Google Book Search Settlement Review Extended

In October, Google announced the settlement of a three year copyright battle over its practices of scanning and displaying books at Google Book Search. 

With high level soundbytes, the deal was billed as an achievement.  Richard Sarnoff, Chairman of the Association of American Publishers, characterized it as a “win for everyone.”  All that was necessary to go forward was court approval and that was considered a formality scheduled for May 5th.   Turns out, that timetable was a little optimistic.

On Tuesday, responding to objections made by a number of authors, Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York extended the settlement’s review period until September 4th and scheduled a final fairness hearing for October 7th, 2009.

The authors had expressed concern that the original schedule didn’t provide enough time to review the complex settlement’s terms.  They requested six more months.   Google and the Author’s Guild, the core parties of the settlement, thought a sixty day extension should be enough.  The judge split the difference.

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Microsoft Posts Q3 Earnings

metue earnings wrap imageLast week under the weight of the economy Google reported its first sequential drop in revenue since going public in 2004.  Thursday, Microsoft revealed similar wounds.

Hurt by weak PC sales, the company posted its first year over year revenue decline in twenty three years.

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Netflix Q1 Earnings: The Quick Look

Netflix earnings came in Thursday straddling expectations.  Analysts had called for 41 cents a share on revenues of $390m. The company delivered 37 cents on revenue of $394m.  Despite the differences, Netflix first quarter profit was up 68% compared to Q1 of 2008.  Revenue was up 21%.

Weak ad markets and growing consumer appetite for entertainment helped the company deliver impressive subscriber growth and reduced subscriber acquisition costs.   Netflix closed the quarter with 10.31m subscribers, a 25% year over year expansion.  Subscriber acquisition costs were $25.79 per subscriber compared to $29.48 last year and $26.67 in Q4 2008.

Gross margin for Q1 was 34.2% compared to 31.7% in Q1 2008, and 35.2% in Q4 2008.  Free cash flow for the first quarter came in at $15.1 compared to $4.8m for the same period a year ago.

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Apple Q2 Earnings: Another Strong Showing

apple earnsIn the second quarter, despite the economy’s effect on consumer sales, Apple’s train continued to roll ahead with plenty of steam. Wednesday, the company announced the best non-holiday earnings in its history.

After the close of market, Apple reported net income of $1.33 a share ($1.21b), up 15% year over, on revenue of $8.16b. Both numbers bested Apple’s own conservative guidance, and expectations.

On a non-GAAP basis, adjusted as Apple’s begun doing, adjusted sales totaled $9.06 billion for quarter. That’s $900 million higher than reported revenue. Adjusted gross margin was $3.62 billion and adjusted net income was $1.66 billion.

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Yahoo Earnings: Looking to the Future

yahoo earns metueWhile Silicon Valley and the rest of California suffered under an unprecedented spring heat wave, Yahoo announced earnings today that were anything but hot. Largely in line with expectations, but off  78% year over year, net income dropped to 8 cents a share, or $118m, down from 37 cents a share ($536.8m) last year.  Revenue fell 13%  year over year to $1.58 billion. 

Markets found reassurance lingering behind the digits in comments that showed new CEO Carol Bartz knows what she wants to do, even if the challenges are substantial.  

"We have a lot of people running around here telling engineers what to do, but no one is f***ing doing anything,” she colorfully said during the earnings call, and that’s going to change. That, and a whole lot more, as she continues to guide the company’s restructuring after her first full quarter on the job.

Yahoo will cut another 5% of staff, about 700 jobs, in the next two weeks, and refocus its efforts on core areas of the site including the home page, news, finance, sports, entertainment, mail and mobile.

From Bartz perspective, it’s all about the “wow” factor and user experience.  “If we are a hot site, advertisers follow.” she said during the analysts call.

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Earnings Watch: Barometers for this Week

earnings watch metueGoogle kicked off the earnings season for media and tech companies last week, sending a mixed a message with numbers nearly in-line, or ahead, of analyst expectations but showing net revenue down sequentially for the first time since the company went public in 2004.  This week and next, the earnings pace will pick up steam.  A number of key reports are likely to act as a barometer for the state of different sectors.   Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, Netflix and more are all on the calendar.

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Activision Sued Over DJ Hero (UPDATED)

DJ hero lawsuitActivision Blizzard walked out of court victorious in early March after quashing an ill founded patent lawsuit that challenged its flagship Guitar Hero franchise. Now, barely a month later, the Santa Monica based game publisher is walking back in again to face yet another suit regarding its lucrative series.  This time it’s DJ Hero, a hotly anticipated, in-development Guitar Hero spin off, in the line of fire.

The suit, filed April 14th by Scratch DJ LLC (“S.DJ”), a joint venture owned by Genius Products and DJ equipment maker Numark, alleges Activision illegally interfered with the development of S.DJ’s competing game, and did it intentionally, violating several tort laws along the way,  in order to make sure DJ Hero has the advantage of being the first to market. 

S.DJ’s game, Scratch: The Ultimate DJ, has been in development since at least early 2008.  Artists ranging from the Gorillaz to Run DMC to  the Black Eyed Peas have been linked to it and the buzz factor is pretty high.   

The game was tentatively expected to be released for the Xbox 360 and PS3 in September.

That date may now be in doubt, however, and according to S.DJ, that’s because of Activision’s actions. 

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