HTC has had an interesting few years. In 2005, they were a profitable company that made OEM handsets that carriers could brand themselves – AT&T could sell an HTC with a boring model number – say, the HTC 89403 – re-branded as something like the “AT&T Pocket PC Phone Super Awesome, OK!” They were boring phones for boring corporate customers, but they were state of the art at the time. Then the iPhone came along and broke an unwritten rule that the carriers were in charge of the end products they were selling. Just like that, HTC started using their own brand and was quite successful. But lately it’s been struggling, with the much-talked about HTC First, called the “Facebook Phone,” launching to crickets and several top US executives leaving the company. …read more
By Ewan Spence, Contributor The release of the HTC First, which is a Facebook phone, but not the Facebook Phone, is a timely reminder of what brought HTC to prominence in the smartphone world. Namely white labelling smartphones. Could they return to that strength.
On April 4, Facebook introduced Facebook Home to the world, potentially changing the future of the smartphone landscape. Facebook Home is a meta-app that functions somewhere between Google‘s Android OS and the rest of the apps on your phone. CEO Mark Zuckerberg described it as an experience that allows you to make your phone about people, not just apps. Not only does Facebook Home reimagine how you will interact with your device, but it also opens the door for the company to break into mobile advertising in a significant way. If the release is successful, you have to wonder whether Twitter and others will soon follow suit, spawning increasingly customizable user experiences.
What is Facebook Home? Facebook Home takes over the lock screen and home screen of the Android devices on which it’s installed. As Zuckerberg explained in the release announcement, Facebook Home is possible only because of the extremely open nature of Android. Once it’s installed, you’re able to see Facebook updates on both the home and lock screens; the idea is to make your smartphone a portal to the people in your life rather than just a conduit for information.
Where FB Home has real potential for the company is in all of the real estate it leaves open to place mobile ads in at some later date. The company has prudently decided to release Home without the inclusion of any advertising, but it’s easy to see where they will be easy to integrate. One of the biggest complaints investors have had since the company’s IPO is that it has struggled to monetize its huge user base. If the company is successful in breaking into the mobile ad space, this criticism will rapidly disappear.
The lock screen is key Another highlight Zuckerberg pointed out in the announcement is that most of us look at the lock screen on our smartphones up to 100 times each day. If that screen can now contain information about the people in our lives, we’re more likely to keep track of them . Likewise, this frequency holds the key for advertising that may give Facebook an advantage over its willing host in Google.
Where does the industry go from here? While it’s hard to imagine that Apple would ever allow a third party like Facebook to take over the home and lock screen in iOS, the model may affect how Apple and others approach the precious real estate that exists on the small screen. Significant adoption could well cause Apple to consider whether it needs a significant footprint in social media. If the lock screen becomes a significant revenue source for others, that could also prove an important differentiator for Apple.
Likewise, if the Facebook Phone becomes popular, it would seem natural to see others, particularly Twitter, follow suit and release similar meta-apps. As social media becomes more fully integrated into our smartphones, you should expect to see an increasing
It’s been a rough couple of years for Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC. Once upon a time, it was the cream of the Android crop. Nowadays, South Korean rival Samsung has supplanted the company, primarily with advantages in distribution and marketing. With marketing being one of its biggest weaknesses, the company has realized that the whole “Quietly Brilliant” motto wasn’t working so well, promising to take a louder approach going forward.
HTC is also partnering with Facebook to launch the HTC First, which will be the first device to feature Facebook Home. Pairing up with the social network will certainly appeal to avid Facebookers looking to get their hands on the first real Facebook Phone, but ultimately the First is a mid-range device that won’t be able to turn the tables. That job is up to the HTC One.
Unfortunately for HTC, suppliers no longer consider it a “tier-one” smartphone maker, so it has been having trouble getting all the ingredients it needs. Cameras, in particular, are bottlenecking production, and HTC was forced to delay the global launch of its One device. The One delays have contributed to HTC posting its lowest profits on record.
HTC‘s bottom line in the first quarter was just $2.8 million. Revenue was down 37% to $1.4 billion, below even the low end of its guidance. In February, HTC guided to first-quarter sales of $1.7 billion to $2 billion.
A recent Chipworks teardown showed that HTC is sourcing cameras from STMicroelectronics and OmniVision . STMicroelectronics is providing the primary rear camera, which is a 4-megapixel shooter that HTC is hoping will dispel the megapixel myth in the smartphone camera wars. OmniVision is supplying the front-facing 2-megapixel sensor.
