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Windows 7 released to manufacturing

July 23rd, 2009 admin No comments

Microsoft has officially announced that their latest operating system, Windows 7 , has been shipped to manufacturing. This means, Windows 7 is done and closer than ever to hitting store shelves. In fact, Gizmodo reports that the finished product is so similar to the RC1 currently out that you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Here’s to hoping Microsoft can return Windows to greatness with Windows 7 after the brand had been tarnished with bad Vista publicity. Related Posts

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Why Did Google Let Yahoo Run Off With Xoopit?

July 22nd, 2009 admin No comments

Yahoo has acquired e-mail startup Xoopit for a reported $20 million according to multiple reports. The deal, which was first reported to be in the final stages of closing earlier this morning by the Wall Street Journal, is expected to be announced at Fortune’s Brainstorm tech conference as early as tomorrow.

Xoopit essentially offers an easy way to organize and manage e-mail, having invented an indexing architecture similar to web search engines that helps users retrieve content from their archived e-mail, including attachments.

The startup raised a total of $6.5 million to date, securing seed funding amounting up to $1.5 million back in December 2006 and raising $5 million more from Accel Partners and Foundation Capital in April 2008.

Ever since its public launch, the startup has been focusing a lot on ‘upgrading’ Gmail, bringing an enhanced media search feature and direct Facebook connections to Google’s free webmail service. In fact, their focus was so clearly set on Gmail that the startup’s ‘About’ page currently speaks of nothing but the webmail service and how it improves its users’ experience in terms of e-mail management.

xoopit-screen-small.png

Sure enough, Xoopit was also a featured app on the Yahoo Mail applications platform since the latter debuted last December, but I can’t help but thinking it should have been Mountain View pulling in Xoopit instead of Sunnyvale.

Think about it: Gmail and by extension Google Apps are core products for Google, which is in essence a search engine company. Xoopit enhances the search functionality of their web-based e-mail service. You’d think it’s a no-brainer for Google to go after the startup if they knew its management and investors were open to a sale.

And if the selling price was really only $20 million, it’s not the money that would make Google think two times. With a bottom line like Google’s, an acquisition of this size is basically pocket change for the company, and yet they’d be picking up an agile startup creating a product that’s highly relevant to their core service offering. Furthermore, it’d make for a great talent buy, if only for the startup’s founders Bijan Marashi (ex-Telecom Italia, Inktomi and Microsoft) and Jonathan Katzman (former exec at TellMe Networks and also an ex-Softie).

Kudos to Yahoo for snapping up Xoopit – I realize it makes sense for them too – but why didn’t Google make this move?

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Shelly Palmer: Conde Nast to Give GQ, Vogue Web Sites…Sorta: MediaBytes with Shelly Palmer July 22, 2009

July 22nd, 2009 admin No comments

Conde Nast is restructuring its web presence by giving its top tier publications their own sites. While magazines like GQ and Vogue have had online properties, both were part of Style.com. While Conde will rebrand the digital world of GQ and Vogue, surprisingly, Vogue will not have its own site, rather it will only be accessible at style.com/vogue.

Microsoft will shut down its UCG video site Soapbox. Microsoft launched the MSN channel three years ago after deciding not to purchase YouTube. MSN, which is planning a massive overhaul of the MSN property in the fall, will instead allow users to upload video to its MSN Video channel.

A Chinese factory worker who handled prototypes of Apple’s 4G iPhone committed suicide after one of the phones went missing. Sun Danyong, who was in charge of sending the new iPhone mock-ups to Apple, was detained and beaten by a member of the Foxconn security team after only fifteen of the sixteen iPhones were found. After the beating, Danyong jumped out a window to his death.

Samsung SDI’s profits for the second quarter were up 17%. The world’s largest manufacturer of flat-screen TV’s earned $46.6 million during the period. The increase in profit comes as Samsung’s battery business continues to boom.

Apple’s earnings were up 15% for the third fiscal quarter of 2009. iPhone sales especially helped Apple earn $1.25 billion for the quarter, which ended just after the release of the iPhone 3GS. In addition, despite the economy, Apple sold 2.6 million computers during the quarter, 4% more than this time last year.

Shelly Palmer is a consultant and the host of MediaBytes with Shelly Palmer a daily show featuring news you can use about technology, media & entertainment. He is Managing Director of Advanced Media Ventures Group LLC and the author of Television Disrupted: The Transition from Network to Networked TV. Shelly is also President of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. You can join the MediaBytes mailing list here. Shelly can be reached at shelly@palmer.net For information about Get Digital Classes, visit www.shellypalmer.com/seminars

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MindTouch Upgrades Collaborative Platform With Video And Developer-Friendly Tools

July 22nd, 2009 admin No comments

Opensource wiki developer Mindtouch today has launched several new features in its opensource, wiki-like collaboration platform for enterprises. This includes the ability to add video to MindTouch wikis, package applications built in MindTouch for distribution, and stage content on wikis.

