Posts Tagged ‘microsoft’

Qualcomm Taps Steve Mollenkopf, Rumored as Microsoft Successor, as Its Next CEO

December 13, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

A day after he was mentioned in a news report as a possible dark-horse successor to outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Steve Mollenkopf, COO of wireless chipmaker Qualcomm, has been named as the company’s next CEO. Mollenkopf will replace Paul Jacobs, who will remain executive chairman of Qualcomm, and who is the son of the company’s founder, Irwin Jacobs. The appointment will become effective on March 4. Bloomberg News reported yesterday that Mollenkopf had emerged as a new name in the race to succeed Ballmer. The software giant has considered several outside candidates, including Ford CEO Alan Mulally and VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger. Internal candidates include Tony Bates , Microsoft’s current head of business development, and its enterprise chief, Satya Nadella. Mollenkopf has been with Qualcomm since 1994, and has recently led its wireless-chipset business unit, known as QCT. On his watch, the company acquired the Wi-Fi-chip company Atheros in 2011 for $3.1 billion

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PlayStation 4 Tops Gaming Hardware Sales in November, but Game Sales Are Way Down

December 13, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

The NPD Group has released hardware sales numbers for the first month of “next-gen” consoles (which, I guess, is now officially current gen ), and Sony won, but only kinda sorta. The PlayStation 4 outsold the Xbox One in the U.S. in November, with “the highest first month sales of a hardware platform on record,” according to the NPD report. However, the PS4 debuted on Nov. 15, while Microsoft’s new console debuted on Nov.

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With Microsoft CEO Race in Home Stretch and Mulally Fading, Here’s My Dark-Horse Pick: VMware’s Gelsinger

December 12, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about the possibility of an outsider dark-horse candidate emerging in the race to become CEO of Microsoft. Now it might be more of a possibility than ever before, tracking on sources inside the company that have consistently said that there is a male tech executive in the running who has not been named publicly as yet. Said one person about this candidate: He is “in tech, someone folks are excited about, but not a done deal.” By definition, the term “dark horse” is meant to describe a come-out-of-nowhere winner, or, as Wikipedia notes , “a race horse that is not known to gamblers and thus is difficult to place betting odds on.” And make no mistake, this CEO search has turned into a race, with the variety of candidates pulling ahead and then falling behind, with all of them jockeying for position, as the crowd of investors and insiders have also tried to put their own fix in. At the time of my post in mid-November, Ford CEO Alan Mulally was the clear front runner of the process to replace outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer. Also in that mix: Enterprise chief Satya Nadella; COO Kevin Turner; strategy exec Tony Bates (whom I have dubbed the Silicon Valley choice); and Nokia exec Stephen Elop. Elop was considered the top contender (by me, at least), after Microsoft bought the mobile phone division of Nokia. But — for a variety of reasons — he soon fell behind two other internal candidates, Bates and Nadella. And further back still, Turner. Among the outsiders, Mulally — who has done a lot of deft lobbying for the job, after helping Ballmer in his efforts to restructure Microsoft — has always been in the forefront of the choice

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"Hour of Code" Calls on Students to Program Computers, With Support From Obama (And the Republicans, Too!)

December 9, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

By now you may have heard about the United States’ woeful lack of public coding classes , despite the economy’s ever-growing need for technical workers. For five years now, Computer Science Education Week has existed as a call to mobilize people to learn to program. This year, it’s getting a little more oomph, with promotion by various tech companies of the new nonprofit Code.org ’s “Hour of Code” initiative, five million students committed to participate globally at 33,000 schools in 166 countries, and endorsements by celebrities and public figures including both U.S. President Barack Obama and his political foil House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Here’s the video from Obama, in which he urges, “Don’t just buy a new video game, make one. Don’t just download the latest app, help design it. Don’t just play on your phone, program. No one’s born a computer scientist, but with a little hard work — and some math and science — just about anyone can become one.” And here’s Cantor, who says “coding is the necessary tool of this century”: (By the way, the name “Hour of Code” is not meant to specify any specific hour, but rather the motivation for people to spend an hour learning to code at some point over the next week.) And it’s not just political rivals coming together, but also competing companies, noted Code.org co-founder Ali Partovi. All the Apple Stores in the U.S. plan to hold an open Hour of Code class on Dec.

