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Panasonic Explores ZKW Group Acquisition, Push Into Automotive Electronics

December 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

panasonic-logo-150x150Japan’s Panasonic Corp  is holding discussions to acquire European automotive light maker ZKW Group, accelerating its push into the automotive electronics market, a person familiar with the matter said.

The deal could be worth up to $1 billion and the two companies could reach a basic agreement as early as this month, the Nikkei business daily reported Monday.

An acquisition of ZKW would expand Panasonic’s automotive lineup, which currently centers on batteries and navigation systems, as it shifts its focus to corporate clients to escape price competition from lower-margin consumer electronics manufacturers.

 Panasonic said in a statement the reported deal was not something it had announced, and declined to comment further.

Austria-based ZKW declined to comment. It employed more than 5,900 staff at the end of last year and has plants in Austria, India, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, China, the United States and Mexico, according to its website.

Privately held ZKW supplies light-emitting diode headlights and lighting modules to U.S. and European automakers such as General Motors Co and BMW. It forecasts sales of about 900 million euros ($949.59 million) in 2016.

“ZKW is among various deals that Panasonic is considering,” said the source, who was not authorized to discuss the matter and asked not to be named.

“But no details have been decided and the deal could fall through,” he said.

Panasonic has earmarked 1 trillion yen ($8.80 billion) for strategic investments including mergers and acquisitions for the four years through March 2019. Of that amount, 70 percent has been already completed or allocated for specific deals, the company has said.

The possible acquisition comes at a time when rival electronics makers are also pushing into the automotive industry. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd agreed in November to buy Harman International Industries in an $8 billion deal.

Panasonic is targeting annual sales of 2 trillion yen for its automotive business in the year ending in March 2019, up from 1.3 trillion yen in the last financial year that ended in March.

Seagate And Amazon Backing Into The Clouds

December 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Hard drive maker Seagate has teamed up with Amazon to create a $99 1TB external hard drive that automatically backs up everything stored on it to the cloud.

Dubbed the Seagate Duet, the drive’s contents are cloned to Amazon Drive. All you need to do is plug in the drive, sign in with your Amazon account and that is it.

You can drag and drop files over, and access them from the web or Amazon’s Drive app on smartphones and tablets. Seagate claims you’ll get a year of unlimited storage just for buying the hard drive, which normally costs $59.99 annually.

Amazon’s listing for the Duet has some fine print. At the moment the offer is for the US and is not valid for current Amazon Drive Unlimited Storage paid subscription customers.

You also have to redeem the promo code within two months of buying the hard drive if you want the years’ worth of unlimited cloud storage.  Returning the Duet, will see your 12 months of unlimited drive storage slashed down to three.

Courtesy-Fud

Adobe To Acquire Video Ad firm TubeMogul

November 11, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

adobe-hq-bldg-150x150Photoshop software maker Adobe Systems Inc announced that it will be purchasing advertising company TubeMogul Inc for about $540 million, net of debt and cash, giving it a bigger presence in the rapidly growing online video market.

Adobe’s $14 per share cash offer represents an 82.5 percent premium to TubeMogul’s Wednesday close.

Shares of TubeMogul, which allows advertisers to buy video ad space using its software, jumped to $13.95 in early trading on Thursday.

The deal will help Adobe add an ad buying platform to its digital marketing unit, which offers tools for businesses to analyze customer interactions and manage social media content.

Advertising technology firms such as TubeMogul, Rocket Fuel Inc and Tremor Video Inc face fierce competition from online advertising giants Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google.

Up to Wednesday’s close, TubeMogul’s shares had fallen nearly 44 percent this year.

Facebook, Google and Twitter Inc have all been betting big on video over the past year, a format where advertisers are willing to pay a premium for a few seconds of users’ undivided attention.

“Whether it’s episodic TV, indie films or Hollywood blockbusters, video consumption is exploding across every device and brands are following those eyeballs,” said Brad Rencher, Adobe’s executive vice president of digital marketing.

