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Friday, February 26, 2010

Palm Sales Flatter Than Expected - Carriers Put Hold On Orders

According to the Wall Street Journal Blog, Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein has sent a memo to employees regarding lower than forecast sales and as the result a freeze on orders from some of it's carrier partners. This is apparently the memo:

This morning we announced preliminary results for our 2010 third quarter. Since the quarter has not yet closed, it is too soon to offer exact numbers, but we stated that we expect to report revenues for Q3 between $300 and $320 million. We also announced that we expect our revenue for this fiscal year to fall below the guidance we gave to Wall Street, which ranged from $1.6 to $1.8 billion. As we mentioned in our press release, our softer than expected performance is due to slower than expected customer adoption of our products, which in turn has prompted our U.S. carrier partners to put additional orders on hold for the time being. On a positive note, we expect to exit the quarter with over $500 million in cash on our balance sheet. We’re scheduled to announce our full financial results in March.

I realize this news is difficult to swallow. We made this announcement today to prevent a surprise for Wall Street when we announce quarterly earnings in March. In the meantime, the entire executive team has been working extremely hard to improve product performance, and have implemented a number of initiatives to increase awareness and drive sales.

Dave Whalen and I just returned from a very successful meeting with Verizon Wireless, where they acknowledged that their execution of our launch was below expectations and recommitted to working with us to improve sales. To accelerate sales, we initiated Project JumpStart nearly three weeks ago. Since then, nearly two hundred Palm Brand Ambassadors, supplemented by Palm employees from Sunnyvale, have been training Verizon sales reps across the U.S. on our products. Early results from the stores have already shown improvement on product knowledge and sales week over week. You may have also seen a growing number of Palm ads on billboards, bus shelters, buses, and subway stations—all getting the word out about Palm.

All of these efforts are examples of how we are working to accelerate adoption and grow distribution of webOS. In the next few weeks, your management will work with you to make sure your priorities are laser-focused, primarily on helping to increase sales, improve product quality and differentiate the Palm product experience.

Our goals are taking longer than expected to achieve, but I am still confident that our talented team has what it takes to get the job done.

We’ll schedule an all-hands meeting after our earnings announcement in March, and I’ll be happy to answer your questions.

Go team!!!
While I've heard good things about the Palm Pre, and a friend who uses one is quite smitten with his, I've been wary of recommending it to those inclined to ask my opinion. The reason being that this appears to be a last ditch effort for Palm, one that may or may not bring the company out of the shadow of the larger players. If it were unsuccessful, as it appears may be the case, where does that leave the consumer and for that matter the developers of apps. Secondly Palm is late to the game, a one time leader in the market, Palm has much time to make up and apps are slow to appear, again perhaps because of lack of consumer interest and therefore lack of developer interest. Competition is a good thing, and I hope that Palm is able to turn sales around, the question is can it be done soon enough to grab enough interest and make Palm a player again? 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Google Fighting Italian Courts Decision On Behalf Of Employees

In a post on The Official Google Blog titled "Serious threat to the web in Italy" criminal defamation and a failure to comply with the Italian privacy code. The case involves a video that was posted to Google Video that showed school children bullying an autistic classmate. The video was taken down within hours of it's posting and Google worked with local authorities to identify those involved in the incident. However a judge in Milan convicted 3 of the 4 defendants for failure to comply with the Italian privacy code while all 4 were found not guilty of criminal defamation.

"In essence this ruling means that employees of hosting platforms like Google Video are criminally responsible for content that users upload. We will appeal this astonishing decision because the Google employees on trial had nothing to do with the video in question. Throughout this long process, they have displayed admirable grace and fortitude. It is outrageous that they have been subjected to a trial at all.

But we are deeply troubled by this conviction for another equally important reason. It attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built. Common sense dictates that only the person who films and uploads a video to a hosting platform could take the steps necessary to protect the privacy and obtain the consent of the people they are filming. European Union law was drafted specifically to give hosting providers a safe harbor from liability so long as they remove illegal content once they are notified of its existence. The belief, rightly in our opinion, was that a notice and take down regime of this kind would help creativity flourish and support free speech while protecting personal privacy. If that principle is swept aside and sites like Blogger, YouTube and indeed every social network and any community bulletin board, are held responsible for vetting every single piece of content that is uploaded to them — every piece of text, every photo, every file, every video — then the Web as we know it will cease to exist, and many of the economic, social, political and technological benefits it brings could disappear.

These are important points of principle, which is why we and our employees will vigorously appeal this decision."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Microsoft To Make Heavy Cloud Computing Investment, Expecting No Real Returns For 2 To 3 Years

"From the perspective of investment internally, interest from customers and engagement clearly the cloud will be an area of focus," Bob Muglia, the president of the server and tools business said on Tuesday. "But in the next two to three years that is not what will drive financial growth in server and tools. It is essentially zero percent of our current operating revenue."

The company which only this month began billing users of its Azure cloud platform environment expects that it's revenue drivers will continue to be Windows Server and SQL Server, in the short run. "The big dogs are driving it, but the rest of the portfolio is doing well." said Muglia.

More at

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Social Networks As Money Transfer Brokers?

Wired has a fascinating new article "The Future of Money: It's Flexible, Frictionless, and (Almost) Free" which takes a look at the growing number of methods to exchange money online. Way beyond PayPal, credit card companies and the banks themselves, payment systems are coming online at a furious pace attempting to strip down the fees and dethrone the venerable stalwarts of the industry. Utilizing social sites and the opened up engines some of the largest online retailers, developers are finding new ways of exchanging cash and making it more cost effective.

It's a lengthy article but well worth the read if you are wondering how money will be exchanged in the future... and dare I say, the future is nigh!

Here's a sample:

"Whatever the future of payments looks like, it will probably be brought about by people like Christian Lanng. A tall and wide 31-year-old with a booming, operatic voice, Lanng is sitting on the couch of his venture backer’s house in Copenhagen. When he talks about the way banks and credit card companies process payments, he gets so upset that his entire body tenses and his voice rises until it’s echoing off the stark white walls. “This is the main battleground of capitalism!” he says. “This is the heart of it.”" 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Keeping A Finger On The Pulse Of The Olympics, One Tweet At A Time

NBC Sports together with Stamen Design have created a real-time visualization of the Olympic discussion on Twitter, similar to a feature I've viewed before on CNet news, I believe. The tool tracks the chatter and by monitoring keywords popping up on the social networking service. The more discussion on a particular topic, the larger the image displayed in the tool. Twitter Tracker continually scans and updates, clicking on an image will drill down on the topic and display the most recent tweets. I imagine there may be a lot of minimized browser windows pointed at Twitter Tracker... and much to my surprise and delight the dominant topic this morning as I write this is Curling! Either there are a lot of us curlers on Twitter or this Olympics is doing a lot for the profile of the sport.

EH, OH, Canada Go!