MindTouch’s platform connects teams, enterprise systems, web services and Web 2.0 applications with IT governance enabling users to access, publish and organize data and systems. Customers include Mozilla, Microsoft, Intel, Intuit, The Washington Post, US Army, EMC, Harvard, Timberland, and The United Nations.

MindTouch has partnered with open source video platform Kaltura, to let MindTouch users collaborate, edit, publish and syndicate video within a MindTouch wiki. End users can record video and have multiple parties edit within a MindTouch page.

The company’s new application packaging feature allows developers to create a compressed file for import into other MindTouch instances, letting enterprise users install add-on applications easily. This addition represents MindTouch’s ambitions to become an application platform where installing applications are as easy as adding Firefox addon.

MindTouch is clearly trying to make it as simple as possible for developers to build applications on top of the MindTouch platform. MindTouch has steadily been adding features to its platform aimed towards developers, including the ability to build rich applications off of Mindtouch’s platform. MindTouch’s wiki-like platform is appealing to businesses both big and small, and the open source ideation seems to provide for an innovative product that simplifies complex interactions, especially for developers. Competitors to MindTouch include Socialtext and pbworks.

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How Much Is That Apple Tablet Going To Cost? Not $399 Or $499.

July 22nd, 2009 admin No comments

apple-tablet-patent-400There are always good bits of data you can pry from Apple’s cold fingers during the Q&A sessions of its quarterly earnings conference calls. Today was no different.

As usual, a question came up about Apple entering the “low-end” laptop market, which is a fancy way of saying “netbook” market. Once again, Apple COO Tim Cook reiterated Apple’s stance that “Our goal is not to build the most PCs. It’s to build the best.” What he means by this is that Apple has no interest in playing in the low-end market, which is of course also a low-margin market, which would mean Apple’s pretty margins taking a hit. But wording is everything, and Cook once again didn’t exactly eliminate the possibility of Apple making a new type of portable computing device.

He said that no matter what the price point is, that if Apple feels it can build a product worthy of its brand, it will do so. But he also specifically called out two price points that he thought are producing junky products, and implied that such price points will continue to produce junky products: $399 and $499.

And so if Apple is working on a tablet PC (or a larger screen iPod touch) of some kind, it will likely be priced above $500. To Apple watchers, that is obvious, but it’s still important to hear Cook more or less say it.

A follow-up question later on about netbooks, asked if Apple specifically saw a future for a new mobile device with a larger screen? Cook joked that while he never wanted to rule out anything in the future, he also never intends to answer questions about new products. He went on to say that he believes most customers buying portable PCs want a full-featured notebook. And many netbooks are slow and run old operating systems. Naturally, he didn’t mention Chrome OS.

And that just seems to be more proof that whatever big touchscreen device Apple makes, it won’t be so much of a netbook, but rather a product that Apple hopes will once again kickstart a new type of market. Whether that will work, who knows. Let’s see the thing first.

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Yahoo’s Revenues Drop 13 Percent In Second Quarter (Conference Call Notes: Bartz Likes Bing!)

July 22nd, 2009 admin No comments

Yahoo just released earnings for the second quarter. Total revenues dropped 13 percent to $1.5 billion. Google, in contrast, saw total revenues rise 3 percent in same quarter. After paying partner sites traffic acquisition costs (TAC), Yahoo’s take-home revenue was $1.1 billion.

Yahoo’s net income rose 8 percent to $141 million. Operating income fell 17 percent to $101 million, and net income fell a whopping 78 percent to $118 million (but much of that difference was due to a $401 million non-cash gain Yahoo took in the first quarter related to its stake in Alibaba, which had an IPO).

Yahoo’s search advertising revenues on Yahoo-owned sites declined 15 percent to $359 million, while display advertising on owned and operated sites declined 14 percent to $393 million. Yahoo announced a deal with AT&T to sell local online ads.

Correction: This post briefly included information about layoffs which was incorrect. My apologies for alarming any Yahoo employees.

During the conference call, CEO Carol Bartz praised Bing (Microsoft’s search effort) and promised to get rid of annoying ads on Yahoo Mail. My live notes are below (bolded parts are for emphasis):

Carol Bartz:

Considering the economy I am pleased with our results, revenues above midpoint of our expectations, upside coming from currency fluctuations.

Less fear from advertisers.

But so much conflicting info form the market, too early to call.

1. great team (hired CFO)
2. great experience (mobile, social, advertising) have to make sure ads are more relevant, less irritating to users.
3. Better business processes. Want to be a better company to work for and with.

