Posts by Aaron Pressman

  • Actually, Bitcoin had a pretty good 2014

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 2 days ago

    It hasn't exactly been a year of progress for supporters of bitcoin, the world's most popular virtual currency.

    Regulators prosecuted several bitcoin-related fraud schemes, some tax authorities cracked down on the use of virtual currency, and the price of bitcoin lost more than 50% of its value, leading Quartz reporter Matt Philips to dub it the "worst investment of 2014."

    But as the year draws to a close, bitcoin is still kicking amid a few glimmers of progress.

    First, the number, and size, of merchants accepting bitcoin continues to grow. Just this month, Microsoft (MSFT) announced it would start accepting payments in bitcoin in the United States for apps, games and other digital content on its Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox platforms.

  • Fast-growing Chinese phonemaker Xiaomi hits speed bumps

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 3 days ago

    Chinese low-end phone champion Xiaomi has made quite a splash this year.

    Concentrating on its home market and a few others (India, especially), it has surged to the #4 position in smartphone sales worldwide. Xiaomi shipped almost 16 million phones in the third quarter, five times what it shipped a year earlier and good for 5% of the global smartphone marketplace, Gartner reported on Monday.

    A Wall Street Journal report last month even said Xiaomi was racking up big profits -- close to $600 million last year and over $1 billion this year. Supposedly, that was due to the brand’s smart social marketing efforts, which avoided TV ads and other expensive tactics used by Apple (AAPL) and Samsung.

    But there are a few hiccups in the Xiaomi story coming out now that may have serious long-term implications.

  • Sony fighting back against hackers with hacker tactics

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 6 days ago

    Sony Pictures Entertainment appears to be striking back at hackers using some of the same techniques hackers use, a game plan that could become increasingly common for similarly victimized corporations.

    The recent hacker attack deeply penetrated computers at Sony’s (SNE) movie-making unit, resulting in a vast trove of private information – everything from gossipy Hollywood emails to the salaries of top executives to employee medical records – being made public.

    As hackers are able to penetrate ever-more secure targets, corporations have to change their responses, too, says Marc Gaffan, CEO of Incapsula, a firm that helps ward off cyber attacks.

    “As it becomes a question of when it happens, not if it happens, organizations are changing so they can react quickly,” he says.

  • After weak 2014, Google shares looked poised for gains next year

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 8 days ago

    We’ve seen this story before. Apple (AAPL) shares were mostly flat in 2013, then had a big breakout this year. IBM (IBM) shares did nothing for two years, then broke to the downside this year. Both companies' results eventually helped investors answer the big questions. So what's most likely for Google next year? The bear case

    The company argued that so many factors drive their bottom line, some under their control, some not, that to format the results in any one particular way would be misleading. I can’t say I agree with them about that.

    But, overall, these criticisms miss the bigger picture. Where Google dominates

    Among the company's chief overlooked strengths is its position in local, location-based mobile advertising. Mobile ad spending is forecast to grow from $7.2 billion last year to $30.3 billion in 2018, according to eMarketer. More than half the growth will be from local, mobile ads — the kind where location data is key. 

  • Verizon, AT&T shares hit on impact of price war

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 9 days ago

    Price war, what price war? While Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T) have labored to maintain the facade that there is no price war in the mobile market, both carriers are warning about increased customer defections and promotional activity.

    Sure sounds like a price war.

    Shares of Verizon lost 5% in afternoon trading on Tuesday, while AT&T was down 4%. Among those that initiated the price war, shares of Sprint (S) dropped 3% and T-Mobile’s (TMUS) stock price was off 7%. The larger reaction for T-Mobile came amid investor unease about a convertible bond offering that the carrier announced on Monday.

    "The current environment is impacting churn - in fact, we expect postpaid churn to be higher than it was in the year ago fourth quarter," Stephens said. "At the same time, subscriber growth has been strong all year...and we expect that trend to continue in the fourth quarter."

  • LendingClub leads end-of-year push for tech IPOs

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 10 days ago

    The market for technology IPOs is regrouping for an end-of-year rally. After a few months of quiet following Alibaba’s (BABA) record-breaking deal in September, underwriters say seven technology-related companies could go public this week and next, raising over $1.5 billion.

