The Tech News Blog

December 1, 2013

Amazon Helps Black Friday Online Shopping Top $1.1 Billion

Are You Better Off Shopping Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, or Cyber Monday?

Online shoppers were certainly eager to pick up deals this holiday weekend, with comScore reporting $1.198 billion in desktop e-commerce sales on Black Friday alone.

As a result, Black Friday was the first billion-dollar day of the 2013 shopping season and a 15 percent increase over Black Friday 2012. Thanksgiving Day shopping, meanwhile, brought in $766 million, up 21 percent over last year.

"While Black Friday – and now Thanksgiving Day – is the traditional kick-off to the brick-and-mortar holiday shopping season, both days continue to grow in importance on the online channel," comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni said in a statement. "Clearly many consumers prefer to avoid the crowds and lines typically associated with Black Friday by shopping from the comfort of their own homes, and we saw a record 66 million Americans do that this year."

The move to open brick-and-mortar stores on Thanksgiving Day, meanwhile, had "a spillover effect on the online channel," he said.

Where were people shopping? Amazon was the most visited online retail site on Black Friday, followed by eBay, Walmart, Best Buy, and Target, according to comScore.

November 23, 2013

HP, Intel Team Up On $89 Tablet for Black Friday

HP Mesquite 7 Tablet

Hewlett-Packard is set to start selling an $89, 7-inch Android tablet powered by an Intel processor, the chip giant revealed Friday.

HP's Mesquite tablet is one of several Intel-powered slates providing "lightning-fast Web browsing and extraordinary battery life" that will be available in time for Black Friday, Intel said in a blog post.

The Mesquite reportedly packs one of Intel's "Medfield"-class Atom processors and it will be available at Walmart when the holiday shopping season officially kicks off on Nov. 29.

Intel also listed several more Android- and Windows-based tablets being offered in Black Friday sales and promotions, all of which have Intel chips under the hood, naturally.

"Whether you're looking for a small 7-inch or 8-inch tablet or a larger 10-inch tablet running Android or Windows 8, there are lots of choices this holiday powered with Intel processors," Intel's Inside Scoop blogger Marcia Hansen wrote.

There's Dell's 8-inch Venue 8 tablet running Android, which can be had for $99 at Costco with the purchase of a PC priced at $599.99 or more. The Venue 8 is also available on for $129.99, a $50 savings from its normal price.

October 29, 2013

GTA 5 Sales Near $29M, Android App Released

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto 5 publisher Take-Two Interactive is making a killing on the violent video game.

In its first month, GTA 5 sold almost 29 million units, helping Take-Two generate $1.27 billion in revenue for the fiscal quarter. As Polygon noted, that 29 million represents copies of the game that have been sold to retailers, not necessarily purchased by consumers, but the game is unquestionably a success.

"The title received stellar reviews, shattered entertainment industry records, and has already sold-in nearly 29 million units to date," Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said in a statement. "The extraordinary success of Grand Theft Auto V illustrates the positive momentum in our business and consumers' enduring appetite for the highest-quality interactive entertainment."

Game maker Rockstar Games, a Take-Two subsidiary, launched GTA 5 on Sept. 17, earning more than $1 billion in its first three days — the fastest any entertainment property, including video games and feature films, has reached that milestone. A significant amount of the game's success came during launch week, when GTA 5 counted more than $800 million in just 24 hours.

October 10, 2013

PC Shipments Drop Again in Third Quarter

Market Decline Arrow DownWorldwide PC shipments dipped in the third quarter of this year by 8 to 9 percent from the same period in 2012, but that was enough to beat a more pessimistic forecast for the struggling PC industry, according to Gartner and IDC.

The two research firms reported slightly different numbers for third-quarter PC shipments, with Gartner pegging the total at 80.3 million units and IDC putting it at 81.6 million. That put the year-over-year unit shipment decline at 8.6 percent, Gartner said, while IDC had the PC market contracting by 7.6 percent from last year.

