Today, I formally begin covering Google earnings, as I have done for Microsoft (a decade) and Apple (about six years). This first report won't be as thorough as the others, as I get my head around the financials, which share little in common with APPL and MSFT other than money. Today's earnings announcement is refreshing respite from third quarter's, when an incomplete press release pushed out early and while the market was open.
For calendar fourth quarter, revenue rose 36 percent to $14.42 billion, year over year; net revenue, excluding Traffic Acquisition Costs, was $9.83 billion, up from $8.13 billion. Net income climbed to $2.89 billion up from $2.71 billion. That's $8.62 earnings per share, including costs associated with discontinued operations. Operating income was $3.39 billion, down from $3.51 billion year over year.
Keeping up with recent CyanogenMod tradition, the team behind the popular green droid custom distribution unveiled the first monthly release based on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. The build is designed to offer users a stable experience, more suitable for daily use compared to the usual nightly builds.
CyanogenMod 10.1 M1 is currently available only for a limited number of devices, including the Google Nexus lineup (Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7 including the 3G variant, Nexus 4 and Nexus 10), the US variants of the Samsung Galaxy S III, the Samsung Galaxy S (codename "galaxysmtd" and "galaxysbmtd"), the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (versions P3100 and P3110), the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (versions P5100 and P5110) as well as the Hardkernel ODROID U2 open development platform.
The Nexus 4 was anything but a secret long before Google officially raised the curtain on October 29, last year. Impressive specs, affordable price, the promise of timely upgrades, all were compelling arguments as to why I must buy one when sales start. However, Google didn't care about my enthusiasm and had other plans in mind, offering the smartphone only to a limited number of markets. Lucky me, I'm not invited to join the party. So what can I do?
Like any passionate, but patient, enthusiast my first thought was to buy one from the German Play Store, the closest one to my location and with the lowest prices as well, instead of moving to another country or shelling out more than $500 or $600 on eBay. So I asked a colleague of mine to help me out. I would pay for the Nexus 4 and he would send it my way after receiving the package. Easier said than done, obviously, as I shortly found out that Google only accepts credit cards issued in Germany. That was Plan A, by the way. OK, but now what?
When Google unveiled the Nexus 4 in late-October, the resemblance to the LG Optimus G was quite obvious. Both smartphones are manufactured by LG and share mostly the same hardware specifications (bar the full-blown 4G LTE chip, different camera module, and extra internal storage found on LG's device). So why can't the Optimus G run software designed for the Google Nexus 4? Well, as of late, it can.
The advantages of "transforming" the LG Optimus G into a Google Nexus 4, in the software department that is, are quite clear. First and foremost, users can install various custom distributions such as AOKP Jelly Bean MR1 Build 1, CyanogenMod 10.1 or even light AOSP-based builds. Second, the LG Optimus G can actually be purchased from different carriers as well as online shops, whereas the Nexus 4 even today is out of stock at Google's Play Store -- which makes the former a suitable alternative to the latter's lack of market availability.
Little more than three months since the last build, breaking away from the previous Sunday release schedule, the team behind Android Open Kang Project (AOKP) unveiled Jelly Bean MR1 Build 1. The latest build represents the first official release based on Android 4.2, sporting most of the custom distribution's traditional features.
The work on Android 4.2-based builds started from scratch after Google released the latest green droid operating system, a "tough decision" according to the team behind AOKP. At the moment, Jelly Bean MR1 Build 1 delivers most of the previously known features such as widely customizable navigation bar, including buttons, color or widgets to name a few, custom vibrations, LED Control, lockscreen targets, Quiet Hours and advanced sound settings, among others. However, there are some new features included as well.
I join colleagues Mihaita Bamburic, Alan Buckingham and Wayne Williams recounting what tech I used in 2012. But unlike them, I made dramatic platform changes, more significant than first using Windows over New Years holiday 1994, buying a reburbished PowerBook in February 1999, adopting Facebook and Twitter in 2006 or purchasing Nexus One in January 2010. Each of these marked major platform changes -- and some not always lasting. Consider this: in early 2012, I owned a 1.8GHz Intel Core i7 MacBook Air, iPhone 4S and iPad 3. I end the year using Chromebook and Android smartphone and tablets.
During the year I moved from OS X and Windows running on Intel to an ARM-and-Chrome OS laptop, and after several failed attempts at adopting tablets (three generations of iPads, really), I embraced not one but two Android slates. I store all my data in the cloud -- local storage is now merely a way station between destinations rather than personal repository. This old dog is learning new tricks, and if I make such dramatic platform changes what does that mean for younger users who are more flexible and not as financially or habitually Apple/Microsoft/Intel committed? Look around, the PC era rapidly evaporates around you and its disappearance will be difficult to ignore in 2013.
Nexus devices are largely sold out this holiday season. Supply can't meet demand, particularly the new smartphone. But one Google gadget is missing altogether, pulled before official sales started. I've got Nexus Q, and you should be able to have one, too. The entertainment device is quirky, but I like it. Surely there is stock sitting around in some warehouse somewhere. Sell it out, Google. Give geeks something else to clamor for and recover some of the development and manufacturing costs.
