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Data Sheet—Friday, January 29, 2016

January 29, 2016, 1:33 PM UTC

Here’s my favorite data point from Amazon’s fourth-quarter earnings release Thursday, a period in which the e-commerce beast earned $482 million (more than double the year-earlier quarter) on sales of $35.7 billion, up 22%. In the “highlights” section of the statement, Amazon listed 34 bullet points. These included its performance in India (strong), the number of features its Amazon Web Services unit released (722), and the new brands in its Dash Replenish program (Purell and Whirlpool).

Amazon’s earnings were somewhat less than what Wall Street expected, so its stock gave up earlier gains in aftermarket trading. This is what failure looks like in a similar vein to Apple’s disappointing profit figure of only $18 billion for its most recent quarter.

In fact, Amazon’s strengths were on full display. The AWS business is approaching a $10 billion annual sales pace, and Amazon said Korea will be AWS’s next big market. It teased investors with impressive non-number numbers, like the growth in worldwide Prime subscription membership increasing 51% to, well, Amazon doesn’t say to what.

Amazon is so good that everyone assumes there is a method to its complicated, complex, hydra-headed madness. (For a sense of this, go to, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and read the tiny print on all of Amazon’s many brands and affiliated businesses.) After Thursday’s results, lofty expectations notwithstanding, it’s hard to argue with that.

Adam Lashinsky


Xerox plans split. The 110-year-old company intends to separate its printing and office systems businesses from its services unit, motivated by pressure from activist investor Carl Icahn. The move essentially reverses the company's $6 billion buyout of Affiliated Computer Services in 2010 and comes after four years of declining profit and sales growth at that company. Icahn, Xerox's second largest shareholder, will also get three seats on the services company's board. (Wall Street Journal)

Microsoft's cloud business remains bright spot. The hodgepodge of products that fall under its cloud designation—including the Azure computing-on-demand offering, business intelligence services, and enterprise mobility products—drove $6.3 billion in sales during the software giant's second quarter. Overall revenue slipped 10% to $23.8 billion. Even though other big tech stocks have been hammered, Microsoft shares are up about 28% this year. The earnings report provided another boost in after-hours trading. (Fortune, New York Times)

Apple flirts with wireless power-ups, recalls some chargers. You might be able to top off the batteries in next-generation iPhones and iPads more easily without plugging them in, reports Bloomberg. Plus, attention world travelers: If you're using an Apple power adapter designed for use outside the United States, you might need to exchange it for a new one. Some older designs could break, with a risk of electrical shock. (BloombergReuters)

Facebook giveth and Facebook taketh away. First the good news. The social network is expanding its live mobile videostreaming service to all members, not just celebrities and other public figures. Plus, you'll soon be able to react to posts with more than just a "like." Now, the bad news: Facebook is shutting down Parse, a set of tools that mobile developers use to create apps. The decision was a matter of resources. (Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Times)

Sony: Thank goodness for James Bond. Like many other tech companies tying their fortunes to smartphone sales—it's a leader in mobile digital imaging sensors—Sony's latest quarterly results were impacted negatively by weaker shipments by Apple and Samsung. Unlike its peers, Sony also runs a studio, responsible for the latest box-office hit in the James Bond movie franchise Spectre, and a videogame publishing unit. Their contributions helped boost profits. (Wall Street Journal)

Foxconn boosts Sharp offer to $5.5 billion. The Taiwanese contract manufacturer, known for making iPhones, emerged as a bidder for the struggling Japanese electronics maker last week. Its latest proposal involves issuing new shares, reports the Wall Street Journal, which would dilute the control of existing investors and give it a roughly two-thirds stake. Sharp is also considering a bid from Innovation Network Corp. of Japan. (Wall Street Journal)

Ginni Rometty gets a bigger bonus. IBM's CEO will receive a $4.5 million performance incentive for 2015, despite the tech giant's ongoing financial struggles. That's $900,000 more than the previous year. IBM sales have declined for the past 15 quarters. (Wall Street Journal)


