News from the video game industry for the week of October 12
Every Sunday Electronista and MacNN report some of the important news from the gaming industry across the past week. During this week's edition, we look at Final Fantasy XIV's first expansion, the download requirements for Halo: The Master Chief Collection, NPD numbers for video game hardware sales, and console updates for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Company says that sakes figures are up from May according to internal data
It seems that dropping the Kinect as a requirement for buying a new Xbox One is paying off for Microsoft. Posting on the Xbox Wire, an internal blog for Xbox news, Microsoft is boasting that sales of the new console have doubled since removing the sensor in June and reducing the price to $400. The increase could mean an gain in awareness and consumer desire for the console, which has lagged behind the PlayStation 4 in sales for months.
Chinese manufacturer continues market growth with 26.1 million phones sold
Smartphone and tablet manufacturer Xiaomi announced that it hit a major sales milestone this year. The China-based company announced today that it sold 26.1 million phones in the first half of 2014. A triple-digit increase over the same point as last year, Xiaomi is looking for greater growth by the end of the year as it hopes to gain an even greater market share.
Service hits eight million concurrent peak users, breaking previous record
Valve's Steam platform draws the attention of all sorts of consumers during its seasonal sales, from gamers looking for a large price break to the completists that feel a need to buy everything that goes on sale. With gamers coming out in droves during the most recent Steam summer sale, which concluded earlier this week, a new milestone was reached for the service. On the final day of the sale, over eight million concurrent users showed up for a last shot at the deals.
Sells over four million copies during first week, breaks first day Ubisoft sales record
Earlier this week, Ubisoft made an announcement regarding sales on its newest game property, Watch Dogs. The game, which saw a rocky start on some platforms, is said to have sold over four million copies during its first week. The number of copies sold has lead Ubisoft to claim that it is the "best-selling new IP at launch across the entire video game industry."
Rowe, formerly of Continental, to be replaced by Japan sales chief Doug Beck
Unrelated apart from timing with the news that Apple's PR chief Katie Cotton was retiring, the company has now confirmed that its North American head of sales, Zane Rowe, is also departing the company for unknown reasons. Rowe was former the chief financial officer at United Continental airlines, working there for 19 years before taking on sales for Apple. Current head of sales for Japan and Korea, Doug Beck, will add Rowe's North America territory to his duties.
Sales took 16 months to reach on tablets and PCs
Sales of Windows 8 have reached an important milestone, with 200 million licenses sold of Microsoft's latest offering. Executive Vice President of Marketing Tami Reller let the sales numbers slip during a talk at Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference, but was later confirmed by Microsoft. The news comes about eight months after the 100 million sales mark had been reached for the operating system in May, a disappointing result. At the same point in its development history, Windows 7 had sold significantly more copies..
Gaming company to reevaluate business strategies
Nintendo is off to a rough start in 2014, after news in January of a less-than-optimal quarterly performance for the company that saw the forecast number of units of the Wii U cut as revenues were down across the board. It didn't help that the company that it opened itself up to a small controversy over the use of smartphones to market upcoming products -- a plan it first denied, then admitted to. However, the recent decline has caused Nintendo to look toward a different future as it looks to opening up new business strategies.
Historical trends, international sales may show record-breaking quarter
A "consensus" of how well Apple did during the holiday quarter last year is hard to come by, with a diverse range of estimates from analysts -- but at least one pundit believes Apple may have had a record quarter, particularly with its flagship product the iPhone, and that other estimates may be flawed due to the difficulty of guessing iPhones sales abroad. Separately, Fortune believes iPad sales could possibly have doubled again this year.
Company expected to post record $50B-plus quarter
Apple, which begins its fiscal year on October 1, will release the results of its holiday quarter sales on January 23 at 5PM ET, an hour after the markets have closed for the day. The company is widely expected to break its own all-time record for sales, with results from the iPhone 5, the fourth-generation iPad, the iPad mini and a refreshed iPod lineup representing iOS products, and a refreshed MacBook and iMac line representing the latest Macs.