Adobe said the acquisition would not have an impact on its adjusted earnings in the year ending December 2017.

 

Dell Profits Take A Hit

November 11, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

It has been rumored that Dell is working on a PC class x86 Windows smartphone, but it looks like a picture has finally tipped up, just as the project was abandoned.

Evan Blass has found a snap of what appears to be the PC phone that Dell was supposed to be shipping with an Intel processor. Some thought it was Microsoft’s much-anticipated Surface Phone but it turned out that it was Dell’s rather cool, but abandoned project.

Specifications of the cancelled phone are thin on the ground, but the fact it had a x86 processor suggests that it would be the most powerful smartphone in history.

It would have run Windows 10 Mobile which already supports Intel X86 processors and Vole’s Continuum feature could have taken advantage of the beefy specs. Continuum feature works with the HP Elite x3. It means that the x3 can have a full desktop experience by virtue of connecting an external display, a dedicated keyboard and a mouse.

Now if Dell had got all this to go on a mobile with Continuum it would mean a perfect desktop on a phone. There would be no need for a separate laptop, because all you would need is a laptop dock.

It is not clear why Dell walked away from what would have changed everything in the mobile world. It might have been that it would have been because it could have killed its PC business, but it is also possible that Chipzilla shafted the project with its cancellation of Intel’s low-end segment as a restructuring move in May.

Either way it is rather sad.

Courtesy-Fud

T-Mobile Seen As Next Target Of A Merger

October 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

t-mobile-binge-on-150x150T-Mobile US Inc is the likeliest acquisition target as media giants partner up wireless carriers following AT&T Inc’s proposed $85.4 billion takeover of Time Warner Inc, analysts said.

AT&T announced the deal late on Saturday, stoking urgency in the telecoms and media sectors, where carriers facing a saturated wireless market are looking for content to attract mobile users and producers of shows and movies are seeking digital distribution.

T-Mobile took most of the wireless industry’s subscriber and revenue growth in the third quarter. Its strong balance sheet and fast-growing wireless business makes it an attractive target for a pay-TV or media company, analysts said.

T-Mobile shares jumped 9.5 percent on Monday after it announced third-quarter financial results. At least nine analysts raised their target price on the No. 3 wireless company, which said it added 851,000 postpaid subscribers in the quarter.

T-Mobile has taken market share from bigger rivals Verizon and AT&T, and that momentum is expected to continue, analysts said.

“The takeout target over the next twelve months has got to be T-Mobile,” New Street Research analyst Spencer Kurn said. Potential buyers include Comcast Corp, satellite-TV provider Dish Network Corp, and Mexican telecom company America Movil, analysts said.

Comcast and Dish declined to comment. America Movil could not be immediately reached for comment.

“Content of all kind is rapidly landing on the internet and the internet itself is rapidly transforming toward mobile,” T-mobile Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert told Reuters.

T-Mobile is “very interested” in exploring strategic opportunities, he said.

Sprint Corp, which is aggressively working towards reviving its wireless business, is another takeout candidate, analysts said.

Sprint received more calls than usual from bankers over the weekend after the AT&T-Time Warner deal was announced, Chief Executive Marcelo Claure said on an earnings call on Tuesday.

“Our strategic value to many has significantly grown,” he added.

Is Twitter About To Go On The Auction Block?

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

twitter-buy-button-150x150Twitter Inc has initiated discussions with several technology companies to explore putting itself up for sale, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday, signaling the start of what is likely to be a slow-rolling auction of the high-profile but profit-challenged social media company.

A sale of Twitter has been the subject of on-again, off-again rumors for many months as the company grapples with stagnant user growth, soft advertising sales and losses running at hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

The company’s business struggles have come even as the 10-year-old service has evolved into a potent global source of news, entertainment and social commentary.

CNBC, citing anonymous sources, reported on Friday that Twitter is in talks with companies including Google and may receive a formal bid soon. A source told Reuters that Salesforce.com is also in pursuit.

