Amazon’s Big Brother Behavior Brings Suit

kindlesIf you were to define irony by example, a book seller going “Big Brother” and secretly deleting your previously purchased copy of 1984 is about as letter perfect as you can get.  It’s the kind of thing you cannot script; the truth people deem stranger than fiction.   But believe it or not, that’s exactly what happened in mid July.

On July 16th and 17th, Amazon, after recognizing it had sold eBooks it didn’t have proper rights clearances to sell, attempted to fix the problem by dropping a heavy hand on the delete button.

Using previously undisclosed remote access technology the company systematically deleted the books from customer’s Kindles. Here today, gone tomorrow.

Though rebates were provided, the uproar and backlash was fast and loud.  And now the inevitable has happened: a lawsuit has been filed.

17 year old Michigan high school student Justin Gawronski filed papers Thursday seeking monetary and injunctive relief for the damage caused when the deleted files rendered linked notes on his Kindle obsolete. (court document follows below)

Reportedly, Gawronski’s primary interest is legal precedent.   He’s not in it for money but he wants more than to be able to tell a teacher, “the Kindle really did eat my homework.”

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Japan Earnings Watch: Nintendo and Sony Falter

Sony and Nintendo have generally been moving in different directions, one finding success while the other floundered and restructured.   Heading into the current quarter, with consumer spending weak and a strong Yen threatening margins, there were hints that might be changing (at least for the very near term).

Earnings results in, it has.  Both Sony and Nintendo reported Thursday and both struggled. 

At Nintendo, revenue fell 40% to 253b Yen.  Earnings plunged 61%.     Unit sales of Nintendo’s otherwise infallible Wii fell 57% globally compared to the same period last year. 

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Microsoft and Yahoo Bury the Hatchet: New Search Pact Reached

yahoo msft bing

Micro-hoo, the nickname for Microsoft’s effort to buy Yahoo outright,  was the deal that wasn’t.  At the end of a long and winding road, Microsoft-Yahoo Search is finally the deal that is.

Nearly a year and half removed from Microsoft’s initial buyout offer, a crashed ad market and a new CEO later, the two rivals have joined together in a complex pact aimed at wrestling a greater share of the search market away from Google.

Combining interests, at June levels (ComScore), the newly announced deal would give the joint effort a 28% share of the U.S. search market compared to Google’s industry leading 65%.  (Independently, Microsoft had 8% and Yahoo 20% in June).

The combination would still represent a minority stake but both companies believe the added scale will make a significant difference in their ability to compete. 

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THQ Fights to Strong First Quarter

THQ earnsTHQ is a company still at work turning itself around but the waypoints along the trail show its clearly making progress and moving in the right direction.   A day after winning an arbitration ruling over Jakks Pacific, the Agoura Hills game developer reported a record setting first quarter.

For the three months ended June 30th, revenue soared 77% to $243.5m.   Net income was $6.4m, or 9 cents a share, compared to a loss of $27.2m, or 41 cents a share, last year.  Less one time charges for restructuring and stock compensation, THQ earned $6.9m, or 10 cents a share (compared to a loss of 38 cents last year).

Analysts were expecting a loss of 8 cents a share on revenue of $203.5.

The consensus-topping result directly contrasts weak earnings at some rivals and also appears to temper questions about the interactive gaming industry’s current health.    In this climate, the message seems to be: consumers are buying but they’re buying selectively.  Quality content is essential. 

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Earnings Watch: Viacom and DreamWorks Animation

viacom earns graphicTuesday, Viacom delivered some good news. The company said its premium movie channel joint venture, Epix (developed jointly with Lionsgate and MGM), has signed a carrier deal with VerizonViacom also said it was “very pleased” with advance bidding (called “up fronts”) for commercial time on its cable properties in the upcoming TV season.  The ad sector, CEO Philippe Dauman suggested, is showing signs of recovery.  What was less positive, however, was Viacom’s performance in the quarter ended June 30th.

Adjusted earnings (earnings less severance charges of 3 cents per share) came in at 49 cents a share for the second quarter, the company reported.   Down 23% year over year, that was just good enough to beat analyst’s consensus expectations of 48 cents (Thomson Reuters) but revenue numbers missed. 

Analysts projected revenue of $3.5b.  Viacom totaled up $3.3b in revenue for Q2, a 14% drop over the same period last year.

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Ubisoft Q1 Misses the Mark

game earnsAmidst solid annual earnings last April, French game publisher Ubisoft waved a caution flag and warned its year over year sales results would likely slip for the quarter ended June 30th .   Maybe they should have grabbed a megaphone to broadcast the revenue warning too.

Today, the company reported first quarter sales 12.6% below guidance. (release (PDF))

For Q1 2009-10, Ubisoft’s sales came in at EUR 83m, down 50.6%.

The company blamed a combination of market conditions and surprise sales trends for the result. Casual games for the DS were among those singled out

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Applevine: Rumored Apple Tablet in 2010?

applevine netbook rumorsSometimes when a company says they aren’t doing something,  they really aren’t.  But other times, brush-off’s hide another message.  Sometimes, lost in careful wording there’s a different truth.   As Shakespeare famously put it “the lady doth protest too much.”   When denials are over-emphasized something is going on.

Is Apple hiding something behind denials a netbook is in the product queue?  Some think so. 

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