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Tech Roundup: IBM Profits, Wozniak on iPod, Sequoia Capital Grim, More

Big Blue in Black -- IBM reported its quarterly earnings earlier than expected, and as they're up 22 percent, who can blame them? Gross profit margin for the quarter was two points higher than last year and revenue was up five percent (including three percent because of favorable currency conversions, which has been a factor for many high tech companies). According to the head of one investment firm, for a company to be reaffirming its outlook through the end of the year is "h-u-g-e." Yup, and welcome news for an industry that might have wondered whether the credit meltdown would have to turn it into a puddle as well. [Source: ZDNet Between the Lines, BNET Technology Industry Blog]

But there's still plenty of worry -- VC firm Sequoia Capital held a meeting with its portfolio companies and reputedly greeted them with a headstone sporting the message "R.I.P.: Good Times". If that isn't clear enough, the overall message was that there could be a protracted downturn in high tech and that things could get a whole lot uglier than many are thinking. Apparently Sequoia had a similar meeting before the crash and burn of the dot com bubble. And lest you think this doom and gloom is the result of too much involvement in "Web 2.0," look at the of Sequoia's investments. These people have picked well and broadly. Angel investor Ron Conway communicated a similarly bleak outlook to the CEOs of his portfolio companies, saying get funding in now and cut spending. Sounds like Halloween is off to an early start. [Source: GigaOM, Sequoia Capital, TechCrunch]

Intel Eyes AMD Spin-Off -- AMD may have crafted a rescue plan of sorts, spinning its manufacturing off into a joint venture, but Intel is watching and warning. The chip giant's legal staff is saying that the move may have a conflict with patent cross-licensing that the two companies have done since 1976, including AMD's use of the x86 architecture. The latter assures everyone that it considered all this and is fine, but doesn't every legal tousle begin with a difference in attorneys' opinions? Should Intel decide to take action, AMD could end up one hurting puppy at the least. Play nice folks: AMD wants to stay in business, and it sure is convenient for Intel to be able to point at another company and say, particularly in Europe, "Monopoly? We don't have no stinkin' monopoly." [Source: InfoWorld, BNET Technology Industry Blog]

Google texts what they're saying -- Transcription of audio is becoming an important tool in search that BBN spin-off EveryZing has been parlaying well. But little surprise that Google, with all those billions lying around, doing nothing, decided to invest in some R&D of its own and create an audio-to-text conversion engine called GAudi, for Google Audio Indexing. As of last month it's only been available for politically-related videos uploaded to YouTube, but some educated guesses speculate that it will hit all the YouTube channels after the election and further intelligently suggest that SEO optimization could change the way speeches are written if keywords start getting ranked. Add in the love/hate relationship that many in the entertainment industry have with YouTube and maybe we'll see a new series, CSI:SEO. [Source: BNET Technology Industry Blog, Google, Search Engine Land]

Steve Wozniak predicts iPhone death -- Et tu, Waz? The techie co-founder of Apple in an interview with the Daily Telegraph said that the downgrade of Apple's stock made sense and noted that the history of electronics suggests the iPod will die out over time. He even favorably compared Google's open approach to Android with Apple's proprietary one and was wary of the cult-like following Apple gets because then users don't challenge the status quo, which is necessary to create the next generation of products. There's a reason people say he's one smart guy. Now, if only the reporter could have realized that, as a kid, Wozniak probably did not have a picture of an "Iraqi supercomputer" on his wall. [Source: Daily Telegraph]

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