Good morning, Data Sheet readers. Apple now sells more iPhones in China than Europe. Facebook’s messaging service now supports video calls. Plus, could workflow automation prove to be the killer app for business collaboration? Australia-born software company Atlassian advocates that thesis. Have a productive Tuesday.
TOP OF MIND
Apple’s best second quarter, ever. Among many highlights in the company’s latest financial results is the steady and growing contribution of Macintosh computers. Another juicy tidbit: China just overtook Europe as the second biggest market for iPhones.
The not-so-good news is that iPad sales continued to slip appreciably: off 23% compared with the year-earlier period. Here are the early reactions from the dozens of Apple analysts who scrutinize the company.
Plus, in the if-you can’t-beat them, join-them category, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed on last night's call that Best Buy has signed up to accept Apple Pay. That’s notable because the retailer is working on an alternative mobile payment service, called Current C, as part of a consortium led by Walmart.
What’s next for Facebook’s Messenger app: video call support. The social network’s plan to turn its messaging application into a customer relationship platform just got even more compelling. Right now, this is pitched as a nice-to-have for the 600 million or so people who use the app on a monthly basis. It also sets the stage for compelling business usage scenarios.
Microsoft loses round in mobile patent case. The decision could potentially lead to an import ban on certain Nokia phones. First, however, it must be reviewed by the International Trade Commission.
Snapchat just made a huge investment in editorial talent. The social media platform has hired star CNN political reporter Peter Hamby. The idea is to nurture more partnerships like existing pacts with CNN, Vice and ESPN. But the move could also be construed as competitive.
Incidentally, Google just revamped how its new service operates in Europe. It will pay about $163 million over the next three years to help several publishers create digital initiatives. The move is seen, at least in part, as a gesture to appease antitrust officials.
A handheld breakthrough for medical diagnostics? Scanadu, which just raised another $35 million in venture funding, is making a "tricorder" (called Scout) that can measure at least five vital signs in less than 30 seconds. The company still needs FDA approval for the gadget, but right now it’s running a trial with 8,000 users. “The data will eat physiology,” said Scanadu CEO Walter De Brouwer. “There will be a triple or quadruple Moore’s Law in these things, and it will go through the phone, which is the remote control of our world.”
How Atlassian, a favorite with software developers, is rethinking business collaboration
Atlassian, the teenage business collaboration disruptor, is accustomed to comparisons with the latest fresh-faced startups in its space.
Remember Yammer, acquired by Microsoft in June 2012? Or Asana, created by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz? These days, Atlassian is usually mentioned in the same breath as Slack, being nurtured by Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield.
Atlassian is unique in one very specific way: it has been profitable for the last 12 years, a relatively rare achievement and one that its top executives attribute to its “self-service” sales model. That approach allows the Australian-born company to spend a higher percentage of revenue on research and development than most rivals, according to its top executives. Its newest offering, JIRA Service Desk, is not only the company’s fastest growing product (to date), it is helping Atlassian build brand recognition beyond its traditional following with software development teams.
“The biggest thing we’re working on is proving that our model doesn’t just work for technical people,” said Mike Cannon-Brooks, co-founder and co-CEO.
At last official count, more than 43,000 organizations (including 80 of the Fortune 100) were using Atlassian’s team communications and service management software, including Citigroup, eBay, Coca-Cola, Tesla, Twilio, and NASA. The company managed to win over these accounts without hiring a massive sales team, such as the ones that made the likes of Oracle and SAP well-known names in corporate board rooms. The big difference: the rising profile of corporate software developers. Consider the example of General Motors, which has added more than 8,000 software engineers over the past two years after ending an outsourcing relationship with Hewlett-Packard.
“All companies fit into one of two buckets: either becoming a software company or being disrupted by one. Every industry is being fundamentally altered by software,” Cannon-Brooks said. “We’ll continue to make it easier for developers to build great software while taking that understanding of how highly effective teams work to help all teams better organize, collaborate and communicate.”
JIRA Service Desk, born during one of Atlassian’s quarterly “ShipIT” brainstorming and hackathon sessions, can automate pretty much any sort of workflow, such as legal contract approvals or expense approvals.
“It’s a way to get your colleague’s attention,” said Atlassian President Jay Simons. “This is a logical progression of our mission in collaboration. It is in our DNA to help people communicate with one another and keep track of the things people to together.” Today, this sort of task might typically be facilitated through an email thread. Its the same problem (and opportunity) being targeted by ServiceNow.
Operation teams at auction house Sotheby’s in New York and London use JIRA Service Desk to facilitate everything from moving artwork between exhibition spaces to arranging from carpet cleaning. Previously, these sorts of requests were handled with email.
