Amazon has a plan to get into the mobile payments game

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Date: Friday, February 7th, 2014, 09:32
Category: Amazon, Finance, Mobile, retail, Services

amazon-logo-150x150It looks like Amazon is determined to expand out of the “virtual” retail space to get its foot in the door of brick-and-mortar stores. The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, has plans to0 equip retailers with Kindle tablets with credit card readers for accepting payments, possibly in exchange for web site development and data analysis. Trying to push its way into traditional retail spaces means Amazon will be pitting itself against much larger companies that provide checkout and POS (Point Of Sale) systems to large retailers, which may require Amazon to turn to smaller businesses. Even there, they are competing with companies like Square Inc., who have a big head start in that space. Amazon does have the benefit of allowing retailers that partner with them to offer promotions or discounts through Amazon.com or its Amazon Local daily deals offers. Amazon has a steep hill to climb, but Richard Crone who is chief executive of Crone Consulting, a payments advisory firm, makes a good point;

“At the end of the day, a merchant wants to make a sale, to drive up business. And if Amazon or anyone else can help them do that, that’s tough to turn away,”

Amazon will also be in a race with Apple, who is reportedly preparing its own blitz into the mobile payments game, offering the convenience of millions of customers with iPhones with the advantages of the iBeacon system. Even Amazon knows it’s not a sure thing. The WSJ mentions that, “Amazon’s plans remain fluid and the project might be delayed, altered or canceled, they said.”.

Will subscribers of Amazon Prime still think it’s a good value at $119?

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Date: Tuesday, February 4th, 2014, 08:46
Category: Amazon, Business, Finance, Opinion, Services

amazon-money1Last Thursday, Amazon reported their holiday quarter earnings and things didn’t look good. Their overall revenue was up 20% at $25.59 billion but analysts expected sales to come in at  just over $26 billion. This sounds very similar to the report of Apple’s earnings, which were good, but given the thumbs down for not meeting analysts’ expectations?  Unfortunately, Amazon’s net income of $239 million missed estimates by a huge margin. During the call, Amazon cited the rising cost of fuel and transportation for the increase, as well as the high frequency of orders from Prime members. As a result, Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak suggested that it may raise the price of Amazon Prime memberships between $20 and $40 per year (currently $79), bringing the total annual cost of the service up to as much as $119.

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Motorola Mobility finds yet another new home…minus a few bits

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Date: Thursday, January 30th, 2014, 19:29
Category: Android, Business, Finance, Google, Mobile Phone, Patents

logo-moto-footerThis Wednesday, Google CEO Larry Page announced that they were selling off its Motorola Mobility division to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. Google had acquired Motorola in 2012 to help boost development of Andoid, with speculation that they would use it to create more of its own branded hardware and ecosystem. At the time, Google paid $12.5 billion to acquire Motorola and its cache of patents. Apparently the division was not fulfilling its promise, hence the sell-off. However, what appears to be a huge loss for Google may not be so bad after all.

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Apple earnings good but not great

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Date: Monday, January 27th, 2014, 19:18
Category: Announcement, Apple, Business, Finance

apple-moneyThe business and financial markets are a kooky thing. You can make a ton of money, even more than the previous year, but if it’s not as much as other people expected, you’ve failed. That is essentially what Wall Street is saying after todays earnings announcement from Apple. As a result, Apple stock price fell almost 6%. That is in spite of the fact that Apple sold a record setting number of iPhones and iPads, and better Mac sales than it did in the same quarter of last year. Apple made $13.1 billion in profit on $57.6 billion in revenue, driven by sales of 51 million iPhones and 26 million iPads. In addition, Mac sales in the first quarter clocked in at 4.8 million which was up from 4.1 million a year ago. That seems like it should be a win right, but the market predicted Apple to post $58 billion in revenues on sales of around 56.5 million iPhones and 24.5 million iPads. Seems a tad nit-picky if you ask me, but if you believe CEO Tim Cook, Apple couldn’t be happier;

“We are really happy with our record iPhone and iPad sales, the strong performance of our Mac products and the continued growth of iTunes, Software and Services. We love having the most satisfied, loyal and engaged customers, and are continuing to invest heavily in our future to make their experiences with our products and services even better.”

