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.
Internet of Things (IoT) will be the semiconductor industry’s next growth driver, according to TSMC president and co-CEO CC Wei.
Wei believes that the healthcare chip market will reach US$6.8 billion in production value in 2017, said Wei. Meanwhile a family home could feature more than 500 smart devices by 2020.
He said that mobile devices have already replaced PCs as the major growth driver of the semiconductor market and in 2014, about 1.88 billion mobile phones were shipped with 1.2 billion of them being smartphones.
Technology is also enabling devices to progress. Taking PC as an example, the penetration rate of the devices has been pushed up thanks to more advanced chip-making technologies, Wei said.
Worldwide semiconductor R&D expenditures were as high as US$56 billion in 2013, with the US semiconductor industry contributing the most at US$33 billion. Taiwan’s R&D expenditures for the year came to about an impressive US$5 billion, Wei noted.
Among the industry’s top-10 R&D spenders in 2014, two Taiwan-based companies were listed, Wei disclosed. TSMC’s R&D spending for the year came to US$1.87 billion allowing the company to climb to fifth place in the ranking, while MediaTek moved up to ninth with total R&D expenditures of US$1.43 billion.
The Internet company has hired advisers to help it evaluate options for the stake, Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer told investors on a conference call on Tuesday. It will not be included in the planned spin-off of its stake in China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, she said.
Investors have been urging Mayer to monetize the Yahoo Japan stake separately, after she announced plans to spin off the Alibaba stake in January, which could be worth $40 billion.
The advisers will help Yahoo “determine the most promising opportunities to maximize value” for the Yahoo Japan stake, said Mayer.
But Wall Street remained broadly cautious about the plan.
“They are taking the slow train, stressing the process,” said Colin Gillis, an analyst BGC Partners, who warned that a deal, if any, could be a long way down the line. “Engaging advisers doesn’t mean spinning it out.”
Yahoo owns about 35 percent of Yahoo Japan Corp, which has a market value of almost $25 billion on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Japanese internet company SoftBank Corp is the biggest shareholder, with about 36 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Last month Yahoo shareholder Starboard Value LP said the Alibaba spin-off was a “good first step” but urged Yahoo to also spin off its Yahoo Japan stake in a tax-efficient manner. Starboard did not reply to a request for comment.
Certicom, a subsidiary of BlackBerry and an industry pioneer in elliptic curve cryptography, announced a new offering that it contends will secure millions of devices, expected to be part of the growing Internet of Things (IoT) sphere.
The company said it has already won a contract in Britain to issue certificates for the smart meter initiative there with more than 104 million smart meters and home energy management devices.
The service will make it much easier for companies rolling out such devices to authenticate and secure them, the company said.
Separately, BlackBerry also outlined a plan to expand its research and development efforts on innovation and improvement in computer security.
The initiative is being dubbed BlackBerry Center for High Assurance Computing Excellence (CHACE).
Increased network and device security has become a huge focus for large North American corporations in the face of costly and damaging security breaches.
U.S. retailer Target Corp is still recovering from a major breach in 2013 in which 40 million payment card numbers and 70 million other pieces of customer data such as email addresses and phone numbers were stolen.
Michaels Stores, the biggest U.S. arts and crafts retailer, said last year it had suffered a security breach that may have affected about 2.6 million payment cards.
BlackBerry said the fail-then-patch approach to managing security risk has become a widely accepted practice, but through CHACE it plans to develop tools and techniques that deliver a far higher level of protection than is currently available.
Nokia Technologies, which controls thousands of technology patents, plans to re-enter the mobile phone market in 2016, according to unnamed sources cited by Re/code.
Such plans would be ambitious, especially given the super-competitive global smartphone and feature phone market. It isn’t clear precisely what Nokia Technologies is up to, and at least two analysts are skeptical it will work.