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Plantronics Says It Can Be a Wearable Computing Company, Too

December 6, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Look at Plantronics’ online catalog and you’ll see a lot of commonplace products: Telephones, speakerphones and a long list of headphones, earbuds and headsets for everything from music to gaming to telemarketing. But CTO Joe Burton thinks the company needs to “shift to mobility … [and] away from normal phones.” It needs, he said, to make itself a competitor in wearable computing. I know; I was skeptical, too. Hang in there. As it turns out, even though “normal phones” are still its bread and butter, Plantronics has been experimenting for the past few years, loading its headsets with sensors like the ones you might find in a smartphone or, say, Google Glass. And with these sensor-laden hardware experiments, the company has been reaching out to third-party developers over the past few months through a secondary website, PLT Labs , to develop conceptual hardware and software . And some of these sensor-headsets are already out in the wild. At Cisco’s call center, Burton said, once a customer support rep puts on a phone headset, a motion sensor registers that it is being worn and the rep is automatically added to the call routing queue. If near an active webcam, he or she is put in the special video support queue. One of Plantronics’ internal experiments also piqued my interest. The company has hacked an Xbox to let the motions of a headset wearer leaning from side to side control a motorcycle racing game. In other words, Oculus Rift-esque motion tracking on a gaming console based on sensors connected to the body rather than the one-step-removed Kinect camera. As I wrote last month , the gaming startup Mind Pirate says wearables becoming as ubiquitous as cell phones is an “inevitability,” and believes it can help shape their future: Rather than trying to solve consumers’ problems, the idea is that entertaining apps will validate new categories of devices for consumers, which you could argue was a big chunk of the mobile story as well. Getting in front of games for devices like Google Glass may mean helping to figure out just what, exactly, a world of omnipresent games would look like. By contrast, Burton maintains that Plantronics’ chances at breaking into wearables may stem from the converse of that idea. That is, the company already has a history of convincing people to put stuff on their heads. He broke sensors down into four types: Near you (e.g. in your phone); on you (e.g. via a Fitbit clip); touching your body (e.g. an activity tracker on your wrist); and touching your head.

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Siri Gets Serious, Microsoft Gets Its Mojo Back and Everything Gets Encrypted in 2014

December 6, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

If it’s December, it’s time to start predicting what’s going to dominate the headlines and trends of 2014. I make it a point every year to sit down with Mark Anderson, an industry analyst and CEO of Strategic News Service, and get an early look at the predictions he makes in a speech at an annual dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. As with previous rounds of predictions he has made (See 2011 , 2012 and 2013 ), some already make sense if you’ve been paying attention to the way things are going, and will become more pronounced in the year ahead. Others are a little more surprising. Siris head into silos. There will be more products like Apple’s Siri, and they’ll spread out and dive deep into vertical markets. Current voice-recognition products are sitting in the range of 60 percent to 80 percent accuracy, which is still too frustrating to be effective for daily use. “You still get a lot of Siri jokes,” Anderson says. “But as that rate approaches 90 percent and above, they’ll get more useful and start appearing in industry-specific products.” Customers will start trusting these systems more. Visualization goes mainstream. As more companies spin up efforts to harness the capabilities of big data and analytics, making the results more useful will become a higher priority. That’s going to bring a new emphasis on visualization tools. “Let’s stop talking about Big Data and start talking about seeing data. We haven’t yet had any big improvements in ways to help us use all this data we’re gathering.” Price rules consumer electronics

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‘The Wolverine’ Helps Hype Digital HD at McDonald’s, on the Xbox One

December 5, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Twentieth Century Fox is taking its campaign to promote Digital HD on the road. Through the drive-through, actually. The studio has secured a high-profile partnership with McDonald’s and Microsoft’s Xbox One to be the sole movie partner — in this case, “The Wolverine” — as part of the fast food chain’s month-long “One Hot Holiday”... Read more

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Microsoft-Nokia Deal Gets Go-Ahead From Justice Department

