iPhone 5c Was Always Planned as Mid-Tier, Not Low-End, Says Cook

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Is the price of Apple’s new iPhone 5c too high for the market for which it was intended?

Not according to CEO Tim Cook, who said the device isn’t intended for the unsubsidized prepaid customers that many observers thought it might be. During a Monday earnings call, Cook said the 5c isn’t the long-rumored “budget iPhone,” nor was it conceived as that.

“If you look at what we’ve done with our iPhone line, we’re selling the iPhone 4s as our entry-level offer,” Cook said. “We’re selling the iPhone 5c as sort of a mid-tier offer and then we have the iPhone 5s. Our goal is to have overall growth for the total iPhone [line], but also growth within each of those categories. … I realize that some people were reading rumors that the entry phone would be the 5c, but that was never our intent. Our entry iPhone is the iPhone 4s.”

In other words, Apple’s plan all along was to use a legacy device as its entry-level iPhone, just as it has done for years. And, as I’ve written before, the 5c was a move to establish a new mainstream price band between the smartphone market’s high end and its low end: “Historically, Apple has done quite well for itself using mid-tier products with lots of aspirational appeal to draw budget-conscious consumers into a higher price range. It did it with the iPod nano, and again with the iPad mini.”

Air Freshener: What They’re Saying About Apple’s Latest iPad

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With Apple’s new iPad Air headed to market on Friday, the first reviews of the device began publishing last night, and they are positive to a one, with more than a few extolling the device as not just the best iPad ever, but the best tablet on the market. Here’s a quick rundown of reviews:

Walt Mossberg, AllThingsD:
This new iPad isn’t a radical rethinking of what a tablet can be, but it’s a major improvement on a successful product. It is the best tablet I’ve ever reviewed. … The battery performance of the iPad Air simply blew me away.

Damon Darlin, the New York Times:
The iPad Air is noticeably lighter than its predecessors. If you are the least bit interested in the new tablet computer from Apple, you probably already know that. The company’s engineers shaved just short of a third off the weight of the earlier version; the 9.7-inch Air weighs only a pound. What you may not know is this: Those 6.4 ounces make all the difference when, as you recline while reading or watching a movie, you conk out and the iPad falls forward to bonk you on the nose. The Air won’t hurt you the way the old iPad did.

Rich Jaroslovsky, Bloomberg:
I’ve been using the iPad Air, which goes on sale Nov. 1, for a week now, and it’s hands-down the best tablet on the market. Apple has recrafted the hardware and packed in new software and services that make it more useful for creating content, not just consuming it. … Not that long ago, the iPad so dominated the tablet market that it would have been unthinkable to buy something else. With the rise of quality tablets from Google, Amazon and others, it’s no longer the only choice. But it’s still the best choice.

Anand Lal Shimpi, AnandTech:
This is the iPad that Apple likely wanted to launch on day 1, it just took a bit over three years to get here. … The iPad Air is the most significant upgrade to the 9.7-inch iPad in its history. It’s lighter, more portable, more usable and faster than any previous iPad. It doesn’t fundamentally change what you can do with a tablet, but if you’re in the market for one the iPad Air really is the best iPad to date. Competition is definitely more stiff among the smaller tablets thanks to the Nexus 7, but in the nearly 10-inch tablet space it seems like Apple is going to continue to enjoy a great position there.

Charles Arthur, The Guardian:
It’s only when you get hold of an iPad Air that you realise how well Apple has crafted this device. It’s lighter and the internals are faster. Add in the free software, and it has raised the bar on what you can do out of the box with a tablet. The iPad now isn’t just something to do a few functions around and about. It’s a device to replace your computer for almost everything.

Ed Baig, USA Today:
… This latest full-size Apple tablet is the most tempting iPad yet, better than its already best of breed predecessors, superior still to each and every rival big screen slate that I’ve tested. Apple dominates the tablet apps ecosystem. Its tablet remains the easiest to use.

Tim Stevens, CNET:
Functionally, the iPad Air is nearly identical to last year’s model, offering only faster performance and better video chatting. But factor in design and aesthetics, and the iPad Air is on another planet. It’s the best full-size consumer tablet on the market.

