enterprise-class x86 server line featuring elastic computing capabilities that dynamically adapt their configurations in response to workloads.
The Oracle Sun Server X4-4 and Sun Server X4-8 are four-socket and eight-socket systems designed for data centre workloads such as virtualisation, Oracle databases and scale-up enterprise applications.
However, the two servers are fitted with a unique variant of Intel’s Xeon E7 v2 processor family that combines the capabilities of three different Xeon processors into one.
Oracle said it worked with Intel to create this chip, the Xeon E7-8895 v2, which can dynamically switch its core count, clock frequency and power consumption without the need for a system level reboot.
This chip is the heart of the elastic computing capability of the Sun Server X4-4 and Sun Server X4-8, enabling them to adapt to the requirements of different workloads based on its runtime configuration.
It might be configured for transaction processing at a high clock speed for one hour, then switched to higher core counts for the next hour for higher throughput computing, according to Oracle.
“Through close collaboration with Intel, we are the first to announce servers based on the new Xeon E7-8895 v2 processors and the first with unique capabilities that allow customers to dynamically address different workloads in real time,” said Ali Alasti, senior vice president for hardware development at Oracle.
Enhancements have also been made to the system firmware and to Oracle’s Solaris, and Oracle Linux operating systems to support the elastic computing features.
Oracle also said the new systems have a modular design that allows the processors to be upgraded to future Xeon chips, while all the disks are hot-swappable, plus there is hot-pluggable I/O support for industry-standard low-profile PCI Express cards via a dual PCIe card carrier.
The servers also feature a “glueless” architecture that removes the need for a node controller. As node controllers typically change from one processor generation to the next because of modifications to inter-processor communication and coherency protocols, the elimination enables Oracle to offer a future-proof chassis that will support future processor releases from Intel, the firm said.
The Sun Server X4-8 is touted by Oracle as ideal for running its Oracle Database, which has just been updated with an in-memory processing option. It supports 120 processor cores with up to 6TB of memory in its 5U rack-mount chassis, plus up to 9.6TB of hard drive or 3.2TB of solid state drive (SSD) storage.
Meanwhile, the Sun Server X4-4 is said to be well suited for applications requiring large memory footprint virtual machines and running real-time analytics software.
It can be configured with two or four of the Xeon E7-8895 v2 processors, with up to 3TB of memory and 4.8TB of PCIe flash plus 2.4TB of SSDs or 7.2TB of hard drives.
Oracle has eyed SAP HANA with the launch of an in-memory option for the its Database 12c software, which promises to speed up the processing of specific workloads and by up to 100 times.
Key for customers is that this has been integrated transparently, enabling existing workloads and applications that use Oracle Database 12c to take advantage of it.
The in-memory option for Oracle’s flagship Database 12c platform was first disclosed at the Oracle Openworld show in San Francisco last year. However, while the firm is announcing the technology today, the feature will actually be available as part of release 188.8.131.52 of Oracle Database 12c, due to ship within 60 days.
Oracle is pitching the fact that having in-memory capability integrated with its existing database is a key differentiator, especially against SAP’s rival HANA platform, because it offers compatibility with current applications along with existing features for robustness and to guarantee transactional integrity.
im Shetler, vice president of product management at Oracle said, “It is completely transparent to implement for existing applications that work with the Oracle database. This is different from all the other [in-memory] offerings in the market today that either require changes to applications or limit functionality to a subset of full database functionality.”
Singling out SAP HANA, Shetler said that it is effectively an in-memory data store that is very fast, “but they are still trying to complete the rest of the database functionality around it,” he claimed.
“With Oracle, all of the features of the database are available, all of the applications that exist today, including third-party applications, custom-written applications, they will all work out of the box with the Oracle Database In-Memory option, so we think that’s really huge benefit to enabling companies to become real-time enterprises,” he added.
Another area where Oracle claims an advantage is in the size of the database that can be used with its in-memory technology. Users can allocate a region of memory to hold the database and specify which data they want to go into that region, whether this is an entire table, a portion of a table, or a subset of the columns in a table.
“It’s very typical for an analytics application to only look at a small number of columns. A report might have only 10 data items out of a table that might have 500 columns, so it’s important to conserve space to be able to identify precisely just the data that needs to be in memory, and we give you the ability to do that,” Shetler said.
