Salesforce shares rose from $71.4 to $75.82 in about a minute late Tuesday afternoon, after which trading was temporarily halted.
The stock closed 1.6 percent higher at $72.75. Microsoft shares closed down 1.3 percent at $47.60.
Microsoft is evaluating a bid after Salesforce was approached by another potential buyer, Bloomberg reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.
Microsoft is not in talks with Salesforce, and no deal is imminent, the report said.
Microsoft declined to comment, while Salesforce could not immediately be reached.
Bloomberg had reported last week that Salesforce was working with financial advisers to help it field takeover offers after being approached by a potential buyer.
The news sent the company’s shares up as much as 17.3 percent to an all-time high of $78.46 last Wednesday.
Japanese consumer electronics maker Sony Corp expects operating profit to more than quadruple this year, as strong sales of camera sensors and cost reductions anchor a much needed turnaround after years of losses on TVs and mobile phones.
Sony said on Thursday it estimates operating profit will jump in the year ending March 2016 to 320 billion yen ($2.7 billion). For the previous fiscal year, operating profit was 68.5 billion, in line with an April 22 forecast.
This year’s earnings would be Sony’s biggest annual operating profit in seven years, though well below an average analyst forecast of 408 billion yen, according to Thomson Reuters. Achieving it would mark another milestone in Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai’s long haul to pull one of Japan’s most iconic technology firms out of heavy losses, squeezed by cheaper and more nimble rivals in mass consumer electronics.
Under Hirai’s direction, Sony has reshaped itself to target expansion in lucrative new areas such as sensors used in cameras for popular devices like Apple Inc’s iPhones. That strategy has vexed some former executives who have urged Hirai to focus on innovation, not cost cuts.
“We are emerging from losses but still recuperating,” Chief Financial Officer Kenichiro Yoshida told reporters on Thursday, saying Sony was being cautious in forecasting to break with past habits.
“In the past seven years, we revised (earnings guidance) downwards around 15 times,” he said, citing fluctuations in foreign exchange rates as a major concern.
As part of its restructuring, Sony has exited PCs and spun off its TV business. It also plans to split off its audio and video business in an effort to hold subsidiaries more accountable for making a profit.
Investors have welcomed the new-look Sony. Shares have risen more than 30 percent in 2015, and year-on-year, the stock has nearly doubled, hitting 3,827.50 yen earlier this month, its highest since 2008.
Discount and deal site Groupon has a novel way of dealing with bounty hunters who point out security flaws in its systems. It lets them discover the flaws and refuses to pay up.
Brute Logic says that the security issue is all the more serious because Groupon stores credit card details, and it would be incredibly easy to craft a spoof Groupon-related URL to trick victims into visiting a fake site.
On April 17 he contacted Groupon security team then got back saying that it had isolated the issue and would be back in touch once a patch has been produced.
As a contributor to XSSposed.org Brute Logic spoke with people at the site and made a reference to one of the security issues ended up being published. This only appeared online for a few moments, and was removed after it was realized it had been published in error. But Groupon is using this as a reason for refusing to pay out.
Groupon’s Bug Bounty Program terms say:
“We encourage you to report it to us in a private and responsible way. In order to encourage this, we have established a reward program which will pay a bounty for verifiable security issues reported to us through the proper channel.”
Brute Logic argues that an additional 30 problems still existed and very scant details of the security flaw were published for only a very short time. In a further email, Groupon said:
“Unfortunately we won’t be able to offer you a bounty for this submission. In the future we ask that you respect our responsible disclosure policy and not publicly disclose the vulnerability without properly notification. We noticed that you submitted the vulnerability to xssposed.org.”
Understandably Brute Logic is not happy, seeing the company trying to get out of a bounty on the basis of a technicality.
Facebook’s total first-quarter revenue was US$3.54 billion, up more than 40 percent from a year earlier, the company reported Wednesday. That was a bit less than the consensus analyst estimate of $3.56 billion, as polled by Thomson Reuters.
With a bounty of personal data on its billion-plus members — many of whom now log in from their smartphones — Facebook’s mobile ad business has become a juggernaut.
During the quarter, which ended March 31, Facebook grew its mobile ad sales by 59 percent to $2.59 billion. After going public in mid-2012, Facebook faced questions from investors over its ability to grow its business on mobile, but the company eventually dispelled those doubts.
