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Wednesday, 25-Apr-2012 10:38 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Google launches storage service for personal files

Google is hoping to build the world's largest digital filing cabinet in the latest attempt to deepen people's dependence on its services.

The Internet search leader began its pursuit of the audacious goal Tuesday with the much-anticipated debut of Google Drive, a product that stores personal documents, photos, videos and a wide range of other digital content on Google's computers.

By keeping files in massive paid surveys data centers, users will be able to call up the information on their smartphones, tablet computers, laptops and just about any other Internet-connected device. Content can also be more easily shared among friends, family and co-workers by sending links to the information instead of emailing large attachments.

Google Drive is offering the first five gigabytes of storage for free. Monthly prices for additional storage will range from $2.49 for 25 gigabytes to $49.99 for one terabyte, equivalent to five laptops with 200-gigabyte drives.

The service is initially available through a Web-based interface or as a software installation on Windows-based computers, Mac computers, laptops running on Google's Chrome operating system and smartphones powered by Google's Android software. A version compatible with Apple Inc.'s hot-selling iPhone and iPad is due in the next few weeks.

It may be several weeks before Google Drive is available throughout the world. Many Google users were simply told Tuesday to check back and request to be notified.

Offering online storage is part of a technological shift away from storing personal files on a single machine in a home or office. Users instead are entrusting data to computing hubs accessible just about any time at any place with Internet access. The concept has become popularly known as "cloud computing."

For all its technological know-how, Google is a late arrival in what is shaping into the Internet's version of storage wars. Other combatants with a head start include two other technology heavyweights, Apple and Microsoft Corp., and pioneering startups such as Dropbox Inc. and Box Inc.

Google is hoping to differentiate its storage service by equipping it with more convenient and powerful tools. Google Drive will draw upon the company's expertise in Internet technology for text and images to make it easier to find data quickly. It can search within documents, for instance, while Dropbox looks for file names. It also includes optical character recognition that can search for specific words contained in scanned newspapers or other sources.

Google Drive is gearing up five years after word first leaked that Google was working on an online file storage service, then called Gdrive. The lengthy delay made it seem as if it all might be an urban legend, until Tuesday. In a blog post, Google poked fun at itself for taking so long, likening Google Drive's announcement to the sighting of the Loch Ness Monster.

But Google still has plenty of time and, more importantly, plenty of Michael Kors Watch firepower to topple the competition, said Gartner Inc. analyst Michael Gartenberg.

"We are entering this era where the personal cloud is going to be more important than the personal computer, so to remain relevant Google needed a service like this," he said.

Even so, the new service threatens to amplify the privacy concerns that already have been swirling around Google as it gathers a trove of personal information through search requests, correspondence sent through Gmail, videos watched on YouTube and posts on the Google Plus social network.

"How Google addresses the 800-pound gorilla knocking on the door - privacy - will define how the company is widely perceived by the public. Google Drive will be a key part of this test," said Ethan Oberman, chief executive of online storage service SpiderOak.

This marks Google's second foray into online storage. Following Apple's lead, Google last November opened a music store that included free storage for up to 20,000 songs per user.

Wednesday, 25-Apr-2012 10:37 Email | Share | | Bookmark
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Wednesday, 25-Apr-2012 10:37 Email | Share | | Bookmark
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Friday, 20-Apr-2012 01:48 Email | Share | | Bookmark
IPhone bills boost Verizon 1Q revenue growth

Holiday sales of the iPhone 4S started to boost revenue at Verizon Communications Inc. in the latest quarter, as subscribers settled in to paying their new monthly bills.

That meant that wireless service revenues grew at their fastest pace in three years at Verizon Wireless. The country's largest cellphone company started selling the iPhone 4 a bit more than a year ago, but sales got a big boost when the 4S model was released in October.

IPhone sales don't boost the results of a cellphone company immediately, because the companies subsidize them by shopping hundreds of dollars to be able to sell the phone for $99 or $199. They then count on making the money back in service fees over a two-year contract.

At Verizon Wireless, the iPhone effect was clear in Thursday's first-quarter report: the average monthly bill for subscribers on contract-based plans was $55.43, up 3.6 percent from a year ago. A few years ago, monthly fees were stagnant at Verizon.

However, the high price of the iPhone means phone companies are struggling to make it pay - most of the profit from the iPhone is flowing to Apple Inc., not the phone companies. Verizon Wireless recently introduced a $30 "upgrade fee" for existing customers trading up to a new phone.

Verizon Wireless gained 501,000 new subscribers under contract-based plans in the quarter, slightly above analyst expectations. It's a KitchenAid Stand Mixer closely watched figure because contract-based plans are the most lucrative. Verizon is expected to lead the industry this quarter, attracting twice as many new customers as chief rival AT&T Inc., which reports on Tuesday.

