Microsoft’s tablet strategy is off to an inauspicious start. Indeed, Surface sales fell short of the 1 million mark, while return rates were high, IHS iSuppli tells CNET. “Shipments of the Surface RT device, which debuted last quarter, into the channel were about 1.25 million, but sales out of the channel ‘were significantly lower, maybe on the order of 55 to 60 percent of that figure,’ ” reports CNet, citing comments from iSuppli analyst Rhoda Alexander.
During the last quarter of 2012, about 52.5 million tablets were shipped worldwide, according to new estimates from IDC. “Apple’s iPad once again took first place, although it slipped slightly to 43.6 percent market share,” The Next Web notes, citing IDC’s report. Samsung and Amazon ranked second and third, respectively, though their combined market share was still not enough to equal that of Apple.
In the near future, could a consumer’s Facebook connections or mobile search history determine whether or not they are approved for a loan? As Slate reports, a new generation of companies is trying to make that dream (nightmare?) a reality by deploying algorithms, which “sieve through such data to separate trustworthy borrowers from those likely to default and to price their loans accordingly.”
Depicting a brave new world for online media publishers, The New York Times reports on a highly orchestrated effort by Chinese hackers to penetrate its computer systems, steal data, and generally disrupt business operations. As NYT writes: “The attacks appear to be part of a broader computer espionage campaign against American news media companies that have reported on Chinese leaders and corporations.”
Amazon this week reported fourth-quarter sales and earnings that failed to meet analyst expectations, while predicting a less-than-stellar first quarter. As The New York Times reports, however, analysts were heartened by the fact that Amazon’s operating margins as a percent of consolidated sales rose from 2.7% to 3.2% year-over-year.
To Apple’s chagrin, a U.S. federal court has ruled that Samsung did not willfully infringe on some of its rival’s patents. Following similar accusations last summer, Samsung was ordered to pay Apple $1 billion in damages. Regarding the latest ruling, Reuters writes: It “removes a dark cloud hanging over Samsung, which, if the decision had gone the other way, could have been forced to pay triple the original judgment.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/30/us-samsung-apple-idUSBRE90T04R20130130
Google is planning to test out paid YouTube subscriptions Geek.com reports. In the near future, qualifying producers could charge willing subscribers anywhere from $1-to-$5 a month for their content. What’s wrong with YouTube’s ad-supported model? According to Geek.com: “These new channels are significantly larger scale operations with budgets that can only be reached with the help of some guaranteed monthly cash.”
When Facebook reports fourth-quarter earnings later today, all eyes will be on the company’s ambitious mobile strategy. “Mobile advertising made up 24% of the total in the fourth quarter, up from 14% in the prior period,” reports Bloomberg, citing a prediction from Topeka Capital Markets. “That suggests new tools aimed at making ads more useful on small screens are having the desired effect with corporate customers.”
Now matter how popular a mobile app is, it’s no good to anyone -- not its maker, its users, or its advertisers -- if the thing keeps crashing. As such, Twitter has acquired Crashlytics, a software company that provides crash reports for mobile apps. As ZDNet reports, the deal gives Twitter an app stability tool whose customers include Yelp, Kayak, TaskRabbit, Vimeo, HBO, PayPal and Twitter itself.
Music subscription startup Rdio just expanded it free music streaming service to 15 of the 17 countries in which it already operates, including the UK, Australia, Belgium, Canada, and France. U.S. users have access to the free steaming service since 2011. “It believes that free is a powerful way to help get people in the door,” The Next Web writes of Rdio.