Rant About It

Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

Recent Developments & Rants

Posted by rantaboutit on March 6, 2007

Microsoft gets hold of Medstory

Microsoft (MSFT) is purchasing Medstory Inc., a health search engine. Medstory enables users to search complex health and medical related topics on the web intelligently. Some noteworthy features about Medstory is their ability to filter out non-health results, provide effective granularity, allow audio & video search and their killer app. Medstory’s approach is to not only provide a list of web pages but to synthesize the meaning of every user search in the context of health and medicine, and then share this knowledge with the user to help refine and guide their search.

Medstory will become the second acquisition for Microsoft’s Health Solutions Group, which bought Azyxxi, a maker of healthcare software that displays patient information last year.

Rant: There seems to be an increasing demand for online healthcare information driven by aging baby boomers. Filtering out non health-related searches makes getting the right information that much easy for them. Microsoft is stepping in the right direction by acquiring Medstory. However they face stiff competition from companies like Healthline who provides health search services, Google (GOOG) who is developing a health information search tool, and former AOL CEO who is launching a healthcare portal called Revolution Health.

Related Links:
MSN’s Medstory Story
Microsoft buying search firm in health-care push

Oracle Buying Hyperion
Oracle (ORCL) announced a deal to buy Hyperion Solutions (HYSL), a business intelligence software provider. Oracle will pay $52 a share in cash, or about $3.3 billion.

The acquisition is yet another multibillion-dollar deal in recent years for Oracle, who bought CRM software maker Siebel System and archrival PeopleSoft. Oracle executives are more enthusiatic about Hyperion deal because there is no product overlap unlike in case of PeopleSoft and Siebel. However Oracle will have to convince their customers that the Hyperion application will not be optimized for the Oracle database environment and rather that it will be optimized for applications that are important to their company, especially because most large companies have a heterogeneous database and application environment that requires a high level of open and ERP-independent software.

Rant: This addition could make Oracle a formidable force in the world of business intelligence software and hopefully help revive their stock. This deal puts Hyperion rivals Cognos (COGN) and Business Objects (BOBJ) under pressure due to stiff competition from Oracle and unlikely chance of a buyout. This could also mean bad news for rivals SAP AG (SAP). Oracle claims thousands of SAP customers rely on Hyperion and probably will not switch. SAP replied that the Hyperion acquisition will lead to more confusion among Oracle customers. Oracle’s strategy, limited by its inability to grow on its own, has resorted to attempting to acquire customers.

Related Links:
Oracle Buys Hyperion Solutions for $3.3 Billion
Oracle Buys Hyperion but will customers bite ?

GE says Hold the Salt…
General Electric Co (GE) has joined the Algerian Government, and other Algerian bodies to build Africa’s largest seawater desalination (removing salt from water) plant. This project is part of GE’s ecomagination effort, which is aimed at building innovative solutions to tough global problems, like water scarcity. This project will supply 25% of Algeria’s capital city’s population with desperately needed drinking water.

Rant: Full marks to GE for their effort on ecomagination.

Durable Goods Orders Decline Most in 18 months

In December 06 order rose by + 2.8%, where as in January 07 dropped by – 7.8%, reasoing being reduced demand for transportation equipment especially commercial aircraft and excess inventories. Commercial aircraft orders fell 60% while transport orders on the whole fell 18%. Ex-transport, durables were down 3.1%. Orders for core capital equipment were down 6%.

Rant: Decline in durable goods orders were labeled one reason for the recent meltdown at the market. Sigh*, another indicator to worry about.

Recommended Book: Jim Cramer’s Mad Money: Watch TV, Get Rich.

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(Source: Seeking Alpha, Microsoft)

Posted in Microsoft, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Are You in Sync with Ford ?

Posted by rantaboutit on March 4, 2007

The entire auto industry year-to-year sales dropped 0.5%. The total market share of the U.S. Top 3 fell to 54% from 56.6%, where as Asian automakers up their share from 37% to 39.4%.

Facts: Vehicle Sales Year to Year

Asian Top 3 -> Toyota (TM) = +12%, Honda (HMC) = +3.2%, Nissan (NSANY) = +1.2%
US Top 3 -> General Motors (GM) = + 3.4%, DaimlerChrysler (DCX) = -7.7%, Ford Motor (F) = – 13%

General Motors was the only US Top 3 with positive sales of +3.4% helped by a strong launch of their redesigned models. General Motors managed to increase its market share 1% to 24.6% total. On the other hand Ford Motors lost -13% in sales. Toyota Motor sales were in double digits.