CFO Tim Morse:

Pageviews up 7%
Rev: $1.573 billion (down 13%)
Search revenues down 15%
display revenues down 14%
encouraging sign: guaranteed display inventory increased on a sequential basis
growth in health and travel

Affiliate business (primarily search) down
TAC was 28% of total revenue, rising slightly

listings revenue down 21%

OCF (operating cash flow) $385M
free cash flow $266M

savings at the low end of our expectations due to cost savings. Planning on hiring new sales people, invest in branding efforts to seize growth opps that will come as economy recovers.

$365M restructuring charge, real estate related and $25M related to headcount reduction
$67M pretax gain from sale in Gmarket.

Carol Bartz:

Biggest content site. Lead in news, sports, finance, and other categories. Yahoo homepages leads all others.
brags about a single link from Yahoo home page to NYT, creating 9M pageviews.
“We work with publishers, not against them” (subtle dig at Google)

Yahoo mail, open features, improvements in speed and performance and engagement.
Talks about annoying ads, calls them a “detriment,” “cheapening the Yahoo brand.” Will be trying to get rid of blaring ads.

Initiative around improving ad experience

Talks about mobile search deal with cell phone carrier in Taiwan to displace Google [she's digging deep there]

expanded relationship with AT&T to sell Yahoo local inventory by AT&T advertising salesforce. Yahoo’s salesforce with its advertising partners is now 13K strong.

Q&A:

Q: Carol, what is your first impression on Bing? Seeing any user behavior changes?

Carol: I think Bing is actually a good product. Experimentation around search instead of thinking just a standard blue link. only a month in, hard to understand if it is just curiosity or if they will gain share, but I think they have done a nice job.

Q: Search business seems to have deteriorated, display shows sequential improvement. Where is the bets ROI, display or search, since you will prob. have to choose one or the other?

Carol: Search did decline Q over Q, that is not a meaningful trend. Our volume was healthy, more that there was RPS pressure. The whole idea is to keep to optimize and drive relevancy for advertiser’s ROI. Advertisers being smarter, chose less keywords.

At the end of the day, our investment priority is in the user. If we can increase our audience, which we know we can, we can drive both search and display revenues. We can provide both, but what we really need to provide ad partners is an engaged audience.

Tim: CPCs not that different, more a mix in the queries.

Q: Do you get renumerated for links to Facebook or Gmail?

Carol: No, it is really about giving consumers an experience on Yahoo without having to leave Yahoo. To be the center of their online life. Not about money, about helping them organize their online life.

Q: Ebitda margins lowest guidance since 2003. You said you would be ramping spending in Q, how should we think about margins?

Carol: When we gave the guidance last Q we told you we were going to to layoffs to have room to put the same cost into the system to reinvest into the business. Pretty much on target with that. Marketing spend for 3Q is in the additional cost already ($75M?). Adding people into product, engineering, sales people.

Tim: Repositioning cost structure, drained some buckets, now filling up different buckets.

Q: What percentage of ad inventory is guaranteed? How should we think about yearly cost structure?

Tim: We don’t break out between guaranteed and non-guaranteed. We did see strength in guaranteed in high-single digits. Strength in 7 out of 10 categories we track like finance, health, consumer products. In non-guaranteed ads, more steady.

Carol Bartz: It’s like 30 to 40 steps to buy a display ad from us. Want to have a much. much easier way to do business with us. Looking forward to making this better.

Q: How is growth in Q2 breaking down?

Carol Bartz: We don’t actually break this out, but there are those people experimenting more with non-guaranteed and new customers coming in with guaranteed. By moving more into the mid-market that will be a lot more non-guaranteed because that is their first online ad experience.

Tim: We are doing very well with our top advertisers. On Display, revs are up with top ten advertisers. Also in Search, but not quite as good.

Q: O and O search vs. affiliate revs?

Bartz: I don’t see a trend.

Q: U.S. was down, looks like RPS (revenue per search) pressure, is that because of scale vs. Google?

Bartz: Of course scale matters in search. I’d switch positions, that’d be fun. When you have fewer click-throughs and you have a longer tail you get to monetize more. But our search volume is holding fine. We have to convince those buyers to get off the chair and push buy.

Q: Follow up on RPS, you talked about improving relevancy of ads. Can you talk about levers you can pull to improve RPS, how do you view new homepage impact on search

Bartz: Alot of what we are talking about in improving ads is display. You know what an irritating ad is. With RPS, working to drive teh right ad to the right query, better targeting. With how Metro will impact search, we are pleased with search placement on the homepage. improved quality in display, improved relevance in search and make search more prominent will help drive relevancy.