Verizon's overall net income was $1.69 billion, or 59 cents per share, in the first three months of 2012, beating the average forecast of analysts by a penny per share. It was up from $1.44 billion, or 51 cents per share, a year ago.

Revenue rose 4.6 percent to $28.2 billion from $27 billion a year ago, matching expectations.

Verizon shares rose 58 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $38.24 in afternoon trading. That is near the upper end of their 52-week range of $32.28 to $40.48 per share.

New York-based Verizon Communications owns 55 percent of Verizon Wireless, and the corresponding share of the wireless earnings flow to Verizon's bottom line. The rest goes to joint venture partner Vodafone Group PLC, a British phone company.

On the landline side, revenue continued to decline slowly as customers continue to cancel their phone and DSL lines. Verizon's cable-like FiOS service continued to attract customers, and Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said the company would stop selling DSL Internet service in areas where FiOS is available. DSL is slightly cheaper than FiOS Internet service, but much slower.

With the latest report, Verizon stopped reporting how many non-phone wireless devices connect to its network through wholesalers. Shammo said that's because Verizon no longer has a good handle on how many devices McDavid Waist Trimmer like "smart" utility meters actually have active connections.

Still, sales of smartphones dropped to 12 million in the first quarter, from 24 million a year earlier, while volume sales of cellphones fell to 83 million from 108 million in 2011.

"That was one of the biggest surprises - a 22 percent drop year-on-year," Mawston said. "Nokia is not only battling increased competition, they're also battling sharply falling prices."

Friday, 20-Apr-2012 01:47 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Microsoft Windows propels pleasant 3Q surprise

Microsoft produced a surprisingly strong quarter to start the year, pleasing investors looking forward to even bigger things from the software maker's much-anticipated overhaul of Windows operating system next fall.

The performance announced Thursday defied the conventional thinking that Microsoft would have trouble selling more Windows licenses as more people snapped up tablet computers, such as Apple Inc.'s trendsetting iPad, while other prospective personal computer buyers delayed making their purchases until the next version of Microsoft's operating system hits the market.

That didn't turn out to be the case during the three months ending in March as revenue at Microsoft's Windows division edged up by 4 percent from last year to $4.6 billion. Microsoft attributed the gain to an uptick in businesses who bought licenses for Windows 7. It marked only the second time in the past six quarters that Microsoft has registered a year-over-year gain in the Windows division.

"We're driving toward exciting launches across the entire company, while delivering strong financial results," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

High hopes are riding on the revamped system, Windows 8, because Microsoft designed it to run on devices that can be controlled by touch, as well as keyboards and computer mice. Syma S107 Helicopter That means Windows 8 can serve a dual purpose: it could help spur the development of sleeker PCs that spur more sales and also give Microsoft a chance to grab a piece of the rapidly growing tablet computer market.

Although Microsoft hasn't announced a target date yet, most analysts believe Windows 8 will go on sale in September or October.

Microsoft Corp. earned $5.1 billion, or 60 cents per share, during the period marking first three months of the year — the Redmond, Wash company's fiscal third quarter. That was a 2 percent decline from net income of $5.2 billion, or 61 cents per share, a year ago.

Last year's results were boosted by a tax benefit of $461 million, or 5 cents per share. Revenue rose 6 percent from last year to $17.4 billion

Analysts had anticipated earnings of 58 cents per share on revenue of $17.2 billion, according to a FactSet survey. Microsoft's shares gained 87 cents, Hoover Carpet Cleaner or nearly 3 percent, to $31.88 in Thursday's extended trading.

While the Windows division held up better than expected, one of Microsoft's recent strongholds weakened. The deterioration occurred in the entertainment division as Microsoft's shipments of its Xbox 360 video game console plunged by nearly 50 percent to 1.4 million units. The sagging demand occurred as more people are playing games on phones and tablet computers. Revenue in the entertainment division declined 16 percent from last year to $1.6 billion.

Microsoft's long-suffering online division, which has struggled for years to compete against Internet search leader Google Inc., managed to narrow its losses in the latest quarter. The division, which includes its Bing search engine, posted an operating loss of $479 million compared to a loss of $776 million at the same time last year. Microsoft's online revenue totaled $707 million, a 6 percent increase. By comparison, Google's revenue during the same period surged by 24 percent.

He said the company will get rid of noncore assets and focus on "making any necessary changes to our organization, structure or team," but gave no details. "We are navigating through a significant company Air Corn Popper transition in an industry environment that continues to evolve and shift quickly," Elop said.

The head of Nokia's global sales, Colin Giles, will leave after two years in the job, Nokia said, as it restructures the sales unit, "reducing a layer of sales management."

Nokia has been the leading handset maker since 1998, but after reaching a global goal of 40 percent market share in 2008 its share has shrunk to below 29 percent last year, when it sold some 419 million devices. It is expected to soon lose its status as the biggest maker of handsets.

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