Ford to Sync
Research shows consumers are picking brands with strong records for quality and technical innovation. Ford has decided to respond to this research. Ford will work with Microsoft (MSFT) to develop a built-in audio system called Sync for 12 of Ford’s models. Features include in-car communications and entertainment system that is designed to change the way consumers use music players and mobile phones in their vehicles. Users can access their digital music player or mobile phone using voice commands or the vehicle’s steering wheel or radio controls. Add to that names and numbers in a mobile phone’s address book can be wirelessly and automatically transferred to the vehicle. Sync can host nearly any digital media player, including the Apple iPod, Microsoft Zune, PlaysForSure players and most USB storage devices.

Conclusion: As you can see the 5 day auto-manufacturing industry is down. Investing in US automakers isnt the smartest thing in 2007 except for General Motors who were able to turn things around. What remains to see is can Ford do the same ? Asian automakers in contrast are having a good year.

Recommendation: Ford is going through a bad phase. They reported a loss of $ 17 billion last year. Operational costs, job losses, global competition resulted in a sales drop of -13%. Their EPS stands at -3.29 and weak analyst recommendation. Ford Motor is trying to resurrect themselves by loading their models with fancy gadgets. Is this going to help auto sales ? I dont think so ? Keep away…

(Source: Ford, Yahoo)

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Posted in Auto, Microsoft | Leave a Comment »

Sony Playstation 3: Two Thorns Away From Glory

Posted by rantaboutit on March 2, 2007

Sony Corp (SNE) creator of Playstation 3 has two thorns in their path to glory.

  1. Nintendo Ltd (NTDOY) creator of Wii
  2. Microsoft (MSFT) creator of XBox 360

PS3 has a hard drive to store game data and music and can play DVDs using Sony’s Blu-ray high definition technology. PS3 sales took off very well in the early stage. However with the advent of Nintendo’s Wii which features a unique motion-sensitive controller and Microsoft’s XBox 360 which offers an extensive system for online play and high percentage availability, PS3 sales have been struggling ever since.

Problem with PS3
Gamers and analysts have praised PS3 graphics, but their high prices, shortage of console and weak line-up of games have raised concerns. Sony says that the Playstation 3 shortage will be eliminated by April/May, with another 2 million units on their way to the United States. Gaming sites claim of unsold PS3s. In response Sony CEO said that in many places the games are sold out. They plan to fill shelves across United States.

In January, Sony sold only 244,000 PlayStation 3s, compared to 294,000 for the Xbox 360 and 436,000 for the Wii.

A Gamer’s View
Dr. Andrew Garrett, a game developer for EA said…

I make video games, currently working for Electronic Arts on the latest Command & Conquer. Last year, the prediction that the PS3 would be the dominant console, just like the PS2 was. That is no longer the case. The extremely strong performance of the Wii, combined with the miserable performance of Sony has revised pretty much everyone’s expectations. Right now, most of us here think the Xbox 360 will be on top for this generation, with the battle for second place between Sony and Nintendo. Most of us still think Sony will beat off Nintendo, simply due to the older graphics on the Wii, but it’s not a sure thing. My opinion – get the 360 and/or the Wii. Skip the PS3 unless there’s a big change in the near future.

eBay imposing restrictions
In another story eBay (EBAY) in UK is imposing restrictions on the sale of Sony PlayStation 3 gaming systems due to high demand and their limited supply. eBay US had imposed similar restrictions during the fall holiday shopping season due to concerns over fraud/scam listings.

Conclusion: All three companies has clearly differentiated hardware and strategies. Who will win? Analyst believe that none of the 3 consoles will dominate the market in the next 5 years like the PS2 dominated previously. However, Nintendo’s Wii will outship and outsell the 360 and PS3 in 2007 and 2008.

Recommendation: Stock prices of Sony Corp took a hit after the company paid $150 million to end a patent dispute with Immersion Corp over technology used in its game consoles and as investors sold exporter stocks on a stronger yen. Surprizingly Nintendo Ltd stock prices have suffered after the the Japanese government decided to sell its stake, about 1.4 percent of the outstanding stock. Microsoft stock prices are also seeing more of red than green, mainly due to Vista and global market meltdown. However in the longer run, the company that will sell the most gaming console would be the clear winner at the stock market, which to me in Nintendo Wii.

Web Links:

Posted in Ebay, Microsoft, Sony, Technology | 4 Comments »