Twitter Inc disappointed investors once again with first-quarter results that revealed stagnant revenue growth as the microblogging service struggles to grab new users amid efforts to improve its complicated interface with several new features.
Twitter’s user base grew modestly to 310 million monthly active users in the quarter ended March 31 from 305 million in the fourth quarter, above analysts’ expectations. But investors were let down by the revenue miss since outlining a turnaround plan.
“It’s obvious Twitter is having trouble,” said Arvind Bhatia, analyst with CRT Capital. “It’s not growing anywhere close to where people expected a while back.”
On a call with analysts, executives said advertisers, especially in Europe, held back spending ahead of major events, including the Olympics and the European Champions League. They also said users were spending more time watching and sharing video, but that advertisers’ budgets had not yet shifted from legacy advertising products such as promoted tweets.
Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto said Twitter’s long-term goal was to have “millions of advertisers like our competitors.” Facebook Inc has more than 3 million advertisers.
Twitter has struggled with stagnant user growth as its complex interface makes it less attractive to new users.
As part of its turnaround plan, the company has emphasized its live offerings, including live commentary and video streaming through its Periscope app, to attract new users. But it faces fierce competition from Facebook Inc which has recently ramped up its live video product, Facebook Live.
Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said that talent recruitment was a top priority for the year, especially on the engineering and product teams. Twitter lost several top executives earlier this year and has since added two new board members and a new chief marketing officer.
The company forecast revenue of $590 million to $610 million for the second quarter. Analysts on average were expecting $677.57 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
First-quarter revenue rose 36 percent from a year earlier to $594.5 million, but widely missed the average analyst estimate of $607.8 million.
The company announced the first technical preview of Skype for Business for Mac on Tuesday, giving users of Apple computers an easy way to connect to meetings they have scheduled through Microsoft’s professional audio and videoconferencing software.
When users sign into the app, they’ll see their Skype for Business meetings for the current day and the following one, and will be able to easily join in with the other people invited.
Skype for Business is the successor to the company’s venerable Lync product, which is still available for Mac during this transition.
The final release of the Mac version of Skype for Business is slated for the third quarter. Between now and then, Microsoft has two additional beta phases planned for the app. The second beta phase will include instant messaging, presence indicators and access to a user’s contacts.
In the third beta phase, Microsoft will bring along support for telephony and other advanced features supported by other versions of the product. That’s important for businesses that have paid for advanced Skype for Business features like the ability to place phone calls from the application over a traditional phone line.
This beta push is part of Microsoft’s ongoing strategy to extend the reach of its products to a wide variety of platforms, including the Mac.
T-Mobile US Inc reported a better-than-expected 10.6 percent rise in quarterly revenue and raised its forecast for customer additions in 2016 as popular discounts aided the No.3 U.S. wireless carrier by subscribers attract more business.
T-Mobile has been offering cheaper leasing plans and free music and video streaming to lure customers away from larger rivals Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc.
T-Mobile, controlled by Deutsche Telekom, said it added 2.2 million customers on a net basis in the first quarter ended March 31.
That easily topped the average analyst estimate of 1.72 million, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount.
The company said it expected to add 3.2 million to 3.6 million postpaid customers on a net basis in 2016, compared with its previous forecast of 2.4 million to 3.4 million.
T-Mobile’s 10.6 percent jump in quarterly revenue to $8.6 billion suggested its strategy to boost revenue was working. Analysts on average had expected revenue of $8.43 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
In comparison, market leader Verizon’s operating revenue rose just 0.6 percent to $32.17 billion.
AT&T is scheduled to report results later on Tuesday.
T-Mobile reported net income of $479 million, or 56 cents per share, for the first quarter, compared with a loss of $63 million, or 9 cents per share, a year earlier.
Every decade or so, a new era of computing comes along that influences everything we do. Much of the 90s was about client-server and Windows PCs. By the aughts, the Web had taken over and every advertisement carried a URL. Then came the iPhone, and we’re in the midst of a decade defined by people tapping myopically into tiny screens.
So what comes next, when mobile gives way to something else? Mark Zuckerberg thinks it’s VR. There’s likely to be a lot of that, but there’s a more foundational technology that makes VR possible and permeates other areas besides.
“I do think in the long run we will evolve in computing from a mobile-first to an A.I.-first world,” said Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, answering an analyst’s question during parent company Alphabet’s quarterly earnings call Thursday.
He’s not predicting that mobile will go away, of course, but that the breakthroughs of tomorrow will come via smarter uses of data rather than clever uses of mobile devices like those that brought us Uber and Instagram.
Forms of artificial intelligence are already being used to sort photographs, fight spam and steer self-driving cars. The latest trend is in bots, which use A.I. services on the back end to complete tasks automatically, like ordering flowers or booking a hotel.
