Disney to Buy Lucasfilm for $4.05 Billion

Written by Gradly on . Posted in Acquisition, blog, Disney, Movies, News, Pixar

Disney to Buy Lucasfilm for $4.05 Billion

Disney to Buy Lucasfilm for $4.05 Billion

It seems like Darth Vader and Micky Mouse will soon become colleagues, after Disney’s $4.05 billion purchase of Lucasfilm deal is finalized.

Disney will acquire Lucasfilm from its founder George Lucas for $4.05 billion, the company announced on Tuesday, Oct. 30. Disney will pay about half of the deal in cash and issue about 40 million shares.

Disney also announced plans to make a new Star Wars movie called “Episode 7” to be released in 2015, probably followed by Episode 8 and 9. In a statement regarding the matter, George Lucas, chairman and CEO of Lucasfilm, said:

“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next, it’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment and consumer products.”

George Lucas owns 100 percent of Lucasfilm, the company behind the Star Wars franchise and the Indiana Jones movies. After the deal is finalized, he will become Disney’s second largest shareholder and will remain on board as a creative consultant.

Lucasfilm purchase is Disney fourth largest purchase. Disney purchased Capital Cities/ABC in 1995 for $19.7 billion, Pixar in 2006 for $7.6 billion, and Fox Family in 2001 for $5.2 billion.

Apple’s Executives Scott Forstall and John Browett Are Out

Written by Gradly on . Posted in Apple, blog, News, Rants & Raves, Steve Jobs

Scott Forstall and John Browett Are Leaving Apple

Scott Forstall and John Browett Are Leaving Apple

In a major shake-up apparently since the loss of Steve Jobs, Apple has announced in a press release that Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall is set to leave the company next year. He will continue working as Advisor to Apple CEO Tim Cook at the time. Moreover, John Browett, head of retail, is also out. Tim Cook will take over retail as an interim until a replacement is found.

Bob Mansfield will be in charge of Apple’s new “Technologies” group and will remain at Apple for two more years. Other Apple’s Executives will have expanded responsibilities due to these changes.

“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October, iPhone 5, iOS 6, iPad mini, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod touch, iPod nano and many of our applications, could only have been created at Apple and are the direct result of our relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services.”

I am also announcing that Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year and will serve as an advisor to me during the interim. I want to thank Scott for all of his many contributions to Apple over his career.

For John Browett’s situation, that was expected and the #Firebrowett movement has paid off. But for Forstall’s departure this is an entirely different story, tension has increased between Apple’s executives, Jony Ive and Scott Forstall who said to be the one who pushes for more skeuomorphic designs which obviously come against Ive’s direction.

Read the full message to employees right below:
Team,

We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history. The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October – iPhone 5, iOS6, iPad mini, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod touch, iPod nano and many of our applications – could only have been created at Apple, and are the direct result of our relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services.

Today, I am announcing changes that will encourage even more collaboration between our world-class hardware, software and services teams at all levels of our company. As part of these changes, Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue, and Craig Federighi will be taking on more responsibilities. I am also announcing that Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year and will serve as an advisor to me during the interim. I want to thank Scott for all of his many contributions to Apple over his career.

Jony Ive will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company in addition to his longtime role as the leader of Industrial Design. Jony has an incredible design aesthetic and has been the driving force behind the look and feel of our products for more than a decade. The face of many of our products is our software and the extension of Jony’s skills into this area will widen the gap between Apple and our competition.

Eddy Cue will take on the additional responsibility of Siri and Maps. This places all of our online services in one group. Eddy and his organization have overseen major successes such as the iTunes Store, the App Store, the iBookstore and iCloud. They have an excellent track record of building and strengthening our online services to meet and exceed the high expectations of our customers.

Craig Federighi will lead both iOS and OS X. We have the most advanced mobile and desktop operating systems on the planet, and bringing together our OS teams will make it even easier to deliver our best technology and user experience innovations to both platforms. Craig recently led the very successful release of Mountain Lion.

Bob Mansfield will lead a new group, Technologies, which combines all of our wireless teams across the company in one organization, allowing us to innovate in this area at an even higher level. This organization will also include all of our semiconductor teams, who have some very ambitious plans. As part of this, I am thrilled to tell you that Bob will remain with Apple for an additional two years. Bob has led some of our most challenging engineering projects for many years.

Additionally, John Browett is leaving Apple. Our search for a new head of Retail is already underway. In the meantime, the Retail team will report directly to me. Retail has an incredibly strong network of leaders at the store and regional level, and they will continue the excellent work they’ve done over the past decade to revolutionize retailing with unique, innovative services and a focus on the customer that is second to none. This phenomenal team of talented and dedicated people works their hearts out making our customers happy. They have our respect, our admiration and our undying support.