Twitter and Alphabet Inc, Google’s parent company did not respond to a request for comment. Salesforce declined to comment.

Verizon, another company mentioned in media reports on Friday as a possible suitor, said it did not comment on M&A rumors but that it had not submitted a bid for the company.

Twitter shares jumped more than 19 percent to $22.22 per share on Friday, marking the largest one-day rise since their first day of trading in 2013. The company now has a market value of around $16 billion.

Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi said Alphabet would be the best acquirer for Twitter since it has not yet been able to crack social media on its own despite several efforts.

“From a strategic standpoint, we think it would be more beneficial for Alphabet as opposed to Salesforce,” Mogharabi said. Former Google executive Omid Kordestani is executive chairman of Twitter.

Morningstar estimates Twitter could be bought for $22 per share. Twitter is working with investment banks Goldman Sachs and Allen & Co in considering possible transactions, sources familiar with the situation said.

Intel Goes Bullish

September 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

It is starting to look like the PC market is picking up and Intel has raised its quarterly revenue forecast for the first time in more than two years.

Shares in Intel as much as 4.1 percent to a more than 15-year high on the back of the news which indicates the PC depression might be finally coming to an end..

Sales in the company’s PC business declined three percent to $7.3 billion in the latest quarter. The unit includes sales of chips for mobile phones and tablets. But Intel said that the green shoots of recovery are here.

Firstly HP said last month that revenue in its computer business rose 7.5 percent in the third quarter from the second as sales of notebooks improved. At the time FBN Securities analyst Shebly Seyrafi said commentary from Intel and HP suggested that PCs were “not as dead as people were thinking.”

Research firm IDC said in July global PC shipments fell less than expected in the second quarter, helped by strength in the United States.

Intel now says it expected third-quarter revenue to be $15.6 billion, plus or minus $300 million, compared with its prior forecast of $14.9 billion, plus or minus $500 million.

That implies the highest-ever quarterly revenue for Intel. Wall Street analysts on average were expecting $14.90 billion.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani said the pre-announcement was a good first step to the PC story stabilising at Intel. Shares of rival AMD were up about 1 percent, while those of Micron Technology Inc (MU.O) and HP were marginally higher.Shares in Intel had shot ip up 2.6 percent at $37.53

Courtesy-Fud

Will Intel Help Apple Make Gains?

September 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

It is starting to look like the rumors that Intel is going to start making Apple’s mobile chip are actually true – despite a lack of official confirmation from anyone.

Gartner Group, which is not likely to make this sort of stuff up, says it is 100 percent sure that Intel is going to start making Jobs’ Mob chips in 2018. The Nikkei has also said something similar and now the Tame Apple Press, which never reports anything without Apple’s covert blessing is also on board with the rumors.

All this is a kick in the bottom line for Apple’s existing partners TSMC and Samsung, but then being an Apple partner must be like being a battered wife of a billionaire. You might have nice things but they come at a cost and eventually he is going to divorce you for someone younger anyway.

In this case a source close to Jobs’ Mob claimed that Apple had already agreed that a move to have Intel made chips for future iPhones and iPads was a priority.

It is unlikely that this could happen before 2018 but it is unlikely that this is so Apple can avoid its TSMC addiction. In fact it is more to do with finding an alternative to Samsung. Apple has huge problems working with Samsung which is its main rival for the iPhone and tablets. There are some Apple executives who still feel that Samsung must pay for stealing the rounded rectangle.

Taking Apple’s chip business away from Samsung will hurt the company overall. The only question is if Intel has the technical ability to make its mobile chips as successfully.

Courtesy-Fud

Alibaba’s Revenue Surge By 59%

August 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd reported a better-than-expected 59 percent jump in quarterly revenue on Thursday, making it a shining start in a slowing Chinese economy.

