5 Tech Observations to Start Your Day, Oct 15

Greetings from sunny Long Island. My day is packed with tech briefings -- including a call from a former IBM VP who is now running and building his own company. But before I dive into the discussions, here are five technology observations, insights, news tips, gossip and chatter to start your day for Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014.

Actually, today's list involves 10 nuggets. Here you go:

10. Google Earnings: They're due Thursday. Forgive me if I ignore the massive paid search revenue numbers. I'm far more interested in Google Apps for Work customer momentum, which is tied to Google Cloud Platform revenues. Also, tell me more about Android Wear -- past, present, future. Finally, there's a rumor Google has invested in a virtual reality company. If so, why?

9. Attention Tech CEOs: I've got calls with five CEOs from five technology companies over the next five days. What could the discussions possibly involve? The five tech CEOs know. With any luck you'll know, too, later this year. If you're a tech CEO who would potentially like early details, use your business account to send me email using this link.

8. Intel Earnings - Pros and Cons: Business is looking up at the chip giant -- or is it? Q4 net income rose 12 percent, and revenue rose nearly 8 percent. Intel said the PC market showed strength -- chips for all systems rose 15 percent, while sales for products built into notebooks rose 21 percent. So what's wrong with all of that good news? Take a closer look at Intel's smartphone and tablet technology efforts. For the nine months ended Sept. 27,  Intel's mobile chip unit lost $3.1 billion on revenue of $208 million, ZDNet claims. In fact, Intel is paying subsidies to buy its way into the sector, ZDNet's Larry Dignan adds. His conclusion: Intel will likely lose $4 billion this year just to get its technology into 40 million smartphones and tablets. Is that a good investment? Of course, Intel is wise to target the mobile market. But the subsidy strategy always worries me. Anybody else remember the outcome after IBM paid developers to write OS/2 applications?

7. Why SAP Jumped Into IBM's Cloud: SAP yesterday said it will deliver its software via IBM's cloud -- while continuing to offer software via SAP's own cloud. What drove the move? SAP will be able to leverage 40 IBM data centers worldwide. That's critically important, since customers increasingly want their cloud data stored in a local country -- and away from prying international eyes like the NSA. SAP also has a relationship with Amazon Web Services, but I don't know if it's as far reaching as the IBM deal. My main concern: Is IBM simply hosting SAP's software on dedicated customer servers -- like the old ASP or co-location days? Or are these true cloud deployments that self-service customers can activate/deactivate on demand? 

6. Small Business, Big Disconnect?: Here's more evidence that business runs a little better without government assistance. Mounting research suggests the Small Business Administration's lending programs hurt the economy, according to the Washington Post. One study, from the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that a 10 percent increase in SBA loans in a county typically triggered a 2 percent slowdown in that county's income growth. Ouch. I'm all for stimulating small business growth -- but maybe the money should come from those who are truly qualified to lend the dough.

5. HP, EMC Aren't Getting Hitched: Hewlett-Packard and EMC have called off merger talks. Listen closely, and you'll hear thousands of CIOs breathing a collective sigh of relief. HP's M&A track record (Autonomy, Palm, etc.) is weak at best. Plus, HP first needs to navigate its own breakup into HP Enterprise and HP Inc. I'll share more insights on the path ahead for EMC and HP later today.

4. Good Delays IPO: Good Technology has delayed its IPO until 2015 amid market volatility. Good move, assuming Good has good enough cash flow and a low enough burn rate to sit on the sidelines a bit. The good news in all this? Good, which develops enterprise mobility and management platforms, raised $80 million in new funding last month, and the now-delayed IPO was only seeking to raise about $100 million, Bloomberg reported. The bigger story: Is the overall enterprise mobility management (aka mobile device management) sector set to cool off, now that the tablet wave is slowing?

3. This is Research?: Forrester says CIOs are increasing their spending on customer-focused technology. Thanks for the news flash.

2. IBM Share Buybacks - Money Well Spent?: From 2000 to 2013, IBM spent $108 billion on share buybacks, according to The Motley Fool. Basically, the buybacks allowed IBM to increase its earnings per share. Grow earnings per share, and your stock price rises -- or so the theory goes. Someday in the next few weeks, I'll take a look at whether the $108 billion could have been better spent on IBM research and development, IBM salaries, IBM benefits... You get the idea.

1. Almost Here: Apple's next "big" event is tomorrow (Oct. 16). New iPads and Macs are on the way. But pay especially close attention to Apple Pay -- the technology that transforms an iPhone into a mobile credit card. Some folks think Apple will activate the service during the event. It sounds promising. But big retailers like WalMart have not adopted Apple Pay technology support in their point of sale systems. Somewhere, Bill Gates is frowning about all the Apple Pay discussion. After all, Gates described the Digital Wallet concept way back in 1993. Clearly, Apple was listening to Gates' pitch...

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