NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Facebook (FB_) CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed the company’s thinking process around its three, five and ten year strategy in a conference call with analysts to explain the social network’s $2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR, a virtual reality platform that venture capital investors in the company compare to Silicon Valley’s biggest breakthroughs such as the Apple (AAPL_) II, the iPhone, the Macintosh, Netscape and Google (GOOG_).
Investors puzzling over Facebook’s apparent entrance into virtual reality may be heartened by the clearer picture of the company’s medium-to-long-term thinking provided by CEO Zuckerberg. They also may be comforted by Zuckerberg’s increasing confidence that Facebook has solved its problems in bringing more than 1 billion monthly active users (MAUs) to mobile devices.
Those two developments, expressed on Tuesday evening in a call with analysts, may have more bearing on Facebook’s share price than the immediate impact of the Oculus VR acquisition. The company Facebook is acquiring is still in the process of developing its next generation product after using crowd-funding platform Kickstarter to raise $2.4 million to develop its first product, Oculus Rift.
While Facebook is shelling out $400 million in cash and $1.6 billion in stock for Oculus VR, in addition to an additional $300 million earn-out in cash and stock incentives, Oculus VR is unlikely to have any impact on the company’s earnings in the next few years.
On Tuesday, Facebook was unwilling to provide specific financial guidance on the acquisition or how it came upon a price, but CFO David Ebersman noted that the company focused on the games business because it’s the furthest along. It is worth noting no bankers were hired to advise Facebook’s acquisition, indicating CEO Mark Zuckerberg is confident he can be an effective dealmaker in Silicon Valley.
In the last year or so, there has been a noticeable slowdown in innovations in new smartphones — with both hardware and software.
In a five-year smartphone forecast through 2018 released last week, research firm IDC noted: “It has been widely acknowledged that the pace of innovation on smartphones has slowed down, even reached a plateau. Indeed, many of the new innovations launched in 2013 appeared to be incremental improvements on a theme, and it was questionable whether many of them would have lasting value.”
With smartphone innovation flattening, the next direction seems to be making the smartphone the hub — connected via Bluetooth, primarily — to emerging technologies. These systems include smartwatches, other wearable devices and everything in the much larger ecosystem of home appliances, cars and other products that, when connected, would comprise what’s being called the Internet of Things.
While this slowdown in innovation has been widely recognized, marketers for smartphone vendors still trumpet their devices’ new features at large-scale events where the latest products are unveiled amid hype that overstates the new capabilities. Samsung, for example, hired a live orchestra to play on an elaborate stage for the launch of its Galaxy S5 smartphone at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona in late February. The event was attended by thousands. The Galaxy S5 will ship April 11.
Tuesday’s launch of the expected HTC One M8 has been preceded by online videos and plenty of hype touting a phone that has a 5-in. full HD screen (larger than the one on last year’s HTC One), two rear camera sensors for taking better photos, a Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM for greater speed.
Before shouting in the social streets that the world’s largest tech company has a lower Klout score than you, take into consideration that Apple isn’t really on Twitter. The handle with its name has never tweeted, followed a user, filled out a bio or updated the default avatar. For all we know, the inactive account doesn’t even belong to Apple.
Why does the most valuable U.S. company by market cap insist on not joining Twitter?
For the record, Apple manages Twitter accounts that represent divisions within the company: @iTunesMusic has 5.4 million followers; @AppStore has 2.4 million; @iTunesTrailers has 2.3 million; and another nine accounts have a combined 2.5 million followers.
Some of the largest Internet companies — including Apple, Yahoo, Google and Microsoft — are rushing to either acquire or strike licensing deals with smaller, location-based mobile platforms. The trend underscores the importance of location data for ad-targeting purposes and illustrates how large platforms are trying to avoid being left behind as the Web becomes increasingly mobile.
Local advertising spend on digital, for instance, is expected to grow to $35.3 billion in 2015 from $30.7 billion in 2014, a 14.9 percent increase, according to a November 2013 BIA/Kelsey study. Those figure don’t even account for the $105 billion local ad dollars that will keep going to traditional media annually from 2014 to 2017.
Here are the acquisition and data licensing deals you need to know about:
Yahoo and Yelp
Marissa Mayer’s quest to make Yahoo mobile first most recently entailed striking a deal with local business review site Yelp. The partnership, arranged last week, will mean Yelp’s local business listings and accompanying customer reviews will start appearing in Yahoo’s search results.