Google believes it has a lead in A.I. and the related field of machine learning, which Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt has already pegged as key to Google’s future.
Machine learning is one of the ways Google hopes to distinguish its emerging cloud computing business from those of rivals like Amazon and Microsoft, Pichai said.
Streaming video service Netflix Inc forecast U.S. and international subscriptions would grow at a slower pace than Wall Street expected this quarter, causing its stock price to tumble by 8 percent earlier in the week.
Netflix said it expected to add about 500,000 customers in the United States in the second quarter that ends in June, compared with Wall Street targets of 586,000, according to FactSet StreetAccount. The forecast includes a “modest impact” from the beginning of a price increase for its monthly movie and TV subscription service, the company said.
The company known for its original shows including “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards” said it expected to add about 2 million subscribers in markets outside the United States, versus analyst expectations of 3.5 million, according to FactSet. It also reported results for the first quarter, when subscriptions outpaced its own target.
Netflix is prone to large stock price swings as investors bet on the possible success of its mission to redefine television viewing around the world.
The company’s long-term results depend in large part on how fast and profitably it expands. Netflix has launched in almost every country in the world, at a substantial cost, and now faces the task of adapting the service to different markets and cultures as competitors also rush in.
In January, Netflix went live in more than 130 countries, a huge global push by Chief Executive Reed Hastings to counter slowing growth in the United States.
Initial sign-ups were limited in some countries because the service at this point offers only English-language content and does not accept all of the local payment options.
“Computers running QuickTime for Windows will continue to work after support ends,” US-CERT wrote in an advisory published Thursday. “However, using unsupported software may increase the risks from viruses and other security threats. Potential negative consequences include loss of confidentiality, integrity, or availability of data, as well as damage to system resources or business assets. The only mitigation available is to uninstall QuickTime for Windows.”
US-CERT (U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team) based its alert on news Thursday from Trend Micro’s TippingPoint group, which said it had been told by Apple that QuickTime on Windows had been deprecated, or dropped from support, meaning no future security updates will be issued and development has been halted.
The last wasn’t new: Apple hasn’t significantly upgraded QuickTime for Windows since 2009, when it launched QuickTime X for OS X but didn’t port the new player to Windows. The most recent security update for QuickTime on Windows was issued three months ago.
Apple let TippingPoint in on the deprecation because the latter’s researchers had forwarded details about two vulnerabilities submitted to its Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) bug bounty program. After TippingPoint asked Apple for a status update on the bugs’ patches — it had handed Apple information about the vulnerabilities in November — representatives from the Cupertino, Calif. company got on the phone and told the researchers that QuickTime for Windows was a dead product.
On the same day that Apple and TippingPoint talked, Apple published instructions for uninstalling QuickTime from Windows PCs.
Apple has not changed its support policies for QuickTime on OS X, which will continue to receive security updates.
Few Windows users will miss QuickTime: Although the media player was once an integral part of its iTunes, Apple stopped bundling QuickTime with iTunes on Windows in 2011.
Intel has been showing off its new Apollo Lake chips, and if the outfit is correct it could shake up the lower-end PC market.
At the moment Intel’s Atoms have their work cut out for them supporting heavy lifting task like 4K video. However Apollo Lake, Intel’s a next-generation system-on-a-chip that promises to sort out a few of those problems.
It is compact and efficient enough for PC makers can afford to slim things down without as many compromises. The more inclusive design could mean that OEMs can spend more on more RAM and better displays, for example.
Apollo Lake uses Skylake’s graphics technology which enables full hardware-based 4K video playback and an overall boost to visual performance. It will also provide better support for newer technology like the USB-C.
Intel is saying nothing about clock speeds or pricing but its promising Celeron- and Pentium-branded processors in the second half of 2016.
The European Union’s digital chief wants search engines such as Alphabet Inc’s Google and Microsoft’s Bing to be more transparent about paid ads in web search results but ruled out a separate law for web platforms.
European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip, who is overseeing a wide-ranging inquiry into how web platforms conduct their business, said on Friday the EU executive would not take a horizontal approach to regulating online services.
“We will take a problem-driven approach,” Ansip said. “It’s practically impossible to regulate all the platforms with one really good single solution.”
That will come as a relief to the web industry, dominated mainly by big U.S. tech firms such as Facebook, Google and Amazon, who lobbied hard against new rules for online platforms and what they saw as an anti-American protectionist backlash.
“We praise the Commission for understanding that a horizontal measure for all platforms is practically impossible,” said Jakob Kucharczyk, director of the Computer & Communications Industry Association which represents the likes of Facebook, Google and Amazon.
“While a lot of online platforms enable economic growth, their business models differ widely.”
However Ansip said he was worried about how transparent some search engines are when displaying ads in search results.
The Commission is also looking into the transparency of paid-for reviews as well as the conditions of use of services such as Google Maps, Apple Inc’s IoS mobile operating system and Google’s Android.