The in-memory option also works with Oracle’s Real Application Clusters (RAC) feature, which allows a single database to be spread across multiple servers, enabling a much larger data set to be accommodated.
On Oracle’s Exadata systems, the in-memory option allows the data to be spread across memory, flash and disk and transparently accessed, according to Oracle, so once more the entire data set does not have to be present in memory at the same time.
Oracle said many of its application teams have been working to incorporate the in-memory option into their software, and from its experience, it believes developers will see a performance boost without changing their applications, but an even greater boost if they update their code to take best advantage of in-memory processing.
“Some applications such as Oracle PeopleSoft, financial applications or the E-Business Suite have seen several hundred and up to a thousand times speed-up through a combination of adding the in-memory option and doing some restructuring of their internal algorithms,” Shetler claimed.
Oracle is also extending its partner program to certify applications on Oracle Database 12c with the in-memory option.
The Oracle in-memory option will be available on all platforms where Oracle Database 12c is currently supported, but availability details have not yet been announced.
Sony Corp make seek an equity partner in its TV unit, which has racked up losses every year for a decade, but the Japanese consumer giant was not entertaining selling or exiting the business, its chief executive said on Thursday.
Sony plans to turn its struggling TV business into a separate entity – Sony Visual Products Inc – within a few months to boost transparency.
The splitting off of its TV unit had fired up speculation about a sale, which CEO Kazuo Hirai sought to dispel.
“We are not thinking about selling our TV operations or shutting them down or anything like that,” he said.
“We’re doing business in the competitive environment of a market. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of an equity tie-up, but right now we are not doing business under the assumption that would happen.”
Hirai, speaking on Thursday at a briefing outlining Sony’s annual strategy, acknowledged TV sales could fall below the company’s forecast for an industry-beating 20 percent rise this fiscal year.
He said, however, that Sony had restructured the business so it could withstand external shocks.
“We’re aware of criticism that the TV target of 16 million units this fiscal year is too high,” he said.
“Even if those risks on volume are borne out, we’ve put in place the capacity to minimise the impact on profitability in the TV operations.”
Sony, roundly criticised for its habit of making overly optimistic forecasts that it repeatedly fails to meet, has pledged that a blast of restructuring in its electronics division this year will return the troubled unit to profit.
The company said it would be possible to expand operating profit threefold in the 2015/16 business year to 400 billion yen, with its aggressive restructuring expected to yield annual cost savings of 100 billion yen.
Hirai’s newly appointed Chief Financial Officer Kenichiro Yoshida said the company did not plan to change the focus of its electronics division away from the three core businesses of mobile, imaging and games through the next fiscal year at least.
Philips is looking to get Nintendo’s Wii U games consoles banned in the US.
Philips has patents in its sights and it said that those patents belong to it and are being used without permission.
The firm has filed a complaint for patent infringement with the US District Court for the District of Delaware, and that has been published on Scribd.
The complaint accuses Nintendo of infringing two Philips patents, and Philips said that they are used in the Wii console and its peripherals. It is pushing for a US sales ban.
The patent numbers at issue end in 379 and 231. Philips claims that it alerted Nintendo to its infringing use of 379 as early as 2011. It registered patent 231 last year and the patent covers interactive device pointing, which is rather a key element of the Wii experience.
Philips is asking for a ban on Wii U sales in the US and monetary damages. The impact on Nintendo could be significant if a sales ban in put in place. So far we have not been able to get a response from the company.
The Philips complaint identifies a long list of infringing hardware. “The infringing interactive virtual modeling products of Nintendo include but are not limited to motion-controlled gaming consoles and motion-detecting devices such as the Wii video gaming systems and related software and accessories including, for example, the Wii console, Wii Remote Plus Controller, Wii Remote Controller, Wii Nunchuk Controller, Wii MotionPlus, Wii Balance Board, Wii U console, Wii U GamePad, and Wii Mini,” it says. “The infringement by Nintendo has been deliberate and willful.”
Philips has requested a jury trial.
The comments come less than one month after the world’s largest technology service company reported its lowest quarterly revenue in five years, weighed by sluggish global demand for its hardware, which plunged 23 percent in the first quarter of 2014.
The company added that growth in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa remain strong, and blamed falling revenue in China on government reforms affecting state-owned clients, and on the country’s hardware-heavy portfolio.