Net income came in at $512 million, down 20 percent, while earnings per share dropped 28 percent to $0.18.
On a pro forma basis, which excludes certain costs, such as share-based compensation and related payroll tax expenses, Facebook had earnings per share of $0.42, up from $0.35 last year, and beating the analyst consensus estimate of $0.40.
“This was a strong start to the year,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.
The company’s costs and expenses rose by more than 80 percent from a year earlier, to $2.61 billion.
The number of people who log in monthly to Facebook grew by 13 percent, to 1.44 billion. And the number of those people who log in from a mobile device grew faster, by 24 percent to 1.25 billion.
In addition to its primary mobile app, Facebook now operates a suite of apps including Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. But its flagship app generates by far the most mobile ad sales.
Facebook began placing ads in Instagram in 2013, but by its own admission has done so slowly and gradually. Neither Messenger nor WhatsApp carry ads yet.
Activist investor Jana Partners is urging Qualcomm Inc to consider spinning off its chip unit from its patent-licensing business to boost the chipmaker’s sagging stock price, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a quarterly letter that will be sent to Jana investors on Monday.
Jana, one of Qualcomm’s largest shareholders, is also calling on the company to cut costs, accelerate stock buybacks and make changes to its executive pay structure, financial reporting and board of directors, the newspaper said.
Qualcomm said last month it would buy back up to $15 billion of shares and raise its quarterly dividend. The company also said it would continue to return at least 75 percent of its free cash flow to shareholders annually.
In the letter, Jana said the buyback is a positive step but Qualcomm needs to do more to capitalize on its strong position in the chip market. It said Qualcomm’s chip business is essentially worthless at the company’s present market value, the Journal reported.
While the majority of Qualcomm’s revenue comes from selling so-called baseband chips that enable phones to communicate with carrier networks, most of its profit comes from licensing patents for its widespread CDMA cellphone technology.
Earlier this year, Qualcomm’s longtime customer Samsung Electronics Co opted to use an internally developed processor for its new Galaxy S6 smartphone rather than Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon mobile chip.
Jana executives and Qualcomm’s management have held private discussions since late last year, the Journal said, citing a person familiar with the conversations. In the letter, Jana described the talks as constructive.
Throw away your capacity flash drives! Tape is king once more! Continuing the renaissance of a format that dates back to 1952, the same year as Alan Turing’s seminal paper The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis, researchers at IBM labs have created a tape storage system capable of an aerial recording density of 123 billion bits of uncompressed data per square inch.
That’s equivalent to a palm-sized 220TB cartridge. Or about 1.37 trillion text messages.
The speed at which tape can be recalled means that the format is best served for cold storage (write once, read many), but it will give some of the newer kids on the block, such as SanDisk’s 512TB InfiniFlash array, something to think about because of its potential cost-effectiveness.
IBM states that a single cartridge is the equivalent of a bookshelf stretching from Las Vegas to Houston (2,200km).
“With this demonstration, we prove again that tape will continue to play an important role in the storage hierarchy for years to come,” added Evangelos Eleftheriou, IBM Fellow. “This milestone reaffirms IBM’s continued commitment and leadership in magnetic tape technology.”
The continued development of the tape format is nothing new. This is the fourth time since 2006 that IBM has teamed up with Fuji and cracked the record.
Last year, Sony managed to cram 148GB per inch on to a tape format developed in association with IBM, only for the IBM/Fuji alliance to knock it out of the park weeks later clocking 154GB per inch.
IBM scientists are exploring ways of combining this technology into services such as Openstack Swift, making for a very low cost big data platform.
The team has been working on perfecting a technique with a combination of higher track densities, thanks to head alignment accurate to 6nm, a more accurate write head, writing to much finer barium ferrite particles and more accurate signal processing algorithms based on noise-predictive detection principles.
So a little bit more advanced than your C90 mixtape then.
Japanese electronics giant Panasonic Corp said it is gearing up to spend 1 trillion yen ($8.4 billion) on acquisitions over the next four years, bolstered by a stronger profit outlook for its automotive and housing technology businesses.