“Maybe it’s not too much to ask for more transparency talking about search engines,” Ansip said.
The EU executive is looking into making rules on taking down illegal content clearer and more effective without making hosting websites such as YouTube directly liable.
“Now musicians ask, please, take it down and keep it down,” Ansip said. “We want to make those rules more clear.”
But the Commission will not change a provision where websites such as Amazon, eBay and Google’s YouTube are not held liable for illegal content that is uploaded on to their systems. They do, however, have a responsibility to take it down once they are notified of it.
The Commission will publish a communication detailing its plans on web platforms in June.
Mitel’s planned purchasing of phone and videoconferencing veteran Polycom for nearly $2 billion comes as the enterprise communications industry faces dramatic changes brought by mobility and cloud-based services.
The Ottawa-based manufacturer of corporate voice systems has agreed to pay $1.96 billion for Polycom in a deal it says would form the biggest conference phone and business cloud communications company in the world. The deal, announced Friday, still needs shareholder approval but is expected to close in the third quarter.
The combined company would be led by Mitel CEO Richard McBee under the Mitel name, but it would maintain Polycom’s brand. With about 7,700 employees across five continents, it would bring in annual revenue of $2.5 billion, the companies said. Economies of scale and steps like consolidating facilities would cut costs.
Workers used to rely heavily on desk phones and needed specialized enterprise platforms to participate in videoconferences. Now they increasingly use mobile phones and cloud-based video services that help them stay in touch both in and out of the office.
That’s putting the squeeze on everyone selling professional communication tools and driving down prices, said Wainhouse Research analyst Ira Weinstein. For example, there are now hundreds of videoconferencing service options where companies once had just a few dedicated platforms to choose from.
Though more portable and less expensive options abound, traditional systems are still in demand for their quality, reliability, security, and integration with enterprise directories, Weinstein said.
Friday’s deal could combine the strengths of two vendors hit by this trend, but it might also blunt their effectiveness, he said.
At the company’s F8 conference on Wednesday, Facebook networking chief Jay Parikh introduced a super-high-frequency wireless backbone called Terragraph and a 96-antenna cellular base station named Aries. Facebook won’t sell these systems but wants to make the technologies available to others.
The world’s biggest social networking company has as much motivation as anyone does to make Internet access available to everyone. That’s the mission of its Connectivity Labs, which has so far made headlines with projects like satellites and a giant solar-powered airplane that would beam wireless signals down to users on the ground.
With its latest effort, the labs are taking it to the streets.
The Terragraph system is a collection of small radios designed to be installed around a city at close intervals (about 250 meters or 273 yards apart) as a cheaper alternative to laying fiber.
It’s based on WiGig, an extension of Wi-Fi that uses unlicensed spectrum in the 60GHz band to deliver gigabit speeds within a room. Using beam-forming and steering techniques, Facebook is using the same technology to shoot multigigabit signals between light poles or other nodes, forming a distribution network as a backbone for other services.
Terragraph can steer around buildings and other urban sources of interference, Parikh said. A software-defined networking controller, derived from work Facebook has done on its own data center networks, helps Terragraph find the best routes and recover when a node goes down.
For its part, Aries is a wireless base station that can serve 24 client devices on the same spectrum at the same time. At F8, Parikh showed it sending 24 separate video streams simultaneously. It’s a proof-of-concept project to show how wireless networks could use scarce spectrum and energy more efficiently. Facebook sees Aries as a faster and cheaper way to bring Internet access to rural communities.
Facebook doesn’t plan to build Terragraph or Aries networks itself but will make these technologies available through the Telecom Infra Project, formed in February and modeled after the company’s Open Compute Project. It now has more than 300 members, including Nokia, Intel and SK Telecom.
The new Facebook Live API will let publishers and hardware makers build tools that connect with the social network’s live video streaming feature. That means broadcasters will be able to stream video from hardware that integrates with the service like DJI drones and the new Mevo camera, along with broadcast software like Livestream, ffmpeg and Xsplit.
It’s a move to help video producers bring live video to Facebook without having to do something extreme like strap an iPhone to a camera rig, which is what they currently have to do. With the new tool, Facebook also makes it easier for developers and broadcasters to bring higher quality video to Live, too.
Users will also have the ability to share a live broadcast with members of a group, or people who are registered for an event, in addition to broadcasting to their friends or to the world at large. People watching a live broadcast can add live emoji reactions, similar to adding reactions to a news feed.
The functionality is a push by Facebook to compete with other live streaming services like Periscope, which is owned by rival social network Twitter. With the rise of pervasive, high-speed mobile connectivity, live streaming is becoming more prevalent. Facebook is likely feeling the pressure from its competition, but it’s in a strong position, according to Forrester analyst Nick Barber.
