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.
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.
In a prepared statement Cook read before a Senate subcommittee yesterday, the chief executive named Texas as the location of a new factory where Apple will assemble Macs.
Cook was in Washington, D.C. to defend Apple’s tax practices after senators accused the California company of dodging its obligations by shunting profits to overseas subsidiaries, including several in Ireland, one of which has allegedly paid no income taxes for five years.
“We’re investing $100 million to build a Mac product line here in the U.S.,” said Cook, repeating comments made last December in interviews with NBC andBusinessWeek. “The product will be assembled in Texas, include components made in Illinois and Florida, and rely on equipment produced in Kentucky and Michigan.”
Cook’s naming of Texas and the other states was part of a litany of Apple’s U.S. job creation history. Cook did not elaborate on the facility, when it will come online or what Mac the plant will assemble.
However, in an interview earlier this week with Politico — part of his D.C. media blitz before Tuesday’s hearing — Cook said that the U.S. factory will begin churning out a new version of a current Mac later this year.
Cook also told the influential blog that components for the new Mac would come from suppliers in Arizona, Texas, Illinois, Florida and Kentucky.
Apple already relies on iPhone and iPad components made in Texas, and iPhone glass from Kentucky, Cook said in the prepared statement.
Texas is a natural for Apple.
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.
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.
Google also announced several APIs that will let developers add more capabilities to their Android apps, including in the areas of location and improving battery life.
“It’s been an amazing year for Android developers,” said Android and Chrome vice president Sundar Pichai.
Google has sent more money to developers through their Play Store sales in the last four months than it did in all of 2012 and revenue per user is now 2.5 times higher than it was a year ago, the company said.
Showing a map of the world where Android penetration is less than 10 percent — which encompassed most of the world outside North America and Europe — Pichai said Google’s next focus is “bringing the next 4.5 billion online.”
To date, Google has seen more than 48 billion Android application installs, and 2.5 billion in the last four months alone, said Hugo Barra, vice president and product manager of Android.
Google announced an update to Google Play Services, a layer of software managed by Google on top of Android, which includes APIs for Google services like Google Maps and Google Now.
Google Play Services is updated independently of Android, to give developers access to the latest Google APIs, helping to solve the Android fragmentation problem.
Google launched new location APIs as part of Google Play Services. The first, Fused Location Provider, includes a low-power location mode that should extend battery life by using less than 1 percent of battery per hour, Barra said.
The second, Geofencing, let’s developers define “virtual fences” around geographic areas that are triggered when a user enters and leaves those areas. “This has been a big ask from you guys,” Barra told the developer audience, who cheered the news.
The last is Activity Recognition, which uses accelerometer data and machine learning to figure out when the user is doing things like walking, driving or cycling.
Google Inc unveiled a music service on Wednesday that allows users to listen to unlimited songs for $9.99 a month, challenging smaller companies like Pandora and Spotify in the market for streaming music.
With its new service, announced at its annual developers’ conference in San Francisco, Google has adopted the streaming music business model ahead of rival Apple Inc, which pioneered online music purchases with iTunes.
Google’s “All Access” service lets users customize song selections from 22 genres, ranging from Jazz to Indie music, stream individual playlists, or listen to a curated, radio-like stream that can be tweaked. It will be launched for U.S. users first, before being rolled out to several other countries.
At the conference, Google also unveiled improvements to other services, including new mapping features and a voice-activated search. The focus was on giving more options to users of mobile devices using its Android operating system.
Google’s shares jumped more than 3 percent while Pandora Media Inc shares were down more than 1 percent on Wednesday afternoon.
The entry of the world’s largest Internet company amps up the competition in the nascent market for subscription-based, streaming music. Amazon.com Inc and Apple are among the Silicon Valley powerhouses sounding out top recording industry executives, according to sources with knowledge of talks.
Pandora is spending freely and racking up losses to expand globally. Even social media stalwarts Facebook and Twitter are jumping onto the streaming-music bandwagon.
All these companies see a viable music streaming and subscription service as crucial to growing their presence in an exploding mobile environment. For Google and Apple, it is critical in ensuring users remain loyal to their mobile products.
Music has been integral to the mobile experience since the early days of iTunes, which upended the old models with its 99-cent-per-song buying approach.
Now, as smartphones and tablets supplant PCs and virtual storage replaces songs on devices, mobile players from handset makers to social networks realize they must stake out a place or risk ceding control of one of the largest components of mobile device usage.
