M&A Recap: Zynga and Google Make Buys

Social gamer Zynga grabbed a lot of press lately.  First the company re-upped with Facebook.  Next it doubled down with Yahoo.   Now the company is expanding its development operations with the purchase of Austin based Challenge Games.  Challenge, which developed games like Warstorm and Ponzi was backed by Sequoia Capital and Globespan.

In other M&A news, Google has acquired Philadelphia based advertising shop Invite Media for an undisclosed sum thought to be in the range of $50 to $75m.  Click to Read More

iPad Arrives Internationally

London, Paris, Tokyo.  Across the globe people lined up around street corners.  Some camped out. Some cheered.  Hungrily, they waited for the moment – it wasn’t for tickets to some rare concert ,not for a hugely anticipated movie premier – the moment they sought was a chance to grab a bit of tech history, Apple’s latest trophy device, the iPad.

Originally intended for an earlier global roll out, Apple had pushed back the delivery date to insure there was ample inventory to supply the domestic market.  The extended wait seemed to only fuel greater anticipation and more gadget lust.

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Applevine: Apple TV Getting a Refresh?

Apple has grabbed a solid piece of almost every digital media market its entered, every market but one.   Apple TV has never been much more than a sideshow.  In nearly three years on the market, the device aimed at bridging the digital divide of the living room – the elusive TV to Internet gap – hasn’t really lived up to its promise.

That may soon be changing.  It’s too soon to know but there’s an increased volume of chatter suggesting Apple will overhaul the device Steve Jobs has downplayed as “a hobby” sometime this year.

Expected changes include a shift to the iPhone/iPad operating system and a reduced price point.  One of the theories behind the concept is that the modification would allow user’s to run select “Apps” through their TV platform.

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Microsoft to Reorganize Entertainment and Devices

Confirming reports circulating for several days, Microsoft announced a substantial plan to reorganize its Entertainment and Devices division.    Timed to coincide with the fall departure of retiring group head Robbie Back, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will take over the division starting July 1.

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Apple Tops Microsoft in Market Valuation

It’s a story about great creativity, perseverance, forward thinking.  It’s  a story about vision, about leadership, about innovation.  Hollywood couldn’t have scripted it any better.  After a long exile, Steve Jobs returned to a then struggling Apple when it acquired his NeXT Computer company in 1996.  Apple at the time was little more than a boutique competing against the mass market Window’s  juggernaut.  It had passionate followers, a known brand, and solid product, but a relatively meager market share.   In the decade plus that’s  followed Job set out to rebuild and restore the company he first created.  It may be a foregone conclusion, but we can now send the Champagne to Cupertino.

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Regulators Taking a Look at Apple’s Practices?

Apple is known to be a tough negotiator.  How tough, and whether some behaviors cross the line of appropriateness is a question regulators are apparently looking into.

New reports citing “people familiar” suggest the government anti-trust regulators are inquiring about whether Apple’s dealings with music labels have been inappropriate.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported one of the questions on investigators minds is whether Apple tried to keep the record labels from giving Amazon’s rival music download store exclusive access to some new releases.

Antitrust staff from the DOJ has reportedly contacted several music labels as well as some internet music startups.

The interviews are considered “preliminary” and at this time there is no formal investigation.   Still, regulators are clearing keeping a close watch on Apple; an apparent reaction to the dominance the company has established in many of its markets.

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By the Numbers: New PC Sales Data

Consumer demand for mobile PC’s (defined as laptops, tablets and netbooks) is on the rise.   According to research from Gartner, global shipments jumped 43.4%  in the first quarter, their highest in eight years.

With average prices down (off 15.7% year over year), increased consumer demand (as opposed to professional) was a key driver.

Asus and Acer, both pushing several inexpensive products, saw the largest growth rate among manufacturers.  The companies’ shipments were up  113% and 48% respectively.

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