What ServiceNow and Salesforce have in common. The service management specialist has topped $1 billion in annual revenue—a distinction it shares with just one other cloud software company, the behemoth Salesforce. ServiceNow's technology is used by more than 638 of the world’s biggest organizations, including Michelin and Hershey. About one-third of those contracts are worth more than $1 million in annualized revenue. The next big financial milestone for ServiceNow? Which cloud software company could be next? Read Heather Clancy's report for more details. (Fortune)


Alibaba eyes its next big opportunity: rural China by Leena Rao

What media companies can learn from Facebook's incredible mobile turnaround by Mathew Ingram

YouTube wins another round in German copyright tussle by David Meyer

Dropbox got even more mail in 2015 by Valentina Zarya

Xerox built the ultimate transportation app for Los Angeles
by Kirsten Korosec

Watch Apple's price targets fall 10% overnight by Philip Elmer-DeWitt

Fast-growing customer care specialist NewVoiceMedia raises $30 million by Heather Clancy

Would you play for a piece of a video game's revenues? by John Gaudiosi

The iPad Pro can now update its accessories by Jason Cipriani


Snapchat gets political. The mobile app known for its disappearing messages is heading for the campaign trail with its latest news program, "Good Luck America." The show's anchor is former CNN political correspondent Peter Hamby, who joined the tech company last year. (Wall Street Journal)


Connect: IBM's social business and digital experience event. (Jan. 31 - Feb. 3; Orlando, Florida)

Spark Summit: Open source data science. (Feb. 16 - 18; New York)

IBM InterConnect: Cloud and mobile issues. (Feb. 21 - 25; Las Vegas)

MarketingSherpa Summit: Advance your campaign and careers. (Feb. 22 - 24; Las Vegas)

Enterprise Connect: Communications and collaboration trends. (March 7 - 10; Orlando, Florida)

Pure//Accelerate: The future of the modern data center. (March 14 - 15; San Francisco)

Next 2016: Google's cloud platform strategy. (March 23 - 24; San Francisco)

Microsoft Build: Microsoft's premier developer conference. (March 30 - April 1; San Francisco)

Microsoft Envision: Where business meets possibility. (April 4 - 7; New Orleans)

Qlik Qonnetions: Business intelligence trends. (May 1 - 4; Orlando, Florida)

EMC World: What's next for digital business. (May 2 - 5; Las Vegas)

The Marketing Nation Summit. Marketo's annual conference. (May 9 - 12; Las Vegas)

Salesforce Connections. Cloud marketing trends. (May 10 - 12; Atlanta)

Knowledge 16: ServiceNow's annual service management conference. (May 15 - 20; Las Vegas)

Fortune Brainstorm E: The intersection of technology, energy, and sustainable business. (May 16 - 17; Carlsbad, California)

SAPPHIRE Now: SAP's annual conference. (May 17 - 19; Orlando, Florida)

Gartner Digital Marketing: How to move from vision to execution. (May 17 - 19; San Diego)

Gartner Supply Chain Executive: Creating a value chain. (May 17 - 19; Phoenix)

Google I/O (registration link coming soon): For creative software coders. (May 18 - 20; Mountain View, Calif.)

MuleSoft Connect: Enable your digital transformation. (May 21 - 25; San Francisco)

Inforum: Infor’s annual user conference. (July 10 – 13; New York)

Fortune Brainstorm Tech: The world's top tech and media thinkers, operators, entrepreneurs, innovators, and influencers. (July 11 - 13; Aspen, Colorado)

Sage Summit. For fast-growth businesses. (July 25 - 28; Chicago)

Workday Rising: Talent management in the cloud. (Sept. 26 - 29; Chicago)

Microsoft Ignite: Product roadmaps and innovation. (Sept. 26 - 30; Atlanta)

OracleWorld. The future of the cloud is now. (Sept. 18 - 22, San Francisco)

Dreamforce: The Salesforce ecosystem gathers. (Oct. 4 - 7; San Francisco)


This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy: