|Bid||29.45 x 0|
|Ask||29.50 x 0|
|Day's Range||28.35 - 29.80|
|52 Week Range||25.40 - 41.00|
|Beta (5Y Monthly)||1.20|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||N/A|
|Earnings Date||Jul 31, 2020 - Aug 05, 2020|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||0.38 (1.32%)|
|Ex-Dividend Date||Aug 19, 2019|
|1y Target Est||56.50|
(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. confirmed it acquired NextVR, a startup that provides sports and other content for virtual-reality headsets.The acquisition may help Apple’s development of VR and AR headsets with accompanying software and content. NextVR supplies content to several existing VR headsets, including Facebook Inc.’s Oculus and devices from Sony Corp., HTC Corp. and Lenovo.NextVR has deals with sports leagues including the National Basketball Association and entertainment networks such as Fox Sports. The startup also has expertise in live streaming in virtual reality, which could also be useful for live concerts and games.The Newport Beach, California-based startup officially shut down this week, saying on its website that it is “heading in a new direction.” Apple said it buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and generally does not discuss its purpose or plans. It didn’t disclose a purchase price, but website 9to5Mac reported in April that Apple was in talks to buy NextVR for about $100 million.The deal is at least the third for Apple this year, following the purchase of Voysis, an Irish startup that focuses on voice technology, and Dark Sky, a popular weather app.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Let me start by saying that I am new to writing about Alphabet Inc. I’m usually based in Asia, where I write about Foxconn Technology Group, Samsung Electronics Corp. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., among others.These are huge companies that lead their sectors and have different levels of transparency. When I started preparing to cover U.S. technology giants, I figured that the high standards of earnings disclosure at the center of global capitalism would make life a little easier.Then I started looking at Alphabet Inc., which on Monday reported revenue that missed some estimates. It beggars belief that for more than a decade analysts, investors and traders were forced to navigate blind through the black box that was its earnings report.Then came Monday’s announcement.For the first time, executives deigned to tell investors just how much revenue comes from YouTube ($15.1 billion) and from its cloud business ($8.9 billion). It feels like a revelation, as though we’ve been let in on a secret. But when you live in a dark cave, even candlelight can seem bright.While I welcome this move toward transparency, it feels more like a company trying to pacify investors rather than truly inform them. It’s long overdue, but the company can do even more.Before the fourth-quarter earnings announcement, Alphabet broke down advertising revenue only by properties, by network members’ properties, other revenue and other bets. By region, investors are given EMEA, APAC, U.S. and Other Americas. And it shares traffic acquisition costs. Now it’s added two more line items: YouTube, the world’s most ubiquitous video-sharing platform, and Cloud — a hot business that competes against Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and dozens of others.Despite this additional information, I still don’t think investors truly have an understanding of exactly where this company gets its revenue, what divisions make and burn money, and which platforms are lucrative and which are loss leaders (or just losers).Google search and other advertising accounted for 61% of sales last year; that’s a very big pie that could certainly by sliced up further. It doesn’t feel like a coincidence that the two extra divisions it’s breaking out are the ones that grew the fastest last year.Still lacking is any clarity on the product that gives directions to more people than anyone else (Google Maps), the one that has become one of the most pervasive email services (Gmail) nor the operating system that’s in the hands of literally billions of people across the planet (Android). I don’t own shares in Alphabet or any company I cover. But as an investor, I’d want to understand just how Google monetizes the Android operating system and whether that’s improving or deteriorating in tandem with the spread of smartphones globally. I’d also like to know whether Maps and Gmail are winners or loss leaders. Of course, it would be fascinating to know how that $1 billion HTC Corp. acquisition is faring, given that it’s meant to be a springboard into hardware devices that pit Google against its own Android partners.I guess Alphabet just lumps all this in with Google search or “Other.” Investors are right to want more information.And it’s not some esoteric pondering. There’s evidence to suggest that disclosure truly matters. For example, a study by Stanford University accounting professor Mary Barth and her co-authors found that “firms with more transparent earnings enjoy a lower cost of capital.” And Professor Robert G. Eccles of the University of Oxford and previously of Harvard Business School has written numerous papers discussing transparency from different angles, including the conclusion that the U.S. ranks low