“People loved Nokia [in previous years], but I am not sure consumers will think that this is the same Nokia,” said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research for Kantar WorldPanel ComTech via email. “From a business perspective, it will be hard to see how they can be competitive against white box players.”
It is also hard to see how devices will fit into Nokia’s overall business strategy, she said. Milanesi assumed the devices would be built on the Android platform, but that hasn’t been confirmed.
“The Nokia brand is a well-recognized brand, but I would think their re-entering the phone market is not going to happen,” added Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates.
“They certainly will be fighting an uphill battle,” said Jitesh Ubrani, an analyst at IDC. “Nokia doesn’t have the brand catchet it once had and the phone market has gotten increasingly competitive as Chinese vendors like Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE, etc., continue to gain share of wallet and mind, while driving down prices.”
Under terms of the $7 billion sale to Microsoft, Nokia can’t sell any phones under the Nokia brand through 2015 and can’t license the brand until the third quarter of 2016.
So far, it doesn’t appear that Nokia would manufacture any phones, but would instead design products and license those designs and the Nokia brand to other companies. The N1 Android tablet from Nokia Technologies was licensed to a Chinese manufacturer under that scheme.
Microsoft is going great guns in the server market having recently announced the Nano Server, a “minimal footprint” Windows Server, and Hyper-V containers, which provide virtual machine isolation capabilities to containers.
Nano Server is even more stripped-down than Windows Server Core with the GUI stack, 32 bit support (WOW64), MSI and a number of default Server Core components all being put in the dustbin.
You can’t do local logons, Remote Desktop and WMI and PowerShell are the only tools available to manage the creature.
Microsoft is also working on better remote tooling and is coming up with a set of management tools for the nano. It is planning work on PowerShell’s Desired State Configuration, file transfers and script authoring and debugging.
Cutting all this stuff out has made it more efficient, secure and availability. Redmond said that the Nano Server has 93 percent lower VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) size.
It also gets 92 percent fewer critical bulletins and requires 80 percent fewer reboots than a typical Windows Server. It is also a bit quicker to setup: from bare metal to running Nano Server takes 3 minutes.
Hyper-V containers also will offer the system a fair bit of isolation that was only available to “dedicated physical or virtual machines”.
The move comes after Samsung opted to use its own Exynos processors for the recently launched flagship Galaxy S6 devices instead of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, prompting the U.S. firm to cut is financial outlook for the year.
Samsung and Qualcomm declined to comment on Re/code’s report. The report, dated April 20, did not say whether Qualcomm was looking at other manufacturers for the 820 processor besides Samsung.
The report suggests gathering momentum for Samsung’s system chips business, which investors and analysts expect will swing to profit this year. That could be negative for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), which analysts say has gotten the bulk of Qualcomm’s orders for high-end chips.
Samsung’s 14-nanometer manufacturing technology gives the firm an edge over rivals such as TSMC, as smaller chips are more energy-efficient and deliver better performance. Investors and analysts say the superior technology will lead to more outside orders for Samsung’s contract manufacturing business and further boost earnings.
Media reports say Samsung will make processors for Apple Inc’s new iPhones expected to launch later this year, and the firm also recently added Nvidia Corp as a contract manufacturing client.
As the senior mobile marketing manager, the candidate will “lead marketing for Firefox on both Android and iOS,” the listing stated, adding that “a new Firefox for iOS application [will be] arriving soon.”
Mozilla, which had previously staunchly declined to create a version of its iconic browser for iOS, changed its tune last December, when a company manager said that the open-source developer would “get Firefox on iOS.”
Although Mozilla confirmed that it was working on Firefox for iOS, at the time it gave no hint of a timeline. “We are in the early stages of experimenting with something that allows iOS users to be able to choose a Firefox-like experience,” Mozilla said in a Dec. 2 blog.
Mozilla’s Github repository for iOS Firefox confirmed that.
The reasons for Mozilla’s renewed interest in iOS likely stemmed from Firefox’s decline in browser user share. Over the last 12 months, Firefox has shed 31% of its desktop user share by metrics vendors’ Net Applications count, and now has less than half the share of Google’s Chrome.