“We move on and we spread ourselves out, more industries, more clients, cloud, data, et cetera, around there,” said IBM Chief Executive Ginni Rometty at an investor briefing on Wednesday.
Chief Financial Officer Martin Schroeter said to stabilize the hardware sector IBM would continue to “refresh” hardware and further invest in research and development.
“Quite frankly, we are seeing very good growth out of software, good growth out of services, but challenges in hardware,” said Schroeter. “We will stabilize that hardware base and I am comfortable we will make that happen in 2014,” he said.
He reiterated the company’s EPS target for 2015 of at least $20. He expects a shift to higher-value business to bring in $3.25 and share repurchases to add $2 in earnings per share by 2015.
The online payment company PayPal is getting a much over due new look and its first-ever global marketing push as parent eBay Inc tries to grab back attention from the growing number of rivals piling into the mobile payments market.
The brand overhaul includes a more vibrant, simple logo designed to suit mobile phones and wearable devices like wristbands and PayPal’s first-ever television ads in the U.S. market. The campaign will last throughout the summer and into fall 2014.
The move comes as PayPal, the dominant online payment processor, shifts its focus toward mobile phones and the fast-growing market to enable consumers to pay for physical goods and services with their smartphones.
“If you look at us visually online, we look very similar to financial service companies,” said Christina Smedley, vice president of global brand and communications at PayPal.
“Our brands and the ways consumers are going to experience them, the way people are going to touch us, is going to change hugely in coming years,” she said.
The company declined to specify the total cost of the marketing campaign, but said it was the largest ever planned for PayPal, which accounts for a large chunk of eBay’s overall stock market value and its growth outpaces the rest of the company.
The U.S. mobile payment market will reach $90 billion by 2017, up from $12.8 billion in 2012, according to Forrester Research. Research firm Gartner expects the global market will see a more than threefold rise by 2017 to $721 billion.
That potential has attracted the likes of Amazon.com Inc, Google Inc and Square Inc. Between 3 percent and 7 percent of consumers worldwide use in-store mobile payments, but up to 27 percent are willing to try, according to Bain & Company.
With 143 million active users at the end of 2013, PayPal is the dominant online payment provider, but it is not used widely for in-store payments in the United States, Bain said.
“Our research showed that people needed to be reminded of some of the core benefits that we have and this felt like a way we could bring it together,” Smedley said.
This is the first makeover for PayPal since 2007. The logo was developed by the firm led by designer Yves Behar, who is also chief creative officer for Jawbone, a maker of headsets and a fitness-tracker product.
Total revenue for the period ended March 31 was roughly $250 million, Twitter stated, more than double the $114 million recorded for the same period in 2013. Twitter’s sales topped analysts’ consensus estimate of $241 million, as polled by Thomson Reuters.
“We had a very strong first quarter,” said Twitter CEO Dick Costolo in the company’s announcement. “Revenue growth accelerated on a year over year basis fueled by increased engagement and user growth.”
However, Twitter hasn’t managed to turn a profit since it became a public company. The company reported a net loss of more than $132 million for the quarter, nearly quintupling the loss of roughly $27 million reported for the year-ago period.
The company’s earnings per share loss was $0.23, a tad worse than a loss of $0.21 reported last year. On a pro forma basis, excluding share-based compensation and other adjustments, Twitter broke even, beating analysts’ expectations of a loss of $0.03 per share.
Twitter’s stock was down to $38.30 in after hours trading, down considerably from its $42.62 Tuesday close.
Twitter, like Google and Facebook, makes the bulk of its money from advertising — $226 million for the quarter, up 125 percent. The lion’s share of its advertising — 80 percent in the first quarter — comes from mobile.
To continue growing its ad revenue, Twitter needs to attract more users and increase the time they spend using the service. As a public company, Twitter is under pressure to make its service more accessible to a mainstream audience.
The company in recent months has tried to address this, partly through cosmetic changes like redesigning user profile pages and making photos more prominent in people’s streams.
Twitter is making progress in this area, but not very rapidly. Compared to the same period last year, Twitter grew its monthly active users by 25 percent, to 255 million. But compared to the fourth quarter of 2013, Twitter grew its monthly active users sequentially by less than 6 percent.
On mobile, Twitter now has 198 million monthly active users — a 31 percent increase, the company said.
