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We constantly hear of the mountains of money that mobile giants like Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm and more make, but what about the industry itself? According to a new report commissioned by Qualcomm from The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), we are getting a handle on just how much money the industry is generating.
In 2014 alone, the mobile industry generated a gigantic $3.3 trillion, with six of the 25 most valuable companies in the world - Alibaba, Apple, China Mobile, Facebook, Google and Verizon - earn revenue directly from mobile technology. But it's not just the big tech giants that are enjoying these returns, as mobile technology has created 11 million jobs in six countries that BCG studied. These countries are Brazil, China, Germany, India, South Korea and the United States.
The report also found that investments into infrastructure and technology hit $1.8 trillion between 2009 and 2013, and those who are involved in the mobile industry will continue to spend heavily into research and development, especially in areas like the titanic shift between 4G and 5G that is coming in the next few years. It's expected that companies will spend around $4 billion in R&D over the next five years alone.
Bitcoin values dropped below $200 on Wednesday for the first time since late 2013, as investors and supporters worry about the volatile cryptocurrency. In the first two weeks of 2015, bitcoins lost 40 percent of their value - sliding from $320 on Jan. 1 down to $185 on Jan. 14.
The current bitcoin valuation occurs during a time of record transaction volume, with huge amounts of activity amid the sliding price. Bitcoin miners appear ready to offload their supply of the cryptocurrency, in an effort to cover overhead.
Bitcoins cost $600 each in June 2014, but prices have declined consistently since then, even with more retailers adopting bitcoin payments.
The Spotify music streaming service reached 60 million subscribers, with 15 million paid users, the company said in a blog post. A paid subscription costs $9.99 per month per account, and Spotify hopes more of its listeners transition into paying subscribers.
"We had an amazing 2014 at Spotify and owe it all to you, the music fans who listen, discover, share and celebrate music and artists with us every day of the year," Spotify said in a blog post. It would appear Spotify's pre-Christmas offering of three months of subscription service for just $0.99 per month instead of the $9.99 normal price tag.
More than half of Spotify listeners use their smartphones and tablets to access the service, Spotify recently noted.
Sony Pictures grabbed all of the headlines during late 2014 due to its data breach, but Sony as a whole is in significant need of a company-wide revival. Company CEO Kazuo Hirai took over in April 2012 and every option is on the table, according to financial investors, including business unit spinoffs and joint ventures.
Since Hirai took over, the company has cut 15,000 jobs and has endured six forecast earnings cuts - with an estimated $1.9 billion net loss for its fiscal year which ends in March.
"Electronics in general, along with entertainment and finance, will continue to be an important business," Hirai told journalists at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week. "But within that there are some operations that will need to be run with caution - and that might be TV or mobile, for example."
The bitcoin cryptocurrency endured highs and lows throughout 2014, with the bitcoin economy making progress - but valuation saw continued decline. Compared to other currencies, bitcoins suffered the worst, decreasing 67 percent throughout 2014, and is off to a turbulent start in 2015, cryptocurrency analysts noted.
Despite a volatile value, CoinDesk predicts there will be more than 140,000 merchants and retailers accepting bitcoin payments by the end of the year.
The IRS ruled in 2014 that bitcoins are property and not currency, which could cause major headaches for bitcoin owners. US taxpayers will need to be careful when filing their taxes, and since bitcoin value declined, likely won't have to pay any type of taxes for gains.
The transition from paid song and album digital downloads to online streaming radio stations has turned the music industry upside down. Streaming music is reportedly hurting music industry revenue, with more listeners choosing streaming apps and services over paying for digital downloads, according to the Strategy Analytics research group.
Musicians are caught in the middle of the uncertainty, as they want a fair cut of music profits - but are trying to be careful not to alienate their respective fan base.
"We're going to pay for it like we pay for cable - monthly blocks for everything instead of each individual release," said 50 Cent, rapper and founder of SMS Audio, in an interview with the Telegraph. "It used to be that music release had a build-up to a day and it a felt like an event, and everyone who was passionate about the artist was doing it at the same time. Now it has come out in pieces. The singles will probably be the largely portion of the profits."
We know that the App Store has some serious numbers, but what about the actual revenue that apps make on Apple's digital storefront? Well, the company has said that developers have earned over $10 billion across 2014.
Close to half a billion dollars was spent on apps and in-app purchases in the first week of January 2015 alone. This number balloons out to a huge $25 billion since the App Store opened its digital doors back in 2008. This makes the numbers from 2014 even more impressive, as they represent around 40% of the total revenue of the App Store, even considering it's been operating for six years.
Global PC shipments reached 80.8 million units during Q4 of 2014, a -2.4 percent year-over-year decline, according to the IDC research group. The US and European markets proved stronger than other regions of the world, with positive signs that the overall PC market is progressing with positive signs after years of increased competition.
Hewlett-Packard saw 26.2 percent Q4 year-over-year growth, while Dell (13.7 percent), Apple (18.1 percent), and Lenovo (7.9 percent) prepare to battle in the resurgent US PC market.
"The U.S. PC market continued to grow in the fourth quarter, outperforming the global market for the tenth consecutive quarter," said Rajani Singh, senior research analyst of the personal computing division at IDC. "The past year was supported by Windows XP to 7 migrations in the commercial segment while consumer volume continued to decline."
Apple added 9,000 new jobs in 2014 alone, but says it has directly and indirectly led to more than 1 million jobs being "created or supported" by the company. In addition to its Apple headquarters and stores throughout the country, Apple also has generated great interest among app developers within the community.
"This year is off to a tremendous start after a record-breaking year for the App Store and our developer community," said Eddy Cue, senior VP of Internet software and services at Apple. "We're so proud of the creativity and innovation developers bring to the apps they create for iOS users and that the developer community has now earned over $25 billion."
Apple is off to another tremendous start with its App Store, racking up almost half a billion dollars on mobile apps and in-app purchases during the first week of January - and New Year's Day was the highest-grossing day of all-time for the App Store.
The music industry is struggling to generate revenue from streaming music, as it is seeing paid digital download sales dropping, according to the "Will Royalty Crisis Defeat the Music Streaming Industry" report from Strategy Analytics.
Popular streaming music services Pandora and Spotify are paying extremely high acquisition costs as subscribers and listener figures increase, making it difficult for them to get ahead of the cost curve. Pandora generates 82 percent of its revenue based on advertising, while Spotify earns 91 percent of its revenue from user subscriptions.
"Technology is evolving and changing the way consumers discover, listen to, share, and interact with music, but it is also a significant factor in the decline of music industry revenues," said Leika Kawasaki, Digital Media Strategies analyst and report author. "Many artists feel they are under compensated by streaming services, but as currently structured the underlying economics won't support higher royalty payments by these services, particularly for free ad-supported services."