It’s Friday, friends, and that means we afford ourselves the moment to read up on what Microsoft got itself into during the last seven days. It’s been a heavy week for news on and about the company, so we’ll move quickly, hitting on a number of topics.
Microsoft has sold 100 million Windows 8 licences, up 40 million from the January 9th benchmark of 60 million. The rate of growth for Windows 8 has slowed, as expected, when the promotional pricing period for upgrades to the new operating system expired.
According to Microsoft’s Tami Reller, the vast majority of the 40 million freshly sold copies of the OS shipped on new computers. Here’s the lay of the land: Microsoft wants to lower the price gap between touch-based Windows 8 machines and non touch-based Windows machines. Doing so will get more folks using Windows 8 in a touch environment, which is a material benefit for Microsoft.
Why might that be? Because the Start Screen is a fantastically better experience when you can interact with it directly, instead of relying on a conduit of mouse and keyboard. Thus, in touch, people are likely more inclined to use the darn thing.
That means more app downloads, and the like, precisely what Microsoft, and Windows 8, need.
Windows still dominates the PC market, with Apple retaining a meaningful, if minor share. However, if you stack together notebooks, tablets, and smartphones, how does it fare? You will note that those three product categories exclude desktop PCs, a Microsoft staple. Still, under the rubric of mobile smart devices, what is the market share breakdown?
According to Canalys, as reported by TNW’s Emil Protalinksi:
In Q1 2013, 308.7 million smart mobile devices shipped worldwide, representing a year-on-year growth of 37.4 percent. Breaking down those numbers by operating system, Google’s Android dominated with 59.5 percent share, followed by Apple’s iOS and OS X at 19.3 percent share, and Microsoft’s Windows and Windows Phone at 18.1 percent share.
Tack on desktop PCs to that mix, for all providers where relevant, and Microsoft likely would have taken the second place spot. Still, Google’s Android dominance is well illustrated by the figure. If you didn’t understand why the Surface and Windows Phone 8 projects mattered to Microsoft, you now do.
Developers will get their hands on Windows Blue by the end of June. This was expected. Different versions of the operating system have been floating on various torrent websites, so interested developers can get an early peek, if they are so inclined.
Expect that the code goes out around the time of Build, Microsoft’s next developer conference, which will be held in San Francisco on June 26. Given that that date is towards the end of the month, well, let’s just say that if you leave the shindig without a copy of Windows 8.1, we’ll know who to blame.
Microsoft makes meaningful income from the Android device ecosystem. By signing licensing deals with Android OEMs for – in its view - infringing on its patents, it collects a payment on each device sold by the new partner. After years of deal making, more than 80% of Android smartphones sold in the United States pay the fee.
What does that tot up to? TNW went through a bit of mathmagic, which I quote here:
We can now do the math: 860 million Android devices in 2013, of which 65% pay Microsoft a fee, and that fee being $3 leaves Microsoft with $1.677 billion in Android revenue this year. That works out to just over $400 million per quarter, which fits with our earlier statements of Android patent revenue being in the low hundreds of millions.
Gartner expects 1.5 billion Android devices sold in 2017. Assuming that Microsoft can up its total percentage of devices under contract, and the sums involved could rival other business segments for Microsoft.
Go have a nice Earl Gray and start weekending, that’s enough news for the day.
Top Image Credit: Pete Brown
See more here: This week at Microsoft: Blue, Windows 8, and Android dollars
Today, gaming console and software company OUYA announced that they have closed a $15 million round led by Kleiner Perkins, and with participation from the Mayfield Fund, NVIDIA, Shasta Ventures and Ocean Partners. This marks one of the largest institutional investments to go to a project that had its humble beginnings on Kickstarter.
OUYA is a company that launched back in 2012 on Kickstarter under the guiding hands of Julie Uhrman, a video game industry veteran who believes that gaming should be affordable and enjoyable for everyone. She and the team developed a $99 Android gaming console, which hooks into the TV and comes with automatic access to free-to-try games. It launched on the crowdfunding site to much fanfare, scoring $8.6 million in funding, which ends up being around 9x more than OUYA asked.