Alibaba’s total revenue rose to 32.15 billion yuan, or $4.84 billion, in the quarter ended June 30 from 20.25 billion yuan a year earlier.

Mobile revenue increased 119.3 percent to 17.51 billion yuan, while monthly mobile active users increased 39 percent.

Net income attributable to shareholders fell to 7.14 billion yuan, or 2.94 yuan per share, from 30.82 billion yuan, or 11.92 yuan per share, in the year-earlier quarter.

Alibaba’s gross merchandise volume (GMV), the value of transactions carried out by third-party sellers on the company’s platforms, rose 24.4 percent to 837 billion yuan.

 

 

 

 

Is Blackberry Turning Into A Patent Troll?

August 11, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Troubled mobile phone maker BlackBerry has decided to make a bit more money by suing those it thinks stole its ideas.

A patent lawsuit has been launched against internet telephony outfit Avaya. However in making its case that Avaya should pay royalties, BlackBerry appears to be looking at what it has done rather than what it is doing. The firm argues that it should be paid for its history of innovation going back nearly 20 years.

The court papers say:

“BlackBerry revolutionised the mobile industry. BlackBerry… has invented a broad array of new technologies that cover everything from enhanced security and cryptographic techniques, to mobile device user interfaces, to communication servers, and many other areas.”

BlackBerry claims Avaya infringes eight US Patents:

Nos. 9,143,801 and 8,964,849, relating to “significance maps” for coding video data;

No. 8,116,739, describing methods of displaying messages;

No. 8,886,212, describing tracking location of mobile devices;

No. 8,688,439, relating to speech decoding and compression;

No. 7,440,561, describing integrating wireless phones into a PBX network;

No. 8,554,218, describing call routing methods; and

No. 7,372,961, a method of generating a cryptographic public key.

The oldest is 1998 and the most recent is 2011..

Products targeted by Blackberry include Avaya’s video conferencing systems, Avaya Communicator for iPad, a product that connects mobile users to IP Office systems, and various IP desk phones. .

The BlackBerry complaint states that the company notified Avaya of its alleged infringement of those specific patents in a letter dated December 17, 2015, which must have come as a bit of a surprise. It has been filed in the Northern District of Texas, which is less because the region is more patent friendly (like East Texas) but because it is where Avaya does business and maintains a two-story office.

BlackBerry has hired top patent lawyer Quinn Emanuel. The firm defended Samsung in the high-profile Apple v. Samsung case and has taken on various cases for Google.

Last year Cisco paid a “license fee” to Blackberry. Details were few and far between but it seems to have been to make Blackberry lawyers go away. In May, BlackBerry CEO John Chen told investors on an earnings call that he was in “patent licensing mode,” eager to monetize his company’s 38,000 patents.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Microsoft Announces Another Round Of Job Cuts

August 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Satya Nadella isn’t stopping the job eliminations at Microsoft any time soon. The company announced that 2,850 people will lose their jobs by the middle of 2017, on top of the 1,850 cuts announced earlier this year.

According to a regulatory filing, those impacted will primarily be in its phone hardware business, which has already been hit hard by layoffs, and in global sales.

The cuts are more fallout from Microsoft’s decision to downsize its smartphone business, which it acquired from Nokia in 2015. Putting that acquisition in motion was one of the last things that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer did before announcing that he would be leaving the company’s top job. His successor hasn’t taken the same shine to the phone hardware business that Microsoft bought.

Microsoft declined to comment about the job cuts beyond what was disclosed in the 10-K filing. Nadella has cut thousands of jobs since taking the top spot, many of them in the phone business.

It remains to be seen what this will mean for the company’s business overall. While Microsoft’s most recent quarterly financial report showed a year-over-year revenue decline, the company’s cloud businesses continued to grow. The phone hardware business has been a sore spot on Microsoft’s financials, seeing massive revenue declines for the past several quarters.