in terms of quality of disclosure.Amazon.com Inc. is an example of a company that’s improving. Its disclosures, in my opinion, have become more enlightening over the years to the point that observers can analyze multiple slices of the business to get a sense of which units are more profitable, which are growing, and where it’s making money. Investors can see, for example, that its overseas business is a loser and physical retail shrank. Yet those facts didn’t stop its market value from surpassing $1 trillion last week. Amazon still falls a little short, though.For a gold standard in transparency, let me offer up Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., which trades in New York and Taipei. Despite being a $270 billion company entrusted with the secrets of the world’s most important technology clients, the chipmaker offers so much information about how it operates that you could almost replicate its business model. It may be worth noting that both TSMC and Amazon provided better risk-adjusted returns over the five years to Dec. 31 than Alphabet, though remember that correlation doesn’t equal causality.So while I applaud Alphabet on these latest disclosures, there’s no doubt that the world’s biggest search engine has a whole lot more to share.To contact the author of this story: Tim Culpan at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tim Culpan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. is building its own operating-system software to decrease its future dependence on rivals like Apple Inc. and Google, owners of the world’s most popular mobile operating systems.The planned operating system, earlier reported by The Information, would be focused more on future products, such as augmented-reality glasses, according to a Facebook spokeswoman. Facebook has shared plans to build this type of glasses, with software built in, but the social-media giant is likely years away from launching anything in this area.“We really want to make sure the next generation has space for us,” Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s head of hardware, told The Information regarding the company’s plan to build a new operating system. “We don’t think we can trust the marketplace or competitors to ensure that’s the case. And so we’re gonna do it ourselves.”Facebook has sought ways to alleviate its dependence on Apple and Google for years. It previously tried to build its own mobile phone and developed a software layer to work on HTC Corp. handsets, though both projects failed. Facebook also previously had a contingency plan in place, called Project Oxygen, in case its apps were ever blocked or inaccessible from the Google Play Store and Facebook had to ensure users could get them somewhere else.Some technology industry leaders, including Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, believe that AR glasses could one day take the place of mobile phones as consumers’ primary way of connecting to the internet. If that turns out to be the case, Menlo Park, California-based Facebook wants to have more control over the software that operates on those devices.To contact the reporter on this story: Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Kizuna Ai, the most popular streamer in Japan, is an anatomically exaggerated, perpetually adolescent girl in frilly thigh-high socks and a pink hair ribbon. She’s also an entirely virtual character, given life by the actions and voice of an invisible actress.In the home of anime and “Ghost in the Shell” futurism, millions now follow Kizuna Ai online, and that success has spawned thousands of copycat acts and a cottage industry catering to so-called virtual YouTubers, or VTubers. Defying the Western streamer blueprint of young male gamers like PewDiePie and Ninja, Japan has invented a new class of streaming star that’s equal parts digital avatar and interactive anime.“What separates VTubers from regular anime characters is that you can believe they actually exist,” said Takeshi Osaka, founder of Activ8 Inc., the Tokyo-based company behind Kizuna Ai. “That presence is an important part of what makes them so appealing.”Sidestepping the labor-intensive and time-consuming process of traditional animation -- ill-suited to the fast-paced world of YouTube content -- Activ8 uses Hollywood-grade motion capture equipment to crank out music videos, skits and game streams just about every day for more than 4 million subscribers.The technology allows Kizuna to interact with fans in real time at exhibitions, give interviews on live TV and perform in concerts. It’s a virtual influencer that can patronize real-world events.While Activ8 doesn’t disclose technical details, its product is an almost seamless combination of lifelike movements, gestures and facial expressions, all of which contribute to the suspension of disbelief.