In response to an all-time low in user growth figures during the recent quarter, Twitter Chief Executive Dick Costolo informed worried Wall Street analysts that the company would make a number of changes to freshen up the service.
The redesign, while mostly cosmetic, hinted at what Costolo described in February as a willingness to experiment with new ways to organize content. Users can now “pin” a tweet to stay at the top of their feed, a rare instance of Twitter departing from the continuously rolling format that has defined the service.
Tweets that have received more re-tweets or replies will also appear slightly larger to spur more user engagement.
The new layout, which will be available to a small group of users initially, will be widely deployed to Twitter’s 241 million users in the coming weeks, the company said.
Twitter reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter revenue on February 6, but investors focused on user growth of just 3.8 percent, the lowest rate of quarter-on-quarter growth since Twitter began disclosing user figures. The San Francisco-based company went public in November.
In recent weeks, Twitter has also reportedly been testing a number of new advertising units, such as ads that include download links for mobile apps.
As part of Tuesday’s refresh, Twitter said users will also be allowed to select a large banner picture to display across the top of their profile page, as well as a much larger profile picture, two features that resemble another social network familiar to most of the world’s Internet users: Facebook.
Juniper Networks plans to reduce its global workforce by six percent and focus on its high-growth businesses. Juniper said most of the cuts would impact middle management positions and that it expected to incur cash charges of about $35 million in the first quarter, related to severance and other expenses. The company had 9,483 full-time employees as of December 31.
Juniper also said it would stop development of the application delivery controller technology, which helps remove excess load from servers, resulting in a non-cash intangible asset impairment charge of about $85 million. The company said it plans to consolidate its facilities, flog off of about 300,000 square feet of leased facilities.
Juniper added that it expected to record other non-cash asset write-downs of about $10 million in the first quarter and that it expects to carry out more restructuring in the second quarter.
Hedge fund Elliott recently claimed that Juniper shares were “undervalued” and could be worth $35-$40 if Juniper focused on revamping its core business of making routers and switches for mobile carriers such as Verizon and AT&T. Shares of Juniper are currently worth at $26.35.
SkySQL has announced a line of MariaDB products that combine NoSQL and SQL technology, offering users the ability to handle large unstructured data sets alongside traditional database features to ensure data consistency.
Available immediately, MariaDB Enterprise 2 and MariaDB Enterprise Cluster 2 are based on the code used in the firm’s MariaDB 10 database server, which it also released today.
According to SkySQL, the availability of an enterprise grade SQL database system with NoSQL interoperability will be a game changer for developers building revenue generating applications and database administrators in charge of large, complex environments.
The two new products have been developed with support from other partners in the open source community, including Red Hat, IBM and Google, according to the firm, and are aimed at giving IT managers more options for managing large volumes of data.
In fact, Red Hat will use MariaDB Enterprise 2 as the default database for its enterprise customers, while Google has also moved large parts of its infrastructure to MariaDB, according to Dion Cornett, VP of Global Sales for SkySQL .
Cornett said that customers have been using a wide variety of databases over the past few years in order to meet the diverse requirements of applications.
“The types of applications have evolved over time, and the challenge we now have today is that people have different IT stack structures, and trying to integrate all that has been very challenging and required lots of custom code to be created. What we’re doing with MariaDB is introduce an array of features to combine the best of both worlds,” he said.
The features are designed to allow developers and database administrators to take many different data structures and integrate them and use them in a cohesive application, in the same way that standard database tools presently allow.
These include the Connect Storage Engine, which enables access to a wide variety of file formats such as XML and CSV files, and the ability to run familiar SQL commands against that data.
A key feature is dynamic columns, which enables MariaDB to “smartly interpret” incoming data and adapt it to the data structure that best fits, according to Cornett.
“At a technical level what you’re actually looking at are files within the cells of information that can vary in size, which is not a capability you’ve traditionally had in databases and that flexibility is a big leap forward,” he said.
The new MariaDB products can also plug into the Apache Cassandra storage engine, which can take a columnar data store and read or write against it like it is a traditional SQL table.
An example of how MariaDB Enterprise 2 might be used is if a service provider has a large-scale video server and wants to combine that with billing information, Cornett said.
“The customer’s video history and what they’re consuming could be very unstructured, but the billing structure will be very fixed, and it has been something of a challenge to bring the two of those together up to this point,” he explained.