5 Technology Observations to Start Your Day, Oct 27

Good morning, IT entrepreneurs. After a pumpkin-filled weekend (long story, photos soon), it's time to kick off the week with five technology news nuggets, gossip, rumors, chatter and insights for Monday, Oct. 27, 2014.

Actually, this morning's list spans 10 information nuggets. Here they are.

10. Disrupter Gets Disrupted: Here's an important lesson for I.T. entrepreneurs who enter a market, disrupt it and then coast a bit. Take a look at Apple's iTunes business -- a shining example of... um... whoops. Music sales in the iTunes Store have fallen roughly 13 percent to 14 percent worldwide since the start of the year, according to The Wall Street Journal. As I sit here listening to Pandora streaming music -- all day -- I can't imagine why iTunes is suffering from shrinkage. Or can I?

9. Sell or Hold?: HP apparently is trying to sell H3C -- a networking business in China. HP picked up the business when it acquired 3Com in 2009. I don't know if H3C's revenues are growing, flat or shrinking. But here's the thing: Why would you sell a business that has a deep footprint in China -- especially at a time when so many US-based companies are struggling to navigate China's political and economic systems? 

8. Microsoft Surface Turns Profit?: It's hard to say for sure, but it sounds like Microsoft Surface sales have turned the corner. During its most recent quarter, Microsoft said Surface sales were roughly $908 million, and costs to make the combination PC/tablet device were $839 million -- which means the offering now has a positive gross margin, notes The Wall Street Journal. But those figures don't cover marketing, distribution and other costs. And Microsoft has been marketing Surface heavily -- especially as part of its NFL relationship. Still, I'm impressed with Surface's progress -- especially considering it's core operating system (Windows 8) is a lame duck offering ahead of Windows 10's release next year. I'll be back with more Surface insights later today. 

7. Amazon's New Corporate Cloud Evangelist: Former Dow Jones CIO Stephan Orban has jumped to Amazon, where he will lead enterprise strategy for Amazon Web Services. The move comes ahead of the big Amazon AWS Re:Invent 2014 conference (Nov. 11-14, Las Vegas). It's a safe bet Orban will personally help Fortune 500 and Global 2000 CIOs to better understand migration and deployment opportunities in Amazon's cloud.

6. Attention Euro Entrepreneurs: As you seek potential loans and funding for your business keep this in mind: Twenty-five European banks failed so-called financial "stress tests," which analyze a bank's ability to survive a financial storm. Still, many of those banks have since taken steps to solidify their operations and financial standing. The result? Only 12 out of 150 banks are on questionable ground. Which 12? The Wall Street Journal has details

5. Earnings Season: Watch for more quarterly results this week, this time from:

  • Monday, Oct. 27: Meru Networks, Seagate and Twitter
  • Tuesday, Oct. 28: Extreme Networks, Facebook
  • Wednesday, Oct. 29: Arrow Electronics, F5 Networks, MobileIron
  • Thursday, Oct. 30: A10 Networks, Carbonite, LinkedIn, ZenDesk,  

We may weigh in on a few of the earnings reports as they surface...

4. Smarter Home: Nest, the smart home technology business owned by Google, has acquired Revolv. Terms were not disclosed. Revolv has an app that allows consumers to manage IP-enabled appliances in their homes. Moreover, Revolv links with a range of wireless technologies. No doubt, Revolv will focus on the Works With Nest APIs. Apple is preparing an alternative developer platform called HomeKit. For IT entrepreneurs, that means the iOS vs Android war is shifting to home automation apps.

3. NSA Conflicts of Interest?: Top cyber spy Teresa Shea is exiting her NSA post. The feds say her move has absolutely nothing to do with alleged conflicts of interest, raised by BuzzFeed. What's my opinion? I plead the fifth.

2. Apple Pay Backlash: Retailers like CVS and Rite Aid are turning off NFC readers to disable Apple Pay connections. Those retailers apparently hope to set their own digital payment standard. The lesson for IT entrepreneurs: When you set powerful standards in one market and your power grows, would-be partners get nervous about your next moves...

1. Conspiracy Theory: Was current IBM CEO Ginni Rometty set up to fail by former CEO Sam Palmisano? My spin is no and yes. While Palmisano didn't purposely stack the deck against Rometty, his long-term bets (share buybacks, earnings promises, belated cloud moves) certainly have undermined Rometty's start as CEO. I'll share more thought soon.

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