FRAMINGHAM, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The smartphone market passed an important milestone in 2013 when worldwide shipments surpassed the 1 billion mark for the first time, driven by continued momentum from Android and iOS. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC)Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, Android and iOS accounted for 95.7% of all smartphone shipments in the fourth quarter of 2013 (4Q13), and for 93.8% of all smartphone shipments for the year. This marked a 4.5-point increase from the 91.2% share that the two platforms shared in 4Q12, and a 6.1-point increase from the 87.7% share they had in 2012.
“In 2013 we saw the sub-$200 smartphone market grow to 42.6% of global volume, or 430 million units”
“Clearly, there was strong end-user demand for both Android and iOS products during the quarter and the year,” says Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC’s Mobile Phone team. “What stands out are the different routes Android and Apple took to meet this demand. Android relied on its long list of OEM partners, a broad and deep collection of devices, and price points that appealed to nearly every market segment. Apple’s iOS, on the other hand, relied on nearly the opposite approach: a limited selection of Apple-only devices, whose prices trended higher than most. Despite these differences, both platforms found a warm reception to their respective user experiences and selection of mobile applications.”
While smartphone market growth remained strong in 2013, it should be noted that the era of double-digit annual growth has only a few years remaining. In the meantime, handset vendors are doing all they can to capture demand while it is still present. Worldwide smartphone marketing campaigns continue to stay focused on flagship devices like the iPhone 5S, Galaxy Note 3, and the HTC One, yet research shows that consumer buying is rapidly shifting toward products with significantly lower price points.
The smartphone market’s been kind of a mess lately.
Between Apple’s big iPhone shortfall, the slowdown at Samsung and the financial messes at HTC, BlackBerry and Motorola, there just hasn’t been much good news out there.
If that sounds depressing, then stop reading now because the tablet market looks like it just hit the skids, too.
Before we go further, let’s remember that we’re dealing with a single data point here, so take any associated doom-and-gloom forecasts you may hear with a grain of salt.
Let’s get to it.
So Wednesday morning, our friends at IDC reported that the tablet market grew by just 28.2 percent in Q4.
IDC filled us in on the problems:
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that markets such as the US are reaching high levels of consumer saturation, and while emerging markets continue to show strong growth, this has not been enough to sustain the dramatic worldwide growth rates of years past,” said Tom Mainelli, Research Director, Tablets, at IDC. “We expect commercial purchases of tablets to continue to accelerate in mature markets, but softness in the consumer segment — brought about by high penetration rates and increased competition for the consumer dollar — point to a more challenging environment for tablets in 2014 and beyond.”
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – The worldwide smartphone market reached yet another milestone, having shipped one billion units in a single year for the first time. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped a total of 1,004.2 million smartphones worldwide, up 38.4% from the 725.3 million units in 2012. This aligns with IDC’s most recent forecast of 1,010.4 million units, making for a difference of less than 1%. Smartphones accounted for 55.1% of all mobile phone shipments in 2013, up from the 41.7% of all mobile phone shipments in 2012. In the fourth quarter of 2013 (4Q13), vendors shipped a total of 284.4 million smartphones worldwide, up 24.2% from the 229.0 million units shipped in 4Q12.
In the worldwide mobile phone market (inclusive of smartphones), vendors shipped 1,821.8 million units, up 4.8% from the 1,738.1 million units shipped 2012. In 4Q13 alone, vendors shipped a total of 488.4 million units worldwide, up 0.9% from the 484.0 million units shipped in 4Q12. This is 2.8% lower than the 502.4 million units that IDC had recently forecast.
“The sheer volume and strong growth attest to the smartphone’s continued popularity in 2013,” says Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC’s Mobile Phoneteam. “Total smartphone shipments reached 494.4 million units worldwide in 2011, and doubling that volume in just two years demonstrates strong end-user demand and vendor strategies to highlight smartphones.”
“Among the top trends driving smartphone growth are large screen devices and low cost,” said Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “Of the two, I have to say that low cost is the key difference maker. Cheap devices are not the attractive segment that normally grabs headlines, but IDC data shows this is the portion of the market that is driving volume. Markets like China and India are quickly moving toward a point where sub-$150 smartphones are the majority of shipments, bringing a solid computing experience to the hands of many.