“It’s too early to put definitive metrics on the benefits of the system,” said Nathan Smith, assistant vice president of IT application development for Sothebys, which has used Atlassian software since 2010. “Anecdotally, it has resulted in improvements in productivity and clearer communication between different parties. We are confident that improvements will come further down the line, but so far they have been difficult to measure because we had very little data to start with. The data was hidden in emails, and on pieces of paper. By centralizing requests onto a single system, the data is now visible. This means we have established a baseline to report on, and use in our planning.”
Read more about how Atlassian is rethinking business collaboration.
Also check out “Why can’t we kill email?” Leena Rao reports from San Francisco about how companies are rethinking the design of (almost) everyone’s least-favorite software application.
ALSO WORTH SHARING
Which company has the bigger cloud business: disruptor Amazon Web Services or legacy IT company IBM? Right now, as Fortune’s Barb Darrow reports, the numbers are completely open to interpretation.
Attention tech marketers: Microsoft just ran an ad bragging about how technology can help us work from anywhere, any time, all the time. The reaction probably wasn’t what the software company intended.
Amazon’s latest marketplace appeals to corporate buyers. The new service, aptly dubbed Amazon Business, will compete with the likes of industrial supplier Grainger. It will be open only to authorized buyers.
Ex-Foundry executive gets jail time for insider trading role. Former CIO David Riley was convicted of leaking privileged information related to Brocade Communications Systems’ acquisition of the network equipment company in 2008.
Another data center operator may be for sale. Reuters reports that Telx, which manages more than 1.3 million square feet of space including three big ones in the New York metropolitan area, is seeking up to $2 billion.
One of the better-known 3D printing companies, 3D Systems, cut its financial forecast last week. Although it’s downplaying the long-term impact, many analysts are worried it could signal a broader slowdown ahead of new technology from Hewlett-Packard. The problem, those products aren’t due until next year.
$15 million more for Hadoop company DataTorrent. Its specialty is “pipeline optimization” that speeds up big data processing. The lead investor in the Series B round is Singtel Innov8, along with GE Ventures and all of the software company’s Series A investors. The new money brings total financing to $23.8 million.
MY FORTUNE BOOKMARKS
Robert Rubin tells Sheryl Sandberg that Facebook is the problem by Chris Matthews
Loop Commerce lassos $16 million to make gives more personal by Kia Kokalitcheva
Google has a weird new way of buying patents by Ben Geier
Exclusive: Bitcoin company Circle raising new cash by Dan Primack
Did monkey videos help Russian hackers access President Obama’s email? by Robert Hackett
How early adopters are using Meerkat and Periscope by Dan Reilly
ONE MORE THING
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
MicrosoftIgnite: Business tech extravaganza. (May 4 – 8; Chicago)
NetSuite SuiteWorld: Cloud ERP strategy. (May 4 – 7; San Jose, California)
EMC World: Data strategy. (May 4 - 7; Las Vegas)
SAPPHIRE NOW: The SAP universe. (May 5 – 7; Orlando, Florida)
Gartner Digital Marketing Conference: Reach your destination faster. (May 5 – 7; San Diego)
Cornerstone Convergence: Connect, collaborate. (May 11 - 13; Los Angeles)
Cloud Foundry Summit: Open source development. (May 11 - 12; Santa Clara, California)
Annual Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference: JP Morgan’s 43rd invite-only event. (May 18 - 20; Boston)
Signal: The modern communications conference. (May 19 - 20; San Francisco)
MuleSoft Connect: Tie together apps, data and devices. (May 27 - 29; San Francisco)
MongoDB World: Scale the universe. (June 1 - 2; New York)
HP Discover: Trends and technologies. (June 2 - 4; Las Vegas)
Apple Worldwide Developers Conference: Future of iOS and OS X. (June 8 - 12; San Francisco)
Hadoop Summit San Jose: Mainstreaming adoption. (June 9 - 11; San Jose, California)
Red Hat Summit: Energize your enterprise. (June 23 - 26; Boston)
Brainstorm Tech: Fortune’s invite-only gathering of thinkers, influencers and entrepreneurs. (July 13 - 15; Aspen, Colorado)
LinuxCon North America: All about open source. (Aug. 17 - 19; Seattle)
VMworld: The virtualization ecosystem. (Aug. 30 – Sept. 3, 2015; San Francisco)
Dreamforce: The Salesforce community. (Sept. 15 - 18; San Francisco)
BoxWorks 2015: Cloud collaboration solutions. (Sept. 28 - 30; San Francisco)
Workday Rising: Meet and share. (Sept. 28 - Oct. 1; Las Vegas)
HP Engage: Big data, big engagement. (Oct. 4 - 6; San Diego)
Gartner Symposium ITxpo: CIOs and senior IT executives. (Oct. 4 - 8; Orlando, Florida)
Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing: World's largest gather of women technologists. (Oct. 14 - 16; Houston)
Oracle OpenWorld: Customer and partner conference. (Oct. 25 - 29; San Francisco)