Архив метки: Wall Street Journal

Apple Overtakes Exxon As Most Valuable Traded Company In The World… Again

Apple-Money

It happened once before, in August, but that was due to a stock market collapse that left both Exxon and Apple well below their usual share price. This time, however, it would seem that Apple’s Q1 earnings call yesterday has led to a fresh spike on the stock market and what do you know?

Apple is once again the most valuable publicly traded company in the world, with a market cap of $414.83 billion.

Yesterday’s Q1 earnings call covered the period starting September 25, 2011 and ending December 31. That means it includes numbers for the iPhone 4S launch, along with any spike in sales during the holidays. Of course, anyone who’s following along knows that the next iPad will show its face pretty soon, leading Apple into what I’m sure will be another solid year.

Still, it’s a tough feat surging past Exxon as the company sells a commodity used by almost every country in the entire world, with a current market cap of $414.47 billion. Apple, on the other hand, sells computers, tablets, smartphones… you know, luxury items. That said, Apple isn’t quite in a place where it can maintain this lead for much longer.

On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal has rounded up new analyst estimates for the Cupertino-based company, and things are looking up with share price estimates ranging from $550 all the way to $666. Current share price for Apple is at $446, so hitting that goal anytime soon would be almost as mind-blowing as Apple’s Q1 results. Still, if Apple were to reach estimate share prices, its reign may last for much longer than expected.

As for the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq, both markets remain relatively unchanged for the day. The Dow Jones is at 12,713 points, up .30 percent on the day, while the Nasdaq is at 2,807.41 points, up .75 percent on the day.

Update: After teetering back and forth around a market cap of $415 billion each, it would seem the Exxon has taken the lead this evening with a market cap of $418.06 billion, compared to Apple’s $415.13 billion.


Apple Overtakes Exxon As Most Valuable Traded Company In The World… Again

Eric Schmidt: Microsoft Pushes Patent Deals Out Of Fear Of Android

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Microsoft may be preparing for a big Mango push here in the States, but the Wall Street Journal reports that Google chairman Eric Schmidt recently took them to task at a press conference for claiming that Android devices infringe Microsoft-owned patents.

“Microsoft is not telling the truth on this issue, and they are using tactics to scare people because they are scared of the success of Android,” Schmidt said.

Microsoft has targeted several Android device manufacturers in recent months, with big names like Acer, HTC, and Samsung agreeing to Microsoft’s terms. According to a recent blog post by Microsoft General Counsel and EVP Brad Smith, “companies accounting for more than half of all Android devices” have entered into such licensing deals with Microsoft.

Though the specifics of the deals are never fully disclosed, Microsoft receives per-unit royalties from each of the companies that have accepted their terms.

Just this morning it was revealed that Microsoft aimed to add another name to their long list of licensees: Huawei CMO Victor Xu said to the Guardian that the Chinese OEM was approached by Microsoft to sign a similar agreement, and that negotiations were currently “in progress.”

Is Microsoft really afraid of the little green robot that could? It’s certainly possible, considering that Android remains the most-used smartphone OS in the United States and has considerable footholds in many other major markets. The United States will soon be subjected to (another) big Windows Phone push, but Microsoft will still be able to collect royalties on Android hardware should the wave of Mango-powered devices fail to strike a chord with consumers.

While Microsoft certainly has quite the racket running, I’m not convinced that it was born out of fear when it comes to Android. I think that even Microsoft realizes how difficult it would be to dethrone Android, and their string of licensing agreements makes them appear content to capitalize on their success. Even if Microsoft does manage to claim the top spot, you had better believe they will continue to collect those royalties. If anything, it seems like an insurance policy intended to pad Microsoft’s coffers regardless of how things turn out.


Eric Schmidt: Microsoft Pushes Patent Deals Out Of Fear Of Android

Dear Sony: Just Buy Out Ericsson’s Stake Already

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As it stands, Sony Ericsson is the 6th largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world, but Sony may be looking into going it alone. According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, Sony is close to finalizing a buyout of Ericsson’s stake in their joint venture.

According to the usual unnamed sources, current talks are tenuous at best. That doesn’t seem to have dampened Sony CEO Howard Stringer’s mood: he reportedly wants the deal finalized as soon as possible.

Sony’s big issue seems to stem from control, and specifically the lack thereof when it came to Sony Ericsson’s phone lineup. By bringing phone design and production in-house, the Wall Street Journal believes that Sony could leverage their “technology strengths to develop new innovative handsets more quickly.”

I don’t know how much I agree with that sentiment, but I will say this: it’s worth a shot.

It could be that the Sony Ericsson experiment has run its course. Together, the pair managed to snatch up a considerable portion of the market back when it all took to make a popular phone was to jam multimedia functionality into it. Times have changed, to say nothing of people’s expectations, and now Sony Ericsson finds itself as the perennial also-ran of the smartphone industry.

Let me ask an honest question: when was the last time you looked at a Sony Ericsson phone and felt something stir inside you? Your answers will almost certainly vary from mine, but I’d wager it’s been a while. Mine was the original Xperia X1 — a phone that pushed enough of my buttons that I could overlook the fact that it ran Windows Mobile. That phone came out three years ago — none of the people I posed the question to named a phone newer than that.

The joint venture made all kinds of sense back in 2001, and even for some years after that, but these days it seems like Sony Ericsson has become listless. They slowly churn out smartphone after smartphone to an audience that wants them less and less each year.

