An often irreverent look at some of this week's other news ...
Microsoft Posts Record Sales
Microsoft reported its financial results for the quarter ending June 30, and let's just say that terms such as "blockbuster" and "blew past expectations" only touch the tip of the iceberg. The software giant reported a profit of $4.52 billion on revenues of $16.04 billion, and cited strong demand in its recently released Office 2010 software—and continued strong demand in Windows 7—for the results. "We saw strong sales execution across all of our businesses, particularly in the enterprise with Windows 7 and Office 2010," said Microsoft COO Kevin Turner. "We look forward to continuing our product momentum this fall with the upcoming launches of Windows Phone 7 and Xbox Kinect." Microsoft's fiscal year also ended on June 30, and here too the company posted some record gains: profit of $18.76 billion on record-high revenues of $62.48 billion. "It's been a great fiscal year and an outstanding fourth quarter," Microsoft CFO Peter Klein said, in a bit of an understatement.
Windows 7 Hits 175 Million Sales, Now on 15 Percent of All PCs Worldwide
Windows 7 has been on the market for just nine months, and yet it has already exceeded the usage share of its nearest competitor, Mac OS X, by a factor of almost 7 to 1. Microsoft has sold more than 175 million copies of Windows 7 in just nine months, and the system is now in use on over 16 percent of all PCs worldwide. "We recorded the second straight quarter of double digital business-license growth," a Microsoft blog post reads. "This strong momentum isn't limited to Microsoft ... the growth of the global PC market was more than 22.4 percent year-over-year for the second quarter of 2010." I know, it's amazing. It's OK to admit that.
Microsoft in Mysterious Agreement with ARM: Is This a Tablet Strategy Happening?
Microsoft unexpectedly signed a new agreement to license microprocessor technology from ARM, fueling speculation that the software giant is planning to port its mainstream Windows 7 product to the mobile architecture. Another scenario has Microsoft simply using its Windows CE-based embedded products on the ARM chipset. I'm thinking the latter scenario is more likely, but either way, this points—I think—to a Microsoft tablet strategy that the company will eventually use to compete with Apple's hot iPad. What's taking so long, you ask? It's Microsoft. But you know it's a big deal because industry wonks are already carting out the "game changer" label—a sure sign that the hype is going to exceed reality. You know what's a game changer? When Apple releases a smartphone that can't make phone calls. Which reminds me ...
Apple Delays White iPhone 4s, Again, This Time All the Way to the End of 2010
If you were hoping to get your hands on a white iPhone 4, well, keep hoping. After delaying the launch of the white iPhone 4 from June to mid-July, and then to late July, Apple has done it again: It has now delayed the release until "later this year." As Apple notes, "the availability of the more popular iPhone 4 black models is not affected." Neither are the reception and proximity sensor issues, or any of the other endemic hardware-related problems in Apple's barely-tested wonder phone. My advice? Skip white, skip black, and go Android. Or wait for Windows Phone. Choice is good, but you have to make the right choice. The iPhone isn't it.
Despite Being Number One by Far, Nokia Apparently Circling the Drain
Nokia dominates the smartphone industry almost as completely as Microsoft dominates the PC industry. And perhaps not coincidentally, the company is being racked by the same kind of malaise that struck Microsoft during the Vista era: Its market share is holding steady but its business is being attacked by more aggressive competitors. In the most recent quarter, Nokia posted a profit of $300 million on revenues of almost $13 billion. While revenues are up year-over-year, the profits are a concern, as they're down by almost 40 percent. And the reason is simple: Nokia is selling low-end phones just fine but is faltering in the high-end of the market, where Apple, Google, and others are making inroads. So the company is actively seeking a new CEO and, I hope, a way out of the Symbian mess that now dominates its product roadmap. Might I humbly suggest Windows Phone?
Dell Settles SEC Case for $100 Million
PC maker Dell this week announced it would settle a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) case for $100 million, while not admitting to committing fraud. The SEC charged Dell with padding its quarterly earnings statements with payments from microprocessor maker Intel, which was, um, "convincing" Dell not use chips from rival AMD. (Apparently, those monies are supposed to go in a slush fund of sorts and not be used to improve the bottom line.) "Dell manipulated its accounting over an extended period to project financial results that the company wished it had achieved but could not," said SEC Associate Director Christopher Conte. "Dell was only able to meet Wall Street targets consistently during this period by breaking the rules." Under terms of its SEC settlement, Dell promised to never again use the bogus accounting practices to which it has not admitted using in the first place.
Amazon Profits Surge 45 Percent
Online retailing giant Amazon reported net income of $207 million (up 45 percent, year over year) on revenues of $6.57 billion (up 41 percent). Those numbers sound blockbuster to me. Apparently, however, they missed analyst estimates, indicating that consumers are still cutting back on spending. (How gains of that magnitude can constitute "cutting back" is unclear. You gotta love America.) Amazon continues to deflect any questions about actual sales of its Kindle eBook reader, but it's pretty clear that the product is having a positive impact on Amazon's bottom line and is selling in record numbers, despite the arrival of Apple's competing iPad. "The Kindle business is growing nicely," Amazon CFO Thomas Szkutak said this week. Meanwhile, sales of non-book products (electronics, toys and jewelry, and so on) surpassed book sales at Amazon for the first time ever, with that segment growing 69 percent. Sales of media, including books, music, and video, grew 18 percent, Amazon said.
Facebook Hits 500 Million Users This Week
Or 4,999,999 users, since I created a bogus account for testing. But close enough. The company notes that its users share more than 30 billion photos, links to websites, and news articles, and that these people spend more than 700 billion minutes on the site, each month. On the other hand, many of these people apparently do all his begrudgingly: Facebook's satisfaction rating is in the bottom 5 percent of all companies covered by the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
This Week, on the Windows Weekly Podcast
Leo and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly on the usual day and time. It should be available by the weekend on iTunes and the Zune Marketplace, in both audio and video formats.
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