Google Parent Alphabet Reports Strong Results on Mobile Ads, YouTube, Other Bets

Google Parent Alphabet Reports Strong Results on Mobile Ads, YouTube, Other Bets

Google’s parent company Alphabet on Thursday reported profit in the recently-ended quarter leapt as money poured in from ads delivered to mobile devices and returns improved on “other bets.”

Alphabet profit was up 32.4 percent to $6.7 billion (roughly Rs. 43,555 crores) on in the quarter on revenue that increased 24 percent to $27.8 billion (roughly Rs. 1,80,724 crores), up 24 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Chief financial officer Ruth Porat credited “strength across Google and Other Bets.”

The earnings topped market expectations, and Alphabet shares jumped in after-market trade on the Nasdaq exchange before concerns about growing expenses apparently caused them to settle back a bit to be up nearly 3 percent to $1,021.

“It is what everybody looks at every time: what is going on with expenses?” independent analyst Rob Enderle told AFP.

“For the most part they seem to be well managed, but you watch to make sure they remember they still have limits even though they are printing money.”

While mobile ads were a main area of growth, they brought with them higher traffic acquisition costs, pushing up Google expenses in a trend seen as unavoidable.

Investing in cloud services and artificial intelligence also means spending more on data centers to provide the massive computing power involved.

“I’ve been really proud of the progress this quarter; launching popular new products and continuing to grow our business in new areas,” Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said in an earnings call with analysts.

“It’s been particularly exciting to see our early bet on artificial intelligence pay off and go from a research project to something that can solve new problems for 1 billion people a day.”

YouTube continued to see “phenomenal growth” with more than 1.5 billion people spending an average of an hour a day watching videos there on mobile devices, and surging use on television screens in homes, according to Pichai.

He boasted of progress winning businesses over to Google services hosted in the internet cloud, where the company competes with Amazon and Microsoft in that market.

Pichai also said that opening day pre-orders for recently unveiled Pixel 2 smartphones were double that seen for the first-generation Pixel.

Google is “seriously committed to making hardware” as well as working with partners such as South Korean consumer electronics giant Samsung which is a major producer of smartphones powered by Android software made available free by the US Internet company.

“The intersection of hardware and software is how you drive computing forward,” Pichai said.

“I think it’s important we thoughtfully put our opinion forward.”

Smartphones and other devices “made by Google” can showcase the potential of its Android and Chrome software, setting a bar for partners.

Moonshots
A corporate reorganisation started two years ago created Alphabet, which has holdings including cash-engine Google and ventures devoted to innovative “moonshots” such as Waymo self-driving car unit and a Loon project for delivering internet service from high-altitude balloons.

Subsidiaries other than Google were put into an “other bets” group which saw revenue in the quarter rise to $302 million (roughly Rs. 1,963 crores) from $197 million (roughly Rs. 1,280 crores) during the same three-month period last year.

Google ads accounted for the bulk of Alphabet revenue, contributing $27.47 billion (roughly Rs. 1,80,369 crores), according to the earnings release.

Alphabet earlier this year spun off a little-known unit working on geothermal power called Dandelion, which will begin offering residential energy services.

Dandelion chief executive Kathy Hannun said her team had been working for several years “to make it easier and more affordable to heat and cool homes with the clean, free, abundant, and renewable energy source right under our feet,” and that the efforts culminated in the creation of an independent company outside of Alphabet.

Meanwhile, Alphabet’s life sciences unit Verily announced a study to track people for years, right down to their genetics, in a quest for insights into staying healthy.

Alphabet also owns Nest, which recently expanded its line-up of smart home devices to include a security system.

Nest, Fiber, and Verily were said to be top performing other bets in the quarter.

Waymo on Thursday announced plans to begin testing self-driving cars in notoriously troublesome ice and snow conditions in the US state of Michigan this winter.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

iPhone 8 Plus Allegedly Splits Open While Charging, Apple ‘Looking Into’ Reports

iPhone 8 Plus Allegedly Splits Open While Charging, Apple 'Looking Into' Reports

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Only two cases have been reported so far
  • iPhone 8 Plus battery being blamed
  • Apple is “looking into” the issue

Apple is said to be investigating two reported cases of iPhone 8 Plus ‘splitting open’ thanks to swollen batteries, which have been circulating on the social media. The news comes merely few days after the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus went for sale in several markets. Reports have emerged from Taiwan and Japan.

Apple has confirmed that it is “looking into” the two reports where the iPhone 8 Plus casing opened up, according to The Independent. For now, the Cupertino-based giant declined to further comment on the issue. It’s not certain what caused the problem, and it’s being thought to be a battery failure, which causes it to swell up.