John Gruber, Daring Fireball:
To me, the comparison that is most interesting is to that of my MacBook Air. In exactly three years, Apple has produced an iPad that outperforms a then-brand-new MacBook. Three years is a decent chunk of time in this industry, and the MacBook Air has made great strides since then, but this (a brand-new iPad Air versus a late 2010 MacBook Air) is a credible comparison. In many ways the iPad Air is not just the superior device, but clearly so – it has a retina display, the MacBook Air does not; it gets 10 hours of battery life, the MacBook Air was advertised at just 5 hours back then (and as an old and much-used device, my personal MacBook Air gets significantly less than 5 hours of battery life today).

Brad Molen, Engadget:
Surprise: The iPad Air is the best iPad we’ve reviewed. In addition, though, it’s also the most comfortable 10-inch tablet we’ve ever tested. Not every manufacturer can produce a thin and light device without also making it feel cheap or flimsy, but Apple nailed it. Factor in a sizable boost in performance and battery life, and the Air is even more compelling. The last two iPads served up relatively few improvements, but the Air provides people with more of a reason to upgrade or even buy a tablet for the first time.

Vincent Nguyen, SlashGear:
The iPad Air is the no-compromise tablet. Beautiful display, crisp design, premium build quality: It’s the gold-standard by which tablets are judged, and rightly so. If Apple’s full-sized slates had fallen into the shadow of their mini brethren over the past twelve months, the iPad Air brings the larger tablet right back into the spotlight.

Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch:
The iPad Air is a huge improvement over the iPad 4th-gen, or the iPad 2. … Its form factor is the best currently available for a 10-inch tablet, and it provides a great blend of portability and usability that leans towards the media device end of the spectrum.

Ben Bajarin, Techpinions:
With the iPad Air, Apple has created the world’s thinest and lightest full size tablet. And by adding their 64-bit A7 processor they have made it extremely powerful as well. After using the iPad Air for the past week I’m convinced that the iPad Air is the perfect personal computer for the masses.

David Pogue, A note from Pogue:
At $500, an iPad probably doesn’t need replacing every year or even every other year; if you have a 2012 or 2013 model, stick with what you’ve got. On the other hand, you’ll find the Air a fantastic leap into the future if you’re upgrading from an original iPad, or if you’ve never owned a tablet before.

About Those Google+ User Numbers …

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Since its inception, it has been tough to tell just how well Google’s social network, Google+, is doing. Every time Google+ releases a new set of user number statistics, their accuracy and methods are almost immediately called into question.

According to information released on Thursday, it seems that skepticism was well warranted.

Take Amir Efrati’s Thursday morning story on Google+, which called into question the 300 million active, “in the stream” user visits Google+ recently claimed it received each month.

As Efrati wrote, citing anonymous sources, and Google confirmed to AllThingsD, the “stream” is more broadly defined than one would think. It also means clicking on the little red bell or share icons you see across all of Google’s properties.

Quoth Google, in a statement to AllThingsD:

“Yes, clicking on the notifications bell does count in our monthly actives metric for the Stream. If you click anywhere which leads to the Stream being loaded and displayed, we count you as viewing the Stream. The Stream is rendered on mobile (Android and iOS), on the Web at plus.google.com, and when you click and open a notification view of the Stream on desktop properties.”

To be fair to Google+, yes, you can still reach and use Google+ from all other Google sites. Click the bell when you’re in your Gmail account screen and you’ll indeed be presented with a small, stream-like view of Google+ content. It’s possible that people are sharing from there.

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And what’s more, competitors like Facebook also define monthly active users fairly broadly. The numbers include people who use third-party website widgets to share – the “Like” or “tweet” buttons you’ll see on sites like ours, for instance.

The problem is, as Google presents it, we can’t tell if users actually intend to use and share on Google+, or if they’re just clicking on the notifications bell to get rid of it – glaring red and bright against the plain white and gray background of Google’s properties.

So this leaves us, the critics and skeptics, back at a bit of a loss. Perhaps there are a significant number of people actively using and sharing on Google+ from other Google-owned sites.