“Paired with its active users and algorithm, Facebook stands to create a new revenue stream with live events,” he said in an email. “It makes Facebook a one-stop shop for users who want to consume news, live events and connect with family and friends.”
Improving live streaming may make the platform more appealing to people who know they want to stream their event to the Web somehow, but haven’t yet decided how to do it. If Facebook can become the de facto home for live broadcasts from celebrities and big brands, that could put the company in a lucrative position.
“Recorded video is very engaging on social channels, and live creates even more opportunities for brands and individuals,” Barber said.
Samsung is closing in on Intel in the semiconductor sector as its market share increased by 0.9 percent when compared to a year earlier.
According to beancounters at IBS, the news comes on the heels of an announcement that the three-month average of the global market for semiconductors ending in February fell 6.2 percent compared with the same figure in 2015, down from a 5.8 percent decline in January.
IBS chief executive Handel Jones said:
“Based on talking to customers about buying patterns, we see softness,” said. “Smartphone sales are slowing, and the composition of the market is changing with about half all chips bought by companies in China who want low-end devices In addition, over the past year memory prices have fallen by nearly half both for DRAMs and NAND-based solid-state drives as vendors try to buy market share, said Jones. “It’s more of a price issue because volumes are up.”
Jones expects softness in the PC market will continue through this year. Demand for chips is rising in automotive and for the emerging Internet of Things, but so far both sectors are relatively small, he added.
Data shows that the gap between the market share of these Intel and Samsung firms is narrowing. In 2012, the gap between Intel and Samsung was 5.3 percent. This narrowed to 4.2 percent in 2013, and is now 3.2 percent in 2015. SK Hynix, which now stands as the third largest semiconductor brand in the world, beat Qualcomm with a market share of 4.8 percent.
For years, groups have called on the FCC to cap the rates charged by Verizon and AT&T, the two carriers that dominate the market.
At a meeting on April 28, the FCC will consider an order that looks at the charges for dedicated connections paid by offices, retailers, banks, schools, hospitals and other types of customer, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said.
For more than a decade, critics of Verizon and AT&T have pushed the FCC to address these so-called “middle-mile” data connections, which link ATMs, credit-card scanners, mobile towers and many office broadband networks.
“If we want to maximize the benefits of business data services for U.S. consumers and businesses, we need a fresh start,” Wheeler wrote in a blog post Friday.
Less than 5 percent of business broadband locations nationwide have more than two carriers offering services, according to FCC figures.
Wheeler will propose new regulations for business broadband, often called special access services, to encourage competition.
“Government must ensure that non-competitive markets don’t harm consumers and businesses or stifle innovation,” he said. “I propose to identify those markets that are competitive, and those that are not, and to adopt a tailored regulatory framework to mirror those distinctions.”
The National Football League has selected Twitter as its exclusive global partner for streaming its Thursday night games during the 2016 regular season, both parties announced, a deal that could help the social media site expand its user base.
CBS Corp and Comcast Corp unit NBC, which won the broadcast rights in February, could also gain more viewers via Twitter, TV executives said.
Twitter Inc spokesman Brian Poliakoff declined to disclose the financial terms, or elaborate on how the games would be streamed. But technology news website Re/code, citing people familiar with the bidding process, reported that Twitter paid less than $10 million for the streaming rights.
The deal comes as sports fans are increasingly relying on the Internet to watch video at the expense of traditional cable and satellite connections. Livestreaming the games would give Twitter a new avenue to attract users as it tries to catch up with rival social networks like Facebook Inc, which has over a billion users.
The NFL partnership helps cement Twitter’s position as a destination for live video, said Tom Richardson, president of consulting firm Convergence Sports & Media.
“I don’t think it’s going to cannibalize viewership at all,” CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said. “I don’t see people turning off their televisions and watching the game on Twitter.”
“The fact that our national commercials are running on the Twitter feed is a big benefit,” he said.
An NBC spokesman declined to comment.
Twitter will livestream 10 games for free to the more than 800 million people who use its service, as well as non-registered users.
As of Tuesday, the company is tweaked its timelines so that users of screen readers can hear not just the text on a page, but also a brief description of what any images may contain. Until now, they’ve heard only the name of the person who posted the photo.
To describe the images, Facebook built a computer vision system with a neural network trained to recognize a number of concepts, including places and the presence of people and objects. It analyzes each image for the presence of different elements, and then composes a short sentence describing it that is included in the web page as the “alt” text of the image.
Users might hear, for example, “Image may contain: two people, smiling, sunglasses, sky, tree, outdoor.”
Facebook hedges its description with “may contain,” but for more than half the photos on its site, the company reckons it can identify at least one relevant concept with 80 percent accuracy or better.
The new feature is only available in English for now, and can be accessed via the screen reader function on iOS devices.