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(Bloomberg) -- Scarce components have pushed the manufacturing costs for Sony Corp.’s next PlayStation to around $450 per unit, forcing a difficult price-setting decision in its battle with Microsoft Corp., according to people with knowledge of the matter.The Japanese conglomerate is preparing to gradually replace the six-year-old PS4 console, releasing its PlayStation 5 the same holiday season its archrival debuts the upcoming Xbox Series X. Sony typically finalizes a console’s price in February of the release year, followed by mass production in the spring. With the PS5, the company is taking a wait-and-see approach, said the people, asking not to be named because the details are private.The PS4, released in 2013 at a retail price of $399, was estimated by IHS Markit to cost $381 to manufacture. With the $450 unit cost and a similar gross margin, the PlayStation 5’s retail price would have to be at least $470. That would be a hard sell to consumers, considering Sony’s most expensive machine now is the $399.99 PS4 Pro and is often discounted, according to Macquarie Capital analyst Damian Thong.“Consumers will benchmark their expectations based on the PS4 Pro and PS4,” Thong said. “If Sony prices above that, it would likely be to balance a need to offset higher materials cost, against risk to demand.”Sony declined to comment.The company’s biggest headache is ensuring a reliable supply of DRAM and NAND flash memory, with both in high demand as smartphone makers gear up for fifth-generation devices, according to people familiar with Sony’s operations. Samsung Electronics Co. just announced its Galaxy S20 product range, each variant of which will have 5G and a minimum of 12GB of RAM in the U.S.Videogame companies often sell hardware at thin margins or even at a loss because they profit from lucrative game software and recurring online subscription services. Sony’s Chief Executive Officer Kenichiro Yoshida has said the business should be judged by the number of active users, not the number of hardware units sold. Some Sony games staff think it should sell the new console at a loss if necessary to match Microsoft’s price, while other Sony executives would prefer to make money as the company did with the PS4.“We must keep PlayStation 5’s bill of materials under our control and we need to make the correct number of units in the initial production,” Sony’s Chief Financial Officer Hiroki Totoki said at an earnings briefing earlier this month.Most of the components for the console have been locked down, the people said, including the cooling system, which is unusually expensive at a few dollars per unit. Typically, companies would spend less than a dollar, but Sony opted to lavish more on making sure heat dissipation from the powerful chips housed inside the console isn’t an issue.The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has had no impact so far on preparations for PlayStation 5 production, they said. The company has yet to decided how many PlayStation 5 units it will make in the first year, they added.Separately, Sony plans to release a new version of the PlayStation VR virtual-reality headset, tentatively scheduled after the PlayStation 5 goes on sale, the people said.Sony has already canceled some previously planned features for a new mirrorless camera due this year owing to the constrained DRAM supply, several people with knowledge of the matter said.Sony executives are voicing patience about the next console’s pricing as they anticipate the transition to be a gradual one, said people familiar with its day-to-day operations. Many of the games launched for the PlayStation 5 will also be available to play on the predecessor machine, so revenue from software and related network services is expected to keep the business performance intact. Microsoft and Sony are both expanding their respective online subscription services, revenue from which may allow them greater flexibility on hardware pricing.People within the PlayStation business unit said a key factor in deciding the ultimate PlayStation 5 retail price will be where Microsoft sets its price for the next-generation Xbox Series X. Microsoft is widely expected to hold that information back until the E3 gaming expo in Los Angeles in June.There is pressure from CFO Totoki for Sony to provide more transparency and information in the buildup to the PS5’s release, which has caused some consternation internally. Asked about when he expects Sony to provide guidance on the gaming business outlook for the new fiscal year, Totoki said the plan is no different from the recent past, meaning the guidance can be expected around the end of April.If the company takes longer than usual, analysts may look to its next investor relations meeting to glean hints about the new console’s retail price. The company held that meeting in late May last year.To contact the reporter on this story: Takashi Mochizuki in Tokyo at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at email@example.com, Vlad Savov, Peter ElstromFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
A U.S. judge on Thursday granted Amazon.com Inc's request to temporarily halt the U.S. Department of Defense and Microsoft Corp from moving forward on an up-to-$10 billion (£8 billion) cloud computing deal that Amazon says reflected undue influence by President Donald Trump. Amazon, which had been seen as a front-runner to win the contract, filed a lawsuit in November just weeks after the contract was awarded to Microsoft. Trump has publicly derided Amazon head Jeff Bezos and repeatedly criticized the company.
