Archive for May, 2014


It was 2 years ago when Apple unveiled to the world its addition to their line of revolutionary mobile gadgets, the iPad. Most critics at that time immediately mocked and derided the potential of the new product to create new market.

With less than the blink of an eye, the critics were proved wrong. Apple’s new iPad sold out quickly becoming the fastest-selling mobile gadget of all time. The iPad instantly became an icon of the modern tablet market.

The iPad’s revolutionary technology has transformed media like no other person would have imagined. Its influence on education, entertainment and publishing reached new heights. It has become adopted widely across various types of people in different countries.

Apple’s iPad is considered to be the very first gadget that demonstrated what can happen when the TV and the computer is mashed together. Steve Jobs unveiling of the iPad two years ago was a commencement of the future!

Many have envisioned creating a product like Apple’s iPad however, no one was able to replicate or match the success. The Kindle Fire, Android, Windows 8, and the Metro UI all have eaten just a tiny part of the market. The iPad’s success will continue to become an industry by itself as tablet manufacturers still haven’t found a way to establish a tablet market.

Apple’s latest iOS update suggests the possibility for quad-core processing support on the next iPhones and iPads. While this is not a confirmation from Apple, sources from 9to5mac.com have uncovered evidence on Apple’s current testing for quad-core A6 chips.

Beneath the iOS 5.1 beta is a processing-core management software that explains support of the quad-core CPU chips. A hidden panel in the iOS software describes the cores being supported by the iOS device: “/cores/core.0” refers to single-core A4 chips and “cores/core.1” refers to dual-core A5 chips. Surprisingly, a new label surfaces which hints for a quad-core CPU.

/cores/core.3” appears on the iOS 5.1 beta core management. If you do the math based on Apple’s core management labeling, this translates to quad-core processing. The presence of a quad-core CPU in an iOS device is simply powerful. This would mean extra horsepower, operating system navigation enhancement, and faster execution of apps. Moreover, the potential to support extremely high-resolution displays as well as support for Final Cut Pro is promising.

Let’s just hope this will come be released as soon as possible. Even before iPhone 5 is released. This surely would take iPhone a mile ahead of its closest competitor, the Android.

Source

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Chairman Reid Hoffman

Asa Mathat / AllThingsD.com LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Chairman Reid Hoffman

LinkedIn posted its third-quarter earnings results on Tuesday, and it’s yet another big quarterly beat.

The company reported 39 cents in earnings per share on revenue of $393 million. That’s against analysts’ estimates of 32 cents per share on revenue of $385.41 million.

It was a good quarter for growth as well, as the company added another 21 million monthly active users to its base, bringing the total to 259 million overall. That’s 38 percent year-on-year overall growth for the company.

“Increased member growth and engagement helped drive strong financial results in the third quarter,” said LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner in a statement. “We continue to deliver value to professionals through investment in core products and strategic initiatives such as mobile, students, and the professional publishing platform.”

The company’s talent solutions product continues to be the main revenue driver, accounting for 57 percent of overall revenue at $224.7 million. Marketing solutions and Premium subscriptions followed at $88.5 million and $79.8 million, respectively.

The slightly downbeat point was LinkedIn’s lowered guidance for the fourth quarter coming in at about $420 million, short of the approximately $440 million analysts had expected.

Though, if you’ll recall from earlier this year, LinkedIn has consistently provided lowered guidance for coming quarters, a move some analysts think has been intended to manage future expectations – especially if the company doesn’t deliver consistently stellar results as it has in the past.

Shares dipped slightly on the news, trading down two percent at around $242.

On a conference call, Weiner highlighted the company’s mobile efforts over the past quarter, paying particular attention to the recent LinkedIn mobile product launch; along with a number of redesigns, LinkedIn introduced Intro, a way for the company to stick its data inside of the iOS email app.

Sponsored updates – the company’s version of a “native” mobile ad unit – drive two-thirds of mobile revenue. It’s certainly a significant amount, and one the company expects to grow in the future.

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According to sources close to the situation, Snapchat could announce its latest massive funding later this week.

Sources said the round being raised – up to $200 million – will come in part from China’s Internet giant Tencent and value the self-destructing mobile messaging startup from $3.6 billion to $4 billion. But, said sources, there are likely to be other new investors in the round.

AllThingsD broke the news of the possible funding last week.

The new funding comes only a few months after closing a Series B round of $60 million that valued Snapchat at $800 million.

While such a deal could still be delayed or even fall apart, sources said it was on track to be announced as early as this Thursday.

A spokeswoman for Snapchat did not as yet return an email and text requesting comment.

The move by the Los Angeles-based Snapchat is the second giant funding of late of a small Internet startup with little to no revenue.

Social scrapbooking company Pinterest announced earlier this week that it just raised $225 million at a $3.8 billion valuation.

But investors are piling on, hoping to grab an early hold on the next Twitter or Facebook.

Launched in 2011, Snapchat has grown wildly popular in a relatively short span of time, effectively creating an entirely new genre of messaging category with its “ephemeral” pictures and videos that last for only a matter of seconds.

Snapchat’s last round was led by Institutional Venture Partners, with participation from General Catalyst Partners and SV Angel. Previous investors Benchmark Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners also participated. With that round, the company had raised around $75 million in total.

At the time of the June funding, in an interview with AllThingsD, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel noted: “We’re excited about in-app transactions because of what we’ve seen in the Asian markets.”

He has called out Tencent specifically in a series of interviews as being an innovative player there.

The interest in investing is because the mobile Snapchat app has proved so popular and has become global. It has also become potentially worrisome to established social players – so much so that sources said when Spiegel continually rebuffed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s acquisition offers, Zuckerberg cloned the app outright with a service called Poke. Zuckerberg’s offering famously flopped, while Snapchat continues to grow.

Most recently, Snapchat has begun to experiment with features outside of its core ephemeral messaging service. The company launched its Stories product last month, essentially a long-form play on Facebook’s status update in the form of a picture or video. And recently, Spiegel has grown more keen on the idea of monetization, experimenting with bands and listening to music inside the app.

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Amazon is known for pouring the revenue it generates back into its business. Now, it’s ready to give a chunk away.

The Seattle-based retailer today announced a corporate philanthropy program called AmazonSmile, which allows Amazon shoppers to direct 0.5 percent of their purchase totals at the e-commerce giant toward a charitable organization of their choice. Amazon will then donate the money on behalf of its customers.

At launch, “basically every physical product is eligible” for the program, according to AmazonSmile general manager Ian McAllister.

But there are exceptions. Digital-media products such as Kindle e-books won’t be eligible for the program, although that could change, McAllister said. Purchases made through Amazon’s subscribe-and-save subscription program are also ineligible.

There will be no cap on donation amount.

The program will only be available to shoppers who visit Amazon via a special Web address – smile.amazon.com – instead of the normal Amazon.com homepage.

When customers enter through the new gateway, they will be prompted to select from one of a handful of featured charitable organizations, or to search a database of nearly a million 501(c)(3) organizations if they are looking to support a cause that isn’t featured. That breadth of choice pretty much matches up with the Amazon brand.

The shopping experience the customers encounter on the AmazonSmile landing page will otherwise be identical to the regular Amazon.com site – same selection, same prices – with the exception that eligible products will be marked as such on product detail pages, the company said.

An Amazon spokesperson said the company will market the program on Amazon.com, via email, and on its social network accounts.

A rep for Charity:Water, one of the organizations Amazon touts in its press release, said it will not do paid advertising of its own to promote AmazonSmile, but will publicize it to its social network followers.

Corporate charitable giving is nothing new, of course, and can take on varied forms. Google’s charitable initiatives include grants, free product handouts and an overall pledge of one percent of its profits toward its charitable organizations.

Last year, Walmart said it gave $1 billion in cash and in-kind contributions to U.S. organizations.

And Salesforce is known for donations and discounts to nonprofits of its customer-relationship-management software.

But the sheer size of Amazon’s customer base, the ease with which donations are made once someone becomes aware of the program and the charity choice given to shoppers make for a unique program. For those who end up making a routine out of shopping through smile.amazon.com, there will likely be the feeling that you’re doing good while shopping, which has the potential to be another powerful differentiator to set Amazon apart.

