Thursday, September 24, 2015

Can Anything Save Zynga Stock From Its Deathbed?

It's time to put this former social giant out to pasture

Do you remember Zynga (ZNGA), the company responsible for all of those annoying Facebook (FB) games, such as Farmville, Mafia Wars and Bubble Safari? Zynga games were all the rage for a long time, and at one point there were as many as 61 million people playing Farmville every month.

Management chose to take the company public; and in December 2011, Zynga stock became the largest Internet-related IPO since Google (GOOGL, GOOG) debuted in 2004.

But, eventually the novelty of the games wore off, and FB users became tired of the unending barrage of incessant requests for bricks, seeds, plants and animals. After countless complaints about Zynga game notifications, Facebook institued policy changes that eliminated those notices — and stifled ZNGA traffic. In March 2012, Zynga purchased OMGPOP, a competing social game maker responsible for Draw Something, for $200 million.

At the time, Zynga stock was popular — shares had reached an all-time high of nearly $15. But ZNGA began plummeting, and by the end of August it was trading below $3.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The App Store Hack Won’t Affect Apple Stock (AAPL)

AAPL stock investors have nothing to worry about

Last week, Wired revealed that a number of Apple (AAPL) apps containing malicious code had been downloaded from the App Store by Chinese users. At the time of the Wired article, it was believed that the number of infected apps was less than two dozen.

On Sunday, however, the Wall Street Journal reported that cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks (PANW) discovered more than three dozen infected apps, and on Monday morning Reuters reported that Chinese security firm Qihoo360 (QIHU) announced thediscovery of more than 300 compromised apps.

For now, it would seem that the actual number of apps infected in the App Store hack remains a mystery, as AAPL officials have refused to reveal how many were discovered during an internal examination.

Researchers at Alibaba (BABA) revealed, however, that several popular apps from reputable developers were among those that contained the malicious code, including Tencent Holdings’ (TCEHY) WeChat and the Cloud Music app from NetEase (NTES).

What is known, though, is the manner in which the App Store hack occurred: The malicious code was embedded into a counterfeit version of Xcode, the software used by developers to create apps for iOS. The existence of malware in the App Store is notable, and “prior to this attack, only five malicious apps had ever been found in the App Store.”

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mapsense: Apple Maps STILL Playing Catch-Up to Google Maps

Apple Maps is too slow, too far behind to challenge Google Maps right now

On Wednesday, it was reported that Apple (AAPL) recently purchased San Francisco-based mapping data analytics and visualization company Mapsense. The purchase price was stated to be somewhere between $25 million and $30 million, but AAPL management (as usual) remained tight-lipped about the acquisition.

Comprised of only a dozen employees, Mapsense is “able to sort through massive geotagged datasets to create quick geographical visualizations of location-based data points that can be embedded into apps.”

Put more simply, Mapsense can collect and analyze location data from billions of devices and present that information in a simple, readable way.

The original intent behind Mapsense was to provide businesses with highly accurate location information to better plan and refine marketing strategies. And with Apple’s boilerplate response to questions about the acquisition — “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans” — plans for how AAPL will be using Mapsense’s technology and resources remain a mystery.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Google: Android Pay Rollout Could Give GOOGL Stock a Boost

Android Pay is a secure, contactless payment solution - for Android 4.4 and up

Last week, Google (GOOGL, GOOG) announced that Android Pay is finally being rolled out to users across the United States.

Only devices running Android 4.4 or above will receive the update, which will come in the form of an upgrade to the existing Google Wallet app, which was first launched in 2011.

Android Pay is Google’s response to Apple Pay, the iPhone mobile payment solution from Apple (AAPL) that skyrocketed to instant popularity when it was released in October 2014.

Google’s Android devices have long since had the ability to make payments via near field recognition, or NFC, using the Google Wallet app, but too few device owners were familiar with the process, and even fewer merchants possessed checkout register hardware capable of reading it.