Or perhaps it’s as dead as lots of people like to joke it is.

We just don’t know. And until Google decides to break down specifically how and from where people are visiting “the stream,” I doubt we’ll ever really have a notion of the network’s health.

Could Google or Tencent Beat Facebook to Buying Snapchat?

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Right now, Snapchat is having its “belle of the ball” moment.

The mobile messaging service – which lets users exchange photos and video that disappear after a few seconds – is being courted by Facebook. It has long been an app that CEO Mark Zuckerberg lusted after.

Thursday afternoon brought another turn of the screw. Valleywag reported that Google could also possibly be considering taking a run at Snapchat, matching Facebook’s $3 billion to $3.5 billion offer. Google and Facebook aren’t commenting, but sources said that Google has indeed expressed some interest in a deal. Tencent, the Chinese consumer Internet company, has also been eyeballing the company, according to sources.

I don’t know Snapchat’s fate, and from what I’ve been told, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel himself is unsure of it. But it got me thinking – whether they’re in the running or not, which companies are most likely to go after the fast-growing Snapchat?

Let’s go down the list.

Facebook:
Zuckerberg wants Snapchat bad. So bad, in fact, that he tried – and failed – to clone the app outright. Sources familiar with the matter have described the Facebook CEO as “obsessed” with Snapchat and the idea of ephemeral messaging. They told AllThingsD that he has made multiple offers to acquire the company, some for more than the $1 billion he paid for Instagram last year.

Likelihood: Very High

Google:
Google may have Google+, but it knows it can’t hold a candle to Facebook or even Twitter when it comes to social mobile apps. Buying Snapchat could give Google immediate overnight relevance in social, while simultaneously dealing a blow to Facebook. Not to mention that $3 billion is a pittance for the highly profitable company to spend on an acquisition.

Likelihood: High

Tencent:
This is a good fit. Spiegel has described Tencent as a “role model” for Snapchat in terms of revenue models – potentially alluding to in-app purchasing possibilities for the startup.

And Tencent is indeed interested – if not in a full acquisition, then at the very least in a large strategic investment.

Likelihood: Very High

Yahoo:
A dark horse, and at this point not an entrant as far as I’ve heard. Still, CEO Marissa Mayer has the cash to make the deal, and is no stranger to acquisitions. Plus, an acquisition of Snapchat could help to both bolster Yahoo’s mobile efforts – which are lacking – and burnish its less-than-cool image – sort of like buying Tumblr did.

Still, there’s no evidence to my knowledge that Yahoo has approached Spiegel or Snapchat about a potential acquisition.

Likelihood: Unlikely

Twitter:
After long considering killing off its direct-messaging feature entirely, Twitter woke up last year and figured out that people actually love sending private messages. Another satellite app acquisition – similar to the one it did with Vine – could make sense.

Problem is, the figures being thrown around for Snapchat now are way out of Twitter’s price range. They’re nearly double the amount the company just raised in its initial public offering. At this point, Snapchat is far too rich for Twitter’s blood.

Likelihood: Not at all likely

A caveat to many of the past week’s stories on this topic: It’s possible – if not likely – that the escalating prices and number of companies involved is largely due to jockeying from Snapchat insiders who stand to make hundreds of millions on the deal. Read each new report with that in mind.

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Another thing to remember: Spiegel intends to raise yet another round of funding for his company at a hefty valuation. If another round goes through, there will likely be a secondary component to it, in which Spiegel and co-founder Bobby Murphy could sell some of their own shares and cash out. That means the two could still continue to go for broke and build out their own company rather than sell to the highest bidder, while having the insurance of already having taken some money off the table. And according to multiple people close to Snapchat, Spiegel and Murphy very much want to build out the startup into a full-fledged company.

Bottom line: If Snapchat keeps growing – and sources said that is indeed the case – Spiegel isn’t under the gun to make a decision today. If all goes well, his acquisition offers – and the high prices they command – likely won’t disappear.

