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Technology Round Up - December 25, 2010
There have been many noteworthy developments in the technology space recently. Some of these will likely have a material impact on the companies in the industry and the markets they serve.
Video encoded with Adobe’s (ADBE) Flash programs can now be viewed on Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone and iPad. Up until now, Apple did not support Flash, maintaining it performs poorly on mobile devices and consumes battery life. However, Skyfire now offers a service to translate the videos into HTML 5, which is a Web standard supported by iOS. The app is available for download at $2.99. As a result, iPhone and iPad users are now able to view Flash videos.
Music from The Beatles is now available for sale on iTunes. The Beatles had been the most prominent holdout from the iTunes store, the most popular music retailer in the world, until Apple finally reached an agreement with the still-highly popular British vocal group. This deal will likely result in increased sales for The Beatles music, and greater iTunes revenue. The addition of this group, arguably the most popular band of all time, represents a milestone for iTunes in their quest to procure content. The site currently features over 13 million songs. Apple has also expanded into selling and renting movies and television programs.
Facebook’s e-mail Service Challenges Google, Others
Facebook has introduced an e-mail service for its social networking web site. The new service also includes text messaging and instant messaging. This provides an enticing alternative to Google’s (GOOG) popular Gmail service. Microsoft (MSFT - Free Microsoft Stock Report), Yahoo! (YHOO) and AOL (AOL) also offer email services. With Facebook’s email, users are able to send messages to friends that appear as text messages, emails, or instant messages, depending on the preferences set for each friend. This offering may be better able to filter out spam messages, and allow users to increase focus on more important messages from friends and relatives. Competitors have begun to respond with efforts to improve their own email offerings.
IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI) has ended its quest to develop an Internet search engine to rival that of Google or Microsoft. IAC’s Ask.com unit will continue to offer search capability on its Web site, but will now purchase its search results from one of its rivals. Ask.com will lay off 130 engineers who were building the search engine, and divest thousands of computer servers that stored the required billions of pages of data. This move will allow Ask.com to increase focus on its question-and-answer service.
Amazon.com Increases Royalty Payments
Amazon.com (AMZN) has offered magazine and newspaper publishers 70% royalty terms for Kindle subscriptions, an increase from around 30%. The higher rate became effective December 1st. The move gives publishers a larger share of revenue from each title they sell in the Kindle store. Amazon hopes the higher royalty payments will encourage publishers to offer more electronic editions on the Kindle.
At the time of this article’s writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.