Nokia: From Losses to Profit in One Year

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Nokia, which was more than $1 billion in the red at this time last year is now boasting a $269 million profit and an 11 percent rise in net sales in its fourth quarter report for 2012.

The Finnish firm’s profit — aided by cutting 20,000 jobs — was mustered despite declining revenue that dipped from $13.32 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011 to $10.66 billion last quarter, the report revealed.

Nokia garnered $40.24 billion in sales, a 22 percent decrease from the $51.56 billion it generated in 2011. The company’s 2012 operating profit was down to a $3.06 billion loss — in 2011 it had a $1.47 billion loss.

Nokia’s devices division was bolstered by strong holiday sales of its Smartphones — 6.6 million devices. The firm moved a total of 15.9 million devices in the fourth quarter: 9.3 million Asha devices, 4.4 million Lumia handsets and 2.2 million Symbian devices. Although the firm sold 20 million Smartphones in the same quarter the previous year, the average sale price of its handsets has increased with the improvement in the devices.

“We are very encouraged that our team’s execution against our business strategy has started to translate into financial results,” said CEO Stephen Elop in a statement.  “Most notably we are pleased that Nokia Group reached underlying operating profitability in the fourth quarter and for the full year 2012.

“While the first half of 2012 was difficult for Nokia Group, in Q4 2012 we strengthened our financial position, improved our underlying operating margin in Devices & Services, introduced the HERE brand to expand our mapping and location experiences, and drove record profitability in Nokia Siemens Networks,” he added. “We remain focused on moving through our transition, which includes continuing to improve our product competitiveness, accelerate the way we operate and manage our costs effectively. All of these efforts are aimed at improving our financial performance and delivering more value to our shareholders.”

Nokia received a lift from its network equipment business, Nokia Siemens Networks. Rigorous cost reductions and a surge in sales translated into the firm’s highest operating margin since it was created six years ago.

The company reported a increase in net cash, which was up 22 percent on last quarter to $5.86 billion — money that the firm sorely needed after eating up a substantial sum to pay for its transition over the last year-and-a-half. One such change was ditching its in-house phone software, Symbian, and switching to Microsoft’s Windows platform.

In an added bid to save more money, Nokia has cancelled the 2012 dividend. The company paid $0.27 per share in 2011.

 

 

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Nokia: From Losses to Profit in One Year

Amazon Acquires Text-to-Speech Company Ivona Software

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Amazon.com is all talk these days — the e-retail giant has acquired leading text-to-speech technology company Ivona Software for an undisclosed sum.

The purchase is a clear bid by Amazon to pick up some talent to continue its push into the tablet market.

The companies have worked together in the past — Kindle Fire tablets have featured Ivona’s text-to-speech, voice guide and explore-by-touch technology.

“For more than 10 years, the Ivona team has been focused on creating innovative text-to-speech technologies,” said CEO and co-founder of Ivona Lukasz Osowski in a statement. “We are all thrilled that Amazon is supporting our growth so that we can continue to innovate and deliver exceptional voice and language support for our customers.”

Ivona also delivers text-to-speech products and services to thousands of developers, businesses and customers globally. It offers voice and language portfolios with 44 voices in 17 languages and has more in development.

“Ivona’s exceptional text-to-speech technology leads the industry in natural voice quality, accuracy and ease of use,” said Amazon Kindle vice-president Dave Limp in a press release. “Ivona is already instrumental in helping us deliver excellent accessibility features on Kindle Fire, including text-to-speech, voice guide and explore by touch.

“The Ivona team shares our passion for innovation and customer obsession, and we look forward to building great products to deliver world-class voice solutions to customers around the world.”

Amazon has pitted itself firmly against Apple in recent months, touting its Kindle Fire HD over the iPad Mini, saying it offers “much more for much less.”

The iPad Mini sells for $329 while the Kindle Fire HD retails for $199.

A number of companies — Amazon, Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and Barnes & Noble to name a few — are going head-to-head in a bid to dominate the lucrative tablet market.

Amazon has kept its tablet prices low to entice consumers away from pricier options like the iPad, Microsoft’s Surface or Samsung’s Galaxy Note. And, with the Ivona purchase, Amazon will have the ability to take on its rivals’ voice recognition systems as well: Apple’s Siri, Samsung’s S Voice, Google Actions and Microsoft’s TellMe.

Enhanced tablets are surely on the way. Perhaps an Amazon Smartphone is around the bend.

 

 

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Amazon Acquires Text-to-Speech Company Ivona Software

Microsoft Profits Drop in Q2 Despite Record Sales

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Microsoft reported record sales due to Windows 8 and other new products, but it wasn’t enough to keep the company’s profits from dropping.

The software giant announced a second-quarter revenue of $21.46 billion Jan. 24 — that’s up three percent from the same quarter last year. Operating income, however, dipped to $7.7 billion — a three percent year-over-year decline and profits were down four percent to $6.38 billion.

The company’s results failed to meet analysts’ expectations of $21.53 billion in revenue.

“Our big, bold ambition to re-imagine Windows as well as launch Surface and Windows Phone 8 has sparked growing enthusiasm with our customers and unprecedented opportunity and creativity with our partners and developers,” said CEO Steve Ballmer in a press release. “With new Windows devices, including Surface Pro, and the new Office on the horizon, we’ll continue to drive excitement for the Windows ecosystem and deliver our software through devices and services people love and businesses need.”

