Weekly Tech Business Recap: Amazon Smartphone, BlackBerry Conference a Bust

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Monday

LDK Solar (NYSE:LDK) shares plummet then bounce back, following its fiscal fourth quarter earnings report. Earnings per share fell $4.63 against consensus of 90 cents, and revenue of $420.2 million was short $24.4 million, down 54 percent year-to-year. Further, the quarter’s gross margin was down 65.5 percent, compared to a 3.6 percent loss in its fiscal third quarter, and plus 27.3 percent year-to-year (fourth quarter). LDK forecasts a revenue range of $190 million to $230 million for its fiscal first quarter, noting that “Weak market demand and rapidly declining average selling prices reduced our revenue and adversely impacted our margins in the quarter.”.

The mobile phone sector’s first quarter figures were monopolized by Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung (SSNLF.PK), as the two firms comprised 74 percent of revenue and 100 percent of the profits, says Raymond James’ Tavis McCourt. Other suppliers did make some money, but among them, their profits and losses cancelled each other out. At any rate, McCourt believes that the Apple/Samsung dominance poses a challenge to Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), which might lead them to look into buying Huawei and ZTE.

Shares of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) continued to move up Monday, as they followed up on Friday’s post-earnings gains, despite the deal between Microsoft and Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS). Money from the linkup will enable B&N to challenge Amazon’s assertive prices of e-books, that will appear once that company reaches a resolution with the Department of Justice. David Carnoy opines that an enhanced consumer confidence in B&N’s longevity will be an end result.

Investing Insights: Did Google Turn a Blind Eye to Data Harvesting?

Chatter abounds that Mark Zuckerberg’s new Viddy account means that Facebook (FB) might have an acquisition of the new star mobile video-sharing service in its plans. Viddy is said to be seeking capital at a valuation of $370 million, and other analysts are noting the similarity between Viddy and Instagram. One thing most agree on, is that there would be little opposition inside FB for a Viddy buyout.

Why are software and media downloads from from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and other foreign companies, so much pricier in Australia than anywhere else? Mac OS X server costs $728 there, compared to $499 in the United States, and a copy of Microsoft Office 2010 is $883 in Oz, but $349 in the U.S. The Australian Parliament is looking into the matter.

Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) reports that despite reviews of its XPS 13 ultrabook (goes for $999), that complemented its looks but panned its display, the product is enjoying nearly three times the anticipated demand, from both businesses and consumers. Meanwhile, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) must be encouraged that a pre-Ivy Bridge ultrabook like this is doing so well, considering that company’s large stake. In addition, NAND flash memory vendors SNDK and MU also gain from ultrabook adoption.

Tuesday

Shares of Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) fall as its BlackBerry World developer’s conference didn’t quite work out the way it wished. The company wanted to convince developers that its BlackBerry 10 operating system, which diverts widely from BB7, is worth supporting, in spite of the dominance of iOS and Android, along with the coming competition of Windows Phone. RIM has been supplying a BlackBerry 10 prototype phone with software mostly identical to that of the PlayBook, and has promoted the brilliance of its virtual keypad and camera software. IDC says that RIM’s global smartphone market share dropped more than 50 percent to 6.7 percent year-to-year in the first quarter.

Will Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) develop its own smartphone? ABI Research’s Aapo Markkanen says that such a move would be a “logical next step” for Amazon, it being a trusted retailer of physical products, and, that device could also supply what e-readers can’t, which is a genuinely mobile hardware device that provides a 24-7 locked-in connection to the firm’s content ecosystem.

Sprint (NYSE:S) gets a wireless service contract in the amount of $2 billion from the Western States Contracting Alliance (WSCA), which oversees public sector acquisitions for 15 states. The arrangement last through October, 2016.

Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and CBS (NYSE:CBS) have had talks regarding the possible rebirth of the post-apocalyptic TV series Jericho, says TV Guide. The former series, Arrested Development, is already slated by Netflix to be brought back, as well as other series. However, the reviews for Lilyhammer, which the firm developed, were mixed.

Investing Insights: CBS Earnings: Here’s What We’re Doing RIGHT.

Wednesday

Target (NYSE:TGT) says (in an internal memo) that a “conflict of interest” is causing it to cease sales of Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle line as of May 13. However, the actual reason for the action, opines The Verge, is a recent arrangement in which Target will allow Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to locate its mini-stores within its premises. Other basically non-book retailers have also halted relations with Amazon this year.