Chief Executive Kazuhiro Tsuga said at a briefing on Thursday that Panasonic doesn’t have specific acquisition targets in mind for now. But he said the firm will spend around 200 billion yen on M&A in the fiscal year that kicks off in April alone, and pledged to improve on Panasonic’s patchy track record on big deals.
“With strategic investments, if there’s an opportunity to accelerate growth, you need funds. That’s the idea behind the 1 trillion yen figure,” he said. Tsuga has spearheaded a radical restructuring at the Osaka-based company that has made it one of the strongest turnaround stories in Japan’s embattled technology sector.
Tsuga previously told Reuters that company was interested in M&A deals in the European white goods market, a sector where Panasonic has comparatively low brand recognition.
The firm said on Thursday it’s targeting operating profit of 430 billion yen in the next fiscal year, up nearly 25 percent from the 350 billion yen it expects for the year ending March 31.
Panasonic’s earnings have been bolstered by moving faster than peers like Sony Corp and Sharp Corp to overhaul business models squeezed by competition from cheaper Asian rivals and caught flat-footed in a smartphone race led by Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics. Out has gone reliance on mass consumer goods like TVs and smartphones, and in has come a focus on areas like automotive technology and energy-efficient home appliances.
Tsuga also sought to ease concerns that an expensive acquisition could set back its finances, which took years to recover from the deal agreed in 2008 to buy cross-town rival Sanyo for a sum equal to about $9 billion at the time.
PC and printer makers have struggled in the recent past as companies reduced printing to cut costs and consumers shifted to mobile devices from PCs.
Hewlett-Packard Co plans to separate its computer and printer businesses from its corporate hardware and services operations this year.
Xerox Corp has also increasingly focused on IT services to make up for the falling sales of its copiers and printers.
Lexmark divested its inkjet printer business in 2013 and has since boosted its enterprise software business.
The Kofax deal will help the company’s Perceptive Software business achieve its revenue target of $500 million in 2016, Lexmark said.
The business makes software to scan everything from spreadsheets to medical images and provides services to banking, healthcare, insurance and retail companies. It contributed about 8 percent to Lexmark’s revenue in 2014 and has grown at more than 30 percent in the past two years.
Kofax provides data services to the financial, insurance and healthcare companies such as Citigroup Inc, Metlife Inc and Humana Inc.
Lexmark said it expects the deal to “significantly” expand operating margins in its enterprise software business, which would now be worth about $700 million. It will also add about 10 cents per share to the company’s adjusted profit in 2015.
Nintendo has formed a comprehensive new alliance with DeNA that will make every one of the company’s famous IPs available for mobile development.
The bedrock of the deal is a dual stock purchase, with each company buying ¥22 billion ($181 million) of the other’s treasury shares. That’s equivalent to 10 per cent of DeNA’s stock, and 1.24 per cent of Nintendo. The payments will complete on April 2, 2015.
What this will ultimately mean for the consumer is Nintendo IP on mobile, “extending Nintendo’s reach into the vast market of smart device users worldwide.” There will be no ports of existing Nintendo games, according to information released today, but, “all Nintendo IP will be eligible for development and exploration by the alliance.” That includes the “iconic characters” that the company has guarded for so long.
No details on the business model that these games and apps will be released under were offered, though Nintendo may well be reluctant to adopt free-to-play at first. The information provided to the press emphasised the “premium” experiences Nintendo currently offers on platforms like Wii U and 3DS. Admittedly, that could be interpreted in either direction.
However, Nintendo and DeNA are planning an online membership service that will span Nintendo consoles, PC and smart devices. That will launch in the autumn this year.
This marks a significant change in strategy for Nintendo, which has been the subject of reports about plans to take its famous IPs to mobile for at least a year. Indeed, the company has denied the suggestion on several occasions, even as it indicated that it did have plans to make mobile a part of its core strategy in other ways.
Analysts have been offering their reflections on the deal, with the response from most being largely positive.
“Nintendo’s decision to partner with DeNA is a recognition of the importance of the games app audience to the future of its business,” said IHS head of gaming Piers Harding-Rolls. “Not only is there significant revenue to be made directly from smartphone and tablet consumers for Nintendo, app ecosystems are also very important in reaching new customers to make them aware of the Nintendo brand and to drive a new and broader audience to its dedicated console business. Last year IHS data shows that games apps were worth $26 billion in consumer spending globally, with handheld console games worth only 13 per cent of that total at $3.3 billion.
