Amazon Provides Economic Light in Dark Days

Amazon had a great fourth quarter as reported today in the WSJ. Sales were up 18% and profits rose 9%.amazon Those numbers are pretty strong when things are going well but in today’s economy these are outrageous results.

Here’s a few more numbers to drool over. Earnings of $225 million for the quarter ended Dec 31st. This is compared to earnings of $207 million for the same period a year earlier. What’s that you ask a company that’s experiencing growth year over year in this environment? Yup, that’s right. Oh and the $6.7 billion (with a “b”) revenue number for the quarter is very impressive indeed.

Apple Profits, SEC Probes

apple-logoWith all the bad economic news flying around including massive Microsoft layoffs, Intel’s first performance concerns in a long time and IBM job cuts, Apple had its best quarter ever as reported in the WSJ.

Steve Jobs let the world know and issued a prepared statement on Apple’s earnings.

Even in these economically challenging times, we are incredibly pleased to report our best quarterly revenue and earnings in Apple history,” the CEO said.

That’s to the tune of over $10 billion dollars. A big number for sure. Increased sales of Macs and iPhones led the charge in the fourth quarter but Apple is already advising that Q1 of this year may not be so great. Interestingly enough it’s not the business of Apple that is getting the most attention these days. In fact, it seems as if the great performance in otherwise dark days is an afterthought when compared to the news swirling around the health of Steve Jobs and the SEC’s interest in the whole situation.

Microsoft Search – Will It Always be an Oxymoron?

Military intelligence. Jumbo shrimp. Business ethics. All classic oxymorons. For those of us in the internet marketing search-logosbiz probably the most obvious one is Microsoft Search.

In light of the changes that have just occurred at Yahoo! there is renewed talked about what will happen to the Yahoo! search business. If there are rumors then there has to be mention of Microsoft. Today’s WSJ has a very in depth story that outlines the history of misses and mistakes that makes up Microsoft’s foray into the search business.

Today, we all can agree that Live Search is not exactly a market leader. They are the red-headed stepchild of the search industry (my apologies to all redheads reading this). In fact, the idea of Live Search still brings up reactions like “Microsoft does search?” to “Microsoft can’t do search.” to “Microsoft should stop trying to do search.” and all stops in between. As the article shows though, it’s not for lack of trying.

Google SEC Filing Fuels Speculation

As internet marketers we tend to concentrate on Google and its product set. Makes perfect sense considering Google is google-logothe undisputed King of the Online World.

What’s interesting to see is what Google does as a business. The Yahoo! news site ran an Associated Press story that says the AP ‘obtained’ a copy of the regulatory filing that Google filed December 15, 2008 and it revealed some interesting things about the company and what is going on there.

First, it’s  interesting that it was filed in paper form only. This practice avoids the online aggregators of these public records from being able to post the filing through their normal channels. I suspect these folks will have it sooner than later but the intentionality of Google providing the filing this way is curious. Trying to fly under the radar? Who knows.

Holiday Online Sales Dip for First Time

While not a shock considering the way this past quarter has been going for the economy in general, the Wall Street saleschartdownJournal reported online sales declines for ecommerce for the first time ever during this past holiday shopping sales.

The numbers aren’t dramatic but some would say that just the fact that they were negative is enough. Online spending from November 1 through Christmas Eve was down 2% compared to 5.5% to 8.5% for retail as a whole. This is the first time that online sales for the holiday season have not grown. Normally we are talking about how ridiculous complaints are of growth numbers that are the envy of all (what only 15% growth, why not 35%?) but now the industry must examine how the current economy is finally impacting online business.

Net’s Still Neutral (For Now)

Net neutrality is officially a real topic again, I guess. Heck, it’s on the front page of net-neutralitythe Wall Street Journal this AM so it must be important, right? Sorry for the cynicism first thing on Monday but after reading a rather lengthy report on the threat to net neutrality that is being spearheaded by Google I feel like I may have actually gotten up on the wrong side of the bed after all.

I’ll summarize. Google is doing some behind the scenes negotiating to create an internet fast lane that would give those who could pay for it a real advantage in content delivery*. The telcos love the idea because it replaces revenue that is being lost due to their antiquated land line systems and their unwillingness to change with the times.

LinkedIn Lures Google Talent

While it certainly is not an exodus there have been some high profile Google executives leaving the Mountain View nest for other opportunities. There has been talk recently about Google becoming a more mature company but does that mean that some of their best and brightest don’t see opportunity there? Google is a big place though and I suspect that there are other PhDs and the like looking to fill these vacated spots. A ‘brain drain’ of sorts is not what is happening at the internet’s version of Mecca but it certainly signals a more widespread changing of the guard at the very least.