Netflix Hits Its Numbers, Investors Go Nuts, Reed Hastings Tells Them to Chill Out

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Netflix’s Q3 numbers are what Wall Street was looking for: The company now has 31 million subscribers in the U.S., and another 9 million in the rest of the world. Investors, who either hate Netflix or love Netflix but never feel neutral about it, are pushing the stock up 10 percent to $390 – an all-time high.

Given that Netflix was trading in the $50s just a year ago and is basically the same company plus a few new original shows, it might be useful to have some perspective on the disconnect between the company and its stock.

So CEO Reed Hastings provides it, right at the end of his investor letter:

In calendar year 2003 we were the highest performing stock on Nasdaq. We had solid results compounded by momentum-investor-fueled euphoria. Some of the euphoria today feels like 2003.

Despite the huge swings in our stock price since our 2002 IPO ($8 to $3 to $39 to $8 to $300 to $55 to $330), we’ve continued to grow our membership every year fairly steadily. We do our best to ignore the volatility in our stock. The progress we’ve made over the last 10 years is stunning. We want to make the next 10 years even more remarkable.

(Hear that? That’s the sound of investors ignoring Hastings’ counsel.)

Okay: On to the company itself. As many of my colleagues have noted, Netflix now has more paying subscribers in the U.S. than Time Warner’s HBO – or at least the last numbers that HBO reported.

Unlike previous comparisons some of my colleagues have made between Netflix and, say, Comcast, this one is relevant, since Netflix and HBO are actual competitors who make roughly the same amount of money per paying subscriber. But as both Netflix and HBO have noted in the past, there is a high degree of overlap between HBO and Netflix subscribers: If you have one, you’re likely to have the other.

Meanwhile Netflix, which sort of suggested last quarter that its “Orange Is the New Black” show was doing really well, is much more explicit about it this time around.

The company specifically calls out the show as a great marketing device: “[G]reat press coverage and social buzz generated by” OITNB, as well as the company’s Emmy nominations, helped push up the company’s numbers in the U.S.

But at the same time, Netflix also argues that people spend most of their time on the service watching stuff that isn’t made just for Netflix.

Specifically, Netflix calls out shows like “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead,” where it offers exclusive access to reruns; it says those kind of shows generate “a bigger percentage of overall Netflix viewing.” Which makes sense, because my hunch is Netflix spends more on those kind of shows (for now) than it does on its originals.

But that’s a pretty good summary of the Netflix strategy right now: Use its original shows, and the attention they generate, to help sell the service to new users, and use TV’s reruns to help keep them. Looks like it’s working pretty well, regardless of stock price.

Gogo Adds Talking and Texting Capabilities, but U.S. Fliers Won’t Be Making Voice Calls Any Time Soon

Gogo is expanding its inflight Wi-Fi service to allow customers to send texts and make voice calls using their existing smartphones.

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The new capabilities, which are expected to debut next year, use a custom app for iPhone and Android to manage calling and texting, though messages will come from the device owner’s own number.

“There is a need for passengers to continue their life at 35,000 feet,” Gogo head of product development Brad Jaehn told AllThingsD in an interview. “A big part of that is text messaging and, where allowed, carrying on conversations.”

That said, U.S. airlines don’t appear keen to allow customers to converse during flight. Gogo already blocks Skype at the carriers’ request and expects to only enable the texting options of its new service for domestic flights.

The ability to talk as well, though, is something often requested by overseas carriers.

“This is something international airlines have asked for,” Jaehn said. “We know it’s probably not socially acceptable in the U.S.”

Gogo is still evaluating how to price the new service. It’s looking at many options, including selling a bundle of texts or minutes, offering it as an add-on to its standard Wi-Fi, partnering with carriers or even offering some texting for free supported by advertising.

Gogo is also in the process of adding new antennas to planes, allowing twice as many devices to be online, and providing peak speeds three times faster than its prior service.

SAP Cutting Back on Development of Business ByDesign

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German software giant SAP appears close to ending active development of its Business ByDesign suite of applications.

The company said Saturday that it will shift its development resources away from the software platform aimed at smaller businesses and instead move the Business ByDesign applications into its mainstream HANA cloud software platform, as part of a larger effort to unify all of its applications on HANA.

