CIOs Brand Enterprise Social Tools as Most Overhyped Technology of the Year

December 30, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

It’s the end of the year, and that means a plethora of stories and lists with a lot of hyperbolic words like “hottest” or “greatest” in the headline rendering some kind of judgment on the prior 12 months. Usually I tend to avoid these stories because there are too many of them . But I was attracted to this one in part because of its balance of the cynical and the not-cynical, and by the source of the survey data: The CIOs of large corporations. It comes by way of Sierra Ventures, the enterprise-focused venture capital firm based in Palo Alto, Calif. For years that firm has maintained a network of about 70 CIOs at some of the world’s biggest companies, and has routinely sought their input on their needs from directly in the corporate IT trenches. Sierra has in turn allowed that advice to help guide its investment decisions and how it helps its portfolio companies grow. Recently it held its annual CIO Summit, and the time came to ask about 40 of those CIOs what was on their minds. The result was a simple survey with one key question: What were the most overhyped and underhyped technologies being hawked to large enterprises during the year? The answers were pretty clear and, at least in the overhyped category, close to unanimous. The most overhyped, in their view, were social tools aimed at the enterprise. This would include products like Jive, Microsoft’s Yammer, Salesforce.com’s Chatter, Moxie, VMWare’s Socialcast and a host of others. Their reasoning, as Al Campa, a partner at Sierra Ventures put it, was equally simple: “They don’t feel there’s any evidence for a return on investment or ROI,” he said. “It just didn’t move the needle for them when compared to other technologies they looked at.” It’s a kind of predictable answer where CIOs are concerned, but not chief marketing officers, or CMOs, said Tim Guleri, a managing partner at Sierra Ventures. “CIOs are all about controlling spending and driving down their costs and finding money to fund innovation elsewhere,” he said.

Read More

Google, Apple Forge Auto Ties

December 30, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Technology giants Google and Apple are about to expand their battle for digital supremacy to a new front: The automobile. Next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Google and German auto maker Audi plan to announce that they are working together to develop in-car entertainment and information systems that are based on Google’s Android software, people familiar with the matter said. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

Read More

2013 Was a Good Year For Chromebooks

December 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Chromebooks experienced a surge in popularity in 2013, rising from almost nothing to claim about a fifth of the commercial laptop market. This according to NPD Group , who said this week that sales of laptops running Google’s Chrome OS accounted for 21 percent of all commercial preconfigured notebook sales through November 2013. It would seem, then, that Chromebooks have begun to hit their stride. Indeed, Amazon this week said that two out of its three top-selling laptops during the holiday season were Chromebooks designed by Samsung and Acer. The year-over-year growth NPD has charted is significant. And, evidently, it’s coming at Microsoft’s expense, though machines running Windows did account for 34.1 percent of all commercial preconfigured notebook sales during the same period. Said NPD analyst Stephen, “Tepid Windows PC sales allowed brands with a focus on alternative form factors or operating systems, like Apple and Samsung, to capture significant share of a market traditionally dominated by Windows devices.”

Read More

NSA Struggles to Make Sense of Flood of Surveillance Data

December 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

William Binney, creator of some of the computer code used by the National Security Agency to snoop on Internet traffic around the world, delivered an unusual message at a recent privacy conference to an audience worried that the spy agency knows too much. It knows so much, he said, that it can’t understand what it has. “What they are doing is making themselves dysfunctional by taking all this data,” Mr. Binney said. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

Read More

The Longish Goodbye: Highlights From AllThingsD Staffers Johnson, Del Rey and Cha

December 28, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Here’s the third installment of posts that the staff has highlighted, as All Things Digital gets ready to close down as the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31. To be clear, the archives of what we have written since April of 2007 — close to 38,000 posts — will remain in the digital ether for your perusal, and the whole staff of AllThingsD is headed for a new venture. On Jan. 1, The Wall Street Journal will redirect the main page of this site to its own tech coverage. Taking the bow today will be gaming reporter Eric Johnson, e-commerce ninja Jason Del Rey, and tech reviewer Bonnie Cha. ERIC JOHNSON 1. Valve’s Steam Machines Won’t Be “Console Killers,” but Here’s How They Could Shake Up Gaming Anyway Key lines: “Assuming that they work as promised, Steam Machines will bring the PC-esque option to routinely upgrade to better hardware to the living room, while tapping into Steam’s expansive library of both indie and mainstream games. If anything, Steam Machines might disrupt the PC market — not the console one.” 2. Notes From a n00b at E3: A Sensory Overload of Fun and Games (But Mostly Just Games) Key lines: “This line at E3 is killing my feet. The guy in front of me says he has not moved in five minutes. ‘Do you think this is an actual line, or a fake one?’ he wearily asks.” 3. If Wearables Are Going to Grow Up, Games Might Point the Way Key lines: “In tech circles, the buzz around wearable computing, already a multi-billion dollar market, has never been louder. No one wants to miss the boat if wearable apps are going to be as disruptive as apps for smartphones and tablets, an anxiety reflected well at GDC Next in Los Angeles.” 4. Why Some Videogame Characters Get Toys, and Others Don’t “Contrary to conventional wisdom, games aren’t entirely a hits-driven business. Innumerable games, particularly on mobile and online, do just fine for themselves by attracting and catering to small, passionate audiences. But if you want to see that favorite game character cross over into the real world, maybe in the form of a toy or stuffed animal? Yeah, you’re gonna need a bigger hit.” 5