Along with the $15 million round, which brings OUYA’s total amount of funding to $23.5 million, the company will also be bringing KPCB General Partner Bing Gordon on to the board of directors. Gordon brings with him years of experience from Electronic Arts.
Here’s what he had to say about the funding:
OUYA’s open source platform creates a new world of opportunity for established and emerging independent game creators and gamers alike. There are some types of games that can only be experienced on a TV, and OUYA is squarely focused on bringing back the living room gaming experience. OUYA will allow game developers to unleash their most creative ideas and satisfy gamers craving a new kind of experience.
The OUYA hardware has proven its spot in the market with the successful Kickstarter project, followed by an institutional investment led by a firm such as KPCB. “The message is clear: people want OUYA,” said Uhrman.
But the same story rings true for software, as the company has seen over 12,000 developers sign up for the platform to build games and monetize them in any way they’d like. This is up from 8,000 developer signups in March.
And if that weren’t enough, OUYA has been picked up by major retailers like GameStop, Best Buy and Amazon, with availability originally intended to begin June 4. OUYA is pushing that back to June 25, however, announcing the delay today as a result of a desire to be able to meet initial demand.
Clearly, the affordable gaming console speaks to people. But is it enough to make OUYA profitable? In an interview with TechCrunch, Uhrman explained that OUYA essentially breaks even on the hardware from the $99 gaming console, and that all games will be free-to-try. Curious if that was sustainable, we asked Uhrman if free-to-try would always be the case with OUYA games.
“Free to try is a core tenet of OUYA,” said Uhrman. “We wanted a gaming experience for the television that’s inexpensive to get into. Developers monetize however they’d like to, which is why we have games with unlockable demos inside a fully paid version, or micro-transactions, and even a donation based game. I’m looking forward to the first episodic, subscription-based game,” she said.
According to Uhrman, the latest round from KPCB and friends will go toward further supporting game developers and development, bringing in exclusive and unique OUYA content, and meeting the demand seen from all parts of the world, including Japan, Brazil, Germany, Spain, and Italy.
Here is the original post: OUYA Closes $15 Million In Funding Led By Kleiner Perkins, Boasts 12,000 Game Developer Sign-Ups
Today Microsoft released invites for its pre-E3 Xbox event on June 10th. The vent will follow a first Xbox event on Microsoft’s campus on May 21st, which is widely expected to unveil the console itself.
The June event could have any number of purposes, including the revealing of more game-focused content, perhaps, if the May event is more developer and platform focused. That is TNW’s take, given that the first event is in the Redmond area, it will likely be more tech, and not content-focused.
TNW will be in attendance at both events. Here’s our redacted invite:
The event’s timing and existence are not a surprise, as they have already been hinted at and variously confirmed. The next month and a half are Xbox’s new summer. Whatever Microsoft announces and shows off over its next two events will set the tone for its living room strategy for the coming half decade.
E3 has in recent years shifted to a model whereby most of the keynotes are used to announce exclusive titles or showcase footage from upcoming games shipping later that year. Microsoft is expected to be going big on the multimedia functionality of the next Xbox (rumors of a subsidized console if you buy it in conjunction with an Xbox Live or cable subscription).
With such a large focus on media consumption, Microsoft is therefore likely to split its announcement into two sections; one selling it as a set-top box, the other pushing it towards the ‘hard-core’ gaming demographic.
Sony has already gone down this route with the PlayStation 4, although chose not to unveil the hardware itself during the initial unveiling. Nintendo has also announced that it won’t be doing an official E3 keynote at all this year, instead relying on its popular Nintendo Direct livestream presentations throughout the year.
Both these decisions mean that Microsoft now has a lot of room to experiment with how it wants to unveil the next Xbox, codenamed Durango, and communicate both the technical capabilities and overarching ‘message’ behind its new system.
