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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Microsoft Misses: Q4 Earnings, Quick Look

It was another rough quarter for Microsoft.  After seeing net income sink 32% in the third quarter, the company reported Thursday that its fourth quarter dropped off 29%. 

Fourth quarter net income was $3.05b, or 34 cents a share, down from $4.3b or 46 cents a share last year.  The results include onetime charges equal to 2 cents a share. 

Revenue for the quarter sank 17% to $13.1b.    Analysts expected a much stronger revenue performance with estimates forecasting a result of $14.37b (Thomson Reuters poll).

Looking at the full year, it was the first time in Microsoft’s history annual sales shrank, falling off 3.3%.

The good news CFO Chris Liddell suggested during the conference call was there are “signs we’ve seen the worst.”  The bad news, it will take some time to recover.

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World of Warcraft the Movie?

Electronic Arts has an agent, movie project and deals with Steven Spielberg and Zack Snyder.  MTV Games is tied up with Jerry Bruckheimer.   James Cameron is working with Ubisoft.  Activision Blizzard now has Sam Raimi, well, sort of.  Activision announced Wednesday the Spiderman director signed on to produce and direct a film based on the company’s hugely popular World of Warcraft online fantasy games.

Raimi’s deal is not a game development deal like some of the other Hollywood heavies have, it’s a traditionally movie contract.  Still,  the agreement is another demonstration of the increasingly frequent crossover between film and interactive games.

Legendary Pictures, which produced Batman Begins, 300 and Watchmen, will co produce the movie along with Charles Roven’s Atlas Entertainment (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The International).

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Yahoo Cost Cutting Carries Q2

The saying goes “there is more than one way to skin a cat.”  The same is true when it comes to managing corporate earnings.  Yahoo demonstrated that Tuesday.  Despite revenue plunging 13%,  the company managed to eke out positive  earnings growth near 8% thanks to aggressive cost cutting.

Overall, for the second quarter Yahoo reported net income of $141m, or 10 cents a share, up from $131m or 9 cents a share for the same period a year ago.  Revenue came in at $1.573b.  Revenue less traffic acquisition costs was $1.14b.

Analyst consensus expectations were for net income of 8 cents a share on revenue (less TAC) of $1.14b. Yahoo’s result was just good enough to beat it.

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Apple Cranks out Solid Q3

measure apple earnsThe economy continues to be a drag on earnings for many consumer technology companies but Apple isn’t one of them. After the close of markets Tuesday, the company reported 3rd quarter earnings of $1.24b, or $1.35 a share, up from $1.07b, or $1.19 a share for the same period a year ago.

For the quarter ended June 27th, Apple’s revenue grew 12% to $8.34b  and gross margins jumped to 36.3%. 

Where competitors have seen revenue and earnings falter, Apple surged.

Neither Apple’s prior guidance for earnings of   95 cents to $1 per share on revenue of $7.7b to $7.9b nor Wall Street’s more realistic consensus forecast of $1.17 per share on $8.2b in revenue proved close to the reality.

In the third quarter, concerns about an otherwise contracting PC market impacting sales were a non-issue as Mac sales more than held up.

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Barnes and Noble Jumps on the eBook Bandwagon

BN PLastic Logic MetueIn the early days of the Internet Amazon looked like the underdog when it matched up against big box book sellers like Barnes and Noble.  Now, targeting the smaller niche of eBooks, the roles are reversed as Barnes and Noble will look to match Amazon’s technological strengths with a new entry into the eBook marketplace.

Barnes and Noble (BN) said Monday its new eBook store will stock as many as 700,000 titles including new releases priced at $9.99.  BN is calling it the world’s largest eBook store, surpassing both Amazon and Sony, though that claim may be misleading given the inclusion of as many as 500,000 free titles offered in partnership with Google’s Book Search.  (Sony is also partnered with Google)

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NPD June Results Up Close (Updated)

Analysts predicted June would turn out weak gaming sales compared to last year. They got what they predicted and then some.  According to NPD data released Thursday, the sector returned its fourth consecutive month of year over year sales declines with total revenue dropping 31% to $1.17b.

The reversal of fortune has provoked some to proclaim the recession has finally caught up with the industry so often deemed “recession resistant.”    Other’s are taking a more measured view. 

The truth probably lies somewhere in between: the industry results reflect the combination of slowing purchases (the economy) and also, a comparatively weaker product slate.  Product shortcomings are particularly evident in the software segment where recurrent top ten hits (e.g. Nintendo’s “ever-green” titles) are getting stale, and new releases haven’t yet matched the same high bar.  A similar phenomenon was apparent last month in May’s result.

Referencing the difficult comparisons year over year, NPD’s analyst Anita Frazier attributed part of the fall in June to trouble in matching this year’s offerings to last year’s record setting results.  (June 2008 sales were up 61% over June 2007).  She also commented that June was one of the first months where she thinks “the impact of the economy is clearly reflected in the sales numbers.”

A comparative look at the numbers does seem to support Frazier’s remarks. The data, paints a picture that’s more tempered than steep revenue declines indicate on first glance but it also indicates areas of concern. 

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