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Filter - Cynthia L. Webb
Microsoft Gives Back, Grows up

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_____About Filter_____
Filter looks at the day's top technology news through snapshots and analysis of what the world's media outlets are covering. Washingtonpost.com's new Mon.-Fri. feature is penned by technology reporter Cynthia L. Webb. If a technology story breaks, a company falters or triumphs, or there's a new trend in technology, Filter wants you to know about it.

_____Filter Archive_____
EBay Wins a Beating (washingtonpost.com, Jul 22, 2004)
We Built This City on Spam (washingtonpost.com, Jul 20, 2004)
VoIP: The Next Household Word? (washingtonpost.com, Jul 19, 2004)
Uncle Sam Mothballs Screening Program (washingtonpost.com, Jul 16, 2004)
Apple Thanks Its Lucky iPods (washingtonpost.com, Jul 15, 2004)
More Past Issues
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Don Gher, chief investment officer with Bellevue, Wash.-based Coldstream Capital Management, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "This is such a spectacular amount of money. It's something we've never seen in history to this magnitude."
Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Microsoft Shares Riches

Daddy Warbucks?

It's indeed a windfall for Gates, though his charity will reap the net effects. Gates "will receive $3.3 billion of that one-time dividend. Mr. Gates, already one of the world's richest men, will also see an extra $180 million a year from an increase in the quarterly dividends, also announced yesterday. Mr. Gates pledged to give all of the one-time dividend to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which focuses on global health and education issues. The contribution will increase the size of the foundation's assets by 11 percent, to $30 billion, making it roughly three times the size of the next largest foundation in the United States," the New York Times reported. The foundation's Web site posted a statement from Gates about the planned donation and CNET's News.com was among the outlets that ran separate articles on the foundation news.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer explained more about the foundation's work: "The organization's primary mission has been improving global health – from launching multiple projects aimed at expanding the use of basic public health tools worldwide to funding various research initiatives such as the search for an effective AIDS vaccine. In addition to its work on matters of international health, the Gates Foundation contributes heavily to efforts aimed at guaranteeing equal access to education, providing information technologies to public libraries and assisting poor families in the Pacific Northwest."
CNET's News.com: Gates To Donate $3 Billion Windfall
Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Gates' Dividend Will Go To Charity

iPod, uPod, We All Scream for...

San Jose Mercury News columnist Dan Gillmor weighed in today on what Apple will have to do to keep its lead in the digital music player market. "Expanding the mission of the iPod makes a lot of sense. The job of storing and playing back music can be handled by other devices, even if not as elegantly as on the iPod. This is the iPod's vulnerability. I have an iPod, and I think it's a terrific gadget. But on my Treo 600, the combination handheld computer and phone, I've installed a relatively high-capacity (512 megabytes) memory card and some third-party MP3 playback software. The Treo has become my portable music player, and my iPod stays home. Apple has a monster hit on its hands today. But it'll have to keep innovating to maintain that status. By all evidence, the company understands this, and is moving quickly to expand the iPod's mission. It'll need to keep up the pace," Gillmor wrote.
San Jose Mercury News: Apple Must Work To Keep iPod Hot (Registration required)

The New York Post today reported that radio DJs are feeling heat from the iPod. "The iPod has become a radio station-in-a-pocket that pumps out thousands of songs, at random, from your very own personal hit parade. No bad songs. No DJ chatter. No commercials And that's meant plenty of harm to radio stations already suffering from a stagnant ad market, dismal stock prices, bored listeners, and online competition. The ability to go to iTunes.com, pay 99 cents for a song, and put it in your iPod – something that 3 million people have already done a total of 100 million times – can't be good for radio, which has already seen listening levels drop nearly 10 percent in the last five years," the newspaper said. "Five years ago, 15.7 percent of all 18 to 24-year-olds were tuned into radio, on average, at any given moment. Last winter, it was down to 13.5 percent, according to Arbitron ratings data."

