THE MICROSOFT INVESTOR: Microsoft And Nokia Betting The Farm On Windows Phone

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MSFT Flat As Tech Rises  
The market is off marginally on various economic data releases: declining home prices, manufacturing stumbles and consumer confidence falls. Shares of MSFT are down to flat versus a positive tech tape. Upcoming catalysts include Windows 8, Windows Server 8, Office 15 and Windows Phone 8; expansion in the smartphone market with primary hardware partner Nokia; strides in cloud computing; profitability in the online business, including integration of Skype; and continued evolution of Kinect and next generation Xbox. The stock currently trades at 8.8x Enterprise Value / TTM Free Cash Flow.

Microsoft To Launch Xbox Lite To Take On Apple TV? (Joystiq)
rumours of a new Xbox have been swirling for quite some time now, though they are now taking a slightly different shape. The next Xbox hardware won’t actually be a generational leap, according to anonymous blogger MS Nerd. Instead, the console will actually be a stripped down version of the current Xbox, which will concentrate on “Arcade-style games” and Kinect apps. The device will be “price-competitive” with Apple TV and is apparently slated for a late 2013 launch. Xbox is getting a huge update today.

Lumia 900 Just $100, Making It One Of The Cheapest High-End Device (Electronista)
AT&T confirmed launch details for the Nokia Lumia 900 on Monday that show Microsoft and Nokia determined to carve out share for Windows Phone in the U.S. The first 4G Windows Phone will go on sale on April 8 for just $99.99 on a contract. The deal makes the Lumia 900 one of the cheapest new LTE phones ever and one of the cheapest high-end devices. It’s pretty obvious at that price the Lumia 900 is being more heavily subsidized than usual in a bid to grab market share. It’s unclear who’s taking that hit. Steve Kovach at Business Insider thinks it’s AT&T. I’m not so sure.

Microsoft And Nokia Creating AppCampus To Fund App Development For WP (TechCrunch)
Microsoft and Nokia announced that they are each putting in up to around $12 million into a new mobile apps development program at Finland’s Aalto University called AppCampus. The program is aimed specifically at funding new apps for the Windows Phone platform. Not a surprising move for Nokia and Microsoft given the worry over whether the platform will ever have the content muscle to  grow into a significant competitor against Apple and Google. The incident with Rovio last week was just a flash point in that ongoing story.

Nokia Paying AT&T To Include Lumia In The “Company Use” Program (WP Central)
Nokia has reportedly paid AT&T as much as $25 million to make the Nokia Lumia 900 the exclusive free phone for AT&T employees. Smart move considering one of the big problems with Windows Phone is that staffers at the carriers’ retail stores don’t know anything about it. Part of the deal is making the Lumia the exclusive phone available through the “company use” program and Nokia expects 80% of AT&T employees to be using Lumias as a result. Business Insider points out that it should be noted that much of the Lumia’s marketing budget is coming from Microsoft.

Windows 8 rumoured To Be Finished This Summer (ars technica)
Windows 8 will enter the Release Candidate stage in late May or early June. This would mesh with an earlier reports that the software will be finished in the summer, with retail availability in October. All these dates are unsubstantiated rumour at this point, but they’re not at all surprising. Microsoft has been clear that the development of Windows 8 is following the same track as Windows 7 which had its initial preview about a year before release, public beta in the first quarter, release candidate mid-year, and a release in fall.

By 2016, 60% Of Tablet Market Will Be Sub-$400 Tablets (PadGadget)
ABI Research is predicting that by 2016, 60% of the tablet market will be controlled by tablets that are under $400, like the Kindle Fire. According to ABI Research, there are currently 220 tablet models available worldwide. “The majority of new entrant media tablet models have been in the sub-$400 segment that focuses on growth markets like India and China,” said Jeff Orr, group director of consumer research at ABI. “The strong wave of growth in this segment over the next few years is expected to be driven by the adoption in emerging markets.” Get in there Microsoft!

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