You have to get users to say, I like those. then they tell their friends. You take some of the bad ads off mail, guess what, they stay. All of that is a better experience. All of that will drive advertisers to us.

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Microsoft/Yahoo Search Deal Today? Not So Fast

July 22nd, 2009 admin No comments

yahoo_microsoftThere is absolutely no doubt that Microsoft and Yahoo are in the final stages of some sort of search/search marketing deal. And lots of Yahoo’ers are buzzing that the big announcement is today along with Yahoo’s quarterly earnings report after the markets close. But our sources are saying that while the deal is imminent, it won’t be announced today.

But Yahoo sure is being secretive about what they are announcing today. Some people who usually have access to the earnings call script are out of the loop, our sources say. Yahoo has been one of the leakiest companies in the last couple of years (remember this?), and CEO Carol Bartz may finally be trying to put the hammer down on some employees suspected of facilitating those leaks. Is something unusual being announced today? Perhaps, say our sources inside Yahoo. But they can’t say what it is besides speculation about a Microsoft deal.

But back to those Yahoo/Microsoft negotiations – sources say that a search deal is imminent. But they are also saying that Yahoo continues to push for an outright acquisition. Microsoft, after pulling their acquisition offer last May, never again expressed any real interest in buying the company. The search deal is the next best thing, and Yahoo has to take it. With Google unable to partner with Yahoo over search, there’s no one else ready to step in.

The Microsoft/Yahoo search deal would apparently put Microsoft’s new favorite child, Bing, behind Yahoo’s search product, which has a much higher market share than Microsoft’s. The deal would supposedly see Yahoo get paid $3 billion upfront, as well as pretty much all of the revenues (after traffic acquisition costs) that its searches provide over the first few years of the deal, 24/7 Wall Street reported the other day. There is also talk that Yahoo’s relatively strong display advertising business would be put in place for both companies.

We’ve previously written about what a deal like this could mean for both companies, but things have changed a bit since Microsoft completely revamped its search product. It’s still too early to tell if Bing will make any meaningful inroads against market leader Google. (And in fact, it looks like Bing may be stealing share from Yahoo, rather than Google.)

But the general consensus among users seems that they at least like Bing — something which cannot often be said about consumer-facing Microsoft products. And that has to be seen as good news if Microsoft can combine its search product with Yahoo, giving it nearly a 30% market share.

There are no shortage of rumors flying around today given Yahoo’s earnings, but remember that Microsoft also announces its earning on Thursday after the market closes. Yahoo’s stock fell 1.5% during regular trading today, but has already fallen another 2% in after-hours trading leading up to earnings. Their call is set for 2PM PT, we’ll be listening in.

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Microsoft Officially Retires Soapbox, The Poor Man’s YouTube

July 22nd, 2009 admin No comments

Microsoft’s YouTube clone Soapbox is officially shutting its doors, according to reports today. Soapbox, which was launched in 2006 as a hub for downloading and sharing user-generated videos, was never able to be a viable competitor to YouTube.

MSN corporate vice president and chief media and technology officer, Erik Jorgensen, said that Soapbox delivers less than 5 percent of the overall 480 million video streams worldwide on MSN Video each month. In June, MSN Video posted its best month ever, with 250 million streams. But this nothing compared to YouTube’s streams which top around 1.2 billion per day.

Earlier this month, Microsoft hinted that it may be reevaluating Soapbox as a property and possibly be scaling back the site. Even this past week, Microsoft chose to use YouTube for its Bing Jingle contest.

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Spotify Adds Two Million More Tracks As It Preps For US Launch

July 21st, 2009 admin No comments

Spotify, the music streaming service, has announced a deal with IODA, the Independent Online Distribution Alliance. IODA brokers agreements for independent labels and artists and helps them out with marketing and distribution. Thus, the Spotify/IODA deal brings 2 million new indie tracks – meaning you’ll now be able to stream The Prodigy and Bob Marley, among others.

IODA’s international partners, including Bonnier Amigo Music Group, are on board too. The move is clearly ahead of a planned US launch. Upcoming Android and Apple’s Iphone apps are also being readied.

It’ll be interesting to see how all this plays out: although Spotify plans to launch in the US before the end of the year, there’s the small matter of Microsoft’s upcoming music streaming service to factor in.

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If Microsoft made a toaster…

July 21st, 2009 admin No comments

We don’t know where, and we don’t know why, but we sure like the idea of this Microsoft toaster that etches little Redmond flags into delicately baked slices of Wonder. Of course, if Microsoft really did make a toaster it would likely require an upgrade to your bread. And if Apple made a toaster, the bread would be non-removable. Oh! And if… go ahead, add your own in the comments below. [Thanks abrahamvir , images courtesy of mazw220 ] Filed under: Household If Microsoft made a toast

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