October 23, 2015 Last Updated 9:07 am

Marathon hearings, no ads = possible TV crisis; tech company earnings a pleasant surprise

Morning Brief: Facebook admits its app has been degrading battery life on iOS devices, issue an update and will include more fixes in future app updates

When US television began broadcasting US national team soccer matches they struggled with how to insert the advertising. At first, they simply ran the ads as normal, every ten minutes, no matter what was happening on the field. If they missed a goal they would simply replay it.\


‘I’m sorry Madame Secretary, we need to pause for a commercial break.”

Later they started on screen ads, but eventually figured it out: soccer is different, you don’t run ads in the middle of the action, you wait until half-time.

If the Republicans are going to continue with their 11 hour hearings, CNN and the other commercial networks are going to have come up with a with advertising solution. Maybe scrolling ads for Viagra and household cleaning products would be appropriate. Maybe someone sitting behind the politician being interrogated can hold up signs with ads on them. I don’t know, but the networks won’t continue to broadcast these marathons if they can’t sell advertising.

I feel another media crisis coming on.


Yesterday was kind of a big news day for tech earnings as Amazon, Google and Microsoft all reported earnings (Apple is next week). The reports were, for the most part, surprisingly good.

Amazon, to the amazement of many, actually turned a profit. An increase of 23 percent in net sales certainly helped. But what drove the stock higher in after-hours trading was really the company’s guidance – for the first time in a while their forecast, always a wide range, is all black numbers. In other words, the company expects to be profitable next quarter, too (as they should, as next quarter includes the holiday shopping season). That news drove up the stock, and made Jeff Bezos the third richest person in America.

Google, too, reported good numbers, though their growth was lower (13 percent). But, again, there was something else that drove their stock up in after-hours trading: news that they company, now really called Alphabet, would have a stock buyback program. That always drives up the value of the stock, making those who already own he stock very happy.

Srfc_Pro4AndBook-800The amount of the stock repurchase program is rather cute: the company will purchase $5,099,019,513.59 in Class C capital stock. That’s a pretty exact number, which turns out to be the square root of 26, as in the 26 letters of the English alphabet. Pretty cute, right?

Microsoft also beat investor forecasts, though their earnings report is a little more nuanced. Earnings were up, but overall revenue actually fell – due in large part to declining smartphone and Windows sales revenue (revenue fell to $20.38 billion from $23.2 billion a year ago).

Microsoft is a company in transition, one that has reorganized the company into three components: Productivity and Business Processes, Intelligent Cloud, and Personal Computing. Only Microsoft’s Cloud business showed revenue growth this last quarter. But all three segments are profitable – which, ironically, could be an argument for Microsoft to spin-off or sell a segment in the future.

Microsoft has introduced some new hardware products, but any revenue impact won’t be seen until next quarter. (TNM doesn’t write much about Microsoft products much as they have made it pretty clear to me lat year that they weren’t interested much in the digital publishing business.)

Keep your eye on this story:

Hurricane Patricia, the strongest storm of its kind recorded in the Western Hemisphere, was expected to make landfall in southern Mexico on Friday afternoon…

Facebook-battery-iPhoneFacebook updated its iOS app yesterday, and though their app description was as useless as usual, they did admit to some tech sites that the update was designed to help the app’s battery hogging issues.

Anyone who is both an iPhone owner (me) and a frequent user of the Facebook app (not me) will tell you that iPhone battery sucks. Why? Blame the Facebook app.

Many people suspected that something was working in the background all the time sucking up battery usage, but not until the release of iOS 9 had Apple given device owners a way to check to see what it was. It was the Facebook app.

“We recently heard reports of some people experiencing battery issues with the Facebook iOS app and have been looking into the causes of these problems. We found a few key issues and have identified additional improvements, some of which are in the version of the app that was released today,” wrote Ari Grant, Engineering Manager at Facebook, on (where else) Facebook.

“The first issue we found was a “CPU spin” in our network code. A CPU spin is like a child in a car asking, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”with the question not resulting in any progress to reaching the destination. This repeated processing causes our app to use more battery than intended. The version released today has some improvements that should start making this better.”

The second issue involves audio: the app was continuing to function as if the audio was still playing, just like a music app might function – but in this case, it was unintentional and needed to be fixed.

Facebook issues updates every two weeks, so users likely won’t get an emergency update, the problem is annoying but not vital, so they will likely handle this as they do any other bug fix.

“We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused. We are committed to continuing to improve the battery usage of our app and you should see improvements in the version released today,” Grant wrote.

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