Please join me in congratulating everyone on their new roles.

I’d like to thank everyone for working so hard so that Apple can continue to make the world’s best products and delight our customers. I continue to believe that Apple has the most talented and most innovative people on the planet, and I feel privileged and inspired to be able to work with all of you.

Best, Tim

Apple Q4 2012 Results: $36 Billion Revenue, 26.9 Million iPhones, 14 Million iPads, 4.9 Million Macs Sold

Written by Gradly on . Posted in Apple, blog, iPad, iPhone, News

Apple Q4 2012 Results: $36 Billion Revenue, 26.9 Million iPhones, 14 Million iPads, 4.9 Million Macs Sold

Apple Q4 2012 Results: $36 Billion Revenue, 26.9 Million iPhones, 14 Million iPads, 4.9 Million Macs Sold

Apple has just posted earnings for Q4 2012 financial results for the quarter that ended on September 29, 2012. Apple managed to get a revenue of $36 billion, with 14 million iPads, 26.9 million iPhones, 5.3 million iPods and 4.9 million Macs sold.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said during the conference:

“We’re very proud to end a fantastic fiscal year with record September quarter results,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’re entering this holiday season with the best iPhone, iPad, Mac and iPod products ever, and we remain very confident in our new product pipeline.”

Below is the press release:

Apple® today announced financial results for its fiscal 2012 fourth quarter ended September 29, 2012. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $36.0 billion and quarterly net profit of $8.2 billion, or $8.67 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $28.3 billion and net profit of $6.6 billion, or $7.05 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 40.0 percent compared to 40.3 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 60 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

“Looking ahead to the first fiscal quarter of 2013, we expect revenue of about $52 billion and diluted earnings per share of about $11.75.”

The Company sold 26.9 million iPhones in the quarter, representing 58 percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 14.0 million iPads during the quarter, a 26 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 4.9 million Macs during the quarter, a 1 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 5.3 million iPods, a 19 percent unit decline from the year-ago quarter.

Apple’s Board of Directors has declared a cash dividend of $2.65 per share of the Company’s common stock. The dividend is payable on November 15, 2012, to shareholders of record as of the close of business on November 12, 2012.

“We’re very proud to end a fantastic fiscal year with record September quarter results,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’re entering this holiday season with the best iPhone, iPad, Mac and iPod products ever, and we remain very confident in our new product pipeline.”

“We’re pleased to have generated over $41 billion in net income and over $50 billion in operating cash flow in fiscal 2012,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the first fiscal quarter of 2013, we expect revenue of about $52 billion and diluted earnings per share of about $11.75.”

Apple will provide live streaming of its Q4 2012 financial results conference call beginning at 2:00 p.m. PDT on October 25, 2012 at www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/earningsq412. This webcast will also be available for replay for approximately two weeks thereafter.

This press release contains forward-looking statements including without limitation those about the Company’s estimated revenue and diluted earnings per share. These statements involve risks and uncertainties, and actual results may differ. Risks and uncertainties include without limitation the effect of competitive and economic factors, and the Company’s reaction to those factors, on consumer and business buying decisions with respect to the Company’s products; continued competitive pressures in the marketplace; the ability of the Company to deliver to the marketplace and stimulate customer demand for new programs, products, and technological innovations on a timely basis; the effect that product introductions and transitions, changes in product pricing or mix, and/or increases in component costs could have on the Company’s gross margin; the inventory risk associated with the Company’s need to order or commit to order product components in advance of customer orders; the continued availability on acceptable terms, or at all, of certain components and services essential to the Company’s business currently obtained by the Company from sole or limited sources; the effect that the Company’s dependency on manufacturing and logistics services provided by third parties may have on the quality, quantity or cost of products manufactured or services rendered; risks associated with the Company’s international operations; the Company’s reliance on third-party intellectual property and digital content; the potential impact of a finding that the Company has infringed on the intellectual property rights of others; the Company’s dependency on the performance of distributors, carriers and other resellers of the Company’s products; the effect that product and service quality problems could have on the Company’s sales and operating profits; the continued service and availability of key executives and employees; war, terrorism, public health issues, natural disasters, and other circumstances that could disrupt supply, delivery, or demand of products; and unfavorable results of other legal proceedings. More information on potential factors that could affect the Company’s financial results is included from time to time in the “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” sections of the Company’s public reports filed with the SEC, including the Company’s Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended September 24, 2011, its Forms 10-Q for the fiscal quarters ended December 31, 2011; March 31, 2012; and June 30, 2012; and its Form 10-K for the year ended September 29, 2012 to be filed with the SEC. The Company assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements or information, which speak as of their respective dates.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

Microsoft’s Surface Tablet Early Reviews Round-up

Written by Gradly on . Posted in blog, Gadgets, iPad, Microsoft, News, Rants & Raves, Reviews, Tech.