Well, I guess you can’t everybody, but as far as I’m concerned, Apple is healthy and doing great.

Apple’s iOS App Store nets $10 billion in 2013

Posted by:
Date: Friday, January 10th, 2014, 09:26
Category: Announcement, App Store, Apple, Apps, Business, Finance, iOS, iPhone, Software

apple-moneyAccording to an announcement by Apple on Tuesday, the company took home more than $10 billion last year from iOS app sales. Christmas sales put them over the top with customers downloading almost 3 billion apps, making December Apple’s most lucrative and successful month in the App Store’s history. BusinessWire’s coverage of the record setting sales quoted Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue;

“We’d like to thank our customers for making 2013 the best year ever for the App Store. The lineup of apps for the holiday season was astonishing and we look forward to seeing what developers create in 2014.”

Apple also reported that iOS developers have now earned a collective $15 billion from sales on the App Store.

Apple to hold it’s fiscal Q1 2014 earnings call on January 27 at 5PM ET/2PM PT

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Date: Tuesday, January 7th, 2014, 09:10
Category: Announcement, Apple, Business, Finance

apple_logoApple posted the date of its first quarter earnings release and conference call on its Investor web page, announcing the date to be January 27th. MacRumors notes that the release will…

“… provide a look into initial iPad Air and Retina iPad mini sales during their first quarter of availability as well as iPhone 5s and 5c sales throughout the holiday. Apple reported a record number of iPhone/iPad sales during fiscal 2013, at 150 million iPhones and 71 million iPads. In its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings call, Apple guided expected revenue of $55–58 billion and gross margin between 36.5 and 37.5 percent. If the company meets even the low end of that guidance, it will count as the strongest quarter for Apple in history.”

It is expected that CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer will be on hand for questions. Apple will live-stream the earnings call via its Investor website. A link to the upcoming broadcast should show up on the web page in the coming weeks.

Tim Cook takes self-inflicted pay cut

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 31st, 2013, 08:43
Category: Apple, Business, Finance, News

Tim-Cook-to-be-declined-Double-Salary-Bonus-by-AppleI remember the days of Gil Amelio (sorry to single you out Gil) and other CEOs of Apple who basically ‘took the money and ran’. In those days, the “golden parachute” was the norm for essentially kicking out CEOs who weren’t helping the company. Definitely a weird practice. Then Steve Jobs came back and famously paid himself a salary of $1.00 per year…yes, 1000 pennies. Of course he received a truckload of stocks which paid off more than a salary would have, and was also good PR. Now it appears that Tim Cook may be taking a page from Steve’s handbook by sacrificing some of his profits as a result of poor Apple stock performance in 2013. According to Apple, Tim Cook wanted to “…set a leadership example in the area of CEO compensation and governance.”.

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Apple and Bitcoin, oil and water?

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Date: Thursday, December 12th, 2013, 10:56
Category: App Store, Apple, Finance, iOS, iPhone, Software, The Apple Core

Bitcoin-Accp-Here-notOne of my terrible regrets is that I didn’t hop on the Bitcoin train when I had the chance. I read about it, created an account, had one of my computers generate some coin (took forever), and decided it wasn’t worth my time to fart around with unrecognized virtual currency. If I had left that computer running, who knows what that would be worth now. Who knew? Whether it lasts or not is to be seen, but it is certainly getting a lot of attention now. If you’re not up to speed on the whole internet bit trading thing, start with this article over at The Apple Core for more info and the recent explosion of Bitcoin mining.

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Apple working on PrimeSense purchase

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Date: Monday, November 18th, 2013, 08:01
Category: Apple, Consumer Electronics, Finance, Microsoft, News, Siri, Wearables

primesense_sensorApple is currently in talks to buy the Israeli company, PrimeSense, the developer of the original 3D body sensing technology used by Microsoft for its Kinect platform. Since the release of the Xbox One, Microsoft has turned to it’s own solution for the current iteration of the Kinect hardware and software. Back in July of the is year, MacRumors reported that Apple was looking at the company for a possible purchase, and had entered into early negotiations with PrimeSense.