European police chiefs have thrown their support behind British demands for technology companies to urgently transform how they operate to prevent access to child sex abuse, Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA) said on Friday. The NCA said abuse images were easily available online and could be reached with just three clicks of a mouse on internet search engines. "The technology industry urgently needs to transform its response to counter the extreme level of online offending," said Lynne Owens, the NCA's director general.
(Bloomberg) -- A federal judge temporarily blocked Microsoft Corp. from working on a $10 billion Pentagon cloud-computing contract after Amazon.com Inc. asked for the delay, a surprise win for the company as it challenges the validity of the award over allegations that President Donald Trump interfered.The government can’t proceed with implementing the contract “until further order of the court,” according to the decision by U.S Court of Federal Claims Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith. The judge ordered Amazon to pay $42 million in security, the minimum amount that the government had requested in the event of a delay. The judge’s full opinion was posted under seal.It’s unusual for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to pause work on a contract over the government’s objections. The ruling is a victory for Amazon, which faced an uphill battle in its bid to get the award overturned, procurement experts said.“The judge clearly sees some merit in Amazon’s challenge for the award to Microsoft.” said Charles Tiefer, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law.Pentagon spokesman Robert Carver said in a statement that the ruling unnecessarily delays implementation of the cloud contract and deprives “warfighters of a set of capabilities they urgently need.”Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw said the company was “disappointed” in the ruling and reiterated that the Pentagon’s procurement process was fair. A representative for Amazon didn’t respond to a request for comment.Microsoft shares fell as much as 1% to a low of $182.87 after the report before closing down less than 1%. Amazon shares, which had been in negative territory, rose less than 1%.Microsoft in October won the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, cloud contract, estimated to be worth as much as $10 billion over a decade. Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s cloud computing division, filed a lawsuit in November alleging the Defense Department failed to fairly judge its bid for the contract because Trump viewed Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos as his “political enemy.”Amazon earlier asked the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to allow it to question Trump and top Pentagon leaders to seek additional evidence that might show political interference cost the company the cloud deal. Among the leaders Amazon seeks to depose are Trump, former Defense Secretary James Mattis, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Dana Deasy, the Pentagon’s chief information officer.The e-commerce giant’s lawsuit chronicles a laundry list of comments and actions by Trump and the Defense Department that it claims show the Pentagon bowed to political pressure when awarding the deal to Microsoft. In one case, Amazon cites claims in a book by Mattis’ former speechwriter, Guy Snodgrass, that Trump told Mattis in the summer of 2018 to “screw Amazon” by locking it out of the bid. Mattis has criticized the book.But government lawyers argued in a filing made public on Wednesday that Amazon’s request to depose Trump was “particularly audacious” and unnecessary because the company had failed to offer enough evidence to support its claims of bias.The government also asked the court to reject Amazon’s request to temporarily block work on the contract, arguing that such a pause would compromise national security and drain taxpayer money. Government lawyers estimated in court papers that it would cost taxpayers between $5 million to $7 million for every month implementation was delayed.The Pentagon’s JEDI project is designed to consolidate the department’s cloud computing infrastructure and modernize its technology systems. The Pentagon has already begun identifying programs that could be transitioned into the JEDI cloud environment.(Updates with comments from procurement experts beginning in third paragraph)\--With assistance from Tony Capaccio, Susan Decker and Spencer Soper.To contact the reporters on this story: Naomi Nix in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at firstname.lastname@example.org, Jon MorganFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
A sealed order from a judge today has halted the $10 billion, decade-long JEDI project in its tracks until AWS's protest of the contract award to Microsoft can be heard by the court. The United States, by and through the Department of Defense, its officers, agents, and employees, is hereby PRELIMINARILY ENJOINED from proceeding with contract activities under Contract No. HQ0034-20-D-0001, which was awarded under Solicitation No. HQ0034-18-R-0077, until further order of the court. The judge was not taking this lightly, adding that Amazon would have to put up $42 million bond to cover costs should it prove that the motion was filed wrongfully.
Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella is planning to visit India later this month, multiple sources familiar with the plans told Reuters, a test for the Indian-born head who recently criticized Indian immigration policy. India is a major market for Microsoft and other technology companies. India's southern city of Hyderabad, where Nadella grew up, is home to Microsoft's biggest research and development center outside of the United States.
