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Financial

HTC One Once mighty HTC sees losses grow as phone sales lose traction

Next quarter will be better, it insists

Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC has suffered a deeper-than-expected first quarter loss, as its market share continues to slide – with it now standing at around 2 per cent. Despite rave reviews for its flagship smartphones, HTC sales remain modest and in the three months to April 2014 it posted a 22.6 per cent drop in revenues to 33.12 billion Taiwanese dollars (£659 million). But it insists it is likely to return to profit in Q2 following the late-March release of its upgraded flagship smartphone, the HTC One M8. In recent months it has also slashed costs dramatically in a bid to bolster its share price which has lost nearly 90 per cent since its April 2011 peak. Continue reading

vodafone_storefront Vodafone splashes the cash on expanding high street outlets

1,400 more jobs on the way, too

Britain’s second biggest mobile operator Vodafone, cash rich after the sale of its 45 per cent stake in Verizon Wireless, is to splash some of that windfall by opening 150 new retail stores over the next 12 months. In what is clearly an attempt to catch up with arch rival EE which has 600 stores and is already planning to add a further 1,000 staff to its payroll, Vodafone will expand the number of its outlets to more than 500, simultaneously creating some 1,400 new jobs. “This year we’ll invest more than ever before to provide our customers with the strongest network and best services in the UK,” explained Vodafone’s new UK chief executive Jeroen Hoencamp. Continue reading

quality budget phone can disrupt a market - Sunnebo Motorola sees surge in UK sales thanks to low cost Moto G handset

Questions wisdom of Google to sell division to Lenovo

Motorola’s launch of its budget smartphone Moto G has led to a six-fold growth in UK sales, according to figures from Kantar Worldpanel. The surprise surge in sales lends credibility to the decision by Chinese electronics manufacturer Lenovo to buy Motorola for a bargain $2.91 billion (£1.74 billion) from search giant Google – vastly less than the $12.5 billion Google paid to buy the business in May 2012 when the smartphone patent battles were at their height. But while Google hasn’t succeeded in making money out of its handset division – it lost $645 million in the first nine months of 2013 – Lenovo looks as though it could be on a firmer ground, if and when the acquisition goes through. Continue reading

We’re not giving up on handsets, insists BlackBerry’s CEO

But customers will insist on buying old BB7 devices

BlackBerry’s CEO John Chen has again insisted that the ailing Toronto manufacturer is not abandoning the handset business, despite the fact that the bulk customers appear to be shunning the latest BB10 models. Reporting its fiscal fourth quarter, BlackBerry revealed end users purchased 3.4 million smartphones during the three months, but admitted the majority of these were handsets that had already been sold to telecom operators and other “channel partners”. It acknowledged a truer sale of just 1.3 million handsets during the period, lower than Wall Street forecasts of 1.8 million. Continue reading

spotify_logo Spotify might be the next to float

Music to somebody’s ears at least

Spotify – the international music streaming company based in Sweden, maybe making plans float on the UK stock market Q3 2014, it is widely rumoured. The reports centre around a story in the Financial Times (FT) earlier this month [March 2014] which said that Spotify had secured a new $200 million line of credit from Morgan Stanley – amongst others. That’s normally interpreted as a move that indicates anIPO is an imminent. Continue reading

zacconi - overnight multi millionaire King gets crushed at New York flotation

Shares tank amid uncertainty over London game studio’s other offerings

The New York flotation of the firm behind Candy Crush, King, proved something of a disaster for investors last night [26th March 2014] with the stock closing nearly 16 per cent down on its opening price. Even so the founders of London games studio, King – the makers of the Candy Crush game – still became overnight multi millionaires. That’s despite the stock diving from $22.50 to $19.08 just moments after the exchange’s opening bell had sounded. King’s CEO, Riccardo Zacconi. and chairman, Melvyn Morris, respectively owned 10 and 12 per cent stakes in the firm prior to the IPO, though it remains unclear how much of their personal holdings they disposed of during the day. Continue reading

unwanted guest Carphone’s shares tumble as rival Phones4U gatecrashes merger talks with Dixons

Unwanted guest at the party

Shares in Britain’s Carphone Warehouse took a dive last night [24th March 2014] after it emerged that its merger target Dixons was also in talks with High Street rival Phones4U. Carphone’s overtures towards Phones4U were seen as a gambit to ward off the encroachment of supermarkets like Tesco into the mobile sector. Last month, when it was announced the two sides were in merger discussions, Carphone’s shares soared 10 per cent. But last night they went into reverse, falling 4.83 per cent amid fears that the £3.8 billion deal was off. It followed reports that UK private equity firm BC Partners, which owns Phones4U, had also thrown its hat into the ring, meeting with senior Dixons executives to talk about the possibility of a rival merger. Continue reading

digital music sales might be hit OTT players hit by change in UK VAT loophole

Amazon & Apple may raise prices on digital music sales

In a move which will at least bring some satisfaction to Blighty’s [UK's] MNOs [Mobile Network Operators], the UK Chancellor has moved to close a tax loophole. The major OTT players such Amazon, Apple & Skype, take advantage of the tax system to pay their VAT bills in an EU country where charges are low. For example, in Luxembourg the VAT rate is a mere 3 per cent whereas in Britain it is currently 20 per cent. New rules will mean that Brits Revenues & Customs will be able to levy 20 per cent VAT on downloads executed in the UK. OTT players could respond by raising prices. Continue reading

our ray tracing IP is here - yassaie Imagination boasts new chip design will bring ‘cinematic realism’ to mobile devices

But will breakthrough be enough to counter slowdown in smartphone market?

