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Bloomberg is reporting that Foxconn has once again started hiring for their plant in Zhengzhou, the plant where Apple's iPhone is produced. Workers have apparently been recruited for the last month after Apple requested an increase in capacity at the plant. The workers will be constructing both existing models and new ones.
The Wall Street Journal said that Foxconn has been hiring about 10,000 people per week since the end of March. Foxconn noted that Zhengzhou currently employs around 250,000-300,000 people, though they wouldn't say how many have been added during this most recent hiring binge.
If Apple has asked for increased capacity, you can imagine that Apple is working on ramping up production for the latest iPhone. Apple needs to get the iPhone released fairly soon to compete with the next-gen HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4.
Dish Network has submitted a proposal to Sprint's Board of Directors that aims to see the two companies merge. Dish has offered up $25.5 billion for Sprint, which is higher than the offer on the table by SoftBank. "DISH is offering Sprint shareholders a total consideration of $25.5 billion, consisting of $17.3 billion in cash and $8.2 billion in stock."
Charlie Ergen, Chairman of DISH Network:
The DISH proposal clearly presents Sprint shareholders with a superior alternative to the pending SoftBank proposal. Sprint shareholders will benefit from a higher price with more cash while also creating the opportunity to participate more meaningfully in a combined DISH/Sprint with a significantly-enhanced strategic position and substantial synergies that are not attainable through the pending SoftBank proposal.
Dish expects growth opportunities of around $37 billion and $11 billion in cost savings. Now Sprint will have to decide whether to take SoftBank's deal or Dish Network's deal. Both have their own benefits: SoftBank has lots of cash and Dish has lots of spectrum reserve. We'll let you know when Sprint comes to a decision.
Foursquare have just announced a new injection of funding from loans from new and current investors to the tune of $41 million. This has put the company in the position of now quickly trying to generate actual revenue and move away from the simple social check-in app they are now.
The money hasn't come from investors handing cash over to Foursquare for shares, but instead new investor Silver Lake Waterman led the financing with something that is being called a multi-year loan. Existing Foursquare investors offered loans that will convert to equity if the company's valuation rises, these investors are Andreessen Horowitz, O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures.
This means, in reality, that Foursquare have checked themselves into a very hard place. They will now indirectly be forced to create revenue, to continue their interest and principal payments on their Silver Lake loan or risk default. Creating a steady income is going to be hard for Foursquare, as right now they're without such a cash flow.
I still maintain that they'll get acquired soon enough, and I'm surprised it hasn't happened sooner.
It looks like we should expect some changes from T-Mobile and Dish Network, where Bloomberg has reported that Dish Network's chairman, Charlie Ergen, has 'informally approached' T-Mobile's parent company about a possible merger deal.
Dish Network is reportedly interested in a deal with T-Mobile so they can bundle wireless services with their satellite TV offerings. The parent company, Deutsche Telekom, announced a sweetened bid for MetroPCD at around the same time the merger talks happened. Deutsche Telekom might consider Dish's proposal, but only after the transaction with MetroPCS closes, and after verifying that another, and separate, deal with Sprint isn't going to go ahead. This is all coming from people "close to the situation", according to Bloomberg.
According to market intelligence firm ABI Research, tablet sales are set to create $64 billion worth of sales this year - up 28% year-over-year. Over the course of 2013, there are set to be approximately 150 million tablets sold, up 38% year-over-year.
Since 2010, Apple has been the tablet champion - where last year's shipments saw 60% of tablets purchased by customers come with iOS while Google's Android OS sat at 37%. The remaining 3% of the market was divided up to Windows (in its many flavors), BlackBerry Tablet OS and unidentified OS implementations.
It should be an interesting year, to see if Apple can hold onto that 60% of the tablet market, or whether they'll see those numbers erode away as people move toward Android-based slates.
The House of Representatives now have access to the music streaming service Spotify. Previously, Spotify had seen itself banned in the House due to an IT rule that prevents peer-to-peer technology when operating on the House's secure network.
To help protect House data, our IT policy generally prohibits the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) technologies while operating within the secure network. While Spotify is currently not authorized, the CAO has and will continue to work with outside vendors to enable the popular services that improve member communication capabilities.
Hopefully some Spotify music will calm the nerves and reduce the fighting between members of the House. May I recommend Why can't we be friends by War?
LinkedIn have announced that they have acquired the company who make the news reader app Pulse for a reported $90 million. Pulse has over 30 million users, and could give LinkedIn an injection of tools as they continue their mission to move from being a socially-enabled site to resumes and business connections to a complete information destination.
LinkedIn took to their blog announcing the news, with the company's senior vice president Deep Nishar writing "We believe LinkedIn can be the definitive professional publishing platform - where all professionals come to consume content and where publishers come to share their content."
We reported the bad numbers of PC shipments in Q1 earlier today, and since then Microsoft stocks have dropped by around 4.4% to $28.93 at the time of writing. Not only that, but other technology stocks have dropped, too.
Dell, HP and Intel were down in stock prices riding the news of Q1 shipment numbers. Research firm IDC had partly blamed Windows 8 for the drop in PC sales, noting that HP's shipments declined 24% year-over-year, backed up by Dell's numbers which dropped 11%. Now several Wall Street analysts have downgraded Microsoft stock, so I'm sure we'll see it tumble more in the coming days and weeks.
NVIDIA announced at today's investor day that they intend to return roughly $1 billion back to shareholders. The money will be returned mainly through a structured stock repurchase program, though some will also be returned through the company's quarterly dividend of $0.075 per share.
NVIDIA said they have already returned $200 million to shareholders since the dividend was first announced in November 2012. Jen-Hsun Huang:
NVIDIA's strategies are gaining traction in the market and make us confident in our ability to continue generating cash. We are now broadening our program of giving back cash to our shareholders and plan to return a further $1 billion by the end of this fiscal year.
More details regarding the buyback plan will be provided next month when NVIDIA releases its financial results for Q1 2014.
Things aren't looking so good for BlackBerry. According to various analysts, BlackBerry's flagship Z10 suffered from weak sales. Now analysts are suggesting that the number of returns are actually outpacing the number of sales. This is not good news for BlackBerry.
"We believe key retail partners have seen a significant increase in Z10 returns to the point where, in several cases, returns are now exceeding sales, a phenomenon we have never seen before," Detwiler analyst Jeff Johnston wrote.
BlackBerry wishes to respond to media coverage today regarding speculation that there have been abnormally high levels of returns of BlackBerry Z10 devices. This is absolutely false. Our data shows that return rates for BlackBerry Z10 devices both in the U.S. and on a global basis are in line with or better than our expectations and are consistent with return rates for other premium smartphones in the market today.