The primary sensor is the first backside-illuminated sensor that Chipworks has seen from STMicroelectronics, a technology in which OmniVision used to enjoy first-mover advantage. That’s notable because OmniVIsion offers a sensor with identical specs, yet STM was still able to score the design win. However, it’s also possible that HTC is dual sourcing (Chipworks only tore down one unit), but that implied commoditization isn’t necessarily a good thing, either. It’s not clear which of these companies is the supply chain culprit that’s holding back the One.
Everything is quite literally riding on the One. The flagship launches domestically this month, barely beating Samsung’s Galaxy S4 to market. Still, Samsung’s same advantages will still apply. For example, the Galaxy S4 will be available on all four major U.S. carriers, while HTC said the One won’t reach Verizon Wireless (the biggest of the four). AllThingsD reports that the One will indeed make its way to Big Red‘s network eventually, so perhaps HTC was playing coy.
For HTC, the One will make or break the company in 2013.
It’s incredible to think just how much of our digital and technological lives are almost entirely shaped and molded by just a handful of companies. Find out “Who Will …read more
From an established homebuilder going public to the leading used car retailer slamming on the brakes long enough to announce quarterly results, there will be plenty of news waiting to break in the coming days. Let’s go over some of the items that will help shape the week that lies ahead on Wall Street.
1. Home IPO, Sweet Home IPO: Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you’re probably aware that residential real estate has bounced back in a major way. Prices are inching higher, and available inventory is thinning out.
If you are sleeping under said rock, by the way, at least make sure it has central air, indoor plumbing, and room for a pool.
As homebuilders see their financials and share prices improve, privately held developers now want in on the action. TRI Point Homes (TPH) went public earlier this year, and this week it will be Taylor Morrison Home hanging the “Open House” sign on its IPO.
Taylor Morrison Home is hoping to raise roughly $500 million as it offers 23.8 million shares priced at $20 to $22 apiece. The stock should price on Tuesday for this developer that happens to be one of country’s 10 largest homebuilders. Taylor Morrison Home should then begin trading on Wednesday.
2. Facebook Calls an Audible: Facebook (FB) unveiled a new platform for Android devices last week, and Facebook Home makes its debut on Friday.
The new program will run on some of the latest Android wireless devices, aiming to make the smartphone experience more about people than apps.
Phones with Facebook Home installed will boost up to a screen where Facebook notifications are front and center with the latest photos uploaded by friends serving as a background. It’s more impressive than it sounds, and more importantly it’s reversible — it’s just a matter of uninstalling the program.
A bolder move by Facebook — HTC First — will also hit the market Friday. This is what many in the media are now calling the Facebook Phone since it’s optimized for the new application. Even if the phone itself doesn’t sell well, the future of Facebook Home can still be bright.
3. Good Buy, Ruby Tuesday?: The climate for casual dining is challenging. The end of the payroll tax stimulus is giving diners less money to eat out. It’s certainly not helping that hungry customers are choosing “fast casual” places that provide quality food quickly at lower price points and without the tipping rite.
Ruby Tuesday (RT) has been a laggard, and a new CEO was brought in late last year to attempt a turnaround. The new helmsman has shed …read more
There really is a Facebook-centric phone coming, but thankfully it’s not as ridiculous as it may sound.
Facebook announced today that HTC and AT&T would be teaming up to introduce the first Facebook-optimized phone next week. HTC First will be available through AT&T Wireless on April 12 at a compelling price point of $99 with a two-year contract.
If this was the end, it would be a disaster for Facebook. Who wants a Facebook phone, especially one tethered to a two-year contract? Can anyone safely say that they will even care about social networking come 2015?
However, Facebook is actually doing this in a smart way. You don’t need to buy the HTC First to get the shiny new interface which powers up with visual updates and other nifty navigational features.
Facebook Home is a new home screen that will be available on several of the leading smartphones running Google‘s Android next Friday through the Google Play app store. HTC First naturally will have it pre-installed and the device itself is optimized for the interface, but anyone that doesn’t want to make that kind of investment can just stick with a Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC One, or any of the other eligible devices.
If someone tires of Facebook Home and wants to revert back to a home screen that revolves around apps instead of people, it’s an easy process to undo.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg began the presentation alluding to third-party data showing that more than 20% of someone’s time on a smartphone is spent engaging on Facebook — and that pops up to better than 25% when you tack on Facebook’s Instagram. Social apps make up the largest category of smartphone engagement.