SAP disputed a Saturday report by German magazine WirtschaftsWoche (English translation here) that portrayed the move as essentially sounding a death knell for the product, calling it the “biggest flop” in SAP’s history. The publication claims that Business ByDesign cost the company 3 billion Euros and required seven years of development work. But after three years on the market it has only managed to attract 785 customers and brings in no more than 23 million euro ($31.5 million) in annual revenue.

Either way, SAP’s new plans for Business ByDesign mark a rare market retreat for the company, which has been aggressive in its efforts to rejigger it’s existing suite of applications to run more off-premise, or in the cloud. Launched in 2010, Business ByDesign is SAP’s Enterprise Resource Management suite aimed at small- and medium-sized businesses. ERP is a fancy way of describing software that’s used to run a company’s operations and basic business processes such as supply chain, manufacturing capacity and paying suppliers. SAP’s main rival in the category is NetSuite, the cloud software firm occasionally known as “Larry Ellison’s other company,” because the Oracle CEO invested in its founding.

SAP spokesman Jim Dever said the company’s plan for Business ByDesign is a little more nuanced than the total shutdown of the product, as portrayed by WirtschaftsWoche. He said SAP is essentially concentrating its development efforts on its HANA cloud application platform, of which Business ByDesign will become a part.

“It will still exist and will remain on the market and our partners will continue to build add-ons for it,” he said. However, development resources that had once been committed to Business ByDesign will be redeployed to focus on HANA, he said.

Dever also sent the following statement:

“We are taking a significant and innovative step forward by putting all of our cloud offerings on the SAP HANA Platform. Moving forward, SAP HANA will be the single, unified platform that enables businesses of all sizes across all industries and lines of business to run their entire business in the cloud more efficiently and effectively than ever before. SAP Business ByDesign will become part of the SAP HANA Cloud, and will continue to be supported and actively promoted in its current functionality and scope through our extensive partner ecosystem. Optimizing SAP’s cloud portfolio on our HANA platform means a dramatic price-performance improvement with all the benefits of simplicity in the cloud for all our customers. And SAP’s BYD customers have a clear roadmap to our future HANA powered tightly integrated Suite of business applications in the cloud.”

SAP’s new plans for Business ByDesign will likely be seen as a victory for NetSuite, the cloud-based ERP software company that caters to small and medium businesses, but which has lately starting going after bigger fish. NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson told AllThingsD that the company will move quickly to try and pick up some of SAP’s Business ByDesign customers.

“SAP stopped investing in Business ByDesign about two years ago,” Nelson said in an emailed statement. “It’s a shame they kept selling it to customers. NetSuite will announce a migration program next week for those customers who are now left high and dry. And they can switch to NetSuite knowing they are moving to a company and a product that are leaders in the cloud.”

As for SAP, all the work it has been putting into HANA doesn’t seem to be paying off quite as well as the company had hoped. Earlier this year, slower than expected cloud sales dragged down the company’s quarterly results, which caused some analysts to wonder if it can still hit its guidance for the year. Earlier this year SAP was accused of inflating HANA sales numbers, though not everyone was convinced.

SAP has also seen some management shake-ups. First Lars Dalgaard, the CEO of SuccessFactors, the cloud-based human resources software firm that SAP bought in 2011, bolted to join venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz as a partner. After that, co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe stepped down, leaving Bill McDermott as the sole CEO.

What to Expect From Apple’s Fall iPad Event (Spoiler: New iPads!)

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In the invitation to its Oct. 22 fall event, Apple said it has “a lot more to cover” before the year is out. And indeed it does – more so this year than in recent years past, sources tell AllThingsD.

So what can we expect to see Apple unveil at Yerba Buena Center come Tuesday?

The obvious, really. As we’ve previously reported, the event will focus on the fifth-generation iPad and the second-generation iPad mini. Sources said the former will feature a thinner, lighter design akin to the iPad mini’s, and an improved camera. It will run Apple’s new 64-bit A7 chip. As I noted earlier this month, the new iPad mini will be outfitted with a retina display. It, too, is likely to see the A7 incorporated into its innards, as Apple shifts its mobile device lineup to 64-bit (more on the short and long term benefits of that here).

