Apple’s record-setting fourth quarter earnings report shattered analyst expectations and showed the world that the company could produce insanely great results without Steve Jobs. In other news, Facebook is expected to file papers for their much-anticipated IPO next week. RIM’s new CEO outlined a lackluster company vision that many speculate won’t be enough to revive the once dominant brand. Google also made another controversial update to its web-based platforms.
10. AT&T To Offer Nokia Lumina 900 For $100 On March 18
The Nokia Lumina 900, which received considerable CES buzz and is perceived as the flagship Windows OS phone, announced it would sell the device through AT&T for $100. The price came as a shock to reporters who expected the high-end phone to have a higher price tag. Will this be enough to make the Nokia/Windows combination a market winner?
9. Google+ Finally Allows Pseudonyms
Google+, notoriously famous for requiring users’ real names, will now allow pseudonyms. The company formerly deleted profiles that used nicknames, but prodding by Google+ power users, including Robert Scoble, led Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product, to change the policy. Now to come up with that perfect handle for yourself.
8. Sony In Talks To Invest In Olympus
Amidst an accounting cover-up scandal, Olympus is looking to raise $1.3 billion from large Japanese tech companies, including Sony and Fujifilm. Sony signaled that they may acquire a 30 percent stake in Olympus as they also look to overcome their own financial woes. Two waning stars, or strength in numbers?
7. Twitter Changes the “Contours” Of Censorship With Country-by-Country Blocking
Twitter’s new update allows governments to withhold content from users in their country. The update will allow governments to block sensitive content from Twitter without blocking the entire site. Governments such as India and Germany should be satisfied with the update, but it will be interesting to see if China lets the microblogging site operate within the great firewall. Will 140 characters become 100 in some censoring countries?
6. The Web’s Growing Muscle
The SOPA/PIPA showdown shed light on the increased amount of lobbying money that Internet companies are spending each year. Google’s lobbying efforts increased 88 percent in 2011, and Facebook’s jumped 284 percent. The privacy issue will continue to dominate the technology lobbying agenda.
5. Earnings round-up
Ericsson reported a steep decline in revenue and sales that missed analysts’ expectations; Xerox saw an increase in profits due to the strength of its technology services offerings; and AMD saw a $177 million loss, but stocks jumped two percent and analysts see a stable future. Netflix’s shares soared after their reported earnings beat analysts’ expectations; Motorola Mobility reported $3.4 billion and an $80 million loss in net revenue. The technology sector’s earnings results continue to be all over the map.
4. Google Overhauls Its Privacy Policies
On the heels of their controversial “Search Plus Your World” update, Google announced it will sync privacy settings across its array of Google products including Gmail, Yahoo and Google+. The update will allow Google to unify the user data collected, creating “a more complete profile” of users. Washington Post tech reporter Cecilia Kang noted that unlike “Search Plus Your World,” users cannot opt out. This move is not going to be popular for Google.
3. RIM Changes CEO, Says No ‘Drastic Change Needed’ To Revive Company
New CEO Thorsten Heins shared that no major changes are needed to revive the floundering company, contrary to Wall Street beliefs. Analysts believe that the former SAP CTO lacks the consumer experience needed to change RIM’s woes. A further symbol of the lacking brand confidence, RIM’s stock dropped 8.5 percent after Heins’ appointment was announced. A caretaker CEO, coupled with previous hire of Goldman Sachs, spells a potential sale?
2. Facebook Readies IPO Filing For Next Week
The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook could file IPO papers as early as next week and is looking for a valuation between $75 and $100 billion. Facebook’s IPO is expected to be the largest IPO in history. Like that!
1. Apple Sets New Bar For Industry
After missing analysts’ expectations in the third quarter, Apple’s fourth-quarter earnings set new highs. The company posted revenues of $46.3 billion and profits of $13.1 billion. Sales were driven by record-setting iPad and iPhone purchases. Apple’s cash supply is now at $97.6 billion – more than the value of all but 52 companies in America.
Disclaimer: Motorola Mobility and Microsoft are Weber Shandwick clients.