Posts tagged good

Microsoft’s Future Remains Cloudy—And That’s A Very Good Thing

Increasingly, Microsoft is looking like a successful cloud-services company that also happens to sell software, a game console and some other devices.

Of course, that’s not apparent at first glance. In Microsoft’s latest earnings report, covering the July–September quarter, it pulled in overall revenue of $23.2 billion in revenue and earned a net profit of $4.5 billion. Its “commercial cloud” revenue, which includes cloud-related revenue from its Office productivity software as well as its Azure public-cloud server business, amounted to just $1.2 billion—a mere 5% of the software giant’s overall sales.

See also: Azure Is Helping Microsoft Catch Up In The Cloud

But take a closer look. Microsoft’s commercial cloud revenue grew 11 times faster than that of the company as a whole, more than doubling in the quarter compared to the year-earlier period. Overall company revenues rose just 11% over the same timeframe. (That’s excluding $2.6 billion in July–September phone sales resulting from Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s phone unit earlier this year.)

What’s more, the gross profit associated with Microsoft’s cloud and “enterprise service” operations almost tripled in the quarter. That profit jumped 194% to $805 million in the quarter. Overall, Microsoft’s gross profit barely rose at all, edging up only 8% (again excluding the Nokia handset business).

Head In The Cloud

All of which is to say that the long-held view of Microsoft as an old-school software business dependent on Windows and Office is due for an upgrade. 

Windows and Office are going to remain key to Microsoft’s operations for years to come; they’re still enormous, after all.

See also: What Microsoft’s Fiercest Critics Forget: Azure

They’re just not growing. Microsoft’s “devices and consumer licensing” revenue—i.e., Windows for consumer PCs and other gadgets—actually dropped 8.7% in the quarter, primarily reflecting the ongoing consumer shift toward tablets and phones away from PCs. Its “commercial licensing” business—read: Windows for business—bumped up only 2.7% in the quarter.

Both segments remain hugely profitable, with gross margin in the range of 92% to 93%. But profits in the two segments combined rose only 1.5% in the quarter. 

True, together they accounted for almost $14 billion in revenue and $12.9 billion in gross profit—that’s basically the definition of “cash cow.” But these cows don’t seem likely to get much fatter; in fact, the opposite is much likelier over time.

And while straight-line extrapolations are usually wrong, consider this for perspective. Should Microsoft’s cloud business keep growing at this rate (which it almost certainly won’t), it could eclipse the company’s entire Windows business in just four years.

Microsoft, of course, continues to do a variety of other interesting things, although they’re likely to remain sidelights in business terms. Revenue from sales of its Surface tablet more than doubled to almost $1 billion in the quarter. Total Xbox unit sales also doubled, although Microsoft still doesn’t distinguish between the older Xbox 360 and its newer Xbox One, suggesting that the latter isn’t yet something it wants to brag about.

But the cloud remains its real future.

Lead image by Robert Scoble

View full post on ReadWrite

Apple’s iOS 8.1 Will Bring Big Changes; Let’s Hope They’re All Good

Users wary of the problems Apple inadvertently wrought on their iPhones over the past few weeks should brace themselves. iOS 8.1, the next software update for iPhones, iPads and iPod touches, looks be moving to the launchpad next. 

See also: Apple Really Needs To Get It Together

The 8.1 update, expected within days of Apple’s October 16 press event, isn’t just another collection of bug fixes—welcome though those will be for many. iOS 8.1 will almost certainly debut Apple Pay, Apple’s highly anticipated mobile payments system. 

Designed to turn iPhones and Apple Watches into wallets that can pay for things in stores, Apple Pay has the potential to be a revolutionary change, not least because despite lots of effort, no other company has cracked the mobile-payment nut quite yet.

But it’s also a nerve-wracking proposition, since the new payment system will be arriving on the heels of the company’s boldest, and perhaps buggiest, software to date. Only the stakes are going to be a lot higher for people who are trusting Apple with their cash and credit balances.

Who Might Really Pay For Apple Pay

So far, iOS 8 has wreaked havoc on many unsuspecting iPhone users. For some, problems like lost cellular connectivity and drained batteries overshadowed the benefits of smarter notifications and better location controls.

The biggest setback was iOS 8.0.1, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it software update intended to support Apple’s HealthKit, a software system for storing health and fitness data. Instead, it hobbled devices, forcing Apple to pull it down and rush version 8.0.2 out the door—which some say is no panacea.