“The Nintendo-DeNA alliance is a good fit and offers up a number of important synergies for two companies that are no longer leaders in their respective segments.
“DeNA remains one of the leading mobile games company’s in Japan and, we believe, shares cultural similarities with Nintendo, especially across its most popular big-brand content. The alliance gives Nintendo access to a large audience in its home market, which remains very important to its overall financial performance. Japanese consumers spend significantly more per capita on mobile games than in any other country and it remains the biggest market for both smartphone and handheld gaming. While the partnership gives Nintendo immediate potential to grow its domestic revenues through this audience, gaining access to DeNA’s mobile expertise is important too to realise this potential.
“This alliance makes commercial sense on many levels – the main challenge will be knitting together the cultures of both companies and aligning the speed of development and iteration that is needed in the mobile space with Nintendo’s more patient and systematic approach to games content production. How the new games are monetised may also provide a challenge considering the general differences in models used in retail for Nintendo and through in-app purchases for DeNA.”
In a livestreamed press conference regarding the DeNA deal, Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata reassured those in attendance that the company was still committed to “dedicated video game systems” as its core business. To do that, he confirmed that the company was working on a new console, codenamed “NX”.
“As proof that Nintendo maintains strong enthusiasm for the dedicated game system business let me confirm that Nintendo is currently developing a dedicated game platform with a brand new concept under the development codename NX,” he said.
“It is too early to elaborate on the details of this project but we hope to share more information with you next year.”
Gemalto said its initial investigations into a reports that U.S. and British spies had gained unauthorized access to it systems showed its products were secure and it thus did not expect a significant financial impact.
Gemalto’s shares fell sharply late last week after news website Intercept reported a hack by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
The hack into the world’s biggest maker of phone SIM cards allowed the spies to potentially monitor the calls, texts and emails of billions of mobile users around the world, the investigative news website reported.
Gemalto said it would communicate on the results of its investigations on Wednesday, Feb. 25 through a press release and a press conference that will be held in Paris at 0930 GMT.
Gemalto makes smart chips for mobile phones, bank cards and biometric passports and counts Verizon, AT&T Inc and Vodafone among its 450 wireless network provider customers around the world.
Samsung’s components businesses is finding itself under pressure to pick up the slack and secure external customers for chips and display panels and might even start flogging them to rival mobile companies.
According to Reuters the reason for this is that the Smartphone industry is tanking and the only one making any money out of it is Apple — and even it is suffering a bit.
Samsung Display has begun supplying organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels to Chinese smartphone makers Lenovo, Coolpad, Oppo Electronics and Vivo Electronics.
The subsidiary says it’s on the lookout for more clients, aiming to have half its total revenue by 2017 from sales to outside customers, up from just over a third in 2013.
Industry experts think that external clients account for around a fifth of Samsung Display’s sales of smaller smartphone and tablet panels compared to about 50 percent for large panels for TVs, underscoring a need for more mobile clients.
Samsung was not interested in overseas sales when Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S devices were selling well, but suddenly it is trying to push into new pastures.
Samsung’s systems chips business is also trying to grow its customer base . It lost a $1 billion last year on declining sales of Galaxy smartphones and the loss of a contract to supply the processor for Apple Inc’s iPhone 6.
Samsung’s next Galaxy S smartphone is widely expected to be powered by its own Exynos processor.
The outfit is in talks with third-party customers about supplying its Exynos mobile processors. Samsung is likely to win back the Apple contract and supply the majority of mobile processors for the next iPhone.
Yahoo Small Business helps small enterprises set up and run their businesses online.
Yahoo announced last week about a tax-free spinoff of its 15 percent stake in China’s Alibaba into a newly formed independent registered investment company responding to pressure to hand over to shareholders its prized e-commerce investment valued at roughly $40 billion.
Yahoo had then said the new entity would include its 384 million shares in Alibaba as well as an unspecified “legacy, ancillary” Yahoo unit.
“We’re mapping out additional investments now for our platform and services,” Yahoo Small Business said on its Tumblr page on Tuesday.