At $9.99 a month, Google’s service is costlier than the $3.99 required for Pandora, but on par with Spotify.
Google executives said their new service takes the work out of managing massive music libraries, noting the streaming model can be endlessly customized.
The improvements include a new “all photos” view that displays thumbnails of all the pictures, organized in a monthly timeline grid.
Microsoft also tweaked both the SkyDrive desktop app and its server counterpart to increase upload speeds, achieving a 2X to 3X improvement, according to the company.
In addition, Microsoft said it has improved “the readability” of files and folders stored in the service, remaking the thumbnail format for PowerPoint and Word files to make it easier to identify and find them.
Photos are the most common files stored in SkyDrive “both in sheer number and in total storage consumed,” Omar Shahine, group program manager of SkyDrive.com, wrote in a blog post on Monday.
It will take about 48 hours for the changes to be applied to all SkyDrive accounts.
SkyDrive rival Dropbox has also been testing new photo storage, sharing and management features, including the ability to organize photos in albums and to share more than one photo or a folder at a time.
Google Drive, another SkyDrive competitor, also has specific features for managing photo files.
The new tools represent yet another expansion of the Microsoft search site to make it more interactive and useful as the company seeks to distinguish itself from Google search.
In March Bing expanded its center column to incorporate more social information from Facebook, Twitter and Klout into how it displays search results involving people. In January its right-hand Social Sidebar was scaled out to include more content from users’ Facebook friends such as status updates, shared links and comments.
Previously, users could see that content, but could not interact with it without leaving the Bing site. But with the latest expansion, they can.
“Now you can see what your friends might know about what you’re searching for and engage with them directly without leaving the search page,” Bing said last Friday in a blog post.
As an example, if a person is searching for tickets to a Beyonce concert, and a friend posted on Facebook that she has an extra ticket, the person could comment directly on the post on the Bing site to let the friend know that he would like to join her for the concert, Bing said.
The person has to be signed into Facebook for the feature to work. The tool honors the user’s account settings and won’t share any information without the person’s approval, Bing said.
There does not appear to be any restriction on how old the Facebook posts can be.
The feature’s focus is on surfacing the most relevant information for the searcher, but on average the technology looks at roughly two years’ worth of Facebook data for each person, a Microsoft spokesperson said.
For instance, searching for the just-released film “The Great Gatsby” displayed Facebook posts from as far back as 2011, some of which did not even refer to the recent Hollywood adaptation of the book.
The flow of information between Bing and Facebook goes both ways. In January Facebook announced the beta launch of Graph Search, a social search tool designed to let users discover a wider range of information across the social network. When there are holes in the Graph Search results, information from Bing will be weaved in, Facebook said.
Bing originally rolled out its right-hand Social Sidebar last year, and since then “we’ve been exploring ways to make it more useful,” the site said last Friday.
The vulnerability is identified as CVE-2013-3336 and affects ColdFusion 10, 9.0.2, 9.0.1, 9.0 and earlier versions for Windows, Macintosh and UNIX, Adobe said in an advisory published Wednesday.
The company credited Marcin Siedlarz of Symantec’s Security Response team with reporting the issue. “There are reports that an exploit for this vulnerability is publicly available,” Adobe said.
The company is working on a fix and expects to release it publicly on May 14. Until then, customers are advised to restrict public access to certain sensitive directories like CFIDE/administrator, CFIDE/adminapi and CFIDE/gettingstarted.
Information on how to restrict access to these directories is provided in theColdFusion 9 Lockdown Guide and ColdFusion 10 Lockdown Guide. Customers who hardened their ColdFusion installations following the guidance provided in these technical documents are already protected against CVE-2013-3336, Adobe said.
Even though it’s not as widely used as some other Adobe products, ColdFusion has been targeted by hackers in the past. In April, virtual private server hosting company Linode reported that hackers gained access to its Web server and customer database by exploiting a previously unknown ColdFusion vulnerability.
In January, Adobe issued a security advisory warning customers about four previously unknown ColdFusion vulnerabilities that were being actively exploited by attackers. The mitigation steps recommended at the time also involved disabling external access to the /CFIDE/administrator and /CFIDE/adminapi directories.
The company reported in its latest 10-Q filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that in the first quarter of the year it began rolling out restructuring programs that will mean a workforce reduction of 1,004 positions.
The layoffs are part of an $80-million initiative to cut costs. The company also listed restructuring initiatives in its first quarter earnings report.