Also expected on Tuesday, the announcement of a street date for OS X Mavericks – which is scheduled to launch before the end of the month – and for the new cylindrical Mac Pro, as well. I’m told both will be given stage time. A potential wildcard here: A new display to pair with the Pro. Apple hasn’t fielded a new monitor since introducing the Thunderbolt LED display in 2011. Its latest Mac Pro has enough horsepower to drive three 4K displays simultaneously, and it’s hard to imagine the company debuting it without a new monitor that can take at least some advantage of that.

Finally, I’m told we’re likely to see a slate of new MacBook Pros upgraded with Intel’s latest Haswell processors. Apple brought Haswell to its MacBook Airs earlier this year, giving them a nice boost in battery life and graphics. It has been expected to do the same for its professional laptops ever since. Tuesday may well bring with it the announcement of that move.

Beyond that, it’s tough to say. Haswell Mac minis are certainly a possibility. Once the MacBook Pro makes the leap to the chip, the mini will be the Mac without it. Also possibly on tap for release, iWork for iCloud (from beta) and iLife, whose newly redesigned icons slipped out onto the Web last week.

Join AllThingsD Tuesday morning at 10 am PT for live coverage of the event.

Is Yahoo’s Mayer Turning Into a Media Mogul With Katie Couric Web Video Deal?

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According to numerous sources inside the company, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has turned her attentions of late to goosing the site’s media efforts. That includes personally shepherding a new deal to put a Web interview show by high-profile television news personality Katie Couric right on its home page.

In addition, said sources, Mayer – who is pretty mediagenic herself – has also recently met with execs from Conde Nast for very preliminary talks, and has expressed interest in cooking up some kind of content deal with its flagship Vogue magazine.

(Coincidentally – or not! – she recently appeared in a splashy photo spread and interview in the fashion bible’s September issue. The story included breaking news about Mayer’s massive collection of cashmere bolero designer sweaters and, oh yeah, she runs a major public Internet company.)

What’s striking about both deals is the hands-on involvement of Mayer, who has apparently been working closely on them, especially Couric’s. Sources said the talks have recently moved to include top execs at ABC, which has a robust news partnership with Yahoo.

Among Internet companies, AOL has perhaps been most active in trying to leverage celebrities – in its case, Heidi Klum and Marlo Thomas – to attract audiences. But results have been mixed, mostly due to content that is not terrifically different or innovative.

Couric has done previous appearances for Yahoo, including one event for advertisers, and there is already an offering called “Katie’s Take” on Yahoo News, launched about a year ago. But it is basically repurposed content from her ABC daytime talk show, “Katie,” and written by others, recently including a riveting video about “Orgasm After Menopause.”

The new deal, if struck, would be much more substantive, and presumably would seek to deliver the content in more interesting ways. Sources said it would center on exclusive interviews with a range of high-profile celebrities, business execs and more, done by Couric specifically for the Web and prominently featured on the Yahoo homepage. Sources said that ABC would need to reach agreements about the scope of her role on Yahoo, and balance them with her obligations to ABC.

Since she left her job as well-known news anchor at CBS and, previously, as longtime star of NBC’s “Today Show,” Couric has been host of of ABC’s “Katie,” which will debut its second season on Sept. 9.

According to the “Katie” website, “Couric joined the Disney/ABC Television Group in summer 2011, and serves as special correspondent for ABC News, contributing to ABC World News, Nightline, 20/20, Good Morning America, This Week and primetime news specials.”

Strengthening its online video efforts has been a recent key focus for Mayer in reviving Yahoo’s fortunes, along with mobile, and sources said that she has talked a lot internally about creating some kind of competitor to Google’s YouTube. Yahoo already tried unsuccessfully to buy France’s Dailymotion, and has since been mulling other major acquisitions in the space.

Mayer has waded into the arena herself (like I said, she’s a hey-look-at-me CEO) in an unusual – but highly entertaining – video presentation of Yahoo’s second-quarter earnings that was formulated in a news-broadcast style.

