[U] Is Microsoft paying $13 for each Skype user?

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier tonight that Microsoft–in what would be its most aggressive acquisition in the digital space–was zeroing in on buying Skype for $8.5 billion all in with an assumption of the Luxembourg-based company’s debt.

Sources told BoomTown tonight that the deal for the online telephony and video communications giant is actually done and will be announced early tomorrow morning.

The purchase–which has been spearheaded in closely held negotiations by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, with an assist from top dealmaker Charles Songhurst–is a bold move for the software giant and its biggest acquisition in more than three decades.

This deal is utter madness. Microsoft’s only option to make this deal work is to monetize Skype (and its other VOIP services) in ways that Skype itself already knows will only lead to alienation of its users, and a mass exodus from the service. Despite all the reliable sources confirming this story, I still find it hard to believe that even Ballmer is this dumb, or this desperate.

Apple, with their strong presence in mobile and Facetime, must be turning backflips right now. Not to mention the other existing VOIP companies out there (who have always had Skype as their main competitor), including Google.

The big price will give Microsoft–which has struggled in its online efforts and has lost billions of dollars for its work–a big brand name on the Web.

With Skype, which has been aggressively expanding, Microsoft will continue to lose money in its Internet efforts. Skype lost $7 million on revenue of $860 million. Operating profits, which Skype preferred to highlight, were $264 million.

And–let us not forget–Skype’s debt is $686 million. Silver lining: That’s slightly less than Microsoft’s Online Services division losses in its most recent quarter!

But, sources said, the concept is bigger than just money, including getting access to Skype’s 663 million registered users.

From All Things D

Are we really expected to believe that Microsoft is paying $13 per registered Skype user, and assuming all the companies debts to boot?

Good luck with that. Skype is simply going to disappear, along with a huge chunk of Microsoft’s remaining cash hoard and credibility.

The only good thing to come from this is that Ballmer will finally be ousted from the company.

UPDATE : Bloomberg are reporting that Skype only has around 170 million active users. Which would mean that Microsoft could be paying around $52 for each of them!

Posted: May 10th, 2011
Categories: Microsoft, News
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Imagination Technologies : PowerVR GPUs

Apple’s new A5 processor features a dual core PowerVR SGX 543 – the same graphics tech that’s set to be featured in the forthcoming Sony NGP, the difference being that the new PlayStation portable will double the core count, bringing an unprecedented amount of graphical power to the mobile space.

Firstly, where we are at right now…

Secondly, an interview which gives us some perspective on where we are going…

Two great resources for those of us that are excited about the future of mobile gaming.

Posted: April 13th, 2011
Categories: Apple, GPU, PSP, Sony, ipad
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3DS Sales Have “Slowed Considerably”

Sales of the Nintendo 3DS have “slowed considerably” since the initial launch, according to analysts, with predictions suggesting the new portable will not match the success of the DS.

“Based on our recent checks, we believe that sales of the 3DS have slowed considerably since the initial launch window, although the Easter holiday could provide a near-term boost,” said Lazazrd Capital Markets’ Colin Sebastian, according to IndustryGamers.

Not suprising. It will come down to what unique games are available for the unit while it is competing with the DS.

When it inevitably replaces the DS, sales will most likely pick up. But the ’3D’ part of the ’3DS’ is a gimmick.

Posted: April 12th, 2011
Categories: Nintendo
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The Future of Space Sims…

Posted: April 11th, 2011
Categories: Games, Media, PS3, PlayStation, Space
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Jobs Re-Elected to Disney Board…

Walt Disney Co. (DIS) investors re- elected Apple Inc. (AAPL) Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs to the board of the entertainment company, rejecting the views of proxy advisers who say health issues may impair his ability to serve.

Thankfully real investors have carried the correct decision again. I can only assume that the same fuck-wits who wanted to cripple Apple’s strategic planning by forcing it to announce a succession plan were also behind the move to block Steve Jobs’ re-election at Disney.

Posted: March 24th, 2011
Categories: Apple, News
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Fukushima in Plain English…

First, at magnitude 9.0, this was one of the top ten strongest earthquakes in recorded history.  (Wow!)  The subsequent tsunamis, combined with the earthquake, make this one of the worst natural disasters EVER.  (Also Japan is apparently having a minor problem with a volcano, now.  Guys can’t catch a break.)

The reactors were designed 40 years ago, and in 2008 were certified for ground motion corresponding to about a magnitude 6.7 earthquake right under the plant.[11]  The reason this ground motion was selected was that Japan’s regulatory agency expected (rightly so!) that a ground motion stronger than that had a chance of happening only once in 10,000 years.  We lost the statistical gamble on that one.

One of the best plain English explanations of what has happened, and is likely to happen at Fukushima.

Posted: March 17th, 2011
Categories: News
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“Nuclear Boy” : うんち・おならで例える原発解説

If you are still having problems deciphering the inane babble about Fukushima, from so called “experts” on international news networks, then this cartoon actually does a better job than any panel of guests on a news show has done to date…

Stick with it. It’s worth it.

