technology

Microsoft released strong quarterly results, which showed good growth in cloud, server and devices.

Last month, we predicted that Microsoft sold about $2 billion worth of Surface Pro 3s at retail over the past three, three-and-a-half months. So the interesting number in the quarterly report is the Surface recording $908 million in revenue for Microsoft.

That may look like we’re way off, but it actually might be pretty close.

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The extraordinary thing about Macs is its ability to convert sales into profit — no other computer manufacturer does it as well as Apple. For every $100 worth of computer that Apple sells, Apple makes $19 of profit whereas competitors are lucky to make $4. That’s more than 4x the margin, which is amazing.

PC makers feel the sting, but Macs still comprise less than 7% market share so Microsoft hasn’t felt the same kind of pressure. The Redmond company soon will, however. In Apple’s latest quarterly report, Macs grew 21% compared to the previous year’s quarter, over a time when the overall PC market is flat. Apple hasn’t done as well since 1995.

Apple has traditionally focused on the high end market; but more and more, Apple has been willing to compete in the middle. That’s why Apple is still selling the the non-retina MacBook Pro, the original iPad mini and the iPhone 5C, even though those products aren’t likely to garner the same high customer satisfaction scores that Tim Cook often brags about.

While Mac units shipped grew 21%, revenue only grew 18% — evidence that the average selling price of Macs sold has declined. This is a signal that Apple intends to grab market share.

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Didn’t know what to write today, and then @nilanp came to save the day:

My answer to that is great design is everywhere. Lots of tech companies have great design. The problem is not everyone cares.

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Since forever, smartphones and tablets were banned from flights despite a total lack of evidence they posed any danger. The US and UK came to their senses recently and lifted that restriction, while the rest of the world is still stuck with flight attendants badgering passengers to put their electronics away.

Everyone has a story. I remember one stewardess — really, a bully — stand and watch me not just put the phone on airplane mode, but actually power it off. I tried explaining how there was no evidence using electronics (especially while on airplane mode) was bad. I don’t remember what she said back exactly, but I do remember the spit flying everywhere and high decibel levels.

All the while, my buddy next to me was giggling under his breath while his Kindle stayed open. The flight attendant hadn’t realized that e-ink display was also an electronics device as she went nuts over my iPad.

With the rule change in place, I wonder if that stewardess ever thought back to our pleasant exchange.

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Vanity Fair has a fascinating piece on the rise, fall and reboot of Microsoft. The story is really about leadership; from the days of Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer; to Ballmer succeeding as CEO; and finally to Satya Nadella. It’s a great piece and definitely worth reading.

I’m a big admirer of Ballmer, but must call him out on something he said in the article:

“The worst work I did was from 2001 to 2004,” says Ballmer. “And the company paid a price for bad work. I put the A-team resources on Longhorn, not on phones or browsers. All our resources were tied up on the wrong thing.” Who shoulders the blame is a matter of debate, but the fact is neither Ballmer nor Gates stopped the failure from happening, even as almost everyone else saw it coming.

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The results in summary according to Digital Trends:

Following up from the Spring 2014 ‘Taking Stock With Teens’ study created by Piper Jaffray, the Fall 2014 edition of the study was published this week with a particularly harsh outlook for social networking giant Facebook. When teens were asked what social network they typically use, only 45 percent responded with Facebook. That’s down from 72 percent responding Facebook just six months ago.

Alternatively, Instagram grew in popularity with 76 percent responding in the affirmative. In addition, sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Reddit pulled in similar numbers as the last study. Only Google+ plummeted with Facebook, dropping from 21 percent in Spring 2014 to just 12 percent in the Fall study.

The story makes it seem like Facebook is on the way out but I have a different take. It’s not helpful to view any particular app from a “one to rule it all” perspective — though it may have started that way — because people have learned to use each service in a different way. Facebook doesn’t compete directly with Instagram even though both are on the surface social networks.

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