Google Business Review: Ad Market Softens
GOOG (NASDAQ:GOOG) Off On Downgrade
Stocks were off in early trading as Italy continues to be a disaster and the Euro dives, are currently recovering on solid U.S. data. Shares of GOOG are off on an analyst downgrade this morning (see below). Catalysts included continued Android momentum in the smartphone and tablet markets worldwide; Motorola acquisition approval and integration; regaining ground in China; resurgence of Google TV (see below); the roll-out of Google Music, social network Google+ (see below) and Google Wallet; and progress in other newer initiatives (location-based services, mapping, gaming, daily deals, etc.). The stock trades at approximately 13.9x Enterprise Value / EBIT.
Will The Weak Ad Market Suggest An Earnings Miss? (Forbes)
Anticipating a slowdown in the advertising market, Benchmark Co. analyst Clayton Moran cut his rating on Google to Hold form Buy, with a $700 price target. How do you have 40 points of upside and downgrade the stock? In any event, Moran believes advertising in Europe saw a “severe slowdown.” He adds that the U.S. outlook for the 2012 first half “appears increasingly uncertain with advertisers expressing hesitation.” Google’s shares have gained ground in anticipation of a strong quarter, but that the first half of this year could prove disappointing.
Google Still Interested In Bidding On Soccer (The Guardian)
While Apple might not be considering purchasing the TV rights to the English Premier Soccer League, Google is still interested. Any move for the live rights would be a major investment, even for a company of Google’s size. But the company is expected to announce an Internet television platform over the next 12 months. That said, it would be complicated by the legal battle between Google’s YouTube and the Premier League over copyrights issues.
Oracle And Google Finally Get A Court Date To Go To Battle… (The Register)
A pretrial order from the California courts has set the dates for the forthcoming trial between Oracle and Google over the rights and wrongs of Java’s intellectual property rights. The trial will commence on or after March 19th, according to court documents, and will be split into three sessions: copyright infringement liability, patent infringement liability, and then damages and “remaining issues.”
…And Oracle Is Beefing Up Its Database Patents (SEO By The Sea)
Google just picked up a bunch of patents from IBM to help it fight a multi-billion dollar Oracle lawsuit. This is the third deal between the two companies in the last year, accounting for more than 2,000 patents. But this batch is interesting because the bulk of them have nothing to do with the mobile business, but instead relate to database technology, Oracle’s core business. Google is getting a little more offensive in its fight back.
Android Market “Featured Apps” Seeing Insane Growth (TechCrunch)
Getting featured in the Android Market is starting to have a meaningful impact for mobile app developers. RunKeeper, fitness app maker, saw a 637% increase in downloads since November after just a few days of being a featured app in the Android Market’s “Health & Fitness” section. Lightbox, a photo-sharing app, was also featured over the holidays. In the week following its new highly visible status, Lightbox saw a 50% increase in download numbers; figures that usually take three months.
Only 0.6% Of Android Users Are On The Latest Android OS (Business Insider)
Google published Android version distribution stats, and the results are pretty predictable based on the horrible track record manufacturers have when it comes to updating devices to the latest OS. Google says 55.5% of active Android devices are running version 2.3 Gingerbread, which came out more than a year ago. And Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest and greatest OS that Google has been bragging about? It’s only running on a measly 0.6% of active Android devices. Pitiful.
Will Google Take On Amazon’s Kindle Fire? (DigiTimes)
As Google reportedly may launch an own-brand tablet PC to compete against Apple’s iPad, sources from Google’s upstream supply chain believe that Google may actually be targeting Amazon’s 7-inch Kindle Fire as its major competitor. The report seems a bit wishy-washy since Google’s Taiwan office denied knowing anything about a Google-branded tablet, so consider it as a major rumor.
Tablets Accounted For Approximately One Quarter Of Mobile PC Shipments (NPD DisplaySearch)
Tablets accounted for approximately 25.5%, or 72.7 million units, of all mobile PC shipments worldwide in 2011, according to NPD DisplaySearch. The divide between tablet and laptop shipments will likely close significantly over the next few years. The research firm predicts that by 2017, laptop shipments are expected to reach 432 million units, while tablets will follow close behind at 383 million units shipped.
Heather Leonard is the Google analyst at Business Insider.