See also: Why Half Of iPhone Users Don’t Trust iOS 8 Yet

With any luck, iOS 8.1 will solve many of the remaining problems. But it may could also introduce new ones, given the complexity of the Apple Pay system that looks likely to debut in 8.1

Externally, Apple has been readying outside partners—from banks and credit card companies to retailers—in preparation for the launch. Internally, it has built a credit-card management and transaction system out of iTunes accounts, its Passbook app, and two specific hardware components: the iPhone’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner and Near Field Communication (NFC) chips. 

See also: Apple Is Less Than Inviting To PayPal In Apple Pay

With all those pieces coordinated in an intricate dance, Apple Pay will store your credit card info, pull it up when need be, identify you and send transaction details when it registers a physical tap on an in-store terminal.

This one-finger, one-tap scenario is the convenience and—let’s face it—fun of this system. The idea is to make mobile payments so simple for consumers that everyone will want to use it. 

But as Steve Jobs once said, “Simple can be harder than complex.” It takes a lot to make Apple Pay seem easy. And if we’ve learned anything about complex systems, it’s that every interaction of their moving parts is vulnerable to malfunction, error or just plain unexpected behavior.

We might not even be raising this point were it not for Apple’s surprisingly ham-handed rollout of iOS 8. Software updates should follow a sort of tech version of the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm. And that’s not what Apple has delivered to its customers this round.

So, fingers crossed that Apple Pay works the way it’s supposed to, and doesn’t break anything else. 

iPhones 5, 5C, 5S can work with Apple Pay too, but only by pairing with the Apple Watch

The Software Update Conundrum 

Apple Pay isn’t the only passenger on board iOS 8.1. The change logs in the developer version point to the return of the much-missed Camera Roll—the iPhone photo folder inexplicably nixed last month. 

See also: Apple Might Bring Back The iPhone Camera Roll

Additionally, Apple may deliver functional Continuity features, which tie iPhones and Macs together more closely. Signs of Continuity for iMessages were spotted in the iOS 8.1 beta software, and the Mac OS X version required to make it work—named Yosemite—appears to be close to its final stages now too

Mostly, though, it may be the bug fixes that pull people in. So if your phone is riddled with problems—like vexing keyboard glitches, strange screen rotation behavior and fundamental issues that mess with your phone’s functionality—you might find jumping in worth it. 

See also: Apple Will Reportedly Announce New iPads On October 16

Apple may also decide to patch the recently discovered SSL vulnerability, which can put browsing on supposedly secure websites at risk. This would strengthen the case for grabbing iOS 8.1. 

But if not, and your phone works fine, consider waiting. Why risk problems when you can let the early adopters stumble into the minefield first? 

Lead image by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite

View full post on ReadWrite

Open-Source Projects Need More Than Good Code—They Need Marketing

Most open source developers focus on writing great code and don’t bother marketing their project. Which is why most open-source projects fail. Utterly.

While it’s a convenient fiction to believe that open source is a meritocracy where the best code wins, it’s just that: fiction. As Apache Storm founder Nathan Marz writes in a recent blog post, solving an important project with useful code is only half the battle. It’s equally important—and sometimes more so—”to convince a significant number of people that your project is the best solution to their problem.”

See also: How To Get Started In Open Source

That’s called marketing, and most developers are terrible at it.

Telling Stories

I’ve written before that every technology company needs at least one English major. It’s easy to believe that the world will beat a path to your project’s door, Field of Dreams style (“If you build it, they will come”). But the world doesn’t work that way.

People—and developers are people, too—have a finite amount of attention. That’s why we’re seeing the fading of the polyglot programmer. As former Googler Tim Bray notes, “There is a re­al cost to this con­tin­u­ous widen­ing of the base of knowl­edge a de­vel­op­er has to have to re­main rel­e­van­t.”  

See also: Why Every Tech Company Needs An English Major

As the number of open source projects booms, getting developers interested in your particular project is non-trivial. By marketing a project well, developers can cut through the noise and help their project to stand out. As former Facebook and Google engineering executive Santosh Jayaram articulates, English majors are critical for helping companies “tell stories” about their projects. 

And while no developer really wants to read some Randomly capitalized Blurb on GitHub about a Project!, as the worst marketing “professionals” are prone to do, project leads who can tell a compelling story around their project, English-major style, are more likely to find developers that want to use and/or contribute to a project.

The Accidental Marketing Of Storm

This is what Nathan Marz discovered as he sought to increase adoption of Storm, a real-time computation system. In 2011, I joined Dave Rosenberg to build a company (Nodeable) focused on delivering Storm as a service. The company was a bit ahead of its time and ended up getting acquired by Appcelerator.