The Windows division posted revenue of $5.88 billion, a 24 percent increase from the period the previous year. Adjusting for the net deferral of revenue for the Windows Upgrade Offer and the recognition of the previously deferred revenue from Windows 8 Pre-sales, Windows division non-GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) revenue increased 11 percent for the second quarter. Microsoft has sold more than 60 million Windows 8 licenses to date.

The business division posted $5.69 billion in revenue, a 10 percent decrease from the prior year period. Both the online services division and the entertainment and devices division enjoyed an 11 percent increase in revenue — online services to $869 million and entertainment to $3.77 billion.

“We see strong momentum in our enterprise business. With the launch of SQL Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012, we continue to see healthy growth in our data platform and infrastructure businesses and win share from our competitors,” said chief operating officer Kevin Turner.

“With the coming launch of the new Office, we will provide a cloud-enabled suite of products that will deliver unparalleled productivity and flexibility.”

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Microsoft Profits Drop in Q2 Despite Record Sales

Sony Fined $390,000 for PlayStation Data Hack

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Sony has been hit with a record $390,000 fine by the U.K.’s privacy watchdog after hackers posted online millions of Playstation gamers’ passwords and credit card numbers in April 2011.

The U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which described the breach as “one of the most serious” it has dealt with under the Data Protection Act, slapped Sony with the maximum fine. ICO investigators determined the hacks could have been prevented if Sony had kept its network software updated and had better secured customers’ private information.

The hack left consumers wide open to identity theft due to the exposure of names, addresses, e-mail addresses, dates of birth and account passwords.

“If you are responsible for so many payment card details and log-in details then keeping that personal data secure has to be your priority,” said ICO deputy commissioner and director of data protection David Smith in the Information Commissioner’s finding.

“In this case that just didn’t happen, and when the database was targeted — albeit in a determined criminal attack — the security measures in place were simply not good enough … There’s no disguising that this is a business that should have known better. It is a company that trades on its technical expertise, and there’s no doubt in my mind that they had access to both the technical knowledge and the resources to keep this information safe.”

Although it has not been revealed how many Sony customers were impacted, it is thought upward of 100 million users may have been affected.

Sony issued a statement to GameSpot, indicating it will fight the ICO’s ruling.

The statement reads:

“Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) strongly disagrees with the ICO’s ruling and is planning an appeal. SCEE notes, however, that the ICO recognizes Sony was the victim of ‘a focused and determined criminal attack,’ that ‘there is no evidence that encrypted payment card details were accessed,’ and that ‘personal data is unlikely to have been used for fraudulent purposes’ following the attack on the PlayStation Network. Criminal attacks on electronic networks are a real and growing aspect of 21st century life and Sony continually works to strengthen our systems, building in multiple layers of defense and working to make our networks safe, secure and resilient. The reliability of our network services and the security of our consumers’ information are of the utmost importance to us, and we are appreciative that our network services are used by even more people around the world today than at the time of the criminal attack.”

 

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Sony Fined $390,000 for PlayStation Data Hack

Technology News Briefs — Jan. 25, 2013

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Samsung Planning $149-$199 Tablet: News Reports

Samsung is planning the launch of three tablets this year — seven-, eight- and 10.1-inch models — as well as a series of ultrabooks, according to news reports.

The big news, however, is the seven-inch device will sell for as low as $149 to $199 and the eight-inch model is expected to retail for  $249 to $299. Both tablets will, no doubt, appeal to the price-conscious and give Apple’s $329 iPad Mini a run for its money.

According to the Digitimes, the seven-inch and 10.1-inch tablets will both hit the market in the first half of this year to avoid directly competing against Apple’s offerings that are expected to come out in the second half.

Twitter Launches Video Service

Twitter is debuting Vine, a new service that allows users to effortlessly post and share short videos.

“Today, we’re introducing Vine: a mobile service that lets you capture and share short looping videos,” reads a Twitter blog post. “Like Tweets, the brevity of videos on Vine (6 seconds or less) inspires creativity. Now that you can easily capture motion and sound, we look forward to seeing what you create.”

Vine was acquired by Twitter before its official launch for an undisclosed sum.

“Our companies share similar values and goals; like Twitter, we want to make it easier for people to come together to share and discover what’s happening in the world,” reads a blog post by Vine co-founder and general manager Dom Hofmann. “We also believe constraint inspires creativity, whether it’s through a 140-character Tweet or a six-second video.”

Hofmann says posts on Vine are all about brevity.

Vine, which is available for free on iPhone and iPod touch, can be downloaded at the App Store. Twitter says it is working to bring the service to other platforms.

Vine is also available for use by those without Twitter accounts.

Anonymous Hackers Get Jail Time for DDoS Attacks

The two British men found guilty of carrying out cyber attacks on PayPal, Mastercard and Visa for Anonymous, a group of hackers, were jailed Jan. 24.

Christopher Weatherhead, 22, was jailed for 18 months while 28-year-old Ashley Rhodes received a seven-month sentence.

Weatherhead and Rhodes carried out distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on PayPal effectively immobilizing its computer systems by inundating it with online requests. The attack cost PayPal $5.53 million. Mastercard and Visa were also targeted.

Co-defendant Peter Gibson was handed a six-month sentence that was suspended for two years while yet another defendant, 18-year-old Jake Birchall, will be sentenced Feb. 1. Both were believed to have had only a small role in the attacks, according to the BBC.

Court heard the websites victimized by the attacks were hand-picked by Anonymous, as part of ‘Operation Payback,’ BBC reported. The operation was a way for the hackers to take action against companies whose views they did not agree with.

 

 

 

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Technology News Briefs — Jan. 25, 2013