Facebook is taking a logical and evolutionary step with Facebook Home, and that will hold true even if next week’s rollout of HTC First flops. Facebook knows what it’s doing.
Accept a friend request for deeper research After the world’s most hyped IPO turned out to be a dunce, most investors probably don’t even want to think about shares of Facebook. But there are things every investor needs to know about this company. We’ve outlined them in our newest premium research report. There’s a lot more to Facebook than meets the eye, so read up on whether there is anything to “like” about it today, and we’ll tell you whether we think Facebook deserves a place in your portfolio. Access your report by clicking here.
var FoolAnalyticsData = FoolAnalyticsData || ; …read more
The long-fabled Facebook Phone is finally official. Sort of. Today at a press event, the social networking giant introduced Home — its new software ecosystem for Android devices. Home replaces your smartphone’s lock and home screens with Cover Feed, a new interface that puts “people first, not apps,” making status updates, photos, and messages from your Facebook friends the first thing you see. While all of the functionality of Android remains intact and accessible, Home merges many apps and functions into one consolidated experience. Other apps can be accessed from within Home UI, and both Facebook and SMS threads are merged into one messaging window called Chat Heads.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is flat following a mixed unemployment claims report. As of 1:25 p.m. EDT the Dow is up six points to 14,557. The S&P 500 is up less than a point.
There was one U.S. economic release today.
New unemployment claims
March 23 to March 30
Source: Department of Labor.
Following yesterday’s disappointing private-sector jobs report, all eyes were on today’s unemployment claims report. Seasonally adjusted unemployment claims came in at 385,000, which is 28,000 higher than last week and 35,000 above analyst expectations. The jump moved the four-week moving average up by 11,250 to 354,250.
The jump may not be as bad as it appears. Economists from the Department of Labor seasonally adjust the numbers so that you can compare them across the year, taking into account seasonal fluctuations. For instance, extra workers hired before Christmas for the sales rush lower unemployment claims, so unemployment claims are adjusted upward to compensate. The end of March is a tough time to determine an appropriate adjustment, as some economists believe holidays and spring breaks cause the Department of Labor to seasonally adjust claims too much.
The actual number of unemployment claims, i.e., non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment claims, actually fell by 1,600 to 314,000. Investors thus see today’s number as a technical jump and not a real one and are thus overlooking the bad report. Tomorrow brings the much-anticipated jobs report for March. Analysts expect jobs growth of just 190,000 versus 236,000 in February.
Today’s Dow leader Today’s Dow leader is AT&T , up 1.3%. Yesterday rumors surfaced, but were later denied, that AT&T and Verizon would team up to purchase Vodafone,with Verizon taking over Vodafone’s 45% stake in Verizon Wireless and AT&T getting the international operations of Vodafone. Today’s big news is the Facebookphone event, where analysts speculate the company will announce a “Facebook Phone.” AT&T and Verizon are loath to let another company create experiences between itself and people who use its network.
Second for the Dow today is Hewlett-Packard , up 1.3%. Yesterday HP plunged 5.2% after Goldman Sachs analyst Bill Shope downgraded the stock to sell. Shope believes that low sales will hurt prices and margins, that investors are overconfident in the turnaround of the business, and that the stock has run up too far. Today HP is gaining as some investors hope yesterday’s drop was a buying opportunity.
The massive wave of mobile computing has done much to unseat the major players in the PCmarket, including venerable technology names like Hewlett-Packard. However, HP is rapidly shifting its strategy under the leadership of CEO Meg Whitman. But does this make HP one of the least-appreciated turnaround stories on the market, or is this a minor detour on its road to irrelevance? The Motley Fool’s technology analyst details exactly …read more
We’re now just two days away from a media event that social networker Facebook is hosting. Despite intense competition with Google on the ad front, the main topic will be something related to Android. The event’s tag line makes it clear: “Come see our new home on Android.”
While speculation has persisted for years that Facebook has been exploring a bona fide first-party Facebook Phone, that strategy has simply never made sense for the company. Even Mark Zuckerberg knows it, so investors can promptly rule out that possibility.
There’s also been talk that Facebook could fork Android in much the same way that Amazon has with its Kindle Fire family of tablets, although the problem there is that Facebook doesn’t have the necessary content pieces to launch a full-blown smartphone platform of its own.
The only remaining possibility, then, is for Facebook to pursue a new level of integration with an existing platform in an effort to expand its reach and bolster user engagement. For example, Facebook inked an important deal with Apple to get the social network integrated directly into both iOS and OS X. Nokia also unveiled the Asha 205 last year, which features a dedicated Facebook button, a device similar to the HTC ChaCha that was launched a couple years ago.
