Oh, what fun we in the media have lampooning those overeager Pokemon GO players who keep walking into lakes and off of mountains and stuff. I mean, could there be anything more pathetic than some guy getting so deep into a Pokemon hunt that he gets hopelessly lost and is found days later starving, naked, and gibbering like a maniac by the side of the interstate? Especially when he was supposed to be covering news in the SMB channel?
Not that we know anyone like that, mind you. But if we did, here are some of the stories he might have neglected to tell you about this week.
So how about those bellwethers? We got our second straight batch of earnings updates from top names in IT-dom this week, and with them a few interesting insights into current tech industry trends. And what, you ask, did the numbers tell us? Same ol’, same ol’ for the most part.
Apple, as expected, reported its second straight quarter of lower revenue, profits, and per-share earnings, thanks in large measure to declining shipments of iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches. There are more down arrows ahead during the current quarter too, company execs warned, despite the expected September release of a new iPhone. On the plus side, Apple’s revenue from iTunes, the App Store, and other service businesses was up 19 percent year-over-year, suggesting a moral to this little tale that MSPs and cloud service providers have known for years: Services, people. It’s all about services, rather than hardware, these days.
Just ask Amazon. Remember when we said earlier this week that you could color us impressed if Amazon Web Services bested the 28 percent year-over-year net sales gain it recorded three months ago? Well, the same figure came in at 58 percent this time around. But, I mean, AWS couldn’t possibly beat that growth rate in its next quarter. Could it?
Finally, Alphabet delivered more of the same too. Well, not exactly the same. Sure, it lost $859 million on its various “moonshot” projects, versus $574 million in the same quarter of 2015, but the more than 19 percent increase in ad revenue it reported reassured Google-watchers that the internet gargantuan is weathering the rise of lower margin mobile advertising better than expected.
Oh wait, we missed one. That would be Citrix, which on Tuesday reported a 6 percent overall revenue increase, 14 percent SaaS revenue uptick, and 18 percent operating margin jump. But we procrastinated on telling you that mostly because we’re still trying to wrap our brains around the complex transaction (known among finance aficionados, apparently, as a “Reverse Morris Trust”) that the company also announced Tuesday.
That deal has Citrix spinning off its GoToMeeting business as a wholly owned subsidiary that will immediately merge with a similar just-born subsidiary of LogMeIn. The newly born mega-subsidiary will then be the wholly owned property of LogMeIn—except that somehow when the dust settles Citrix shareholders will own roughly 50.1 percent of LogMeIn, making it a kinda, sorta subsidiary of Citrix.
Got it? Great! Please contact us at your earliest convenience and explain the whole thing very, very slowly.
Sage storm. Seems only logical that if you manage to draw over 15,000 people to your annual user and partner event you’ll want to reward those folks for coming with something other than appearances by Gwyneth Paltrow, Zooey Deschanel, and Ashton Kutcher. And sure enough, Sage all but bombarded attendees at its Sage Summit event in Chicago this week with new products and partnerships. Specifically, the small business accounting leader announced that:
- It will roll 54 worldwide partner programs together into one by the close of 2017, and give members of that program new tools for communicating with Sage and each other.
- It has released a new edition (in the U.S. at least, with Canadian availability to follow in September) of its cloud-based Sage Live solution specifically for professional accountants.
- It will release a partner-focused version of Sage One in 2017.
- It has added editions of its Sage One and Sage Live solutions for Apple’s iOS platform, and is working on a version of Sage Live that utilizes Saleforce’s reimagined Lightning user experience.
- It will ship an updated edition of its Sage X3 midsize business ERP solution with an enhanced interface and new mobile e-commerce functionality in August.
- It has integrated its Sage 50 accounting system with Office 365 and joined the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider program, which means Sage 50 users can buy Office 365 licenses directly from Sage itself.
- It will soon roll out integrations with the Slack collaboration tool, Salesforce CRM, and Fairsail, an HR management solution powered by the Salesforce App Cloud.
- It has launched Pegg, a “smart assistant” bot designed to liberate users from manual data entry by allowing them to manage their finances in everyday language via their favorite messaging app.