Mozilla has put its shoulder behind other mobile initiatives. But Firefox OS, an open-source mobile operating system based on the browser, has not yet gained significant traction and its Firefox browser for Android hasn’t moved the needle. According to Net Applications, Firefox’s usage share on mobile was just 0.7% last month, or about one sixty-sixth that of Safari.
Qualcomm has released a new Trepn Profiler app for Android which will profile Snapdragon processors and tinker with them.
The Trepn Profiler app identifies apps that overwork the CPU or are eating too much data. The app will pinpoint which of the apps drain the battery faster.
All data that will be obtained by this app can provide information you need to know which program is slowing down your phone.
Most Android phone users will not give a damn, but developers will find it useful. Those who are interested in testing roms, custom kernels, and their own apps can use the data gathered by the Trepn Profiler.
Developers can measure optimisation and performance on Snapdragon-powered mobile devices. Data are real-time include network usage, battery power, GPU frequency load, and CPU cores’ load. Key features also include six fast-loading profiling presets, and an advanced mode to manually select data points and save for analysis.
The Advanced Mode allows profiling a single app or device, offline data analysis, and increasing of data collection interval. This special mode also allows longer profiling sessions, displaying two data point in one overlay, and viewing of profile data.
All up this should enable developers to come up with more Snapdragon friendly apps.
AMD’s Embedded R-Series accelerated processing unit, previously codenamed “Bald Eagle,” is powering Samsung’s latest set-back-box digital media players.
AMD’s Embedded R-Series accelerated processing unit, previously codenamed “Bald Eagle,” is powering Samsung’s latest set-back-box digital media players.
Bald Eagle was designed for high performance at low power with broad connectivity but mostly for digital signage.
It seems that new Samsung SBB-B64DV4 is intended for demanding signage applications that transform Samsung SMART Signage Displays into digital tools for a wide range of business needs.
The chipmaker claimed that by using its Embedded R-Series APUs, Samsung SBB media players for digital signage can manage HD graphics performance and support multivideo stream capabilities up to two displays, in a power efficient and ultra-compact form factor.
Scott Aylor, corporate vice president and general manager, AMD Embedded Solutions said that digital signage is a key vertical for the AMD Embedded business.
“The AMD Embedded R-Series APU enables leading digital signage providers to harness high levels of compute and graphics performance within a low-power design envelope. AMD Embedded Solutions help designers at Samsung achieve aggressive form factor goals and drive down system costs while providing the rich multimedia their digital signage customers’ demand,” he said.
The AMD Embedded RX-425BB APU combines an x86 CPU with an integrated, discrete-class AMD Radeon R6 graphics processing unit in a low-power configuration to minimize heat dissipation constraints and meet energy efficiency requirements.
The processor uses AMD’s latest Graphics Core Next architecture, created for advanced graphics applications and parallel processing capabilities.
Microsoft Corp has finally rolled out a long-awaited suite of touch-friendly Office apps that allow Windows phone users to work on Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents on their phones with touch commands and to transfer them easily between devices.
Test versions of what Microsoft is calling its Office Universal apps are available to download immediately and full versions will be available by the end of the month, Microsoft said.
Many Office users have waited months for Microsoft to introduce the apps, which adapt their look and commands to the device being used, whether Windows Phone or tablet.
Microsoft, in a departure from tradition, has already released similar touch-friendly Office apps for Apple Inc’s iPad and iPhone, and for tablets running Google Inc’s Android.
The company’s reasoning was that those popular devices, which have dominated mobile computing, represented a bigger and more lucrative market for its Office products than its own Windows mobile devices.
Basic functions are free for everyone, but for advanced editing features, users must pay for a subscription to Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based version of Office.
Microsoft is set to release a new version of Office for desktop PCs, and a new version of Windows, later this year.
