You can’t count them out – today’s stories are about companies that are coming from behind with surprising results.
These top tech news stories and more for Wednesday May 24, 2023, I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada, and Tech News Day in the US.
We didn’t plan it this way, but it seems like the top stories today are all about companies with come from behind comeback stories or surprising accomplishments.
While tech stocks in general have been doing well, particularly as they make announcements about cutting their costs, one stock in particular has been up by 60 per cent this year according to reports in Yahoo Finance. That stock? BlackBerry.
BlackBerry, for both of you who don’t know the story, gave us the smart-phone and dominated both the market for phones and the stock market until the iPhone came along and decimated the company.
The company stumbled, burning cash – which thankfully it had lots of – and tried vainly to recapture some of its market share. None of that worked out and the company was written off by many people.
Then, in one of the most incredible turnarounds in corporate history, John Chen, BlackBerry’s new CEO transformed the company into a cybersecurity company, with a secondary and strong offering in software for increasingly digitally enabled automobiles and an IoT offering that captured the imagination of the market.
That’s the short version – if you want to know more, there are books and even a movie.
Even with this amazing turnaround, BlackBerry has had some challenges with a softening in the auto sector and more recently some slowdown as purchases were delayed for its cybersecurity offerings in the key government markets, particularly in the US. And now there is steep competition in cybersecurity.
Revenue has been dropping.
But in the last quarter, the challenges in the auto sector have eased and its QNX software had a record year. BlackBerry projected 20 per cent revenue growth. It also completed the sale of some of its non-essential patents, raising significant amounts of cash.
And BlackBerry’s Internet of Things business started to catch fire – a part of the business that has margins of 80 per cent or more.
Then the company has started a review to consider a potential separation of its two main businesses. That possibility has brought tremendous interest from the market and is driving up the share price by more than 60 per cent. That growth has subsided in the past week or so, and analysts still aren’t declaring it the top of the stock picks, but one thing is for certain, you can’t count this company out.
Sources include: Yahoo Finance
And another company that some claimed (including this newscast) has missed the boat on AI development has made doubters “eat their words.” The company’s business model, built by master strategist Steve Jobs, continues to help it prosper.
Apple has been late to the party on Artificial Intelligence as we’ve reported in previous stories. As we reported yesterday, they are reportedly working on a new offering in this area, code named Bobcat.
But in the “oh ye of little faith category” it seems that we have forgotten about the power of Apple’s integrated marketplace. While it can’t catch ChatGPT, it can co-opt it. Apple announced a ChatGPT app for the iPhone. That app is similar to the functions of the browser-based offering, but when sold in the Apple store, it lets Apple take its 30 per cent cut.
Let’s see, at $20 per month for the premium ChatGPT subscription times 30 per cent – with ChatGPT being the fastest growing app in history – if ChatGPT were to add 5 million new subscribers to the IoS app from its hundred million or more users that would be 1.2 billion in revenue of which Apple would collect 30 per cent for an additional 360 million dollars of revenue, for just being Apple.
ChatGPT has been reported to have trouble doing math.
Nobody can say the same about Apple.
Sources include: Business Insider
And for those who may have counted Amazon out of the tablet market, the company has come back with a strategy to take the ultra-low end of the market and more.
Amazon is actually the number two player in the US tablet market, but most of its sales are in the sub-$100 range.
But Amazon has come out with new offerings including a new Fire tablet which it claims to be 50 per cent faster than any other of its tablets. At a price of US $229 it may emerge as competitor for Apple’s iPad which starts at US $329.
In addition, Amazon is expanding their Kindle e-reader with bigger screens and adding handwriting with a stylus. Many of these new functions are part of a series of free software updates.
Sources include: Axios
And Microsoft continues its aggressive march to enable all of its products with Artificial Intelligence based on its investment in ChatGPT.
Having successfully built AI into its Bing search engine and taken that search engine from obscurity with a miniscule market share to a real contender against even the giant in this arena – Google, Microsoft marches on on a relentless and rapid makeover that will integrate AI into all its products from its Edge web browser to its Office suite – Word, Excel and Powerpoint, all the way to its rapidly growing Azure cloud services – the Redmond giant announced at it’s Build developer conference that it is bringing and AI assisted “copilot” to its Windows operating system.
The Windows version of “copilot” will help users change settings and access operating system features with that natural language interface that ChatGPT has made so famous.
The preview of Windows Copilot is projected to be available starting in June.
Sources include: Axios
And keeping with the late to market theme, a report in Apple Insider claims that nearly every top Apple exec is working on their new AR headset.
With others having floundered in their offerings, including Meta, Google and Microsoft and perhaps being distracted by their aggressive pursuit of generative AI, Apple’s plan of succeeding where others have failed, or at least stumbled, is apparently a top priority.
The new Apple headsets are rumoured to be unveiled at Apple’s Worldwide Develop Conference in June. There’s a lot riding on this and according to Apple Insider there are a dozen or more top executives actively working on this project.
Which led to an interesting quote in the comments to the article in Apple Insider. “I feel sorry for the engineers that actually do the work with all these bosses.”
A reasonable comment, as it seemed the only exec not working on this project was Tim Cook himself.
Maybe he thought “too many Cooks spoil the soup?”
That’s the top tech news for today. We go to air with a daily newscast five days a week, as well as a special weekend interview with an expert on topics relevant to today’s tech news.
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I’m your host, Jim Love. Have a Wonderful Wednesday!