But hey, you ask, what’s new with Microsoft? And well you should, too, because Microsoft can’t seem to go a week without issuing a few noteworthy new products and product updates. Why just this week alone, the tech industry bigshot:
- Gave SharePoint’s lists feature new workflow, versioning, approval, and alert capabilities, new bulk editing functionality, and more.
- Added a new “Focused Inbox” feature to Outlook that places important incoming messages under their own special tab, so you can find them more easily, as well as an “@mentions” feature that lets you highlight people who need to take action on something you’re writing about.
- Equipped Word with built-in research and writing assistance tools, and enabled PowerPoint users to jump hither and yon inside presentations without exiting slide show mode.
- Put Azure Logic Apps (an “Integration Platform-as-a-service” offering designed to make linking on-premises solutions to cloud-based systems easier) and Azure Active Directory B2C (an identity management service for app developers) into general availability.
Bravo, Microsoft. Now get out of the way, please, so everyone else can grab a share of the product news limelight with announcements like these:
- BlackBerry made its Good Dynamics Secure Mobility Platform available via Microsoft Azure.
- Cortado added support for the iOS edition of Microsoft Office to its Cortado Corporate Server enterprise mobility management solution.
- ESET introduced a new cloud-based edition of its Remote Administrator security management tool that (like the BlackBerry solution above) is hosted on Azure.
- GIGABYTE updated its P15 and P17 gaming laptops (pictured) with DDR4 memory, GDDR5 VRAM, USB 3.1 support, and a highly customizable new “Flexikey” keyboard.
- Hewlett Packard Enterprise, together with CyberArk, launched a new managed security service designed to prevent attackers from hijacking administrator and other privileged accounts for mischievous purposes.
- Nor-Tec shipped new budget-priced high performance computing clusters pre-equipped with several free open source applications.
- Salesforce released a new compliance solution for users of its Financial Services Cloud.
- Scale unveiled a new disaster recovery-as-a-service offering for its SMB-sized hyperconverged infrastructure solutions.
- Seagate debuted what it says is the industry’s first gum stick-sized M.2 SSD with 2 TB of capacity.
- Super Micro began volume shipments of a new 2U, 4-node server bearing Intel’s latest Xeon Phi processor.
- Swiftpage launched version 18.2 of its Act! CRM solution, which lets users quickly! Integrate! their desktop Act! deployment with hundreds of online solutions from third-party providers.
- TP-Link introduced two new ceiling-mounted dual band gigabit wireless access points optimized for small businesses, hotels, restaurants, and schools.
- ViewSonic announced its new LightStream Pro8 family of installation projectors.
- Zoho released a new edition of Zoho CRM that supports “multichannel” customer interaction across email, social media, live chat, and phone communications.
And there was more—more, I say—from vendors this week. These stories, moreover, didn’t involve new products:
- Avnet announced its intention to purchase Premier Farnell, a U.K.-based global distributor of components to electronic system designers.
- Riverbed said it would acquire Aternity to add end point performance monitoring to its current backend infrastructure monitoring products.
- ZeroStack inked a partnership with T5 Data Centers and Colovore to provide collocated hosting options to users of its OpenStack private cloud infrastructure solution.
This week’s stats ticker:
- On average, 35 percent of corporate data is stored in the cloud at present, and close to half of it isn’t managed or controlled by IT professionals, according to the Ponemon Institute.
- The global market for managed security services will rise at a 15.8 percent CAGR through 2020 to $29.9 billion, according to Allied Market Research.
- 23 percent of channel pros have already made money selling Internet of Things offerings, up from 8 percent last year, according to CompTIA.
Brain freeze on demand. At last, the drone’s true reason for being has come into focus. Contrary to what you may have read here, moreover, it has nothing to do with helping farmers or building inspectors complete dull, workaday chores. No, we now know that the drone’s first, best destiny is to bring ice cold Slurpee drinks to you in your backyard on a hot summer day.
That’s thanks to a recent, carefully controlled, and FAA-sanctioned experiment in Nevada with 7-Eleven which proved that fully autonomous drones can successfully and safely get donuts and candy to stoned college kids or hot coffee to people trapped on the night shift in a matter of minutes. And to think, people dismiss drones as playthings.