Today: Reuters contends that Apple will begin manufacturing an "iWatch" this summer for fall release, marrying with earlier reports suggesting the same. Also: Oracle announces earnings, Google makes two more acquisitions.
The Lead: Reports continue to suggest 'iWatch' will arrive in fall
Apple is preparing to launch manufacturing of a smartwatch it will begin selling in October, Reuters reported Thursday, matching earlier reports suggesting a similar timetable for the introduction of an anticipated wearable gadget commonly referred to as the "iWatch."
Reuters reported a Taiwanese manufacturer named Quanta Computer will in July begin mass producing the device, which will have a touchscreen display that measures 2.5 inches diagonally. Apple's goal, according to an anonymous source, is to start selling the device in October and ship 50 million units in the first year of availability -- for a comparison, Apple sold 26.4 million iPods and 71 million iPads in its 2013 fiscal year.
Thursday's report matches a Recode report earlier this month that said Apple hoped to hold an October event to introduce its smartwatch, and a report the same day from Nikkei predicted Apple was seeking to produce as many as 5 million units a month. Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White reported around the same time that his manufacturing contacts in Asia expected to begin making parts for the iWatch this month, with expectations of a slightly earlier unveiling by Apple at a September event that would also highlight the iPhone 6.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has suggested that the Cupertino tech giant will enter into new product categories in 2014, and predictions for an Apple smartwatch have been prevalent for more than a year, ramping up last July, when the company filed for trademarks for the "iWatch" name in several countries. After reports that Apple's wearable device would include sensors that track users' vital signs, the company introduced at its Worldwide Developers Conference this month a software platform called HealthKit that would track and record such data, seemingly confirming future products focused on the "quantified self" movement.
Apple investors have pushed for a move into new product categories as the company's sales growth has slowed. Total revenues grew 5.6 percent in 2013, a big fall from its 2012 growth rate of 29 percent. Apple has attempted to sate impatient stockholders with a series of payoffs in the form of dividends and stock repurchases, as well as a recent seven-for-one stock split that brought the company's per-share price to less than $100.
Apple stock dropped 0.4 percent to $91.86 Thursday, though losses were more substantial before the Reuters report landed late in the day's trading session.
SV150 market report: Another S&P record high, but Oracle falls late
Wall Street gained slightly Thursday, pushing the Standard & Poor's 500 to a record close for the second consecutive day, but Silicon Valley's largest software company dove in late trading after its traditional closing curtain of quarterly earnings season.
Oracle failed to meet expectations for both profits and sales in its quarterly report released Thursday afternoon, with FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives comparing the Redwood City company's results to defending champion Spain being knocked out of the World Cup earlier than anyone expected. Oracle reported net income of $3.65 billion, or 80 cents a share, on sales of $11.32 billion, representing a 4 percent year-over-year decline in profits and a 3 percent gain in revenues. Oracle also announced that it had become the second largest cloud-software provider in the world, trailing only San Francisco-based Salesforce, thanks to a run of cloud acquisitions that have boosted the company's software-as-a-service offerings. Oracle stock closed with closed with a 0.7 percent decline at $42.51, then plunged to less than $40 in after-hours action.
Fellow Silicon Valley software firm Tibco Software also released earnings Thursday, reporting income of $1.6 million, or a penny a share, on sales of $252.3 million; with forecasts coming in lower than expectations, Tibco stock dropped fell close to $20.50 after closing with a 1.2 percent decline at $20.82. Silicon Valley's acquisitions blitz continued: Google acknowledged two acquisitions without disclosing a price tag, video-ad company MDialog and next-generation wireless company Alpental; Twitter purchased a company that helps serve up video clips, SnappyTV; and San Jose solar manufacturer SunPower picked up Hawaiian software firm RevoluSun, which helps manage solar projects. Google gained 0.8 percent to $564.99, Twitter moved 0.4 percent higher to $38.90 and SunPower dropped 1.3 percent to $39.83.
Netflix dropped 1.6 percent to $441.39 after signing on for its first talk show with Chelsea Handler, and Tesla Motors gained 0.3 percent to $227.79 after detailing its plans for its European Supercharger network. Intel gained 0.5 percent to $30.09 while launching a cute new messaging app, and rival Advanced Micro Devices fell 0.9 percent to $4.36 while predicting huge gains in energy efficiency in its chips. Silicon Valley's newest public stock is Fremont biotech Ardelyx, which raked in more than $60 million by selling 4.5 million shares at $14 apiece and gained slightly in its debut day, closing at $14.11.
Up: Splunk, SolarCity, Symantec, Google, Pandora, Intel, Twitter, Applied Materials, Gilead, Cisco, Tesla, Salesforce
Down: Juniper, Nvidia, Facebook, Netflix, Zynga, LinkedIn, SunPower, Yelp, VMware, AMD, Yahoo, Oracle, Workday, HP, NetApp
The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Down 3.85, or 0.26 percent, to 1,496.63
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Down 3.51, or 0.08 percent, to 4,359.33
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Up 14.84, or 0.09 percent, to 16,921.46
And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up 2.5, or 0.13 percent, to 1,959.48