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Microsoft revenues do well, but Q4 profit hit by Nokia handset buyout

Microsoft has announced its fiscal fourth quarter earnings, and although it's in profit, the company claims it took a hit from Nokia's handset business.

 

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Quarterly profit was $4.61 billion, down from $4.96 billion for the same quarter last year. That leaves it at 55 cents per share, quite a touch short of Wall Street's expectations of 60 cents per share on average. And while the acquisition of Nokia's handset business may have impacted on Microsoft's quarterly profits, revenues reached $23.38 billion, beating estimates of $23 billion, with the company largely having Nokia sales to thank for this. Enterprise also performed well.

 

"We are driving growth with disciplined decisions, bold innovation, and focused execution," Satya Nadella, new-ish Microsoft CEO said. "I'm proud that our aggressive move to the cloud is paying off - our commercial cloud revenue doubled again this year to a $4.4 billion annual run rate." Executive veep Amy Hood said in a statement that as the company enters fiscal 2015, it's "focused on aligning" its resources towards strategic investments - perhaps referring to Microsoft's recent decision to make one of the largest job cuts in the history of the tech industry - of a staggering 18,000 people.

Tech companies massively jack up prices outside the USA, report finds

Consumers for electronic goods outside America pay hundreds more than their US counterparts, according to a new report.

 

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British consumer rights magazine Which? found that manufacturers and stores are pushing up the price for tech in the country, including almost 1,000 dollars more for a Samsung TV. Americans buying an Apple Macbook Pro 13in will get their models 600 dollars cheaper than on the other side of the Atlantic, the report claims. Sony's PS4 or Microsoft's Xbox One were 160 dollars cheaper in the States.

 

Which exec director Richard Lloyd pushed manufacturers to explain why their prices are hiked so much abroad. "UK consumers are getting a raw deal by paying up to hundreds of pounds more for the same tech products on sale in the US," he said. "Manufacturers should play fair and explain why consumers are paying more for buying in the UK."

Netflix to sell gift cards in some stores in the US and 40 other count

Gift cards are the go to gifts for many people around the world for birthdays and holidays. Gift cards might be impersonal, but many people like to get and give them. Word has surfaced that Netflix is gearing up to sell gift cards in stores in 40 different countries around the world where it operates.

 

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The gift cards will be available in select stores in the US, Germany, Mexico, Canada, and other places. The gift cards will allow users to pay for Netflix service without having to use a credit card for sign up. A note from Netflix about its gift card plans included an image of a $30 gift card; the service starts at $7.99 monthly.

 

"In mature markets, gift cards will extend our brand presence and make it easier to access Netflix," the company said in its letter. "In newer markets, gift cards help build the brand and provide an easier alternative for consumers to join Netflix in markets with developing online payments."

Continue reading 'Netflix to sell gift cards in some stores in the US and 40 other count' (full post)

Yahoo reportedly drops over $200 million to buy analytics firm Flurry

Sources are reporting that Yahoo has made a significant purchase spending over $200 million to purchase mobile analytics company Flurry. Flurry is more than a mobile analytics firm and has its hand in mobile advertising. Sources claim that the price paid for Flurry could be in the $200 to $300 million range.

 

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Rumors had been swirling that Flurry was on the market with one source indicating it was looking for $700 to $800 million. If the sources in the Yahoo purchase are correct, the purchase price came nowhere near that price.

 

So far, no official confirmation from Yahoo or Flurry has been made on the deal. Flurry was founded in 2005 and is one of the largest firms in mobile app analytics.

Sony Walkman ZX1 selling well in Japan despite $700 price

Audiophiles are willing to spend extra money to get products that better reproduce the music they love to hear. We see this all the time with some folks willing to fork out hundreds and hundreds of dollars for things like headphones and music players. Most of us think of the iPod when shopping for a music player, but audiophiles have another device they are buying in Japan.

 

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Sony launched the thick Walkman ZX1 in Japan a while back. The ZX1 is a niche product and sells for a lot more than your typical iPod. Despite having a price of $700 in Japan, it is said to be selling very well. The secret to success for the ZX1 is its support for a high-end, high-resolution audio format.