Storm, on the other hand, really took off. 

Twitter started acquisition talks with Marz in May 2011 to acquire his company, Backtype. To help increase the valuation Marz wrote this blog post, touting the potential of Storm, which was at the heart of Backtype’s technology stack. 

In the process he stumbled on the value of marketing the project:

The post had some surprising other effects. In the post I casually referred to Storm as “the Hadoop of realtime,” and this phrase really caught on. To this day people still use it, and it even gets butchered into “realtime Hadoop” by many people. This accidental branding was really powerful and helped with adoption later on.

From then on, Marz spent a great deal of time both developing the technology and (in his words) hyping it, bolstering that marketing hype with documentation because “people cannot use your software if they don’t understand it.” 

But it wasn’t just code. Marz also hit the campaign trail, blitzing conferences:

Over the next year I did a ton of talks on Storm at conferences, meetups, and companies. I believe I did over 25 Storm talks. It got to a point where I could present Storm with my eyes closed. All this speaking got Storm more and more exposure.

The result, however, was worth it:

The marketing paid off and Storm acquired production users very quickly. I did a survey in January of 2012 and found out Storm had 10 production users, another 15 planning to have it in production soon, and another 30 companies experimenting with the technology. To have that many production users for a major piece of infrastructure in only 3 months since release was very significant.

Get Yourself A Story Teller

Storm has become an incredibly important project, but it never would have reached this stage without a lot of marketing along the way. As should be clear by now, I’m not talking about billboards along Highway 101 or pop-up ads on Hacker News (if those existed). 

Rather, I’m suggesting highly informative marketing like Marz did to raise awareness of and interest in Storm:

Building a successful project requires a lot more than just producing good code that solves an important problem. Documentation, marketing, and community development are just as important. Especially in the early days, you have to be creative and think of clever ways to get the project established. Examples of how I did that were making use of the Twitter brand, starting the mailing list a few months before release, and doing a big hyped up release to maximize exposure. Additionally, there’s a lot of tedious, time-consuming work involved in building a successful project, such as writing docs, answering the never-ending questions on the mailing list, and giving talks.

This isn’t the sexy work of a code jockey. But it’s this very marketing drudgery that often will make the difference between a great project that no one uses and a great project that changes the world. Linux, for example, didn’t hit its stride in the enterprise until IBM committed to spend $1 billion marketing and promoting it. 

Storm, for its part, didn’t require a $1 billion injection. But it did require a heck of a lot of Marz’s time spent marketing, not coding.

Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Six Good Reasons Why You Should Invest In Local SEO – Business 2 Community


Business 2 Community
Six Good Reasons Why You Should Invest In Local SEO
Business 2 Community
Six Good Reasons Why You Should Invest In Local SEO image local seo6 300×244 There are florists, accountants, restaurants, and hairdressers in every county that someone often appears to know and recommend. Still, even for these well-known and long …

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There’s a Good Chance Google Is Rejecting Some of Your Products Right Now

A simple guide for how to prevent your products from getting rejected on Google.

View full post on Search Engine Watch – Latest

If You’re Good At These 3 Games, You’re Probably Good At SEO – Forbes

If You're Good At These 3 Games, You're Probably Good At SEO
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SEO is not dead or dying, despite some critics claiming otherwise. You may have heard, for example, about SEO Jill Whalen moving on after a successful 20-year career in the field. Her reason? In her opinion, since Google Google released its Penguin and …

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Why Responsive Web Design is Good for SEO? – Business 2 Community


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Why Responsive Web Design is Good for SEO?
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A visitor can easily connect to the main webpage from the mobile version website by just clicking on the link which would be provided by the mobile website version. The actually helps (in your SEO) to flow all the link juice to one URL and also

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4 Ways Social Media is Utilized for Social Good by @kristelcuenta

Over the last few years, social media has had a huge impact in our everyday lives. It has completely changed the way we engage the world, both locally and internationally. However, much of what is showcased focuses on the negative aspects of social media, such as people using it as a place to vent or rant or as place for cyberbullying. Despite our nature to focus on the more negative moments in social media, there are still many people using social media outlets to do great things in our world. From the nonprofit, for-profit, and even ordinary individuals, here are four examples of how social media […]

The post 4 Ways Social Media is Utilized for Social Good by @kristelcuenta appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Paid Search Portfolios: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Last month, I suggested that spending beyond observed profit maximization in paid search can make a great deal of sense on a number of grounds. In a nutshell, the argument is that a combination of other factors can make “losing money” on the incremental investment rational. Here’s…



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