“The innovation here is in how they combine real-time 3D computer graphics, motion capture and video streaming sites like YouTube to create two-way interactions with audiences,” said Eiji Araki, a senior vice president at Gree Inc. who heads a division specializing in VTubers.Kizuna Ai debuted on YouTube in December 2016 and was responsible for coining the term “VTuber.” The technology that opened the door for its many imitators arrived that same year, in the form of the first commercial virtual reality goggles. Designed to do precise head and hand tracking, the VR kits from Facebook Inc.’s Oculus and HTC Corp.’s Vive turned out to be perfect animation rigs for VTuber aspirants on a budget. With free-to-use animation engines and 3-D models from the likes of Unity Technologies, anyone could create a virtual puppet studio for cheap in their living room.Virtual Beings Get Real With First Emmy From HollywoodIt’s no accident that VTubers found fertile ground in Japan. The country has a long history of user-generated content centered on anime, and performances by virtual idols like Hatsune Miku have drawn real-world crowds for more than a decade. While international audiences may prefer more photorealistic characters -- which are more difficult to create and animate -- their Japanese counterparts raised on comic book heroes have no problem with cartoonish looks.The VTuber phenomenon has so far been almost exclusively Japanese, however its underlying technology and formula of combining popular culture with increased interactivity -- and thus believability -- are universal. And Activ8 already has ambitions to expand its VTuber portfolio beyond Japan.While Japan’s global tech leadership may have faded since the days of the Walkman, its trendsetting habits remain strong in the gaming realm. Three out of four gaming consoles sold in the world today are made by Nintendo Co. and Sony Corp., while free-to-play mobile games are taking over the globe with monetization techniques pioneered by Japanese companies. And then there are globally beloved game series like Super Mario, Zelda, Monster Hunter and Pokémon. Anime, another major Japanese cultural export, is a $20 billion industry whose products range from Oscar-winning high-brow works by Hayao Miyazaki to action-packed light entertainment like “Battle Angel Alita,” which recently got a Hollywood remake. VTubers are a cross between these two Japanese pastimes.Market researcher User Local Inc. estimates there are now over 9,000 VTuber channels. The most popular ones are produced by a handful of professional studios like Activ8, each managing dozens of characters. In the space of less than three years, virtual streamers have morphed from an obscure subculture to a big business. Kizuna Ai can now be found in ads for instant cup noodles and eye drops, appearing at local carrier SoftBank Corp.’s launch event and helping the Japan National Tourism Organization’s promo campaigns.“There is no doubt that this will change the future of entertainment,” said Hironao Kunimitsu, the founder of Gumi Inc., an early investor in Activ8 and about 70 other VR startups. He cautions, however, that “for this type of content to resonate outside of Japan, it will have to be adapted to local tastes and sensibilities.”For now, Japanese VTubers are taking the path of least resistance and exporting their characters to China’s large and underserved anime market. Activ8 earlier this year introduced a Chinese version of Kizuna Ai, changing its dress and voice, and now it has close to 820,000 followers on the country’s Bilibili video-sharing service.Ultimate success for Activ8’s chief means making it into Hollywood, which is already a well-trodden path for Japanese gaming franchises like Resident Evil, Pokémon and Sonic the Hedgehog. Given the world’s appetite for Japanese culture, VTubers might not even have to dilute their product very much.“I started this virtual entertainer business because I believe it can be done worldwide,” Osaka said. “Our goal is to become the next-generation Disney.”To contact the reporters on this story: Pavel Alpeyev in Tokyo at email@example.com;Yuki Furukawa in Tokyo at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at email@example.com, Vlad Savov, Colum MurphyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
HTC Corp has hired Yves Maitre as its new CEO, the smartphone maker said on Tuesday as it announced the replacement of Cher Wang by the former Orange executive. Maitre will be tasked with reviving HTC, which has struggled as rivals such as Samsung and Huawei have come to dominate the Android smartphone sector. While smartphones remain "part of the DNA" of HTC, Maitre told Reuters, he hopes to expand into education or business-to-business verticals as 5G connectivity expands.
TAIPEI, Sept. 17, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- HTC Corporation, a leading innovator in mobile and immersive computing, today announced the appointment of Yves Maitre as CEO of HTC, effective immediately. Yves joins HTC from Orange, one of the world's largest telecommunications firms, where he served as EVP of Consumer Equipment and Partnerships, overseeing Orange's connected technology strategy and business. Yves's background includes deployment of the world's largest consumer electronic brands as well as ownership of an entire portfolio of connected and mobile services, and he also served as a member of Orange's innovation technology group, charged with developing disruptive revenue opportunities.
Over the last few years, you would be forgiven for thinking that virtual reality, mixed reality, and augmented reality, are areas of tech that reside firmly in the domain of the gamers and entertainment industries. There is good reason for this, virtual reality has always been the poster child for immersive entertainment, while augmented and […]