Photo and game bundles from iStack Social
MacNN has previously mentioned the iStack Mac Bundle 2.0 from StackSocial (requires signup for emails), but the company is also offering two more targeted Mac mini-bundles as well. The Photo Fanatic Bundle offers five photo-editing programs for $25, including filter program PhotoStyler, photo-to-artwork conversion utility Sketcher, collage maker Choco, mosaic maker Waffle and virtual frame app Light Frame. This deal ends in 14 days.
Indie analysts more optimistic than Wall Street
In a follow-up to a previous article about iPhone sales, Fortune's Philip Elmer-Dewitt has released results of a consensus roundup of 61 analysts both from Wall Street brokerages and independent firms that shows a wide rate of estimates for what Apple will report as its fiscal fourth-quarter (which ended on September 30) sales of the iPad. The overall average was around 18.38 million units (a median of 18.13 million), about a million more than the company sold in fiscal Q3 and a 60 percent increase from a year ago.
Recurring average spent on hardware
Asymco's Horace Dediu has put together a combination of published numbers and confident assumptions about hardware replacement cycles -- not app or third-party accessory sales -- to work out that Mac users are worth about $250 per year on average to Apple, while iOS users -- who outnumber Mac users roughly four to one and pay Apple far less for their equipment -- are worth around $150 per year, every year.
Deals on printers, HDTVs, iPods and more
It's Cyber Monday, and holiday sales are in full force at online retailers across the web. OfficeMax.com has a wide selection of great gift ideas for $100 or less like the Epson Stylus NX510 all-in-one InkJet printer, which was priced at $149.99, but has been reduced to $69. Or the HP OfficeJet J4680 all-in-one InkJet printer, which was $129, but is now only $65. Other items include an eMachines 18.5-inch LCD monitor for $69.99, and a Kodak M863 bundle for $89.99.
Office Black Friday deal
Microsoft's Mac Business Unit has announced 75-percent-off pricing for Office 2008 for Mac: Special Media Edition during the Black Friday sales period that kicks off the holiday shopping season. The discount will be available online during Thursday and Friday only from Apple, Amazon.com and BestBuy Online. Apple will also offer the deal at its retail stores on Friday. For customers that miss the Black Friday sale, the software will be sold at 50-percent-off retail prices through the end of the year.
Retail sells 476k Macs
Apple on Monday posted its most impressive June quarter so far, with the company's retail front showing a 58-percent increase in sales and 32 million visitors, up 10 million from the year ago quarter. Sales of Macs through the stores sat at 476,000, up 44-percent from the year-ago quarter. The average revenue per store – based on a mean of 211 stores – was seen to be $6.8 million.
Apple notebook sales
DisplaySearch has published its latest quarterly Notebook PC Shipment and Forecast Report, which shows that the notebook PC market grew 35% year over year in the first quarter of 2008 to 31 million units. Apple, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo all significantly outpaced the year over market growth, with Apple posting 61 percent unit growth from 891,000 units to 1.43 million units. That growth gave Apple a 4.6 percent share of the overall market, making it the seventh largest notebook vendor.
iPhone 3G teardown
The iPhone 3G carries a lower price, but it also costs about half as much to make, according to a report in the EETimes. The report says tests by teardown specialist Portelligent put the bill of materials for the new model as low as $100. That should help offset the 3G’s lower $199 price point. Portelligent estimates that based on materials alone, Apple’s gross profit on the iPhone 3G totals about $99, compared to $229 for the previous version. Apparently, Apple is counting on sales volume to make up the difference and Apple may also be receiving a payut for each carrier activation, although the revenue sharing plan with carriers, as with the original device, is no longer in place.
Dell revenue up
Dell has reported fiscal first quarter revenue of $16 billion, a 9 percent year-over-year increase. While net earnings of $0.38 cents per share represent a 12 percent increase, operating income was down 4 percent compared to the year-ago quarter. In a statement, Dell officials said that the results were driven by "better-than-industry growth of commercial and consumer products and services, and lower operating expense as a percent of revenue." Specifically, notebook sales skyrocketed 43 percent, a rate Dell says is 1.2 times the industry average. The consumer segment was also especially strong, with Dell claiming to grow global share of this market by 1.2 points to 8.8 percent during the quarter.