The transaction is expected to occur in Q4 2015. The unit will move to SpinCo prior to completion of the transaction.
Amazon has considered using the RadioShack stores as showcases for the Seattle-based company’s hardware as well as potential pickup and drop-off centers for online customers, Bloomberg said.
Sprint and RadioShack have had talks about co-branding some of the stores, Bloomberg reported, citing two anonymous sources. The rest of the stores would close down, Bloomberg reported on Monday.
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), meanwhile, said its regulatory arm was acting to delist RadioShack shares, and would suspend their trading immediately.
Another bidder could yet emerge to buy RadioShack and continue operating the 94-year-old chain, Bloomberg said.
RadioShack declined to comment on the Bloomberg report and said it had not confirmed any of the information. Sprint declined to comment. Amazon could not immediately be reached for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that Standard General, a hedge fund and the largest investor in RadioShack, was in talks to serve as the lead bidder at a bankruptcy auction.
On Monday, the NYSE said it started the delisting process as RadioShack did not intend to submit a business plan to address its non-compliance with the exchange’s listing standards.
RadioShack had received a warning from the NYSE last month — the second time in a year — that it had 45 days to come up with a business plan.
The exchange sends such a notification when companies listed on it fail to maintain an average market capitalization of $50 million over 30 consecutive days.
RadioShack warned last September that it faced bankruptcy if talks with lenders and stakeholders about a sale or a restructuring failed.
The electronics retailer was once the operator of go-to shops for innovators and engineers for products ranging from vacuum tube speakers to the first mass-produced PC.
But the company has failed to transform itself into a destination for mobile phone buyers, losing out to rivals such Amazon.com Inc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
RadioShack said in October that it would seek to convert a loan of $120 million, given by investors including Standard General and Litespeed Management LLC, into equity “in the coming months”.
Nintendo is heading back to black, with the company’s financial announcements this week revealing that it’s expecting to post a fairly reasonable profit for the full year. For a company that’s largely been mired in red ink since the end of the glory days of the Wii, that looks like pretty fantastic news; but since I was one of the people who repeatedly pointed out in the past when Nintendo’s quarterly losses were driven by currency fluctuations, not sales failures, it’s only fair that I now point out that quite the reverse is true. The Yen has fallen dramatically against the Dollar and the Euro in recent months, making Nintendo’s overseas assets and sales much more valuable in its end-of-year results – and this time, that’s covering over the fact that the company has missed its hardware sales targets for both the 3DS and the Wii U.
In short, all those “Nintendo back in profit” headlines aren’t really worth anything more than the “Nintendo makes shock loss” headlines were back when the Yen was soaring to all-time highs a few years ago. The company is still facing the same tough times this week that it was last week; the Wii U is still struggling to break 10 million units and the 3DS is seeing a major year-on-year decline in its sales, having faltered significantly after hitting the 50 million installed base mark.
In hardware terms, then, Nintendo deserves all the furrowed brows and concerned looks it’s getting right now. Part of the problem is comparisons with past successes, of course; the Wii shipped over a million units and the DS, an absolute monster of a console, managed over 150 million. In reality, while the Wii U is having a seriously hard time in spite of its almost universally acclaimed 2014 software line-up, the 3DS isn’t doing badly at all; but it can’t escape comparison with its record-breaking older sibling, naturally enough.
Plenty of commentators reckon they know the answer to Nintendo’s woes, and they’ve all got the same answer; the company needs to ditch hardware and start selling its games on other platforms. Pokemon on iOS! Smash Bros on PlayStation! Mario Kart on Xbox! Freed from the limited installed base of Nintendo’s own hardware – and presumably, in the case of handheld titles, freed to experiment with new business models like F2P – the company’s games would reach their full potential, the expensive hardware division could be shut down and everyone at Nintendo could spend the rest of their lives blowing their noses on ¥10,000 notes.