But IDC noted that it had projected an even worse 9.5 percent drop in global PC shipments for the recently concluded quarter. The research firm credited a late-quarter uptake in business-side purchases of Windows 8.1 systems for the slightly better results.

Still, IDC hit the brakes on getting too optimistic about those results. "The third quarter was pretty close to forecast, which unfortunately doesn't reflect much improvement in the PC market, or potential for near-term growth," IDC analyst Loren Loverde said in a statement.

"Whether constrained by a weak economy or being selective in their tech investments, buyers continue to evaluate options and delay PC replacements," Loverde said. "Despite being a little ahead of forecast, and the work that's being done on new designs and integration of features like touch, the third-quarter results suggest that there's still a high probability that we will see another decline in worldwide shipments in 2014."

As Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa pointed out, the PC industry has now experienced six consecutive quarters of declining worldwide shipments, and just endured its worst back-to-school sales quarter since 2008.

"The third quarter is often referred to as the 'back-to-school' quarter for PC sales, and sales this quarter dropped to their lowest volume since 2008," Kitagawa said in a statement. "Consumers' shift from PCs to tablets for daily content consumption continued to decrease the installed base of PCs both in mature as well as in emerging markets. A greater availability of inexpensive Android tablets attracted first-time consumers in emerging markets, and as supplementary devices in mature markets."

October 7, 2013

Walmart, RadioShack Offering iPhone 5c Discounts

iPhone 5CThe new iPhone 5c won't exactly break the bank, but the smartphone is already hitting the bargain bin at some retailers.

On the heels of Best Buy's $50 discount (in the form of a free gift card), Walmart and RadioShack are now offering customers the colorful new device with a sub-$50 price tag.

At launch, Walmart cut the price of the 16GB 5c, selling it in all five colors for $79 with a two-year contract — a $20 discount. But those who missed the early waves of crazed Apple product purchasing can now pick up a new plastic iPhone 5c for only $45 with a two-year contract.

RadioShack, meanwhile, is taking over Best Buy's promotion — which ends today — by handing out $50 gift cards to 5c buyers, which can be applied to their 5c purchase through Nov. 2. As of Saturday, RadioShack customers can pick up their new 5c at a brick-and-mortar store to receive the discount.

Or, trade your old electronic device in to receive credit toward a new one, with the Trade & Save program. According to the company, shoppers trading in an iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, or iPhone 4 will receive a guaranteed $250, $150, or $100, respectively.

August 29, 2013

Best Buy Serves Up Half-Off iPhone 5 Trade-In Deal

iPhone 5

Best Buy is slashing the price of an iPhone 5 in half for customers bringing in a working iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S during a promotion this Labor Day weekend.

The retail giant's trade-in deal starts on Friday and runs through Monday, Sept. 2. Best Buy is offering "at least 50 percent off" the standard purchase price of both 16GB and 32GB iPhone 5s to customers bringing in their older models to trade in, Best Buy said.

The hitch—customers will have to sign two-year contracts with either AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon to take advantage of the deal.

Apple is expected to unveil its next iPhone on Sept. 10 with signs pointing towards Cupertino's latest smartphone being released in the U.S. on Sept. 20, so Best Buy may be getting a jump on clearing out its iPhone 5 inventory in anticipation of the next device arriving.

Customers purchasing a $199, 16GB iPhone 5 after trading in an iPhone 4 or 4S will receive a "guaranteed minimum $100 trade-in credit," dropping the price to $99. Those opting for the $299, 32GB version get at least $150 knocked off the price when they activate their new phone, meaning they'll be paying $149 for the handset.

August 7, 2013

Report: PCs Slump as Tablets Continue to Boom

The 10 Best Tablets

Despite the growth in tablet shipments, a major decline in PC sales has stalled the worldwide market for PCs and tablets, according to market research firm Canalys.

Tablets continue to gain market share at the expense of desktop and notebook PCs, according to the research firm, which charts total client PC shipments on a quarterly basis, including desktops, laptops, and tablets. In the second quarter, worldwide tablet shipments managed to grow 42.9 percent year-over-year while the desktop and laptop markets shrunk 7.4 percent and 13.9 percent, respectively, compared with the same period in 2012.