Read More

Apple CEO Tim Cook Made $4.25 Million This Year

December 28, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Another nugget of data from Apple’s latest shareholder proxy : CEO Tim Cook took home a compensation package valued at $4.25 million this year, little changed from the year prior. In its annual proxy filing on Friday, Apple said Cook’s pay for fiscal 2013, which ended in September, consisted of $1.4 million in salary and a bonus of $2.8 million. In 2012, Cook’s compensation package was $4.2 million. So Cook’s pay remained steady over those two years, with one noteworthy exception: He gave up about 7,123 Apple shares tied to the company’s annual performance. Because of the decline in Apple’s stock this fiscal year the company’s board decided that only 72,877 shares out of a tranche of 80,000 should vest. Cook — who in June explicitly requested vesting terms tied to the company’s performance — forfeited the remainder. Based on Apple’s closing stock price of $560.09 on Friday, those shares would have been worth nearly $4 million.

Read More

Apple Asks Judge to Keep Patent Pressure on Samsung

December 28, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Back in November, Apple won a second chance to seek a sales ban against tens of Samsung smartphones and tablets found to violate its patents last year. And late last week, it took that chance. On Thursday, Apple asked U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to halt sales of some 20 Samsung devices that a jury last year found to infringe some of its key utility and design patents. In a filing, the company argued that while Samsung has stopped selling the infringing products, the fact that it has done so doesn’t really lessen the harm done to Apple, or the need for punishment. “Samsung’s claim that it has discontinued selling the particular models found to infringe or design around Apple’s patents in no way diminishes Apple’s need for injunctive relief,” Apple argued in its filing. “Because Samsung frequently brings new products to market, an injunction is important to providing Apple the relief it needs to combat any future infringement by Samsung through products not more than colorably different from those already found to infringe.” The issue here, then, isn’t so much the discontinued products found to infringe, but the infringement itself, and Apple’s risk that Samsung might continue its infringement with some new products. Indeed, Apple is explicitly seeking an injunction that extends to “any other product not more than colorably different from an Infringing Product as to a feature found to infringe.” As Florian Mueller notes over at Foss Patents, Apple’s focus isn’t the accused products, but the patents asserted . For Apple, which claims that Samsung’s infringement cost it “incalculable lost market share and lost downstream sales,” the ability to bring those patents to bear on commercially relevant products when and if it needs to is crucial, because while Samsung claims to have a workaround in place for some of the patents at issue in the case, the company hasn’t yet disclosed it.

Read More

Twitter Reverses Rally as Shares Dive

December 28, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Twitter Inc.’s rally came to an abrupt halt on Friday. Shares of the microblogging site tumbled $9.56, or 13 percent, to $63.75, taking a dent out of the big gains that accumulated since the San Francisco company’s initial public offering in early November. The drop wiped away about $5.2 billion in Twitter’s market capitalization, or a little less than twice that of J.C. Penney Co. An analyst downgrade and worries about the stock’s valuation ignited Friday’s drop, burning many of the investors who had piled into the stock in recent days. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

Read More

Apple Explains Why Icahn’s Buyback Proposal Should Be Shot Down

December 27, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Apple’s annual shareholder meeting will be held on Feb. 28, and among 11 proposals to be discussed will be one from Carl Icahn. Revealed in a proxy statement filed by Apple on Friday afternoon, Icahn’s advisory proposal asks Apple to increase the size of its stock buyback program in 2014 to $50 billion. That’s a move the company’s board of directors recommends that shareholders vote against. Apple already increased the size of its dividend and stock buyback program to $100 billion this year, and it’s not taking kindly to Icahn’s repeated and querulous efforts to force its hand — as cordial as they may or may not be . “In March 2012, the company announced a quarterly dividend and share repurchase program totaling $45 billion,” Apple explains. “In April 2013, the board authorized a dramatic increase, more than doubling the size of the program to $100 billion, raising the dividend, and increasing the share buyback authorization to $60 billion. As such, the company is one of the largest dividend payers in the world and has the largest share repurchase authorization in history. The company has executed aggressively against the capital return program, spending $23 billion of the $60-billion share repurchase authorization in fiscal 2013 alone.” The proposal, and Apple’s recommendation against it, below: Shareholder Proposal of a Non-Binding Advisory Resolution Relating to the Company’s Capital Return Program The Company has been advised that High River Limited Partnership (“High River”), 767 Fifth Avenue, 46th Floor, New York, New York, 10153, a record holder of 1,000 shares of the Company’s common stock, intends to submit the following proposal at the Annual Meeting on behalf of itself and Icahn Partners LP, Icahn Partners Master Fund LP, Icahn Partners Master Fund II LP, Icahn Partners Master Fund III LP, and other beneficial owners, including Mr. Carl Icahn: “RESOLVED, that the shareholders hereby approve, on an advisory basis, High River’s proposal that Apple commit to completing not less than $50 billion of share repurchases during Apple’s fiscal year ending September 27, 2014 (and increase the amount authorized for share repurchases under its Capital Return Program accordingly).” The Company’s Statement in Opposition to Proposal No. 10 The Board recommends a vote AGAINST Proposal No. 10. The Board and management team are thoughtfully considering options for returning additional cash to shareholders and are currently seeking input from shareholders as part of the Company’s regular review

Read More