American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu has reversed a prior downgrade on share's of Apple Inc, changing his rating on the stock to from Neutral to Buy. Wu's downgrade came right before Apple's blowout March quarter, in which the company announced record revenues on surging Mac sales. Barrons quotes Wu: "We overestimated the potential negative reaction on the quarter and in hindsight should have moderated our near-term posture rather than downgrading. While AAPL shares will likely remain volatile and may offer a better entry point, we need to align our rating with our longer term view on fundamentals." Wu has set a $210 price target on Apple's stock. Barrons also notes that RBC Capital's Mike Abramsky has raised his target price on Apple to $220 from $200, predicting that Apple will sell 14 million iPhones this year.
Apple blocks iPod sales
Apple is reportedly blocking sales of the iPod to 11 UK-based e-business firms that are purchasing the device from suppliers in the US in order to sell it at a £15 discount. According to The Register, the "grey iPods" breach the sales agreement between Apple and the e-stores, which normally states that companies selling Apple products either get supply direct from Apple or through legitimate third-party supply chains.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster estimates that Apple sold 10 to 10.5 million iPods in its fiscal second quater (January, February and March). Munster views this data point as a "slight positive, given recent Street chatter of a very weak iPod number for the quarter." The Piper Jaffray analysis looks at the percentage contribution in NPD data from each month of the quarter in past March quarters. The analyst says that the cheaper iPod shuffle drove sales in February and March. Munster previously said that the iPod will be a slower growing segment than the Mac or iPhone, and expects iPod unit growth to be flat in the calendar year 2008, but also thinks that Apple can maintain iPod unit growth and slightly exceed street expectations. Munster believes that the iPhone will replace the iPod as a driver of significant growth for the company.
Apple shares up 4.5%
Shares of Apple Computer Inc. are up $6.51 to $161 near the end of trading on friday, representing a gain of 4.21 percent. The uptick could be due, at least in part, to strong market share gains posted by the company in recent surveys from various research firms. Apple saw the biggest gain among the top 5 vendors in the U.S. market according to Gartner, enjoying strong retail sales coupled with "decent growth" in the professional market. According to IDC, Apple is expected to come in at fourth place and ship 950,000 Macs to Americans during the first quarter of 2008, earning itself an increase from 5.7 percent in the prior quarter to 6 percent. The increase is a 25.1 percent jump over sales in early 2007 and also represents more than a full percentage point increase in marketshare from year to year.
MacBook buffs AAPL
Due to stronger-than-expected MacBook shipments, J. P. Morgan Securities today raised its second quarter estimates for Apple, saying that the above factor made up for slower iPod and iPhone sales. Thanks to the boost in portable sales, J.P. Morgan raised both Apple's second-quarter and 2008 yearly profit estimates from $1.05 and $4.94 per share, to $1.09 and $5.04 per share, respectively, according to Reuters. Mac shipments for the quarter are also estimated to be higher, at 2.11 million units, versus the earlier prediction of 1.97 million.
Motorola cuts 2600 jobs
Motorola today announced it would terminate an additional 2600 jobs from its workforce, bringing the current total of layoffs to 10,000 since the beginning of 2007. According to The Wall Street Journal, Motorola comes up against increased pressure in the face of declining cellphone sales, of which it recently lost its coveted second tier position in worldwide handset share to Samsung, a move that caused Motorola's sales to fall 38 percent in year-over-year quarterly profits.
iPod sales '08
As part of his "3 Cylinder Engine" report on Apple's three core product lines, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster recently looked at Apple's iPod, discussing the business unit's growth trajectory, upcoming iPods and more. Saying that the iPod will be a slower growing segment than the Mac or iPhone, Munster expects iPod unit growth to be flat in the calendar year 2008, but also thinks that Apple can maintain iPod unit growth and slightly exceed street expectations. Munster believes that the iPhone will replace the iPod as a driver of significant growth for the company.