I’m being flippant, yes, but there’s honestly not a lot more depth than that to the remedies so often proposed for Nintendo. I can’t help but find myself deeply unconvinced. For a start, let’s think about “Nintendo’s woes”, and what exactly is meant by the doom and gloom narrative that has surrounded the company in recent years. That the Wii U isn’t selling well is absolutely true; it’s doing better than the Dreamcast did, to pick an ominous example, but unless there’s a major change of pace the console is unlikely ever to exceed the installed base of the GameCube. Indeed, if you treat the Wii as a “black swan” in Nintendo’s home console history, a flare of success that the company never quite figured out how to bottle and repeat, then the Wii U starts to look like a continuation of a slow and steady decline that started with the Nintendo 64 (a little over thirty million consoles sold in total) and continued with the GameCube (a little over twenty million). That the 3DS is struggling to match the pace and momentum of the DS is also absolutely true; it’s captured a big, healthy swathe of the core Nintendo market but hasn’t broken out to the mass market in the way that the DS did with games like Brain Training.
Yet here’s a thing; in spite of the doom and gloom around downward-revised forecasts for hardware, Nintendo was still able to pull out a list of this year’s million-plus selling software that would put any other publisher in the industry to shame. The latest Pokemon games on 3DS have done nearly 10 million units; Super Smash Bros has done 6.2 million on 3DS and 3.4 million on the Wii U. Mario Kart 8 has done almost five million units, on a console that’s yet to sell 10 million. Also selling over a million units in the last nine months of 2014 on 3DS we find Tomodachi Life, Mario Kart 7 (which has topped 11 million units, life to date), Pokemon X and Y (nearly 14 million units to date), New Super Mario Bros 2 (over 9 million), Animal Crossing: New Leaf (nearly 9 million) and Kirby: Triple Deluxe. The Wii U, in addition to Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros, had million-plus sellers in Super Mario 3D World and Nintendo Land.
That’s 12 software titles from a single publisher managing to sell over a million units in the first three quarters of a financial year – a pretty bloody fantastic result that only gets better if you add in the context that Nintendo is also 2014′s highest-rated publisher in terms of critical acclaim. Plus, Nintendo also gets a nice cut of any third-party software sold on its consoles; granted, that probably doesn’t sum up to much on the Wii U, where third-party games generally seem to have bombed, but on the 3DS it means that the company is enjoying a nice chunk of change from the enormous success of Yokai Watch, various versions of which occupied several slots in the Japanese software top ten for 2014, among other successful 3DS third-party games.
Aha, say the advocates of a third-party publisher approach for Nintendo, that’s exactly our point! The company’s software is amazing! It would do so much better if it weren’t restrained by only being released on consoles that aren’t all that popular! Imagine how Nintendo’s home console games would perform on the vastly faster-selling PS4 (and imagine how great they’d look, intones the occasional graphics-obsessive); imagine how something like Tomodachi Life or Super Smash Bros would do if it was opened up to the countless millions of people with iOS or Android phones!
Let’s take those arguments one at a time, because they’re actually very different. Firstly, home consoles – a sector in which there’s no doubt that Nintendo is struggling. The PS4 has got around twice the installed base of the Wii U after only half the time on the market; it’s clear where the momentum and enthusiasm lies. Still, Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart 8 managed to sell several million copies apiece on Wii U; in the case of Mario Kart 8, around half of Wii U owners bought a copy. Bearing in mind that Nintendo makes way more profit per unit from selling software on its own systems than it would from selling it on third-party consoles (where it would, remember, be paying a licensing fee to Sony or Microsoft), here’s the core question; could it sell more copies of Mario Kart 8 on other people’s consoles than it managed on its own?
If you think the answer to that is “yes”, here’s what you’re essentially claiming; that there’s a large pent-up demand among PlayStation owners for Mario Kart games. Is there really? Can you prove that, through means other than dredging up a handful of Reddit posts from anonymous people saying “I’d play Nintendo games if they were 1080p/60fps on my PS4″? To me, that seems like quite a big claim. It’s an especially big claim when you consider the hyper-competitive environment in which Nintendo would be operating on the PS4 (or Xbox One, or both).
Right now, a big Nintendo game launching on a Nintendo console is a major event for owners of that console. I think Nintendo launches would still be a big event on any console, but there’s no doubt that the company would lose focus as a third-party publisher – sure, the new Smash Bros is out, but competing for attention, pocket money and free time against plenty of other software. It’s not that I don’t think Nintendo games could hold their own in a competitive market, I merely don’t wish to underestimate the focus that Nintendo acquires by having a devoted console all of their own underneath the TVs of millions of consumers – even if its not quite the number of millions they’d like.
