Google targets meetings
Google took aim at office meeting rooms on Thursday with the release of a Chromebox for videoconferencing. “These days, we often connect with each other from far-flung locations, coordinating time zones and dialing into conference calls from our phones,” Google product management vice president Caesar Sengupta said in a blog post. “Meetings need to catch up with the way we work — they need to be face-to-face, easier to join, and available from anywhere and any device.” Chromebox-for-meetings is available in the US at a starting price of US$999 and is to be released later this year in Australia, the UK, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand and Spain. As many as 15 people can take part in a Chromebox video conference using smartphones, tablets, laptops or other Internet-linked computers.
Australia lifts GDP forecast
Australia’s central bank lifted its economic growth forecasts yesterday as the local currency weakens and lower interest rates boost spending, but it sounded a warning on inflation and said unemployment would rise. The Reserve Bank of Australia said it now expected the economy to expand 2.75 percent in the year to June 30, and between 2.25 percent and 3.25 percent in the year to Dec. 31. That compares with the forecasts in November last year of 2.5 percent and 2 percent to 3 percent. “The revision reflects, in part, the effect of the lower exchange rate, which is expected to provide some boost to activity in the traded sector,” the bank said in its quarterly monetary policy update. However, the bank said GDP would only come in at “trend at best” as the decade-long Asia-led mining investment boom unwinds.
LinkedIn expects less sales
LinkedIn Corp forecast sales that trailed analysts’ estimates, pushing the stock down as much as 15 percent in extended trading, as growth slows in all three of the professional-networking site’s businesses. First-quarter revenue will be US$455 million to US$460 million, the Mountain View, California-based company said yesterday in a statement. Analysts on average projected sales of US$469.4 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The shares fell as low as US$191.13 in extended trading after rising 4.2 percent to US$223.45 at yesterday’s close in New York. Net income dropped 67 percent in the fourth quarter to US$3.78 million, or 3 cents a share, from US$11.5 million, or 10 cents, a year earlier, the company said. Sales in the period jumped 47 percent to US$447.2 million, exceeding the US$437.6 million average analyst estimate, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Sony closes ebook store
Sony announced on Thursday it was closing its ebook store for North America and giving its customer list to rival Kobo. The Japanese company, which earlier unveiled a major reorganization, said it would close its Reader Store in the US and Canada on March 20. “Although we’re sorry to say goodbye to the Reader Store, we’re also glad to share the new and exciting future for our readers: Reader Store will transfer customers to Toronto-based eReading company, Kobo — an admired ebook seller with a passionate reading community,” a blog post at the Sony Reader Web site said. Sony said customers and their current ebook libraries “will transfer to the Kobo ecosystem” under the change.