UK chip designer, Imagination Technologies, claims to have raised the bar in ray traced graphics with its new Wizard architecture said to offer “cinematic realism” for mobile level devices upwards. The Wizard cores are said to provide immersive games and apps with more real-life dynamic lighting models allowing advanced lighting effects, dynamic soft shadows, and life-like reflections and transparencies, previously unachievable in a mobile form factor. PowerVR Wizard Ray Tracing IP is also said to be highly scalable, making it appealing to many other markets beyond mobile. Commented Imagination CEO Hossein Yassaie, “Our PowerVR GPUs have played a key role in driving the creation of entirely new categories of mobile devices and now we are changing the game again by bringing the next level of realism to mobile and consumer devices.” Continue reading

bango building on base of 120+ MNO integrations - anderson Bango upbeat despite posting £4.9m loss

User spending up 150% as app store activity grows

British mobile payments firm, Bango, suffered pre-tax losses of £4.9 million in 2013, latest figures reveal, after ramping up its workforce and data centres in line with a rise in customers. The loss compares to £2.6 million for the nine months of 2012, when it had a shorter accounting period. But on the positive side Bango says end user spending via its platform increased to £15.6 million from £6.2 million the year before, an increase of 150 per cent with growth largely driven by app store activity. Continue reading

vodafone fourplay target - ono Vodafone ‘clinches’ deal to buy Spain’s Ono

Bit more cash was all it took

UK operator, Vodafone, is expected to announce later today * [17th March 2014] that it has clinched the deal to buy Spanish cable operator Ono, having upped its offer to around €7.2 billion (£6 billion). Vodafone, cash rich after its sale of its 45 per cent stake in Verizon for £84 billion, had its earlier offer to buy Ono for $7 billion rejected, but it’s now thought shareholders in the Spanish firm have had a change of heart with more money on the table. Continue reading

zacconi - overnight multi millionaire Candy Crush flotation set to make founders overnight multi millionaires

IPO could mark a record for British mobile app makers

King, the London games studio behind the mobile hit Candy Crush, could soon make history after revealing it hopes to raise $7.6 billion (£4.5 billion) when it floats in New York later this month [March 2014]. The IPO figure, if achieved, could set a record for British mobile app firms and would make overnight multi millionaires of its founders CEO Riccardo Zacconi, whose 10 per cent stake alone could be worth as much as $745 million, while chairman Melvyn Morris, who owns a 12 per cent interest, could be in for even more of a windfall. Zacconi and Morris, a former director of Derby football club, first worked together at the Midlands-based matchmaking site uDate, which they sold for $150 million to Interactive Corporation in 2002. Continue reading

Imagination_Logo4 More doom from Imagination as it lowers shipment expectations

No improvement likely for well over a year
Shares plunge over 10% in early London trading

A slowdown in the global smartphone market and failure to win more share of the business for entry level handsets has led to UK chip designer Imagination Technologies into admitting that this year’s unit shipments are “behind expectations.” In an interim trading statement issued today [6th March 2014], Imagination also admitted it didn’t expect things to recover until the latter part of next year, though it also stated that low royalty margins from its entry level phone designs meant that the impact on overall revenues was minimal. Continue reading

teddy sagi pic source: calvinayre.com Playtech founder nets £326m after shedding 15% of firm

Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi, whose company Playtech is hailed as the Microsoft of the online gaming market, has added another £326 million to his fortune after offloading a 15 per cent stake in the firm. Forty-year-old Sagi has seen shares in Aim-listed Playtech rise by more than a third this year and had originally intended to sell just a 10 per cent stake in the business. But demand was so great that yesterday he agreed to shed half as many shares again, representing around a third of the total. The stock is being sold at 725 pence through his investment vehicle Brickington, though Sagi will still be left with a 33.6 per cent stake in Playtech. Continue reading

chen- 2 new handsets @ MWC BlackBerry shares surge again on news of super encrypted messaging platform

Up by nearly a fifth in just a week

BlackBerry’s, CEO John Chen, has given the firm’s investors further cheer after revealing its messaging system would be made more bullet-proof for corporate customers. The news, coming in the wake of Facebook’s $19 billion (£11.4 billion) planned purchase of WhatsApp – which alone made analysts reappraise the value of BlackBerry’s messaging system, sent shares in the Toronto phone maker up another 8 per cent at close last night [25th February 2014]. This resulted in an overall 18 per cent leap in the manufacturer’s stock in less than a week. It ended the day at $10.60 on Nasdaq. Continue reading