Posted: March 17th, 2011
Categories: News
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[Updated] AAPL Downgraded…

Analyst downgrades are a rare event for market darling Apple Inc. (AAPL ) these days, especially with iPhones and iPads flying off store shelves.

But JMP Securities’ Alex Gauna is taking a bit of a contrarian view, concerned that the tech giant’s seemingly unstoppable growth rate is set to slow. He downgraded Apple today to “market perform” from “market outperform,” citing a significant slowdown at its primary partner, Hon Hai Precision Industry, Taiwan’s top electronics firm.

Mr. Gauna is going against the tide. He’s among just five of 54 analysts with a “sell,” “hold” or “neutral” rating on the stock, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Personally, I think Gauna is smoking crack.

What he has achieved though, is a short term window (cynically constructed on the foundations of a natural disaster, which has panicked the markets) where certain people could make an absolute fortune selling, and then re-buying AAPL. If I didn’t know any better…

Update : Apparently some other people think Gauna smokes crack too…

Analysts with far better track records than Gauna felt obliged to shoot holes in his two chief arguments for downgrading the stock: 1) That Japanese supply lines are in turmoil and 2) that Hon Hai (Foxconn), which does much of Apple’s assembly, has experienced a slowdown in what had been breakneck growth.

Oppenheimer’s Yair Reiner pointed out Wednesday that Hon Hai — which is dependent on other manufacturers for nearly 80% of its business — is a lousy proxy for Apple. And Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster issued a note Thursday in which he addressed Japan’s supply line troubles. While it’s true that Toshiba (which makes 40% of the world’s flash memory) and Mitsubishi (which is a major supplier of the resin used in iPhone and iPad circuit boards) have shut down their plants, Tim Cook buys these components in large pre-payment deals that guarantee supply and pricing. Apple is probably in better shape than any of its competitors to weather the storm.

But for me, nothing better underscored the shallowness of Gauna’s analysis than the appearance Wednesday of a 100-page report on Apple by a team at Credit Suisse headed by Kulbinder Garcha. Under the headline “The Most Valuable Company in the World?” Credit Suisse set a $500 target — $170 above Wednesday’s closing price — and summarized its findings with five bullet points:

Posted: March 17th, 2011
Categories: Apple, Opinion
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In Japan, Many Undersea Cables Are Damaged

According to research firm, Telegeography, the following cables have been damaged:

  • APCN-2, which is an intra-Asian cable, forms a ring linking China, Hong Kong, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan.
  • Pacific Crossing West and Pacific Crossing North, which are out of service.
  • PacNet has reported outages on segments of its East Asia Crossing network.
  • Korea Telecom reports that a segment of the Japan-U.S. Cable Network is damaged
  • NTT has reported damage to some segments of the PC-1 submarine cable system.

A report from Dow Jones Newswires suggests most companies are working hard to fix the network problems. The Dow Jones report has the following additional details:

  • KDDI says its cable between the U.S. and Japan is broken and it cannot transmit signals.
  • NTT is using back-up cable systems.
  • PCCW says the Internet traffic to the U.S. is slow.

In a story on Friday, Stacey Higginbotham pointed out that Chunghwa of Taiwan had reported an outage on the APCN-2 system, while China Unicom had reported some unspecified damage to “two or three cables.” There is clear decline in Japan’s Internet performance, according to the data from JPNAP.

    Posted: March 16th, 2011
    Categories: Interview, News
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    Apple Japan…

    Full disclosure:  I work at Apple at one of its stores in Japan.  The earthquake hit while I was working on the first floor of one of their stores.  As the entire building swayed, the staff calmly led people from the top 5 floors down to the first floor, and under the ridiculously strong wooden tables that hold up the display computers.

    7 hours and 118 aftershocks later, the store was still open.  Why? Because with the phone and train lines down, taxis stopped, and millions of people stuck in the Tokyo shopping district scared, with no access to television, hundreds of people were swarming into Apple stores to watch the news on USTREAM and contact their families via Twitter, Facebook, and email.  The young did it on their mobile devices, while the old clustered around the macs. There were even some Android users there. (There are almost no free wifi spots in Japan besides Apple stores, so even Android users often come to the stores.)

    You know how in disaster movies, people on the street gather around electronic shops that have TVs in the display windows so they can stay informed with what is going on?  In this digital age, that’s what the Tokyo Apple stores became.  Staff brought out surge protectors and extension cords with 10s of iOS device adapters so people could charge their phones & pads and contact their loved ones.  Even after we finally had to close 10pm, crowds of people huddled in front of our stores to use the wifi into the night, as it was still the only way to get access to the outside world.

    Anyway, I mention this not because I work at Apple now, or because I’m an admitted fanboy, but because I’m genuinely proud of the Apple Japan staff and their willingness to stay open to help people that day. And I’m also impressed with the way Apple’s products (and yes, Google’s, Twitter’s, and Facebook’s) helped them that day. Even after we had to close, many of the staff stayed outside the store to fixing iphones and teaching people how to contact family or stay informed via wifi.

    From Kevin Rose’s blog.

    Posted: March 15th, 2011
    Categories: Apple
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