Apple outpaces PC market
Apple's computer sales in the US have grown considerably from last year – at 60-percent unit growth and 67-percent revenue growth – granting it 14-percent of all computers sold for February. According to AppleInsider, Apple's laptop systems saw the largest growth, representing a 64-percent increase in units sold, and 67-percent increased revenue, suggesting strong acceptance of the company's new ultra-portable, the MacBook Air.
Apple ninth in laptops
Apple sits ninth overall in laptop sales, but also has the third highest rate of growth, according to a recent study performed by The NPD Group. According to the study, Apple had moved through 1.34 million laptops during the quarter, earning 4.1-percent market share, which is up 38-percent from the year ago quarter. HP remained the top brand, claiming 20.1-percent market share, by moving 6.66 million laptops, up from 4.69 million last year.
iPhone best seller for O2
O2 today revealed that the iPhone is its fasting selling device for the UK, noting that the device has helped it achieve 9.5-percent revenue growth during the final quarter for 2007. While O2 did not provide specific sales numbers for the device alone, it said that the iPhone led its strongest quarter on record, adding 483,000 customers and 276,000 contracts to its roster. These latest results are the first to show the effects of the iPhone on the company's UK sales, according to Pocket-lint.co.uk.
Equinux ships iSale 5
Equinux today began shipping the fifth generation of its online auction management software, iSale 5. The application allows Mac users to create as well as manage online eBay auctions, and features a template editor that allows supports customization of the included 222 templates. iSale 5 simplifies the search for product information and pictures, according to the company, and can display running auctions on the Facebook platform. iSale 5 is priced at $40, and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later. Upgrades are free for users who purchased iSale after December 15th of 2007, and are priced at $20 for all other customers.
Apple's holiday quarter
Apple is due to report its December quarter results after the market closes on January 22nd, and research firm Piper Jaffray expects an upside to Wall Street expectations based primarily on Mac sales. Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster says Mac sales could reach 2.3 million -- beating out average estimates of 2.2 million -- with iPod sales of 24-26 million over Wall Street predictions of 24.7 million. Munster also says Apple may well report 2.2 million iPhone sales, just shy of average investor expectations of 2.26 million.
Best Buy expands Mac sales
Best Buy is planning to almost double the number of stores that sell Apple-branded goods, according to conversations held with company executives at the Computer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. UBS analysts say the brick-and-mortar retailer aims to expand its Mac sales to 500 stores in 2008, up from the current 270 outlets, according to AppleInsider.
CompUSA Mac discounts
In brief: We've published a review of the Wacom Bamboo series, there are 10 new ways to trick out your MacBook, a new tutorial explains how to make icons for Mac OS X, the Firefox 3 beta has debuted, and Apple ranks 11th in Web traffic for November ... We've posted a review of the Moshi Codex MacBook case.. Aevoe, creators of the Moshi line of products, have created an elegant product for any of the MacBook series. The rules of good notebook case design dictate that it should not be too tight and there should be a certain amount of glide when you put your equipment away. When you’re in a hurry, you shouldn't have to fumble about or struggle with the covering. Another rule is that it should project the right image, i.e. look good without much flash, unless that is your preference. A stylish design should be discreet or tastefully bold and the Moshi Codex holds your laptop with just that right amount of style.
Mac OS share hits 7.3%
Strong holiday sales of both MacBook and iPhones resulted in significant market share gains for Apple during the month of December, according to a Net Applications survey. Mac OS X rose to a record 7.3 percent share from 6.8 percent in November, while the company's iPhone garnered .12 percent share over the previous month's .09 percent. The survey suggests that more than one in 1,000 people on the internet are browsing the Web with an iPhone, according to Fortune.
Apple high on satisfaction
Apple's holiday customer satisfaction through its online and brick-and-mortar stores remains high this year, leading both sales categories, while experiencing a slight dip since last year. According to a recent study by ForeSee Results, Apple received a 79-percent overall satisfaction rating out of the top 40 companies in the report, showing no loss or gain from last year's numbers. In terms of of satisfaction by sales channel, Apple netted 75-percent satisfaction in the "Manufacturer Direct" sales and 73-percent with its physical retail locations. These numbers are down 1.3-percent and 1.4-percent from last year, respectively, but were still high enough to earn Apple the top spot on the ForeSee study.