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Apple releases Q4 2013 numbers, shows $7.5 billion profit, but relatively flat year-over-year sales

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Date: Tuesday, October 29th, 2013, 02:06
Category: Finance, News

applelogo

A US$7.5 billion quarter is nothing to sneeze at, but the sales were a bit flat compared to a year ago.

Per Macworld, Apple wrapped up its 2013 fiscal year Monday with a US$7.5 billion profit on US$37.5 billion in revenue, reporting accelerating growth buttressed by strong iPhone sales and growth in the Chinese market. Compared to the same quarter a year ago, iPhone sales were up, iPad sales were flat, and Mac sales were down.

Apple announced that its revenues in its fiscal fourth quarter (ending September 28) were up four percent compared to the same quarter in 2012. That was good enough to once again beat most analyst estimates. But year-over-year profits fell eight percent.

The iPhone continued to be the prime mover in Apple’s fiscal world. The company said it sold 33.8 million iPhones—a record for the September quarter—compared to 26.9 million in that quarter last year. iPad unit sales were relatively flat at 14.1 million, up 100,000 from the year-ago quarter. And once again, Mac unit sales were down year-over-year, from 4.9 million in last year’s fourth quarter to 4.6 million this year. (Mac unit sales were lower every quarter this year compared to the same quarter the year before.) In fact, revenues from all Apple product lines except for the iPhone and for iTunes, software, and services were down year-over-year.

The good quarterly sales for the iPhone were no doubt goosed by the introduction of the iPhone 5s and 5c, which famously sold nine million units all by themselves in their debut weekend. The new iPhones were on sale for the last nine days of the quarter. Overall, iPhone unit sales were up eight percent over the previous sequential quarter, and up 26 percent over the year-ago quarter.

For the overall fiscal year 2013, iPhone net sales rose 13 percent (from US$80.4 billion to US$91.3 billion). At the same time, iPhone unit sales climbed 20 percent (125 million to 150 million). Overall, iPhone contributed 53 percent of Apple’s revenues, up 51 percent in 2012 and 43 percent in 2011; iPhones contributed more than half of all Apple revenues in every quarter of 2013.

iPad sales for the year were a mixed bag: While unit sales were up robustly (climbing 21 percent, from 58.3 million tablets to 71 million), net sales rose more anemically, from US$30.9 billion to just under US$32 billion. That revenue reduction can likely be chalked up to the introduction of the lower-cost iPad mini last fall. (With the introduction of the new-model iPad Air and iPad mini, due to ship in November, Apple’s next quarter will likely be quite impressive on the iPad front.)

Mac sales actually declined for the fiscal year as a whole. Unit sales dropped 10 percent in 2013 compared to the 2012 fiscal year (from 18.1 million to 16.3 million); net sales fell 8 percent (from US$23.2 billion to US$21.4 billion). Remember that there were actually very few Mac product introductions in 2013, beyond some tweaks to the MacBook Air line. Yet, as Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer pointed out in the conference-call with analysts that accompanied the release of the results, the Mac has increased its share of the PC market in 29 of the past 30 quarters. In a rapidly shrinking market, a slow loss can look like growth.

The iPod is still selling, but in such relatively insignificant quantities that it doesn’t even merit a mention in Apple’s earnings call. That could be because it’s contributing just 3 percent of Apple’s overall revenues these days.

Much of Apple’s business is seasonal, spurred on by fall product announcements and massive holiday-quarter sales. But there’s one part of Apple’s business that just keeps growing, quarter by quarter, seemingly impervious to seasonal fluctuations. It’s the iTunes/Software/Services revenue line, which has grown more or less continuously every quarter. For the most recent quarter, it generated 4.26 billion dollars, up from 3.5 billion in the year-ago quarter. iTunes/Software/Services revenue has doubled in size in the past three years, from US$2.15 billion in the first quarter of 2011.

Apple’s retail segment is most definitely a seasonal business, but it’s showing strong growth. In fiscal 2012 Apple’s retail outlets generated US$15 billion in revenue; in fiscal 2013 that number wasUS $20 billion.

During Monday’s conference call, one analyst commented that Apple was one of the very few companies he was tracking to show strong growth in China this past quarter. Indeed, while Apple’s revenue in the Americas was actually down from the previous sequential quarter, many other key Apple segments showed sequential growth, most notably China and Japan.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.