Combined, total client PC shipments of 109 million units in the second quarter marked just an 0.3 percent gain over the 108.7 million units shipped in the second quarter of 2012, according to Canalys.

July 31, 2013

Report: HP Poised to Pass Lenovo as Top PC Maker

HP corporate

Beleaguered Hewlett-Packard may soon have something to cheer about; a new report suggests that the company is poised to overtake Lenovo as the world's biggest PC manufacturer.

HP, on the strength of winning some key government procurement bids for new laptops, will recapture its global PC market share in the third quarter of this year, according to DigiTimes. The Taiwanese tech journal, citing unnamed industry sources, said HP "is expected to see notebook shipments in the third quarter of 2013 increase 15 to 20 percent [quarter over quarter] while Lenovo is expected to see a sequential drop of 7 to 9 percent."

A big driver of HP's purported gains is an order by the government of India's Uttar Pradesh state for 1.5 million HP laptops for schools, with a pending third-quarter order for 2 million more laptops by another Indian government buyer likely to go HP's way as well, DigiTimes reported.

Research firms Gartner and IDC both ranked Lenovo as the top maker of PCs in the world for the second quarter of 2013, with Gartner reporting that the company shipped 12.7 million units in the quarter for a 16.7 percent share of the global PC market and IDC's numbers putting Lenovo's PC unit shipments at 12.6 million for the same 16.7 percent market share.

July 11, 2013

Report: iPhone Shortfall Could Cost Verizon $14B

Verizon Logo

Sales of Apple iPhones are not what they once were, thanks to an increasingly oversaturated smartphone market, and that could spell trouble for Verizon Wireless.

According to a report from Moffett Research, Verizon's iPhone shortfall could mean a $12 to $14 billion I.O.U. to Cupertino.

Bascially, Verizon signed a three-year contract with Apple, agreeing to sell $40 to $45 billion worth of iDevices between 2011 and 2013. But, shortfalls in the first two years have left the carrier with $23.5 billion in aggregate "purchase commitments" — more than two times their actual iPhone sales in 2012. By comparison, AT&T's consolidated purchase commitments at the end of 2012 were just $3.8 billion.

"We emphasize again here that we have no idea what will happen at the end of 2013," the Moffett blog said. "We certainly don't expect that Verizon will have to write a check to Apple for $12 billion or so to make good on its seemingly inevitable shortfall."

However, the research firm said, "it seems likely that Apple will extract at least someconsideration for a contract shortfall of this apparent magnitude."

"It isn't clear that Apple has any incentive to blow up either relationship by taking a hard line, nor is it likely that Apple would wish to advertise that two large partners are falling, or will fall, so far short of their purchase obligations," Moffett said. Still, Cupertino surely won't just ignore the carriers' commitments.

Verizon declined to comment on Moffett's report, and Apple did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.

April 19, 2013

Microsoft’s Strong Quarter Leaves Critics in the Dust

New Microsoft Logo

Microsoft may be having the last laugh with Thursday's report that the company enjoyed a strong uptick in sales and profits for the first three months of 2013.

The software giant pulled in revenue of $20.5 billion in its fiscal third quarter, up 18 percent from the same period in 2012, while also reporting operating income of $7.6 billion, up 19 percent, and diluted EPS of $0.72, up 20 percent.

"The bold bets we made on cloud services are paying off as people increasingly choose Microsoft services including Office 365, Windows Azure, Xbox Live, and Skype. While there is still work to do, we are optimistic that the bets we've made on Windows devices position us well for the long-term," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement.

Microsoft's financial results are always closely watched, but never more so than in the wake of reports from IDC and other research firms that PC sales around the world have declined precipitously in recent months.

PC makers shipped 76.3 million units in the first three months of the year, a 13.9 percent decline from the same period in 2012, according to an IDC report issued about a week ago. That's the steepest year-over-year decline since the research firm began tracking the PC market's quarterly performance in 1994, IDC said.