The daily covers the FTC investigation of big tech for antitrust activity, Amazon's motion seeking Trump testimony, coronavirus impact on Apple's Chinese manufacturing and other stories.
Last year, Microsoft launched a preview of Project xCloud, its ambitious game streaming service that aims to deliver games to any screen -- console, PC or mobile. Today, that changes as Microsoft is bringing the Project xCloud preview to iOS devices by way of Apple's TestFlight program. Microsoft had been testing xCloud on iOS internally, but had yet to open it up to the public.
Outsized stock price gains for Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp mean the two tech titans' shares have attained unusual status: a combined weight of 10% of the benchmark S&P 500 index. The S&P 500, which many use a proxy for the overall market, is a market-cap weighted index, meaning that large stocks carry more influence. The last time a year ended with two stocks amounting to at least one-tenth of the S&P 500 was 1982, according to data from Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices, when IBM and AT&T amounted to about 10.9% of the index.
(Bloomberg) -- Despite enlisting stars such as Ninja, Shroud and KingGothalion over the past year, Microsoft Corp.’s Mixer video-game streaming service is having trouble increasing its audience.The number of hours watched -- a key benchmark for streaming platforms -- was up less than 2% in January from a year earlier, according to a report Wednesday from StreamElements and Arsenal.gg. That compares with substantial gains on competing services.The hours-watched figure more than quadrupled for Facebook Gaming, and the livestreaming industry as a whole saw an increase of almost 46%. The platforms are attracting millions of viewers, who use them to watch gamers duke it out in live matches.The industry is still dominated by Amazon.com Inc.’s Twitch, but Mixer and other platforms have been looking to get a bigger foothold. When Mixer lured Ninja and other top gamers away from Twitch, it was a bet that the stars could help bring their fans with them.But the big names aren’t necessarily translating into growth -- at least, not yet.New video-game consoles are expected this year from Microsoft and Sony Corp., and that could shake things up. Hardware upgrades have typically fueled sales of video games and increased interest in related streaming matches. Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox will be more powerful, allowing for better graphics and less latency when playing games.Microsoft also has a potential edge over rivals because it owns a console, a streaming platform and popular games such as Halo. The latest installment in that series, Halo Infinite, is due this year.“Mixer has made some strong moves and we see them gaining traction as a destination for indie-game streamers, but to gauge the true value we will have to see what happens with the next Xbox launch,” StreamElements Chief Executive Officer Doron Nir said in an email. “Mixer has set the stage for what could be a major game changer in the space.”Right now, the most popular streams involve watching League of Legends, the report found. Hours watched for Fortnite, meanwhile, have continued to fall, slipping 19% in January.To contact the reporter on this story: Olga Kharif in Portland at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, Rob GolumFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- A frenzy of bullish bets on the biggest U.S. tech names is captivating Wall Street and powering equities to all-time highs. It’s also sending waves through options markets.Volumes for contracts tied to single stocks have surged by 77% in the past six weeks to fresh records, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The growth has been so staggering that trading in the derivatives by notional value is almost on par with volumes in the underlying shares themselves, the firm calculates.Spurring the growth are bullish wagers on Tesla Inc., as well as mega caps that wield heft in the S&P 500 Index unseen for 20 years. Think Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Microsoft Corp.“Call buying has dominated this rise in activity, pushing call-skew on single stocks to one-year highs,” strategists Vishal Vivek and John Marshall wrote in a note Wednesday. Call options are contracts that allow investors to buy the underlying security at a fixed price, while call skew represents the premium of calls over comparable puts.Tesla has been the name to watch, likely minting fortunes for call buyers as the electric-car maker soared more than 60% in six days to top $900 for the first time. During its peak, the 10-day average call option volume had more than doubled compared with early December. With 1.8 Tesla calls traded for every S&P 500 call, the gap was the biggest on record.As the furor over Tesla has died down in recent days, trading in bullish contracts on Microsoft has exploded, with the five-day sum of activity jumping to its highest level in years.Goldman notes that option volumes on indexes and exchange-traded funds are also near records, but the growth in individual-stocks activity has been far headier.The top tech giants have rarely dominated the S&P 500 to such an extent. A sector index is up 9.6% just six weeks into the year, despite fears over the impact of the deadly coronavirus on global growth. Tesla has gained a whopping 85%, with Microsoft up 17% and Amazon advancing 16%.While a strong earnings season and America-first mentality are yet more fodder for bulls, Goldman sees limited upside from here. The strategists advise clients take advantage of high demand for calls by selling the contracts as part of an income strategy.To contact the reporter on this story: Joanna Ossinger in Singapore at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Anstey at firstname.lastname@example.org, Yakob Peterseil, Sid VermaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Microsoft Corp said on Wednesday it has appointed Michal Braverman-Blumenstyk as the general manager of the Microsoft Israel Development Center. The Microsoft Israel Development Center is the company's first research and development center outside the United States.