“The actions will impact positions around the globe covering our Information Storage, RSA Information Security and Information Intelligence Group segments, and is expected to result in a total charge of approximately $80.0 million, with total cash payments associated with the plan expected to be approximately $73.0 million,” EMC stated.
In the first quarter, EMC’s VMware implemented a plan to streamline its operations. That plan includes the elimination of approximately 800 positions across all major functional groups and geographies, EMC stated.
Last year, EMC implemented separate restructuring programs to create “operational efficiencies,” which resulted in the layoffs of 1,163 positions.
The restructuring and layoffs are expected to be complete within a year of the start of each program, EMC said.
Despite the layoffs, EMC spokesperson Lesley Ogrodnick told the Boston Globe the company expects to end 2013 with more employees than it had at the start of the year.
Two U.S. senators will propose that Congress or President Barack Obama’s administration should pursue trade and immigration sanctions against China and other countries that allegedly support cyberattacks on U.S. government agencies and businesses, the lawmakers said Wednesday.
Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, and Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, called on the administration, including the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation, to step up efforts to battle cyberattacks.
Congress or the administration should block immigration from countries supporting cyberattacks on the U.S. and it should limit trading with those countries, Graham said during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s crime subcommittee.
“Our Chinese friends seem to be hell bent on stealing anything they can get their hands on here in America,” Graham said. “We’re going to do something about this. We’re going to put nation states on notice that, if you continue to do this, you’ll pay a price.”
Witnesses pointed at China as the major source of cyberattacks on the U.S.
Graham asked witnesses to identify the top countries where attacks originate. Both Kevin Mandia, CEO of security vendor Mandiant, and Stewart Baker, a partner at law firm Steptoe & Johnson and former assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said China was by far the top attacker.
Russian attackers seem to abide by some rules of engagement and tend to withdraw after U.S. security professionals catch them attacking networks, Mandia said. “The Chinese are like a tank through a corn field, they just keep mowing through it,” he said.
Graham asked Mandia and Baker for two-page memos detailing Chinese attacks that he would take to officials with the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. “I’ll give you 100 pages, sir,” Mandia said.
Representatives of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., didn’t immediately respond to a request for comments on the hearing.
The stock’s plunge was the second-worst decline in 18 months, and follows what had been a 67 percent rise over the last year.
“The core issue with this company is can they make content profitable?” said Ben Schachter, an analyst with Macquarie Research. “What you see every quarter is the only thing making money is the membership group. They are clearly going in the right direction, but we want to see more progress.”
For the past several years, AOL has been trying to transform itself into a media destination with a stable of sites like the Huffington Post and Patch. It’s a change from the days when it was best known as an Internet access business with free-trial CDs that clogged mailboxes.
AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong has invested heavily in content, including plowing well over $100 million into Patch, a group of hyperlocal websites that covers neighborhood news and events.
Even with all of that spending, the legacy subscription service is still the most profitable part of the company. The membership group, which includes subscriptions, posted operating profit of $146.4 million in the quarter.
AOL’s media sites turned in an operating loss of almost $5 million. Those sites, which include Patch, Huffington Post, Engadget and TechCrunch, lost almost $17 million in the year-ago period.
“Patch is still a money losing proposition,” said Ron Josey, an analyst with JMP Securities, who estimated Patch lost $100 million last year.
Armstrong reiterated on a call with analysts he expects Patch to be profitable in the fourth quarter.
“If they can get to break-even by fourth quarter, I think that is a win,” said Josey.
Gmail now detects dates and times in the text of email messages and highlights them. Users can click on the highlighted text and trigger a pop-up box for configuring a Calendar item.
The process of creating and modifying the Calendar item happens within Gmail. The Calendar entry will automatically contain a link back to the email from which it was created.
The new feature is being delivered over the coming week to all individual users of Gmail’s English-language version, as well as to organizations that use Gmail as part of the broader Google Apps cloud suite. This rollout schedule excludes Google Apps customers who have opted to receive application updates at longer intervals.
Google plans to add the feature to non-English versions of Gmail later on, the company said in a blog post.
The feature is intended to increase the convenience of using Calendar, which has historically not been as well regarded by users as Gmail, by far the most popular of Google’s communication and collaboration applications.
By more tightly tying Gmail and Calendar, Google is increasing its efforts to lure users of Microsoft Outlook, the ubiquitous email and calendar desktop application that is often used in conjunction with Gmail as a backend email server by Apps customers. Google would like all Apps customers to use the Gmail and Calendar web interfaces, instead of the Outlook client.