On the show – which it most certainly was – she stressed the intent to make video a “primary area of investment over the next year.” It’s not just for jazz-hands purposes; video ads are a big area of revenue growth online as traditional graphical ads fade. Yahoo itself has seen a sharp falloff of those key moneymaking ads under Mayer’s regime, part of a larger trend impacting everyone.

Yahoo has already struck a pricey deal for the longtime video archives of “Saturday Night Live,” but that money is harder to recoup compared to a show Yahoo has that catches on.

“We think there’s room for lots of players and video really comes down to the question of the content,” Mayer said on the call, calling out Yahoo Screen, its video portal, and original shows like “Burning Love.” She said that most of the video deals would be via partnerships, rather than via Yahoo’s own original programming.

Yahoo is more likely, of course, to focus itself as a platform than as a content creator, as it plays into Mayer’s tech background. That said, among many execs in the Web space, she has been more attracted to the media scene, and struck deals for Google to buy content properties like Zagat while there.

This deal seems to be an original offering, said sources, so we’ll see when and if it comes to fruition. Additional efforts to up Yahoo’s video business will require the hiring of a top media exec to replace recently departed media chief Mickie Rosen. Internal sources said Mayer has said she is aiming to hire a top television exec for the job, to underscore the company’s commitment to video.

Interestingly, Yahoo recently named a well-regarded and experienced British television exec, Dawn Airey, to lead its efforts in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

An ABC exec declined to comment, as did Yahoo PR (which has suddenly gotten more responsive – thanks, Sara!).

For Apple, Fighting DOMA and Prop. 8 Is More Than Business as Usual

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This week, nearly 300 major corporations filed a joint brief coming out in support of gay marriage, against the backdrop of a long-standing Supreme Court battle over equal rights issues. For the purposes of the filing, the companies’ main argument was from a business perspective.

“Success depends on the talent, morale and motivation of the workforce for private and public employers alike,” the document states.

But for at least one big tech company, the issue goes far beyond business strategy.

“DOMA hurts legally married same-sex couples and prevents companies from treating all employees as equals,” Apple spokesman Steve Dowling told AllThingsD. “Apple strongly supports marriage equality and we hope the Supreme Court will declare the law unconstitutional.”

Indeed, Apple was one of the companies, along with other heavy-hitting tech firms like Facebook, Twitter, Cisco, Intel and Qualcomm, included in the business-centric effort, jointly filing an amicus brief that combats legislation like Proposition 8 and DOMA.

But the typically press-averse Apple’s willingness to comment on the matter, beyond the company’s inclusion in the joint filing, is indicative of Apple’s view of human rights in a broader sense, rather than just marriage equality issues viewed through an economic lens.

Apple has a past of combating issues like Prop 8 in particular. In 2008, the company made another rare statement of opposition against the initiative when it was first on the table and donated $100,000 to the “No on 8” campaign.

“Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8,” the company stated at the time.

Apple has also long offered the same health benefits for same-sex couples as those opposite-sex couples enjoy, including health insurance with comparable premiums and beneficiary rights. This sort of coverage requires negotiation with insurers to get it done, which is no easy feat.

Not to mention it can involve fighting with local, potentially hostile governments as a result of said coverage. As far back as the early ’90s, Apple was involved in a court case levied against the company by a county in Texas. Hoping to spur the local economy by attracting tech companies, Williamson County offered tax breaks that Apple readily accepted and set up shop. But county officials were willing to turn down the more than 1,500 tech jobs Apple would have brought to the region after learning of Apple’s policy of offering comprehensive health care benefits to homosexual couples. (Williamson County officials eventually backed down, and Apple emerged the victor.)

To be sure, Apple isn’t the only company outspoken on gay rights and issues of equality inside the workplace. Companies like Facebook and Twitter have taken largely progressive stances on health benefits offered to prospective employees, including fully inclusive packages for transgender employees, who often face hardships when it comes tp insurance coverage issues.

But while it’s great to see companies recognizing same-sex marriage for any reason, it’s even better that a few, even the normally quiet ones, are being vocal about the principles involved.