The sphere-shaped device is a remarkable product, and changes fundamental concepts about digitally-delivered entertainment. Users stream music or movies from the cloud, using Android smartphone or tablet as remote control. The approach solves a fundamental end-user problem with digital content: Simple sharing.
Jelly Bean may be the youngest member of the Android family, but it’s also enjoying some amazing month-on-month growth, based on the number of devices accessing Google Play during the 14 days ending December 3. It still has some way to go to match Gingerbread though, which is yet again the green droid ruler.
On November 13, the search giant introduced its latest sugary treat, Android 4.2. Three weeks later, the new version of Jelly Bean had claimed a distribution level of 0.8 percent, a number aided by Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 sales, and Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 upgrades. That growth however, pales in comparison to 4.1 Jelly Bean which is now found on 5.9 percent of green droid devices, an increase of 118 percent when compared to the previous figures released in early November.
Well that was fast. Little more than two months after Apple launched the iPhone 5 in nine countries, the Cupertino, Calif.-based software corporation offers its latest smartphone free of any carrier obligations. Pricing starts at $649 for the 16GB model and tops $849 for the 64GB version.
The models that Apple offers are actually unlocked GSM units, meaning that using either of the three available versions on a CDMA network such as Verizon Wireless is not possible. For the advantage of owning a carrier-free iPhone 5 prospective buyers have to shell out an additional $450 for the equivalent version available at major US carriers such as AT&T, Sprint or Verizon.
Just three days ago Google released the Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean update which now recognizes that December and Santa Claus do exist. Today the Mountain View, Calif.-based corporation updated the factory images for the Nexus 4, 7, 10 and HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus with the latest version of the green droid operating system.
Using the factory images the four Nexus devices can be directly upgraded to Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean, build number JOP40D, without waiting to receive the over-the-air update. In similar fashion, green droid modders can take advantage of the factory images to restore the devices to stock after previously using a custom distribution such as AOKP Jelly Bean Milestone 1 or CyanogenMod 10.
Nexus 4 is no longer "sold out" at Google Play, and I can't help but laugh at the store's idea of "ships soon". That's "8-9 weeks" for the $299 model. Exactly how is that not sold out? Basically, Google throws out hope to the hopeless. Still, from a marketing perspective, long wait is better than telling potential buyers the product is out of stock. Meanwhile, people place orders and get somewhere in the long queue.
Yesterday, Google resumed Nexus 4 sales after selling out within hours of taking orders on October 13. Like that day, the search giant struggled to take orders, with many buyers watching orders be cancelled in the shopping cart. But the persistent succeeded, often after several hours effort. Today's wait time is more about when devices ship rather than ordering them. Expect "4-5 weeks" on the 16GB model.
If you're one of the lucky few Google Nexus 4 or Nexus 10 owners around the world that prefer a third-party ROM to Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, then you're in luck. Today the team behind the popular CyanogenMod custom distribution released an official CM10.1 build for the LG-made smartphone, with another on the way for its tablet sibling.
The CyanogenMod 10.1 build for the Nexus 4 comes in response to unofficial custom distributions, that recently surfaced, built using the former's source code. The first release available to the general public is based on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, rather than the newest version issued yesterday. However a missing December in the People app is unlikely to hinder its success considering CyanogenMod's popularity among the modding community.
The LG-manufactured Nexus 4 is nearly perfect. Unless you have no other choice, perhaps because of unsupported cellular carrier and binding contractual commitment, put Google's newest smartphone at the top of your must-buy list. The device satisfies in all the right places -- battery life, call quality, display clarity, size and visibility, operating system and performance. There are other Androids with comparable or better hardware, but they typically slap on a secondary UI and ship with older OS. It's not the measure of one attribute, or even a couple, but many combined that make Nexus 4 so good.
But nearly isn't perfect. Nexus 4's flaws, while subtle, will be serious for some potential buyers. There is no 4G LTE, for example. The feature is built-in to the Snapdragon processor but not properly enabled. The phone is HSPA+ for data, which works on GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile USA. No LTE is a deal-breaker for some people, as seen in commments here and elsewhere. Something else: LG copied Apple, which put glass on the back of iPhone 4 and 4S and rightly abandoned the design with the newest handset. Double-sided glass makes the phone less durable than should be, particularly if dropped. Finally, many Galaxy Nexus users won't find its successor to be a compelling upgrade; much depends on what they use their phones for.
At 9:24 am ET this morning, I received surprising email from Google: "Nexus 4 will be available for purchase later today! Order yours from Google Play starting today, November 27 at 12:00 noon PST (US only)".
Sudden availability follows shipping notices many people who had placed orders previously received yesterday. The question: Can Google Play handle the orders this time? Another: Will you get a phone?
Two weeks ago, Google launched Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, the latest treat in the candy jar. In addition to delivering a number of improvements, the new operating system also introduced some software issues. As a response to this, the Mountain View, Calif.-based corporation started rolling out the Android 4.2.1 update for the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 on Tuesday.
The most notable mishap in Android 4.2 is the missing month of December in the People app. This bug caused quite a controversy around the interwebs, with plenty of sarcasm and humor directed towards Mountain View for dismissing Christmas.