 

Twitter Still Struggling To Add New User, Grow Revenue

July 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc reported its slowest revenue growth since its IPO in 2013 and set a rather grim forecast, fanning concerns that faster growing social media services will make it a niche product.

The microblogging service operator’s shares fell 11 percent in extended trading to $16.40. While Twitter struggles to find a way to boost user growth and win over advertisers, social media services such as Instagram and Snapchat are expanding their footprints.

Co-founder Jack Dorsey returned to the company as chief executive a year ago, but his plan for reviving Twitter is at best seen as unfinished.

The company’s second quarter revenue missed Wall Street estimates and the revenue forecast for the current quarter of $590 million to $610 million was well below the average analyst estimate of $678.18 million.

Twitter’s user base increased about 1 percent to 313 million average monthly active users in the second quarter from 310 million in the first quarter.

“Clearly, the turnaround is still a work in progress and the question of whether being a platform for a mass audience versus a niche audience needs to be answered,” said James Cakmak, analyst at Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co.

Earlier this year, Twitter laid out a long-term strategy to turn around its business, focusing on five areas: its core service, live-streaming video, the site’s “creators and influencers,” safety and developers.

In live video, the company has signed deals with Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association to revive user growth and attract more advertising dollars. Executives also said Twitter was investing more in user safety as the company continues to grapple with high-profile instances of abuse and harassment.

Struggling with flat user growth and lower spending by advertisers, Twitter has doubled down on attracting more people and encouraging existing advertisers to spend more as it tries to shape its stagnating business.

“We are a year into Dorsey coming back and there is really no end in sight of when it is going to start picking up to where investors are going to be happy,” said Patrick Moorhead, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

Twitter is also working to better define its role in the social media landscape. This week it rolled out a video ad that showed it as the place to go for live news, updates and discussion about current events, which executives also emphasized on a call with analysts.

 

Can Licensing Save Blackberry?

June 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Blackberry is hoping to pull its nadgers out of the fire by licencing its mobile software to other outfits.

However BlackBerry CEO John Chen had to admit that there has been zero revenue from the endeavour, which he started off last month.

Chen said he’s been in discussions with some phone manufacturers and set-top box operators who have expressed interest and “anything was possible.”

He added he’s not opposed to licensing BlackBerry’s security software either if the right deal comes along. He expects BlackBerry to break even or record a slight profit in its new mobility solutions segment, which includes device and software licensing sales, during the third quarter that in November.

Making the segment profitable this fiscal year is one of the company’s top goals, Chen said.

It’s too soon to project how much revenue the software-licensing venture can garner, Chen said, so to achieve the goal by the end of November, BlackBerry will have to ensure its devices are on track for profitability as well.

The company’s newest phone, the Android-powered Priv, has moved slower than hoped. In fact it moved slower than a student who had been up all night playing counterstrike.

During BlackBerry’s first quarter — the second full quarter to include Priv sales — the smartphone segment generated US$152 million of revenue and had a US$21-million operating loss. Chen promised that loss would be significantly smaller in the next quarter.

The company sold roughly 500,000 devices at an average price of $290 each, he said, which is about 100,000 smartphones fewer than the previous quarter and about 200,000 fewer than two quarters earlier. BlackBerry previously said the company needs to sell about three million phones at an average of $300 each to break even, though Chen indicated that may change as the software licensing business starts to contribute to revenue.

Chen said the Priv has proved unaffordable to most people, except for top-level executives.

The company plans to release two mid-range, Android-powered phones before its current fiscal year ends Feb. 28, 2017, he said. More information on the devices is expected next month, but Chen said one will only have a touch screen rather than BlackBerry’s traditional keyboard.

The company is trying to reach the market in more innovative ways. It’s currently hosting a pop-up shop in New York City, and Chen said he’d consider more of them around the world if the trial is successful.

“I really, really believe that we could make money … out of our device business,” he said during a conference call with analysts Thursday morning.

Chen previously indicated the company will stop making smartphones if the device business remains unprofitable. While he said he doesn’t believe that will be necessary, the software licensing plan could help make the transition smoother if the time comes.