GOOGL failed to sufficiently promote NFC payments and the full capabilities of Google Wallet.

However, AAPL put its own NFC solution front and center, creating tremendous buzz that stimulated the mobile payments arena and motivated competitors such as Google, PayPal (PYPL), and Samsung (SSNLF) to revisit the market.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

MSFT Stock: Adallom Buy Is Another Smart Play in Microsoft M&A

Microsoft showing a dogged commitment to future in cloud, mobile services

Over roughly the past four years, Microsoft (MSFT) has acquired more than 30 companies. While the purchase price of many of those companies isn’t disclosed on Microsoft’s website, those that are add up to a whopping $20 billion.

The question, then, is whether that has been money well spent or squandered.

Given that the past year has been a bit rough for Microsoft stock, with shares down more than 7% and quarterly revenue down more than 5% year over year, the company’s most recent acquisition of cloud security firm Adallom for $250 million has some MSFT investors questioning its necessity.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Does Early Success of Apple Music Spell Doom for Pandora Stock?

AAPL is repeating its pattern of entering new markets and rising to the top

Apple (AAPL) recently revealed some powerful statistics about the Apple Music service, which debuted at the end of June. After just two months, Apple Music boasts a user base of more than 11 million, and comScore ranked it as the 14th most popular smartphone app in July.

Considering the newness of Apple Music and the fact that there are already a number of other popular music apps for both Android and iOS, the meteoric rise of Apple Music is impressive — and also potentially threatening to the current king of the streaming music industry, Pandora (P).

Over the course of its four-year history, Pandora stock rose to an all-time high near $38, but has since experienced a steady decline. Pandora is down 30% for the past 52 weeks, and with Apple Music already making headlines, the future for P stock isn’t looking too healthy.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

GoPro Stock Slips on AMBA Guidance, But GPRO Should Be Fine

GoPro has opportunities beyond just wearable sports cameras

GoPro (GPRO) stock slid Wednesday after HD video chipmaker Ambarella (AMBA) revealed weak guidance during its 2016 fiscal second-quarter earnings report.

Ambarella had solid earnings that beat analyst expectations, reporting revenue of $84.2 million — a year-over-year increase of 79% — but also stated that revenue for the next quarter is expected to be lower due to decreased wearable camera sales.

This news sent shares of both Ambarella and GoPro stock tumbling more than 12% and 9%, respectively, by lunchtime on Wednesday.

Clearly, Wall Street is scared of the prospect of a weakening wearables market, and considering that a sizable portion of Ambarella’s revenue stems from GPRO camera sales, both stocks have been feeling the effects.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Twitter Photo Upgrade – Another Sign That TWTR Is Behind the 8-Ball

TWTR celebrates the addition of basic photo-editing tools while still facing CEO, user growth woes

Earlier this week, TechCrunch reported that Twitter (TWTR) is now beta testing some enhancements to its photo and video capabilities. While the exact scope of the upgrades hasn’t been revealed, judging from recent images posted by a few high-profile celebrities, it looks like TWTR’s enhancements will be a range of photo and video editing options such as digital stickers and GIF creation.

Currently, editing Twitter photos within the Twitter app is essentially useless, with only the most basic capabilities present.

If you’re looking to do more than just add a filter or crop a picture, TWTR has never been your friend.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Why GOOGL Scrapped a Google Maps Marketing Plan

Google Maps ads were eliminated before they even had a chance

Monday morning, Fortune reported that it had obtained a document describing a secret Google (GOOGL, GOOG) initiative that had originally been slated for release in early 2015, but was instead scrapped. That initiative was called Google Here, and according toFortune, “was potentially too invasive, and the company wasn’t sure if many retailers would want it.”

Google Here was designed to work within Google Maps, and the app would have served up various display ads and other marketing messages, including coupon offers and loyalty card access, all based on the smartphone’s location in reference to participating retailers.