Samsung Electronics Co has put together a standalone team of about 200 employees to work exclusively on making screens for rival smartphone maker Apple Inc’s products, Bloomberg reported, citing people with direct knowledge of the matter.
The team at Samsung Display Co, which provides screens for iPads and MacBooks, helps develop products and is only allowed to share information about Apple’s business within the group, Bloomberg said.
The team, formed on April 1, also helps with sales and Apple is now the biggest external customer for Samsung components, Bloomberg said.
Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock and a Samsung Display spokesman declined to comment on the report.
Samsung and Apple last year agreed to drop all patent litigation outside the United States, scaling down a protracted legal battle between the smartphone rivals.
The legal battle between the smartphone rivals began in the United States in 2011 when Apple accused Samsung of copying its iPhone designs. Samsung countered that Apple was using pieces of its wireless-transmission technology without permission.
Intel has been publishing more information about its Knight’s Landing Xeon Phi (co)processors.
Intel has given WCCF Tech an Intel produced PDF which was released to provide supplementary info for the 2015 Intel Developer Forum (IDF).
The document outlines some spectacularly beefy processors Intel is going to produce as part of its professional Xeon Phi range.
The document, which is short on car chases and scantily clad women tells the story of a 72 Silvermont core Intel Xeon Phi coprocessor.
The coprocessor supports 6 channels of DDR4 2400 up to 384GB and can have up to 16GB of HBM on board. It supports 36 PCIe Gen 3 lanes. Intel’s testing put the Knights Landing processors and coprocessors are up to three times faster in single threaded performance and up to three times more power efficient.
Knights Landing chips are supposed to be the future of Intel’s enterprise architecture for high performance parallel computing. Much of its success will depend properly written software.
Intel thinks that its Xeon Phi coprocessors can compete against the GPU-based parallel processing solutions from the likes of Nvidia and AMD.
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.
After less than two years at the helm of Zynga, Don Mattrick is on the move again. He’s picking up the best part of $20 million on his way out the revolving door, so don’t feel too bad for him, but after his catastrophic mis-management of the Xbox One’s development and launch, his failure to lift Zynga out of its post-IPO slump looks like yet another blot on the extremely expensive copybook of the former Microsoft executive.
There will be plenty of I-told-you-so’s over this news, but in truth, it wasn’t so predictable. Mattrick always looked like a better fit for Zynga than he was at Microsoft; the balls-up he made of the Xbox One could be attributed, if we’re feeling charitable, to having sensibilities far more in-tune with a broad mass-market than with the core audience a launching console needs to please. As such, the social- and (latterly) mobile-focused Zynga should have been a more suitable challenge for him; and indeed, while the company’s performance under his tenure hasn’t exactly been good, or even mediocre, there have been some important bright spots, most notably the (clever) acquisition of mobile specialists NaturalMotion, and the (achingly slow, but getting there) transition away from browser-based games to mobile platforms.
That the company’s performance in terms of finances and share price alike failed to pick up under Mattrick’s tenure, though, is something easily presented as an outright failure; and after the mess he made at Microsoft, it would be straightforward to roll our eyes at the spectacle of yet another overpaid exec with bugger all knowledge about games being given an enormous sack full of $100 bills with which to break his falls after a gentle defenestration from his latest failure. That’s not entirely an unfair characterisation, but not entirely fair either, I suspect, because no sooner was Mattrick out of the CEO’s chair than Zynga founder and former CEO Mark Pincus had his backside back in the seat – and that, to me, sets off all sorts of alarm bells.