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Shares of Web.com (NASDAQ:WWWW) pop following its impressive first quarter results, on the heels of strong performances from both its traditional web hosting operations, and its recently-purchased Network Solutions domain registration unit. Average revenue per user increased by 2 percent quarter-to-quarter to $13.15, and turnover was constant at 1 percent. In response, Craig-Hallum upgrades shares to Buy.

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) begins maketing its Pure View phone in May, with 41 megapixels on the camera that provide it with a 3X “lossless” zoom. Some analysts predict, however, that selling the new device might be difficult since it operates on Symbian and not Windows. Nontheless, Nokia, has extended its exclusive arrangement with Carl Zeiss.

Research In Motion’s (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry World conference’s second day brings the company no solace from the opening day’s woes: Wedge Partners says that RIM’s BlackBerry 10 comes ‘three years too late to matter’, and Jefferies predicts a “collapse” in BlackBerry 7 sales prior to 10’s intro. However, RIM is grabbing what good news it can, by proclaiming the BlackBerry’s strength in emerging markets such as Nigeria and Indonesia.

Wall Street may have yawned at the announcement by Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) of a major shakeup, but a month later HP’s newly-formed Enterprise Group is consolidating its regional sales teams. The move complements CEO Meg Whitman’s attempts to streamline the company’s operations amidst increasing market share losses, says Arik Hesseldahl.

Thursday

Chairman Jorma Ollila announced that Nokia (NYSE:NOK) will introduce tablets and “hybrid” smartphone/tablet devices, to shore up its declining market position. It is anticipated that the firm will release Windows 8 (NASDAQ:MSFT) tablets that operate on Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon processors, although only limited details are known. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop’s controversial decision to tie the company’s future to the Windows Phone, was also supported by Chairman Ollila.

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Enough already! Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung (SSNLF.PK) are under orders by a United States District Judge to reduce the egregious number of patent infringement complaints, that each has filed against the other, for the second time. The judge remarked that the flood of lawsuits is “cruel and unusual punishment” for her court’s jury. This new order is ahead of mediation talks between the two companies’ CEOs scheduled for May 21 and 22.

Shares of Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) are at 8-year lows on the final day of its much dissed BlackBerry World conference, and are presently down by 16 percent since the conference began earlier this week Sentiments towards RIM among those attending the meeting were said to be mixed, by Network World, and out loud worries were registered regarding the cost of deploying its Mobile Fusion device management solution, and about strong employee interest in using competitors’ devices.

Facebook (FB) has officially set its initial public offering price in a range between $28 and $35, in a new S-1. It hopes to sell 337.4 million shares, of which 180 million will be new, and 157.4 million from insiders, which will comprise a total offering amount of $9.45 billion, to $11.8 billion, all of which beats the expectations of many observers. Mark Zuckerberg will personally sell 30.2 million shares.

Don’t Miss: Here’s the Scoop on Facebook’s Upcoming IPO.

A major revelation is made at Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), when Dan Loeb’s assertion that the company’s CEO Scott Thompson lacks a computer science degree, is confirmed. Further, (in an ‘Etch-A-Sketch’ moment) it’s now being said that company documents to the contrary contained “inadvertent errors”, even though they might go back to Thompson’s PayPal era. Yahoo says that “This, in no way, alters the fact that Mr. Thompson is a highly qualified executive.”

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Friday

Our coverage of Degree-Gate continues with the latest Scott Thompson news. Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) shareholder and activist Dan Loeb was not at all impressed by the company’s promises to look into the question of why its CEO Thompson failed to disclose that his degree is in accounting, and not in computer science. The claim that Thompson is guilty of resume doctoring has some observers opining that he may well be dismissed, more sooner than later, and now Kara Swisher says that he also failed to disclose his lack of the desired degree in a 2009 interview. Nicholas Carlson pins the blame for this horrifying situation upon Yahoo’s board for not using a proper recruitment firm to vet Thomson adequately. However, Dan Loeb is now demanding that the CEO be fired by noon on Monday, along with providing an explanation as to “the process by which it vetted Mr. Thompson as a potential CEO candidate”.

European Union Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia says that the agency will ‘take its time in building an antitrust case against Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)’, according to a Reuters report. A total of 16 complaints against the company is currently being evaluated, most of which involve favoritism in search results, with online travel concern being the most recent to complain. In the meantime, the FTC stresses the fact that it is also taking the claims against Google quite seriously.

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