December 2, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Shutterstock / Lisa S. It’s a regulatory green-light for Microsoft’s pending acquisition of Nokia’s phone business. The U.S. Department of Justice unconditionally approved the $7.2 billion deal last Friday , rubber-stamping a massive transaction that will see Microsoft acquire Nokia’s devices and services business and license the company’s mapping services, a move that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says will accelerate the company’s share and profits in phones. A milestone moment for Microsoft, and one that clearly shows the company recognizing two crucial truths: 1. It must create a first-rate Microsoft phone experience in order for it to succeed in the smartphone business. 2. It cannot afford to allow Google and Apple to foreclose the smartphone ecosystem by utterly dominating software and hardware innovation in this sphere. The next hurdle to be overcome: Regulatory approval in the European Union. Here’s a quick refresher on the numbers behind the deal: Microsoft is spending about $7.2 billion to acquire Nokia’s core cellphone business. Of that, $5 billion is for Nokia’s devices business. The remaining $2.18 billion is to license Nokia’s intellectual property Nokia’s patent portfolio includes some 8,500 design patents. It also includes approximately 30,000 utility patents and patent applications. About 32,000 Nokia employees are expected to transfer to Microsoft as part of the deal. About 18,300 of those are “directly involved in manufacturing.” But 56,000 Nokia employees will remain at the company once the deal has closed. With 8.7 million units shipped, Windows Phone had a 3.7 percent share of global smartphone market in the second quarter of 2013, according to IDC. Windows Phone has greater than 10 percent share in nine markets, according to Microsoft. Windows Phone is outselling BlackBerry in 34 markets — again, according to Microsoft. Nokia accounted for 81.6 percent of all Windows Phone smartphone shipments during the second quarter of 2013. Microsoft’s gross margin on sales of Nokia’s Windows Phone handsets before the deal: Less than $10

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AllThingsD Week in Review: Wearable Computing Comes to Clothes, and Yahoos Hate Yahoo Mail

November 30, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

In case you missed anything, here’s a quick roundup of some of the news that powered AllThingsD this week: Change is hard for many, but the latest iteration of Yahoo Mail has collected a chorus of complainers — including quite a few Yahoo employees , only 25 percent of whom have heeded management pleas to switch away from Outlook. Nokia’s first phablet, the Lumia 1520, boasts a six-inch full-HD display and a 20-megapixel camera. In All Things Reviewed, Bonnie Cha found it to be “a solid phablet” with “fast performance and good battery life,” but that, like other phablets, it can be cumbersome to handle. What’s next for wearable devices? They’re already on our wrists, but what about activity trackers in our clothes ? That’s the idea behind a startup called Athos, but there are still plenty of unanswered questions about how to turn that idea into a consumer-friendly reality. Black Friday has once again come and gone, but some of the deals on videogame consoles that rolled out on Thursday and Friday are still available today. This buyer’s guide explains the differences among all the different types of consoles, and which games work with which systems. If you did line up for doorbuster deals on Black Friday yesterday, though, you might have wasted your valuable time , according to one business school professor. Sorry! According to teardowns by research firm IHS, both of the big new gaming consoles are only barely profitable. Last week, we learned that Sony’s $399 PlayStation 4 costs $381 to build . This week, it was Microsoft’s turn; the $499 Xbox One similarly costs $471 , according to the teardown. As AllThingsD reported it would, Yahoo this week announced that Katie Couric would become its “global news anchor.” Details about the hiring were scant, but, like many other media stars, Couric has a long history of dipping her toe into the online space. Apple lost its antitrust e-book trial over the summer.

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Bitcoin, Schmitcoin — Tech Stocks Also on a Frothy Run

November 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

While the stock market was only open a half-day today, it was still a solid one for Internet stocks as the market enters its final month of 2013. Most showed gains yesterday, with Apple, Amazon and Twitter all up almost two percent. But that does not tell the story of how well shares of tech companies have been doing throughout the year — most are up significantly, seeing big jumps. For the year-to-date, most well-known issues are up, including: LinkedIn, up more that 95 percent; Facebook, up over 76.5 percent; Yahoo, up 83 percent; Amazon, up 57 percent; Google, up close to 50 percent; and even perpetually stagnant Microsoft, up close to 43 percent. Apple lagged, up only 4.5 percent, and Twitter remains below its November IPO price, down 7.4 percent. Even suffering Groupon and Zynga did well, up more than 86 percent and 84 percent respectively. The past three months have not been as strong, though, with Amazon leading the pack with a 38.6 percent rise. It was followed by Yahoo, up 35.3 percent; Google, up close to 34 percent; Facebook and Microsoft, up close to 14 percent; and Apple, up just over 13 percent. LinkedIn declined just over seven percent in the period, not a surprise, given its spectacular rise since it went public in mid-2011. What the rest of the year and 2014 will bring is anyone’s guess, of course, but there are expected to be a spate of IPOs in the first half of the new year, most notably China’s Alibaba Group, whose stellar performance should continue to boost Yahoo’s stock.

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