(Bloomberg) -- On a day when Samsung Electronics Co. announced four new high-spec smartphones, the company also signaled how it intends to compete with Apple Inc.’s iOS ecosystem through software partnerships.The new Galaxy S20 devices will feature deep integration of Netflix Inc., allowing users to search for movies by voice queries to the Bixby digital assistant. Bixby’s morning routines will also include Spotify Technology SA music streaming, and Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox Game Studios will debut its Forza Street title on Samsung’s Galaxy Store for apps.“It’s been amazing to see Samsung continuously push the limits of what’s possible,” said Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s Android chief. Google’s operating system has been helped by and risen in parallel to Samsung’s emergence as the world’s most prolific smartphone maker.Rival Apple is on a mission to develop its own content such as Apple Music, Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade, a set of in-house subscription services that the company is spending lavishly on to make it a success. Each of them benefits from its hundreds of millions of iPhones already in users’ hands and they help enhance and strengthen the company’s protected ecosystem.Samsung has made similar efforts, such as its Samsung Milk music service, and repeatedly failed. Its chronic problem in competing with Apple has been the absence of unique and differentiated experiences -- an iPhone owner has access to Netflix and Spotify as well as to the Apple-exclusive iOS services.The partnerships announced alongside the flashy new Galaxy phones “will be critical if the company is to elevate itself beyond hardware, diversify revenue and level the playing field with Apple,” said Ben Wood of CCS Insight.Analysts now believe Samsung is on the right track by looking to deepen collaboration with content distributors threatened by Apple’s strategy. “It hasn’t been proven to work yet, but it’s a much better strategy than Samsung trying to compete in content and enterprise apps itself,” said Avi Greengart, mobile industry analyst at Techsponential. “The cost and risk of trying to recreate Spotify, Netflix, Office or xCloud is astronomical.”IDC analyst Raquel de Condado Marques liked the synergy between Samsung’s newly upgraded hardware and service partnerships, especially in gaming. With faster mobile internet speeds and better displays, “Samsung is leveraging what it does best -- hardware -- and allowing new partners to do the same by relying on Microsoft’s PC installed base and Xbox gaming heritage to provide a more complete platform across different technologies.”Microsoft is developing its xCloud game-streaming service, a rival to Google Stadia, which will let people experience desktop-like graphics and sophistication on their mobile devices. Netflix has a whole set of criteria as to what makes a Netflix Recommended TV, which it uses to incentivize electronics makers to present its content in the best possible form. Both companies can benefit from having a role-model mobile hardware platform, such as Samsung’s Galaxy S20 family, to demo their best mobile offerings and to direct other manufacturers to emulate.Microsoft Bets on South Korea as Test Bed for 5G Cloud GamingNot all are convinced by Samsung’s approach to tie-ups. “There was no shortage of big names,” said Wood of CCS Insight. “But the partnerships appeared to hold limited potential to build a deep services ecosystem.”Still, the South Korean tech giant is a powerful draw. “Samsung -- like Apple and Huawei -- has its own center of gravity,” said Techsponential’s Greengart, adding that it’s capable of commanding attention through its events and products. That makes it an appealing partner for other big industry names and gives the company some assurance that it won’t succumb to the same fate that other pure hardware vendors, such as HTC Corp.’s smartphone business, have fallen prey to in the past.To contact the reporters on this story: Vlad Savov in Tokyo at email@example.com;Sohee Kim in Seoul at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at email@example.com, Colum MurphyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Google will on Wednesday seek to overturn the first of three hefty European Union antitrust fines at Europe's second-highest court in a landmark case that could determine how EU enforcers take on U.S. tech giants for abuse of market power. EU regulators said this penalty was for Google's favouring its own price comparison shopping service to the disadvantage of smaller European rivals. The EU has fined Google a total of 8.25 billion euros in three separate cases, including one involving its Android smartphone operating system.