I’m trying hard not to throw Ericsson under the bus, because they haven’t really done anything wrong. Still, their main business is developing and rolling out telecommunications networks. It’s not that Ericsson is screwing anything up so much as the fact that the two companies may not share the same priorities or vision. Their 2009 agreement to join up with STMicroelectronics doesn’t really help things, as companies like HTC have recently been making use of their products.

In short, Ericsson doesn’t need the mobile phone business as much as Sony does.

Sony Ericsson CEO Bert Nordberg seems to get it. In an interview from last week, Nordberg mentioned that the company was closer to Sony than it was to Ericsson. Under his guidance, Sony Ericsson is aiming to be a 100% smartphone-focused company by the middle of next year. If a Sony buyout took place, and Nordberg ran Sony Mobile with the full backing of a parent company that would like to control the consumer electronics market end to end, we could be looking at a brand new beast.


Dear Sony: Just Buy Out Ericsson’s Stake Already

Did Sprint Go All-In For The iPhone 5?

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Sprint is taking a huge risk by carrying the iPhone, if reports from the Wall Street Journal are to be believed. Details about Sprint and Apple’s quiet dealings have begun to emerge, and if true, the country’s third largest wireless carrier is stuck in a precarious position.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has reportedly told the company’s board of directors that in order to nab the iPhone, they would have to commit to purchasing at least 30.5 million iPhones over the next four years. It’s a huge investment by any stretch — WSJ pegs it at around $20 billion at current rates — but it’s made worse by the fact that Sprint will be locked into the purchasing agreement regardless of whether or not the iPhones actually sell. The board was said to have accepted Apple’s terms.

It’s a lot of units to move, certainly, but it’s not entirely impossible. A particular subset of Sprint customers have been clamoring for a taste of the Cupertino limelight for years, not to mention that Sprint’s commitment to their unlimited data offerings make it an attractive alternative for current iPhone users looking get more bang for their buck.

Here’s the kicker though: even if iPhone sales are strong, it’ll still be years before Sprint turns a profit. At $20 billion for 30.5 million units, the cost per device comes out to roughly $656. Sprint has long positioned themselves as more of a value carrier than their big rivals Verizon and AT&T, which will only make it harder to recoup the losses from subsidizing iPhone prices.

Unfortunately, no mention was made of what iPhone Sprint would potentially be carrying. Rumors that Sprint would carry a version of the iPhone 5 have been making the rounds, and could help explain Sprint’s willingness to jump on the device even at such a high price. BGR claims that Sprint will be the exclusive carrier of the iPhone 5 (at least for a while), which is pretty out-there, but could be a huge coup for Sprint if true.

Though customers may rejoice at Sprint landing the iPhone, it may not be all sunshine and roses. In order to move that many iPhones, it’s completely possible that Sprint will begin to focus less on their Android lineup. It’s a shame, considering how strongly they’ve backed the Google OS, but them’s the theoretical breaks. The possibility of the iPhone 5 being a Sprint exclusive is also a bit odd to say the least, but that may not be all. Sprint’s exclusivity on the Palm Pre is often cited as one of many reasons for that device’s underwhelming life — but the iPhone is obviously an entirely different monster.

According to an unnamed source close to the situation, Sprint’s iPhone deal was a “bet-the-company kind of thing.” No kidding — a successful launch could be a new wind in Sprint’s sails, and could give the company some much needed momentum in comparison to the Big Two carriers. Likewise, an underwhelming launch that never picks up steam means that Sprint committed to a huge liability for almost nothing.

Sprint is said to be waiting until later this week to make their official iPhone announcement, but with less than 24 hours until Apple’s big event, we may hear more sooner rather than later.


Did Sprint Go All-In For The iPhone 5?

Nokia Preparing New “Meltemi” OS For Low-End Phones

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It’s no secret that Nokia has put their faith in Windows Phone 7 to carry their future smartphones, but they haven’t forgotten the millions of customers who count on them for their lower-end handsets. A new report from the Wall Street Journal suggests that Nokia is hard at work on a Linux-based OS codenamed “Meltemi.”

This isn’t the first time the Meltemi name has made the rounds: after announcing drastic personnel cuts this past April, Nokia mentioned that the Meltemi project would serve as something of a lifeboat for some of the company’s displaced MeeGo developers.

Unlike Samsung’s Bada or the newly announced Tizen platform, Meltemi isn’t meant to be a catch-all OS whose influence will spread beyond phones. Very little is known about the Meltemi project at this point, other than the fact that it’s meant to give their more basic devices a kick in the pants. Still, that hasn’t stopped the speculation machine from drawing connections.

Nokia, for example, was rumored to be working on a touch-friendly version of their ubiquitous S40 operating system. If Meltemi turned out to be an extension of that project, it could conceivably give users the best of both worlds: a familar look and useful new functionality like more robust apps and services.

While some other companies have begun to focus more on their high-end offerings, Nokia owes quite a bit to their legion of feature phone users. During this past quarter, those handsets accounted for nearly half of the company’s total device-and-service sales. While there’s always a tendency to get wrapped up in the newest, shiniest, fastest devices around here, I think it’s about time that all of Nokia’s low-end phone users get to benefit from an experience that’s closer to what we smartphone folk have enjoyed for years.


Nokia Preparing New “Meltemi” OS For Low-End Phones