Chances are that Facebook is hooking up with HTC again for a new smartphone dubbed “Myst.” Android Police was able to procure a system software dump of the unreleased device, and it appears that “Facebook Home” will be a launcher replacement for Android that taps directly into numerous Facebook apps and social services. Facebook Home will be built on top of HTC’s Sense 4.5, an older version of the OEM’s custom software layer.
The mid-range device looks like it will sport a previous generation Qualcomm Snapdragon and run on AT&T‘s network. There is also indication that Facebook Home is being built to support other Android layers, such as Samsung’s TouchWiz, which hints at a broader Google Play release.
By the looks of it, Facebook Home is exactly the strategy that Facebook should be pursuing: partnering with as many OEMs as possible to expand its reach and strengthen its network effects while leaving hardware to the OEMs.
After the world’s most hyped IPO turned out to be a dunce, most investors probably don’t even want to think about shares of Facebook. But there are things every investor needs to know about this company. We’ve outlined them in our newest premium research report. There’s a lot more to Facebook than meets the eye, so read up on whether there is anything to “like” about it today, and we’ll tell you whether we think Facebook deserves a place in your portfolio. Access your report by clicking here.
Nobody can predict all the news that will break and move the markets in a given week, but here are a few things we do know: A controversial seed seller will report its latest quarterly results, and the world’s biggest social network operator will show off its new smartphone tools. Let’s go over those, and a few more of the items that will help shape the week that lies ahead on Wall Street.
1. Socket to Me, Electric Cars: Tesla Motors (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk is so excited about an announcement going out on Tuesday that he even took to Twitter to tease it last week.
“Really exciting @TeslaMotors announcement coming,” he tweeted last week. “Am going to put my money where my mouth is in v major way.”
The “v” in the tweet is probably short for “very” — though it’s not as if Musk had used up all of his 140 Twitter characters to force the shorthand. It would be a mind-blowing deal if the maker of electric cars using single letters for its models would be actually introducing a Model V sedan.
In reality, the “money where my mouth is” is probably the real giveaway here. Musk will likely either be boosting his stake in the company or making a move to improve its balance sheet.
2. Facebook Phones It In: “Come See Our New Home on Android,” reads a Facebook (FB) media invitation that went out late last week. The world’s largest social networking website will host analysts and tech journalists on Thursday as it introduces its new smartphone initiatives.
Don’t hold out for the long-rumored Facebook Phone. It’s not going to happen. It would be devastating to the Facebook brand if it flopped. The more popular theory here is that Facebook will just work with existing mobile operating systems to make them more Facebook-centric.
Android is the mobile platform of choice, commanding the lion’s share of the world’s smartphone market. If Facebook can find ways to be a larger part of the smartphone experience it will naturally be in its best interest.
3. Let’s Get It Going in the Second Quarter, Team: The second quarter kicks in this week following a surprisingly robust first quarter. The S&P 500 has cranked out a healthy 10 percent gain so far this year.
Three months ago, it didn’t seem as if it would play out that way. The fiscal cliff loomed in late December, and moves to avert the automatic spending cuts proved temporary once sequestration kicked in two months later. The end of the two-year stimulus break on payroll taxes collected meant less take-home pay for consumers.
<br …read more Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance
This week in venture capital and startups: The first quarter 2013 IPO market was “stable,” according to Renaissance Capital, with 31 deals raising $7.6 billion. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Renaissance expects the number of IPOs to pick up later in the year, because of the super top secret JOBS Act SEC filings and strength in the stock markets. …read more Source: FULL ARTICLE at Forbes Latest
By Ewan Spence, Contributor I wonder who watched Facebook’s announcement this week of Graph Search and felt a little disappointed? Some were waiting for the Facebook Phone to appear from nowhere, and had noted carefully worded phrases through the years denying the project, pointed out potential hardware manufacturers, and managed to make ‘two plus two’ equal ‘a phone’. Source: FULL ARTICLE at Forbes Latest
By Ewan Spence, Contributor For all the talk of Facebook going after the consumer electronics market with a ‘Facebook Phone‘ to take on the rather large market share of Android, Mark Zuckerberg‘s company finally pulled back the covers on the one thing Google could be afraid of. A search engine powered by the wealth of data in Facebook’s ‘social graph’… data that Google has no access to. Source: FULL ARTICLE at Forbes Latest