Image Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
View original post here: Microsoft releases invites for its pre-E3 Xbox press event on June 10
Box has set its sights on Europe both to pick up new business and as a place to hunt for the next important technology that might give it an edge over other players in the cloud-based enterprise space. Today, the company announced a new partnership with Seedcamp, the European startup accelerator, to work with developer groups, promote Box to the 80 startups that are a part of the Accelerator, and — when the opportunity presents itself — get involved in small seed funding rounds.
Box CEO Aaron Levie announced the news in London today. Levie said that Box’s size in Europe had doubled since last June, as the company picked up a number of key deals, including a 50,000-seat deployment with Schneider Electric, one of the company’s biggest-ever deals.
The Seedcamp partnership is similar to the relationship Box already has with General Assembly and TechStars, which sees Box providing business accounts to startups and developers and marketing to them how to integrate Box into their business. Being close to startups is an important avenue for Box, which already provides cloud services to some 17,000 developers worldwide, with some 300 Box OneCloud applications live across iOS and Android platforms.
The Seedcamp partnership gives Box the chance to scope out early-stage companies that it might want to integrate more with in the future, too. A spokesperson says that the seed rounds, when they happen, will usually be in the “tens of thousands of dollars,” although of course having an investor like Box is almost more important strategically than it is financially.
“So far the startups we’ve done seed funding with are U.S. but we’re looking at developers here in the UK,” the spokesperson said. It’s holding a platform event on Wednesday in General Assembly’s London offices.
Box’s efforts to look to the UK and the rest of Europe echo what other enterprise startups have been doing of late. Just two weeks ago, Twilio announced a partnership with 500 Startups to develop a microfund specifically for startups using Twilio technology in Europe. Like Box’s activities, Twilio Fund Europe is an extension of Twilio and 500 Startups’ joint efforts in the U.S.
Box is not giving out any hard numbers for what “double growth” actually means — although later I’m meeting with Levie and will try to winkle out some numbers from him. The company first set out its stall in Europe in June 2012, and reports that it currently provides services for 15 million people and 150,000 businesses worldwide. The metric to look at is whether Box is on target in terms of the growth plans it set out last June, when it said it was aiming for 30 percent of its business to be coming out of Europe in the next 18 months. It’s now hiring in Germany and France to support that goal, and also building out infrastructure to improve the quality of service in the region, adding a new Box Accelerator data hub in Dublin.
“We’re in the midst of a transformation in enterprise software as post-PC devices and cloud applications change where, when and how people work across the globe,” said Levie at the event. “In this new world, collaboration is at an absolute premium, and connecting people with their content no matter what devices they use is the key to powering productivity. Our global growth speaks to Box’s ability to deliver a collaboration platform built for the post-PC world.”
Deals like Schneider Electric should go some way to meeting that goal. Box says that the 50,000-seat deployment is one of its largest contracts ever. Other key deals included Hopkins Architechts, Mondi, video distribution company Rightster, and XL Video.
Read the original: Box Links Up With Seedcamp To Become Europe’s Latest Early-Stage Investor
Google has announced the registration dates for this year’s I/O conference, which will be held on May 15-17, 2013 at Moscone Center West in San Francisco. Registration for the conference will open on March 13th at 7AM PST.
Google announced back in December that it will be sharing the event via Google Developers Live and I/O Extended viewing parties for those who can’t score a ticket. And you’d better be on it, because last year’s conference sold out in 20 minutes.
Prices for this year’s conference will mirror last year’s, with general attendee pricing being $900 and student tickets fetching $300.
Google spun a lot of news out of their last conference on June 27-29 of last year, which was the venue for its skydiving stunt promoting the Google Glass project. It was also the venue for the official announcement of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the Nexus 7 tablet and Google Now.
Bonus, here’s the skydiving stunt:
Image Credit: AFP/Getty Images