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Technology Stock Roundup: Apple Gains Share, Microsoft Gets a CEO

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comScore numbers/share buybacks boosted Apple (AAPL - Free Report) last week, while Nadella/Gates pulled down Microsoft.

Apple Boosted by comScore Numbers

Apple shares got a real boost last week due to some positive numbers from comScore and news about significant share repurchases over the last couple of weeks.

comScore said that while the iOS platform gained 1.2% U.S. market share over the three months ending Dec 2013, other platforms, including Google , Blackberry and Microsoft (MSFT - Free Report) lost 0.3%, 0.4% and 0.2%, respectively. Therefore, Apple is taking share from these as well as other platforms. As regards smartphone market share, Apple’s 1.2% gain equaled that of Samsung. Therefore, the current user base appears to be sticky.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that Apple had taken advantage of the dip following its quarterly results to acquire $14 billion worth of stock. While Apple doesn’t intend to get a whole lot more aggressive as Icahn would like, CEO Tim Cook has said there will be new categories (iWatch of course). He also hinted at a big acquisition.

Microsoft Chooses Satya Nadella

Microsoft shares tanked as investors expressed dissatisfaction in the CEO choice and also possibly to the fact that Bill Gates will be spending 30% of his time with the company to help out on the hardware side. Everyone wanted radical changes that look far from forthcoming.

Nadella has exposure to the Xbox business and has been a major force in the S&T business, so he was one of the most suitable internal candidates. However, while he continues to express optimism regarding the devices business, one can’t ignore the real problems he is saddled with.

Microsoft has chosen to build the Surface tablet and also its own smartphones (through the Nokia purchase). At the same time, it would like hardware makers such as LG and Samsung to make phones based on its OS. It’s generally not a good idea to compete with your own partners but Microsoft appears focused on doing just that. At the same time, a vibrant ecosystem around Windows could make Surface a success. Microsoft’s approach is very aggressive here, so this is an area that should be closely watched.

Cisco Signs Cross-Licensing Deals

In order to spur innovation, most likely with respect to the Internet of Things, Cisco (CSCO - Free Report) entered into separate patent cross-licensing deals with Samsung and Google. Earlier, Samsung and Google also entered into a similar agreement with each other. Both the agreements are characterized by rights to use certain existing patents on a perpetual basis over a period of 10 years, irrespective of whether the patent holder sells the patent to another. The rights also extend to certain patents that will be developed during the agreed period.

In the last few years, there has been an acceleration in patent lawsuits that have distracted management of top technology firms while creating setbacks to innovation. Samsung has been the worst-affected, because of the way it’s been copying Apple.

But the very real problem of patent trolls has also cropped up. Trolls acquire patents to recover super-normal profits from patent enforcement and settlements. The trio is part of the Coalition for Patent Fairness that seeks to minimize litigation between technology companies.


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Yahoo Gets Help From Yelp: Sources seeking anonymity have said that Yahoo will use Yelp ratings for merchant sites to boost its search results. Yahoo’s search business remains a great disappointment, as the agreement with Microsoft has had the single impact of driving Yahoo users to Microsoft. The goal of chipping Google’s market share has just not been achieved.

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