How about the other side of the argument, then – the mobile games aspect? Nintendo’s position in handheld consoles may not be what it used to be, but the 3DS has roundly trounced the PlayStation Vita in sales terms. Sure, iPhones and high-end Android devices have much bigger installed bases (Apple shifted around 75 million iPhones in the last quarter, while the lifetime sales of the 3DS are only just over 50 million), but that comparison isn’t necessarily a very useful one. All 50 million 3DS owners bought an expensive device solely to play games, and the lifetime spend on game software of each 3DS owner runs into hundreds of dollars. The “average revenue per user” calculation for Pokemon on the 3DS is easy; everyone paid substantial money for the game up front.
By comparison, lots and lots of iOS and Android users never play games at all, and many of those who play games never pay for them. That’s fine; that’s the very basis of the F2P model, and games using that model effectively can still make plenty of money while continuing to entertain a large number (perhaps even a majority) of players who pay nothing. Still, the claim that moving to smartphones is a “no-brainer” for Nintendo is a pretty huge one, taken in this context. The market for premium, expensive software on smartphones is very limited and deeply undermined by F2P; the move to F2P for Nintendo titles would be creatively difficult for many games, and even for ones that are a relatively natural fit (such as Pokemon), it would be an enormous commercial risk. There’s a chance Nintendo could get it right and end up with a Puzzle & Dragons sized hit on its hands (which is what it would take to exceed the half a billion dollars or so the company makes from each iteration of Pokemon on 3DS); there’s also an enormous risk that the company could get it wrong, attracting criticism and controversy around poor decisions or misjudged sales techniques, and badly damage the precious Pokemon brand itself.
In short, while I’m constantly aware that the market seems to be changing faster than Nintendo is prepared to keep up with, I’m not convinced that any of the company’s critics actually have a better plan right now than Satoru Iwata’s “stay the course” approach. If you believe that PlayStation fans will flock to buy Nintendo software on their console, you may think differently; if you think that the risk and reward profile of the global iOS market is a better bet than the 50-odd million people who have locked themselves in to Nintendo’s 3DS platform and shown a willingness to pay high software prices there, then similarly, you’ll probably think differently. Certainly, there’s some merit to the idea that Nintendo ought to be willing to disrupt its own business in order to avoid being disrupted by others – yet there’s a difference between self-disruption and just hurling yourself headlong into disaster in the name of “not standing still”.
There’s a great deal that needs to be fixed at Nintendo; its marketing and branding remains a bit of a disaster, its relationships with third-party studios and publishers are deeply questionable and its entire approach to online services is incoherent at best. Yet this most fundamental question, “should Nintendo stay in the hardware business”, remains a hell of a lot tougher than the company’s critics seem to believe. For now, beleaguered though he may seem, Iwata still seems to be articulating the most convincing vision for the future of the industry’s most iconic company.
The deal, which was for an undisclosed sum of cash and stocks, sees Screenhero’s six-person team joining Slack to add screensharing, video chat and voice conferencing to the company’s core enterprise chat room service.
Screenhero is designed to let big teams work together like small teams and has found a dedicated customer base with developers, help desk workers and anybody else who has to work together.
That’s a smart alignment with Slack’s own sales pitch. In fact, Screenhero CEO and co-founder Jahanzeb Sherwani said that 50% of Screenhero’s own customers are also Slack customers, even as both companies made use of each others’ products interally. He added that the company was “under no pressure to sell,” but decided that cozying up with Slack would allow Screenhero to do more with its core concept faster.
It sounds like a match made in “in a Reese’s factory,” quipped Slack CEO and co-founder Stewart Butterfield.
Under this deal, Screenhero will continue to operate as a separate entity, and people can use it as they always have been. But eventually, Sherwani said, all of its features will make it into Slack and the standalone product will be discontinued.
Butterfield said that it’s just a natural progression for Slackas it goes after “bigger and weirder” companies. You can still use whatever external services you’d like for video, voice and screen sharing, per Slack’s emphasis on supporting as many services as a customer might want to use with slick native integrations. But Butterfield wants to ensure that out of the box, Slack customers get something broadly useful for collaboration without having to go through the effort.