A Taiwan-based report by ifeng, shared by The Next Web, last week claimed that a iPhone 8 Plus unit cracked open while charging, possibly due to a swollen battery.

ifeng claims that iPhone 8 Plus faulty battery was reported by a woman named Wu, who renewed her phone contract and bought 64GB Rose Gold iPhone 8 Plus. Wu noticed the swollen battery five days after purchase when the handset was plugged for charging. Notably, the faulty iPhone 8 Plus battery issue has been reported by Wu who was using the bundled charger and adaptor. The report adds Wu noticed the front panel bulging out just after three minutes of charge, and it finally came completely off from the device. The report claims that the iPhone 8 Plus unit was replaced and has been sent to Apple for investigation.

In another similar incident, a Japanese iPhone 8 Plus user noticed the screen eventually detaching from the chassis possibly due to swollen battery issue. The Japanese user shared images of the faulty unit on Twitter which attracted over 14,000 retweets.

For now, there are just two reports of isolated incidents, so it’s best to wait for the results of the company’s investigation into the issue before jumping to conclusions about the iPhone 8 Plus, and possible similarities with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which was recalled last year due a fire hazard related to the battery.

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Sony Reports Record Profits on Sales on Image Sensors

Sony Reports Record Profits on Sales on Image Sensors

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Success of Spider-Man: Homecoming has fuelled hopes of a rise in earnings
  • Profit increased 2.8 times to JPY 157.61 billion
  • The profit surge comes mainly from Sony’s image sensor business

Japan’s Sony on Tuesday reported its highest-ever first-quarter operating profit, taking the electronics giant one step toward its highest annual profit in two decades on the back of robust sales of image sensors.

In a vote of confidence for Sony’s turnaround under Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai, the firm’s shares have risen by around 40 percent this year to nine-year highs.

The box-office success of its Spider-Man: Homecoming (Review) film has also fuelled hopes of a rise in earnings for Sony’s pictures business, which is working through a restructuring plan.

Profit increased 2.8 times to JPY 157.61 billion ($1.43 billion or roughly Rs. 9,164 crores) in April-June, exceeding the previous first-quarter record of JPY 121.3 billion set in 2007.

The result compared with a Thomson Reuters Starmine SmartEstimate of JPY 129.14 billion drawn from 10 analyst views.

The profit surge comes mainly as Sony’s image sensor business returned to stability having recovered from earthquake damage sustained a year ago, the company said.

Sony’s semiconductor division, which includes image sensors, posted an operating profit of 55.4 billion yen, reversing the year-earlier loss of JPY 43.5 billion, as operations at a key plant fully resumed to meet brisk demand for image sensors for smartphones.

The consumer electronics business was also profitable as it focused on high-end television sets and smartphones without seeking to increase in scale.

Together, strong performance across Sony’s divisions is pushing profit to golden-era levels. Nevertheless, analysts said the firm is yet to find long-term drivers of growth.

With the future in mind, Sony is using its newly recovered financial strength to venture into acquisitions. On Monday, it said it had bought most of the distributor of the English-language versions of Dragon Ball Z and One Piece animations.

The firm maintained its profit forecast of JPY 500 billion for the year ending March.

While that is below the market’s average forecast of JPY 562.19 billion, it would still be the highest since the company made JPY 526 billion in the year ended March 1998, when it enjoyed strong sales of its first PlayStation games console and other electronics. It also benefited from box-office hit Men in Black.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Spotify Signs Sony Royalty Deal While Warner Holds Out: Reports

Spotify Signs Sony Royalty Deal While Warner Holds Out: Reports

Spotify has reached a licensing deal with a second major label, Sony Music Entertainment, according to media reports, setting the stage for a US stock market listing by the music streaming leader.

Recently valued at $13 billion (roughly Rs. 83,810 crores), Sweden’s Spotify is planning a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange later this year or in early 2018, sources told Reuters in May.

Sony agreed to reduce royalties that Spotify must pay in return for the streaming service restricting new albums to paying subscribers for two weeks before offering access to free users, the Financial Times reported, citing a single source.

Sony’s top artists include Adele, Beyonce and Shakira.

Spotify is also in talks with Warner Music Group , Billboard reported.

Favourable royalty terms are crucial for Spotify to attain profitability and to make it a viable long-term holding for investors.

The company reported a EUR 349 million ($400 million) operating loss, a 47 percent increase on a year earlier, even as revenue grew 50 percent to EUR 2.93 billion.

In April, it signed a multi-year licensing deal with Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, with a similar two-week release window for new albums and a break on the royalties Spotify pays Universal.

It also signed up digital agency Merlin, on behalf of more than 20,000 independent labels.

Last year, Universal held a 28.9 percent share of global music label revenue, Sony Music generated 22.4 percent and Warner 17.4 percent. Independent labels made up the remaining 31.3 percent, MIDiA Research data showed.

Spotify has fended off competition from rival Apple Music, with nearly double the number of paying subscribers.

In March, Spotify said it had more than 50 million paying subscribers and 140 million active users, including free listeners. Apple reported 27 million music subscribers last month, up from 20 million in December.

The company has faced boycotts from some top music artists who have complained its free services undercut the value of their work but the major label licensing deals have gone some way toward easing these tensions, according to analysts.

Spotify declined to comment. Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group did not respond to requests for immediate comment.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]