    That should help push the total raised for the year over $40 billion, the most for tech IPOs since 2000, according to Dealogic. Minus the $25 billion raised by Alibaba, however, the total would be closer to the average $12 billion a year raised over the past four years.

    Among the upcoming deals, two online lending platforms, LendingClub (LC) and On Deck Capital, are hogging most of the investor enthusiasm. The remaining grab bag of cloud-based software providers and a Chinese Internet company are getting a somewhat less-excited reception, if only because investors remember how badly similar highly touted IPOs of the spring performed.

    If the shares do well once they hit the market on Thursday morning, that could bode well for On Deck’s IPO next week.

     

  • Apple pivoting iPad education strategy to regain its footing

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 13 days ago

    News that Google (GOOGL) Chromebooks outsold Apple (AAPL) iPads in the U.S. education market shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but Apple could yet make a come back.

    Problems with iPads in schools have cropped up in other districts, as well. The school district of Fort Bend, Texas, near Houston, cancelled a $16 million iPad program last year, for example. Of course, schools also have problems with other devices. Hoboken, New Jersey schools this year cancelled a program that gave high school students inexpensive Windows laptops.

    Despite the iPad issues, Apple is still in the lead in the $10 billion U.S. school technology segment if Mac laptops are included in the tally. And Apple’s revenue and profit share remains much higher than Google’s. But iPad sales were expected to give Apple another foothold, especially as school districts look beyond traditional laptops and PCs.

  • Netflix, Pandora and other new media reaching limits to growth

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 14 days ago

    They were the new all-digital, online media darlings: Netflix ( NFLX ), Pandora ( P ) and Twitter ( TWTR ). But lately all three have investors worried. Netflix hit an all-time high of almost $500 a share in September. Since then it’s down 27%. Pandora’s all-time high was in March at over $40. It is down 54% since, including a 28% decline in the past three months. Twitter’s high was last December when it almost reached $75. Even in early October it was still over $55. Today it’s under $40, down 48% from the all-time high, 29% since that early October high. What happened and can any of the three get their mojo back? The short answer is that investors see all three with a much lower ultimate audience size than they did before. And unless you believe one of them can suddenly find a huge, untapped audience again, there’s no going back. Of the three, Netflix probably has the best chance, because it is just starting what looks like will be a successful overseas expansion. Pandora looks increasingly tapped out amid fierce competition in the music-streaming space. And Twitter may never have had the reach its boosters claimed....

  • Why you're more likely to find a Chromebook under your tree this Christmas

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 15 days ago

    As tech shoppers peruse the aisles this holiday season, an increasing number are considering the humble Chromebook.

    Analysts say sales of the low cost, no fuss laptops that run Google’s (GOOGL) Chrome operating system software could triple from last holiday season, but acknowledge even that would still represent only a small fraction of all laptops sold.

    Chromebooks don't run the gamut of programs that work on Mac and Windows computers. Instead, they rely mainly on web-based software running in Google’s Chrome browser. That has limited their popularity, but the spread of wifi connectivity and growing usage of cloud-based apps has increased the Chromebook's appeal.

    Even Adobe is producing a version of its venerable Photoshop app to run on Chromebooks now.

    But that productivity advantage quickly slips away if the Chromebook can’t access the Internet. “Chromebook will show stronger growth in regions where connectivity is more prevalent,” says Van Vector.

  • Investors unfazed by Uber missteps

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 22 days ago

    Seems like the management of super-powered transport startup Uber has been bumbling and fumbling lately, doesn’t it? But not on Wall Street, where investors are reportedly lining up to add more than $1 billion to Uber’s coffers in a deal that will value the company at as much as $40 billion, Bloomberg reports.

    That’s a staggering valuation for a private company, topped only by Facebook’s (FB) 2011 fundraising round that valued the social network at $50 billion the year before it went public.

    And, despite battles with local taxi regulators in some cities, Uber’s market opportunity still looks immense. The company is able to harvest great intelligence about future expansion because current customers open the Uber app in new cities as they travel. That helps Uber read the future and estimate where demand will be strongest.

    That future includes not just point-to-point passenger rides, but also potentially other kinds of local delivery services.