For a CEO to depart and to be instantly replaced is not entirely unusual, but it does raise some eyebrows; for a CEO to depart after a short and unfruitful period, only to be replaced instantly by the company founder whom they replaced in the role, strongly suggests that the company founder never actually took their fingers out of the pie. The reasons for Pincus leaving the CEO’s role were pretty clear; he was broadly seen by investors as a millstone around the company’s neck, his dictatorial nature, inflexibility and tendency to make stupid, inflammatory statements in public being pretty damaging to a firm struggling to recover from an overheated IPO. That he’s been waiting in the wings for Mattrick to depart raises troubling questions over just who has actually been running Zynga for the past two years; it’s not hard to imagine Mattrick finding his hands tied by the presence of a highly opinionated and influential founder who never actually wanted to let go of the reins in the first place, something which might explain a good deal about the tardy pace of Zynga’s turnaround.
The markets, unsurprisingly, reacted to the news by dumping Zynga stock; the founder who was doing a miserable job of being CEO has stepped back up to replace the new guy who was also doing a poor (but better) job of being CEO? It’s a net negative, not merely because for all his faults Mattrick was broadly considered a better CEO than Pincus, but because it suggests that the upper echelons of Zynga’s management are in absolute disarray.
Still, though; even this latest dump of Zynga’s stock is only going to bring the company back to depths it already plumbed back in February… and in December… oh, and last October, too. Zynga is bumping along the bottom, and has been since mid-2012, in share price terms. It looked like it might climb off the floor around the start of 2014, but since the middle of last year it’s traded at around $3 and under; frankly, the depths to which it can fall off the back of this executive-revolving-door farce are severely limited by the fact that it’s already at rock bottom. That’s because Zynga’s real problems, although they may well start from its dysfunctional management, are much more deeply rooted. The company hasn’t had a hit in years – even more problematically, it has never had a bona fide, honest to god hit on a mobile platform. It bought some smaller developers with mobile hits, and then failed to grow or develop them (in some embarrassing cases, they flopped almost immediately after being purchased). FarmVille, a game franchise whose existence you had entirely forgotten until I just mentioned its name at the start of this sentence, remains the jewel in Zynga’s crown. The “Games” section on Zynga’s website reads embarrassingly like a blow-by-blow account of games everyone seemed to be into for a few months, years ago.
There might – might – be light at the end of the tunnel. It would be easy to dismiss Zynga’s new Great Hope, the action strategy title Dawn of Titans, as absolute folly; the “Clash of Clans” market, so utterly saturated that top games in the category have ended up spending millions on Superbowl commercials to try and soak up the last remaining dregs of the market, is a horrible place to be launching a new product. Dawn of Titans, though, is just branded and presented a little like Clash of Clans; the game itself looks quite different, and most of all, it’s from the genuinely brilliant NaturalMotion. If I were to pick the most likely source of a Zynga renewal, it would be NaturalMotion; one can only hope that, in a similar manner to the Activision / Blizard relationship, Zynga’s management has the good sense to let NaturalMotion do their jobs and keep their paws off to the greatest extent possible.
Still; the fate of a company is a big thing to rest on one development team, no matter how talented. What Zynga needs is a hit, undoubtedly. What it really, really needs is hits – plural. Once upon a time, there was a formula for social gaming success, based on just the right balance of compelling game design (yes, Farmville really was compelling in its own way), pulling the right social levers, monetising intelligently and with a light touch, and spreading through some fairly nakedly unpleasant viral approaches on Facebook. Mark Pincus got that formula down perfectly; that is, thus far, the only thing that Zynga has ever executed perfectly. That formula, of course, is part of the history books now; it doesn’t work any more and never will again.
The new formula that Zynga needs to discover is actually a much trickier one, one which game companies have struggled with for decades; the formula for making great games people actually want to play and actually want to recommend to their friends. The CEO who could potentially turn Zynga into a company where that happens would have to create an environment of intense creativity and freedom, utilising the short development cycles, rapid prototyping and start-up style Minimum Viable Product soft-launching strategies enabled by mobile platforms to let creators exercise their imaginations and try many different ideas in search of the hits; a CEO who truly valued creativity and understood how to let it thrive. Mark Pincus wasn’t that CEO first time around. He’s going to have to work hard to prove that Pincus 2.0 is any better.