 

That audio format is 24-bit 192kHz FLAC audio files. Sony will have some competition in the market for supporting this format with the Kickstarter backed PonoPlayer due to land in October supporting the same format. As of now, the Sony ZX1 is available in Japan and a few other locations in Asia, no word on rolling the device out to the US or other countries has been offered.

Verizon Smart Rewards program requires ad tracking opt in

Verizon has launched a new rewards program to help encourage users to do things like pay bills and sign up for new Verizon services. The idea is that each time you pay your bill on time or up your data plan, you will be given a specific number of reward points that can later be redeemed for gift cards.

 

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On the surface, this sounds like a pretty good deal, but reports indicate that in the fine print Verizon Smart Rewards also requires users to opt into Verizon Selects. If users don't realize that opt in is required, they may not realize that by default location data and web surfing data is tracked by Verizon.

 

Verizon uses that data to target the ads people see on their smartphones. The good news is that you can leave Verizon Selects and still use Smart Rewards after signing up, but you will lose the extra rewards points you get for enrolling in Verizon Selects.

Verizon pushes FiOS internet upload speeds to match download speed

If you happen to live in an area where Verizon has its fast FiOS internet connectivity, Verizon has some good news about an upgrade you may like to hear. Verizon has announced that it is boosting the upload speeds of its FiOS service for almost all of the connections on the FiOS network to match the download speed.

 

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That means users will get a synchronous connection that makes it much faster to upload content to the internet. This will be particularly nice for users who upload lots of large video files to sharing sites like YouTube.

 

The lowest cost FiOS plan will offer 25Mbps upload and download speeds, which is a boost from 15Mbps down and 5Mbps up. Current subscribers will see their speeds increase over the coming months. With the 25Mbps upload speed, customers would be able to upload a 3GB HD video in 16 minutes.

Facebook's acquisition of Oculus VR is now official

When Facebook announced it was acquiring Oculus VR back in March, it had the entire world up in arms - myself included. Time has passed, and those worries have all but died down, with the news that the acquisition is now final, with an update issued by both of the companies.

 

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Facebook and Oculus VR said in a joint statement: "We're looking forward to an exciting future together, building the next computing platform and reimagining the way people communicate". Back in March, Facebook said it was going to acquire Oculus VR for $2 billion, in a deal that would include $400 million in cash, and 23.1 million shares in Facebook valued at $1.6 billion.

 

At the time, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook said: "Mobile is the platform of today, and now we're also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow. Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate". In April, the Federal Trade Commission approved the deal. Right now, people are waiting for their Development Kit 2 (DK2) units to arrive, sporting a 1080p low-persistence screen, and much more.

Huawei sales boom with 19% increase in first half of 2014

Smartphone makers and other firms know that one of the biggest emerging markets for all electronics products is China. Smartphone firms are working hard to get into the Chinese market where business is growing while sales in other more developed markets are slowing.

 

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China has a homegrown brand that is giving firms from other countries a big run for their money, that Chinese brand is Huawei. Huawei has announced that it has had a 19% sales increase in the first half of 2014. The company says that it expects profit margins in the area of 18.3% for the first half of the year.

 

Those numbers make it one of the most successful smartphones makers in the world. IDC shows that Huawei has shipped 13.7 million smartphones in Q1 2014 making it the third largest smartphone vendor in the world.

DRM-free indie books outsell DRM laden ones 2:1

If you haven't noticed, consumers don't care for DRM. We like to buy books and music once and then put them on any of the devices we own that we want to. DRM will often keep you from installing your legally purchased content on all of your devices. A new report has been published looking at indie books on Amazon comparing the sales success of DRM laden titles to those lacking DRM.

 

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The report has found that independent books being sold on Amazon without DRM are selling at a 2:1 rate compared to those with DRM. Digital books from the big five publishers almost all use DRM. When it comes to indie books, only about 50% of the titles are published with DRM.

 

At the end of the day, the report found that independent books selling without DRM installed significantly out-earned titles that had DRM. The only price point where DRM titles from independent authors outsold titles without DRM was at $6.99, where two books from a single author are outliers.

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