IPods are also going to college. Duke University has raised the stakes for cool handouts for university students. "Freshmen showing up at Duke University this year will get their own Apple iPod, part of an experiment by the school to see if the popular portable music player can double as a learning tool. In a first-of-its-kind deal for Apple Computer Inc., the university will distribute 1,650 iPods for the pilot program. Duke would not say how much it will pay for each 20-gigabyte iPod, but said it will receive a discount from the retail price of $299," the Associated Press reported.
Associated Press via washingtonpost.com: Duke To Provide Freshman With iPods (Registration required)

A Dreamy IPO

Another public stock offering is on deck. DreamWorks SKG's animation unit, DreamWorks Animation Inc., has filed for an IPO. The company plans to "sell up to $650 million in common stock of the animation unit of DreamWorks SKG. Details about the number of shares offered and estimated price range for the IPO weren't disclosed in Wednesday's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Some of the shares will be sold by current shareholders, the filing said," according to the Wall Street Journal Online. Read the filing here.

The Financial Times provided background on the animation company. "Although the animation unit has had success with hits such as the original Shrek and Chicken Run, the ambitions of its founders have not been realised. Plans to open a giant studio complex have led to nothing, its television studio has produced few hits and its video games and music units have been sold off. Even the animation unit's performance has been spotty, with disappointing results from its releases in 2002 and 2003 and strong competition from Disney's Pixar animation joint venture which has had smash hits such as Finding Nemo."
The Wall Street Journal Online: DreamWorks Animation Unit Files for Initial Public Offering (Subscription required)
Financial Times: Dreamworks IPO Expected To Raise $650m

A Fairy Tale Ending?

In other Hollywood news, Steve Jobs's Pixar Animation Studios is poised to make up with Disney, the New York Post reported today, citing sources close to the deal. Pixar "is likely to renew a lucrative movie-making partnership with Disney, according to sources familiar with the matter. Despite publicly backing out of talks with Disney in January and making the rounds of other Hollywood studios looking for a partner, Jobs has come to believe that the best home for Pixar is at Disney after all, sources said. A reunion would mark a significant victory for Disney CEO Michael Eisner, who has long had an acrimonious relationship with Jobs."
New York Post: Dis and Make Up

Good News, Technologically Speaking

A slew of tech sector financial reports yesterday provided some evidence of brighter days ahead. Among the companies turning in solid quarterly earnings were Motorola, EMC, Sun Microsystems and Texas Instruments.

"For Motorola, which sells a broad array of wireless communications and semiconductor products, and EMC, the leader in the data storage industry, the quarter brought surging earnings and market share gains. For Sun, which primarily makes server computers that run networks, unexpectedly strong sales for the quarter – the last in its fiscal year – ended a dismal three-year stretch in which every quarter's sales had been lower than the quarter the previous year. The three companies, while noting that the July to September quarter is typically a slow one for technology sales, expressed varying degrees of optimism about the rest of 2004. In the case of Motorola and EMC, investors shared the enthusiasm," the New York Times reported.
The New York Times: 3 Technology Giants Surge in Quarter (Registration required)

The Associated Press wrote that Sun "reported a fiscal fourth-quarter profit Tuesday as the struggling server and software maker saw sales jump for the first time in three years and benefited from its settlement with Microsoft Corp." The San Jose Mercury News said Sun's "performance is much better than Sun's third-quarter loss of $760 million. The results are surprisingly good in part because many software companies reported this month that the second quarter was disappointing."
Associated Press via The Washington Post: Sun MicroSystems Posts $795M Profit In Q4 (Registration required)
San Jose Mercury News: Sun's Quarter Of Mixed Results (Registration required)
Associated Press via The Washington Post: Motorola's Outlook Solid Despite Loss (Registration required)

Filter is designed for hard-core techies, news junkies and technology professionals alike. Have suggestions, cool links or interesting tales to share? Send your tips and feedback to cindyDOTwebbATwashingtonpost.com. (Yes, those spammers have been having a lot of fun with my e-mail address lately.)

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