“At their scale, there’s potential to truly test whether &#8216cause’ affects buying decisions,” said Jeff Smith, chief innovation officer at Matter Unlimited, a boutique creative agency focused on social-responsibility campaigns. “It would be fascinating to really connect the dots.”

A side benefit of corporate-giving initiatives like this one are the tax deductions – and Amazon’s case is no different. The company, not Amazon shoppers, will receive the tax benefits for the donations. Donations will be made through an entity called AmazonSmile Foundation and will come out of Amazon’s pockets, not from any of its marketplace sellers.

McAllister, AmazonSmile’s GM, said tax benefits did not guide the decision to launch AmazonSmile. Nor did focus groups or customer surveys.

“We thought our customers would love it,” he said of the reason for the initiative.

When I asked a spokesperson whether Amazon cares about what Wall Street and its shareholders will think about a company that doesn’t frequently turn a profit creating such a charitable initiative, the response was similar.

“We think our customers will love it,” he said.

Whether that will really move ratings, I think we don’t know.

- Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, talking about plans for the “See It” program it is launching next month with Twitter, which is supposed to promote live TV viewing. On an earnings call this morning, Roberts described the program as an experiment, but said he feels optimistic about it.

In a strategy shift, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. is making a push into software development and telecom services, its latest efforts to seek new avenues of growth as revenue from contract manufacturing slows.

Chairman Terry Gou said Thursday the company plans to hire more than 2,000 software engineers to beef up content, software development and build a data center in Taiwan.

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Even after back-to-back quarterly wins, the heat is still on for Facebook to knock its next ad product out of the park.

Take a look at the market performance Wednesday afternoon. After delivering another quarter of stellar earnings numbers, Facebook CFO David Ebersman said something that made investors twitch: Facebook won’t “significantly increase” the number of ads it is sticking into users’ News Feeds – the current biggest driver of Facebook’s money machine.

The big bet for Facebook instead: Improving the quality of its existing ads.

That’s sort of a no-brainer. Make the ad look as “native” as possible, and it’ll probably perform better. It’s all the rage these days with competitors like Twitter.

Investors were spooked at Ebersman’s words nonetheless. After shares first surged 15 percent after hours on the original numbers, the stock plummeted back down to its closing price when Ebersman mentioned ad load, and ended up ultimately trading down – $18 billion in market value lost in a matter of seconds.

So the onus, then, is on Facebook for its next big thing. Will it be the long-awaited video ads, which look likely to auto-play inside the News Feed as users scroll through? That’s certainly one way to get higher-value ads without upping load. And let’s not forget Instagram, which also recently stated it would start dipping its toes into in-stream ads.

The company is treading very carefully. In-stream videos could be much more intrusive than the ads we’re seeing these days. Facebook doesn’t want to upset its users by sticking a bunch of auto-playing ads in our faces in the wrong way. That’s why the product has been delayed multiple times, and why the tests have come slowly but surely.

A quick aside: Seems almost silly for the Street to punish Facebook for stating it won’t increase ad load. If you jam the stream with even more ads, it’ll only serve to make the customer experience worse, right?

But maybe investors realized that, too; shares of Facebook were trading up nearly five percent Thursday morning, at around $51.

Long before I started work as the CEO of Apple, I became aware of a fundamental truth: People are much more willing to give of themselves when they feel that their selves are being fully recognized and embraced.

At Apple, we try to make sure people understand that they don’t have to check their identity at the door. We’re committed to creating a safe and welcoming workplace for all employees, regardless of their race, gender, nationality or sexual orientation.

As we see it, embracing people’s individuality is a matter of basic human dignity and civil rights. It also turns out to be great for the creativity that drives our business. We’ve found that when people feel valued for who they are, they have the comfort and confidence to do the best work of their lives.

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In 10 years I think we’ll look back and say we can’t believe we lived in a world with enormous transaction fees and all these security risks. That we couldn’t digitally send money to anyone anywhere in the world.

- Brightcove co-founder and former CEO Jeremy Allaire, on Circle, his bitcoin payment platform for merchants

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