Thursday, May 28, 2009

GameStop same store sales stumble

NEW YORK (Reuters) – GameStop Corp (GME.N) said on Thursday its same-store sales dropped more than expected in the last quarter and it lowered its full-year same-store sales forecast.

Shares in the video game retailer fell by as much as 17 percent in midday trading after forecasting another weak quarter of same-store sales, a measure of stores open at least a year.

"The real damage here is in the guidance," said Mike Hickey analyst at Janco Partners.

Fiscal first quarter net income was $70.4 million, or 42 cents a share, up from $62.1 million, or 37 cents a share, a year earlier.

Sales rose 9.2 percent to $1.98 billion, the Grapevine, Texas-based company said.

Analysts had been expecting a profit of 42 cents a share, on revenue of $1.99 billion, according to Reuters Estimates

But comparable store sales - sales at stores open at least a year - missed its own forecast, declining 1.5 percent, due to the recession in Europe and a slowdown of new console sales that occurred late in the quarter.

GameStop reiterated last month that first quarter same-store sales would come in flat to up 2 percent.

"The stock is down because of the surprise decline after they reiterated their guidance with two weeks of the quarter left," said Hickey.

The company said it expects to earn between 28 cents to 33 cents a share in the its fiscal second quarter.Wall Street had been expecting profit to come in around 40 cents.

GameStop also expects same store sales to decline by 8 percent to 11 percent in its second quarter. Janco Partners had been expecting a decline of 4 percent.

Though the company reiterated its full year diluted earnings range of $2.83 to $2.93, it lowered its full-year same store sales forecast to range from flat to up 2 percent down from a previous forecast of 4 percent to 6 percent.

"The real kicker here is Q2 being so weak from a guidance perspective and that's due to slowing hardware sales which have a disproportionate negative impact on same store sales numbers," said Hickey.

GameStop has previously been able to maintain growth despite the economic downturn, as sales of video game consoles by Nintendo (7974.OS), Sony Corp (6758.T) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) remained robust, driving consumers into GameStop stores games to buy software for their systems.

Analysts said the recession has meant consumers are buying fewer games consoles such as Sony's PlayStation 3 until there are significant price cuts.

The company's profit margins have benefited from an active trade-in system, where shoppers return used games for a fraction of the purchase price or credit toward future sales. The returned games are sold at a higher profit margin than new games.

Shares in GameStop were down $3.69 to $22.78 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Intel adopts an identity in software

ntel has worked hard and spent a lot of money over the years to shape its image: it is the company that celebrates its quest to make computer chips ever smaller, faster, and cheaper with a quick five-note jingle at the end of its commercials.

But as Intel tries to expand beyond the personal-computer chip business, it is changing in subtle ways. For the first time, its long unheralded software developers, more than 3,000 of them, have stolen some of the spotlight from its hardware engineers. These programmers find themselves at the center of Intel's forays into areas like mobile phones and video games.

The most attention-grabbing element of Intel's software push is a version of the open-source Linux operating system called Moblin. It represents a direct assault on the Windows franchise of Microsoft, Intel's longtime partner.

"This is a very determined, risky effort on Intel's part," said Mark Shuttleworth, the chief executive of Canonical, which makes another version of Linux called Ubuntu.

The Moblin software resembles Windows or Apple's Mac OS X to a degree, handling the basic functions of running a computer. But it has a few twists that Intel says make it better suited for small mobile devices.

For example, Moblin fires up and reaches the Internet in about seven seconds, then displays a novel type of start-up screen. People will find their appointments listed on one side of the screen, along with their favorite programs. But the bulk of the screen is taken up by cartoonish icons that show things like social-networking updates from friends, photos, and recently used documents.

With animated icons and other quirky bits and pieces, Moblin looks like a fresh take on the operating system. Some companies hope it will give Microsoft a strong challenge in the market for the small, cheap laptops commonly known as Netbooks. A polished second version of the software, which is in trials, should start appearing on a variety of Netbooks this summer.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Google To Reshoot Japan Streets


US Internet giant Google has decided to reshoot Street View photos in Japan following complaints from people who said public images of their homes violated their privacy.

The company's Japanese unit announced the decision Wednesday, saying it would take new photographs with the cameras set lower so the images accessible via net-based maps would not show photos looking into people's houses.

The company has also blurred vehicle license plates in the service.

Google said on its Japanese website that the company wished to provide the new service in a way that is socially acceptable in Japan.

Launched two years ago in the United States, Street View gives Google users a 360-degree view of streets. The service in Japan is now available to show images from major cities.

The move in Japan came after various municipalities and citizens groups accused the company of violating people's privacy by publishing the photos of private houses and community streets without owners' consent.

Japan is not unique in worrying about the Internet feature.

Earlier this week, Greece's data protection agency barred Google from taking any more images for its Street View feature until the company explains the service and its privacy safeguards.

An American court earlier this year rejecteProxy-Connection: keep-alive
Cache-Control: max-age=0

a privacy suit by a couple whose house was shown on Street View.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Microsoft taking on Wii with motion-sensing camera

Nintendo won't be the only video game console maker with a sophisticated motion-sensitive controller if a report out Tuesday from The Wall Street Journal is accurate.

The report said Microsoft plans to unveil a new video camera that would allow players of its Xbox 360 console to control games by moving their bodies. And if true, it's a clear shot across the bow of Nintendo and its innovative Wiiconsole, which shocked the video game world when it was released in late 2006 with its own motion-sensitive controller.

The camera may well be the product of Microsoft's reported acquisition of Israeli start-up, 3DV, which had developed a motion-sensitive camera.

For months, there had been speculation that Microsoft's interest in 3DV was about taking on Nintendo and the Wii. But neither company would confirm such speculation. On Tuesday, Microsoft declined to comment on the Journal story.

The Journal said, "the camera is based on technology that Microsoft developed inside its sprawling research arm," though it added that, "Microsoft also recently acquired...3DV...which has developed a 3D camera and holds related patents."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bioshock 2 Headed for Multiplayer

The first details of BioShock 2's evolution are finally emerging. On Thursday, 2K Games, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, announced a partnership with Digital Extremes to develop the multiplayer experience for BioShock 2.

Digital Extremes is working closely with the creative team at 2K Marin to develop a new element that beefs up the lore and fiction of the BioShock universe. The company brings more than 10 years offirst-person shooter experience, including development of award-winning entries in the Unreal and Unreal Tournament franchises.

"The fans asked for a multiplayer experience and we answered," said Christoph Hartmann, president of 2K. "With Digital Extremes delivering a multiplayer experience for BioShock 2 that features all of the things that make BioShock unique, we're holding ourselves to a high standard so that we can deliver the depth and variety that fans of the BioShock universe demand."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Quake Live

Id Software’s Marty Stratton recently posted to the Quake Live forums with news that the company is getting close to releasing a version of the software for the Mac and Linux.

Quake Live is a browser-based version of Id Software’s legendaryfirst-person shooter, Quake III Arena. The game is currently available as an open beta for Windows users running Internet Explorer or Firefox.

In a lengthy post on the forums, Stratton, executive producer of Quake Live, provided information about various aspects of Quake Live’s continued development. With regards to Mac OS X and Linux support, Stratton indicated that Id Software will be internally testing Mac and Linux versions of Quake Live in May, then making them publicly available once they think they’re ready.