BlackBerry  reported a $670 million net loss in the first quarter of its 2017 financial year, but said its recovery plan for the year remains on track.

Revenue was below analyst estimates at $400 million under generally accepted accounting principles, or US$424 million with certain adjustments.

Courtesy-Fud

 

BlackBerry Says Device Business Is Top Priority

June 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd’s top priority this year is to make its devices business turn a profit, its chief executive said, even as it weighs the future of its hardware operation.

“The device business must be profitable, because we don’t want to run a business that drags onto the bottom line,” Chief Executive John Chen told investors at the company’s annual meeting. “We’ve got to get there this year.”

Chen has previously said a decision would be made by September on the future of the unit, which has suffered a sustained drop in sales in recent quarters.

But at the meeting, attended by around 100 people, he said he sees better opportunity in providing services that enable increasingly commoditized hardware to do more.

“I don’t personally believe handsets will be the future of any company,” he said.

BlackBerry, once the smartphone market leader before being displaced by Apple Inc and competitors run on Alphabet Inc’s Android platform, has worked to reposition itself as a software and service provider focused on device management for large organizations.

In its presentation to investors, the company said it expects the broader market for types of software it is producing to expand to $17.6 billion by 2019, from $525 million in 2012 and below $4 billion in 2015, powered by growth in medical, legal, financial and automotive industries.

But some of those in attendance were skeptical about BlackBerry’s ability to deliver on its strategic pivot.

“The first word that comes to mind is lackluster,” said one shareholder at the meeting who declined to give his name. “Time is running out.”

Chen reiterated that BlackBerry wants to grow its software revenue by 30 percent in this fiscal year, which he estimated would be double overall market growth, and to notch positive free cash flow.

BlackBerry is due to report first quarter results on Thursday.

Chen took up the CEO role in 2013 with a reputation as a turnaround artist. But the company’s stock has only risen modestly since then, with many investors waiting for signs the now-smaller company will be able to carve out new opportunities.

“I appreciate the strategy,” said Ken Tota, an investor in BlackBerry’s biggest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. He said he was optimistic a renewed focus on security could help reinvigorate BlackBerry over the next five years.

“It’s a niche, but it’s a worldwide niche,” he said.

 

 

Dell Close To Deal To Sell Software Business

June 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Buyout firm Francisco Partners and the private equity arm of activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp are in advanced negotiations to purchase Dell Inc’s software division for more than $2 billion, three people familiar with the matter said.

Divesting the software assets will help Dell refocus its technology portfolio and bolster its balance sheet after it agreed in October to buy data storage company EMC Corp for $67 billion. EMC owns a controlling stake in VMware Inc, a cloud-based virtualization software company.

Dell is seeking to sell almost all of its software assets, including Quest Software, which helps with information technology management, as well as SonicWall, an e-mail encryption and data security provider, the people said.

Boomi, a smaller asset focusing on cloud-based software integration, will be retained by Dell, one of the people added.

An agreement between Dell and the consortium of Francisco Partners and Elliott could be reached as early as this week, the people said, cautioning that the negotiations could still end unsuccessfully.

The sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. Dell declined to comment, while Francisco Partners and Elliott did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A sale of Dell’s software division would free it from some of its least profitable assets and cap the program of divestitures that the Round Rock, Texas-based computer maker embarked on following its deal with EMC. EMC shareholders are due to vote on the deal with Dell on July 19.

While Elliott has sought to buy companies in the past as part of its shareholder activist campaigns, the Dell software deal would represent its first major private equity investment since it hired Isaac Kim, previously a principal at private equity firm Golden Gate Capital, last year to help expand its capacity in leveraged buyouts.

Francisco Partners focuses on private equity investments in the technology sector. It has raised about $10 billion in capital and invested in more than 150 technology companies since it was launched more than 15 years ago.

 

 

 

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