Microsoft's Surface Tablet Early Reviews Round-up

Microsoft’s Surface Tablet Early Reviews Round-up

And the early reviews for Microsoft’s new Surface tablet have begun stacked up, giving us a glimpse of whats Microsoft has its up sleeves in the tablet business. Judging by the hands-on, it seems the Surface is not going well for Microsoft primarily with the obvious lack of apps, buggy software and other awkwardness:

TIME:

My 48-year-old eyeballs have no trouble telling the difference between iPad Retina text and the Surface’s ClearType — but overall, the Surface’s screen is one of the best I’ve seen on a tablet.

The screen, incidentally, is 16:9, an aspect ratio designed with Windows 8′s panoramic interface in mind. It lets you see more apps without panning, and is well suited to the feature that allows you to snap a widget-like version of one app on the side of the primary program you’re using. Microsoft thinks Surface buyers will use the tablet mostly in landscape mode; it works in portrait orientation too, although the aspect ratio leaves it looking like a small-but-tall magazine.

NY Times:

Yes, keyboard. You know Apple’s magnetically hinged iPad cover? Microsoft’s Touch Cover is the same idea — same magnet hinge — except that on the inside, there are key shapes, and even a trackpad, formed from slightly raised, fuzzy material. Flip the cover open, flip out the kickstand and boom: you have what amounts to a 1.5-pound PC that sets up anywhere.

This is nothing like those Bluetooth keyboard cases for the iPad. First, the Touch Cover is much, much thinner, 0.13 inches, cardboard thin. Second, it’s not Bluetooth; there’s no setup and no battery hit. The magnet clicks, and keyboard is ready for typing. Third, when you want just a tablet, the keyboard flips around against the back. The Surface automatically disables its keys and displays the on-screen keyboard when it’s time to type.

The Verge:

It does the job of a tablet and the job of a laptop half as well as other devices on the market, and it often makes that job harder, not easier. Instead of being a no-compromise device, it often feels like a more-compromise one.

There may be a time in the future when all the bugs have been fixed, the third-party app support has arrived, and some very smart engineers in Redmond have ironed out the physical kinks in this type of product which prevent it from being all that it can be. But that time isn’t right now — and unfortunately for Microsoft, the clock is ticking.

BGR:

Imagine booting up an iPad for the first time, seeing the OS X desktop exactly as it appears on a MacBook, and then finding out you cannot run any OS X software on the device. As odd as that scenario sounds, that is exactly the situation Microsoft is facing with the next-generation Windows OS…

…At 1.5 pounds, the Surface’s weight falls very close to that of Apple’s iPad despite the tablet’s larger display, and Microsoft says that the 10.6-inch display size is perfect for a device that is as much about content creation as it is content consumption.

Gizmodo:

In the end though, this is nothing more than Microsoft’s tablet. And a buggy, at times broken one, at that, whose “ecosystem” feels more like a tundra. There’s no Twitter or Facebook app, and the most popular 3rd party client breaks often. The Kindle app is completely unusable. There’s no image editing software. A People app is supposed to give you all the social media access you’d ever need, but It’s impossible to write on someone’s Facebook wall through the People app, Surface’s social hub; the only workaround is to load Internet Explorer. Blech. Something as simple as loading a video requires a jumbled process of USB importing, dipping in and out of the stripped-down desktop mode, opening a Video app, importing, going back into the Video app, and then playing. What.

PC World:

The Surface RT’s 1.4GHz quad-core Tegra 3 processor and 2GB of system memory handle their workloads without drama. Gesturing through the OS itself is fast and fluid. Ditto browsing in Internet Explorer. Websites load extremely quickly, and when you scroll rapidly down pages, screen redraws have no trouble keeping up…

…Regardless, performance in hard-core applications probably won’t even matter, because the Windows RT desktop is locked down: You will never be able to install Photoshop, traditional PC games, or any other code we typically define as “PC software.”

BuzzFeed:

I’ve been waiting a long time for somebody to produce tablets and phones that are lock, stock and barrel better than what Apple’s been making since the first iPhone. Every year, somebody gets closer. Surface doesn’t get close enough. The thing is, Surface is supposed to be so much more than just Microsoft’s iPad alternative, the Other Tablet. It may very well be one day. It has everything it needs to be that. But today it’s just another tablet. And not one you should buy.

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