Intel Corp. gained ground on rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in first-quarter personal computer processor shipments, according to a report by the IDC market research firm.

Intel’s overall market share totaled 81 percent for the quarter, up 0.5 percent from the fourth quarter, while AMD’s share dropped 0.6 percent to 18.8 percent. Taiwan’s Via Technologies had a share of 0.2 percent, up 0.1 percent.

Worldwide shipments declined by 5.6 percent from the fourth quarter, which IDC described as a typical seasonal decline. The market research firm says it expects global processor shipments will grow by 15.1 percent this year.

For desktop computers Intel had a 71.7 percent share compared with AMD’s 28.0 percent. In mobile processors, Intel had a 87.8 percent share, compared with AMD’s 12.1 percent. In server chips, Intel had a 90.2 percent, and AMD had 9.8 percent.

Google's verdict to stop censoring Internet search in China last month has proved a boost to rival

Baidu, the Internet search leader in China even before Google's move, reported its net profit more than doubled in the first quarter as its revenue rose on strong gains in online marketing. The company has also gained market share in China, while Google notched a decline.

"We delivered another strong quarter with record top line [revenue] results and strong earnings growth," said Robin Li, Baidu's chairman and CEO, in a conference call.

The company's revenue rose 59.6 percent year-on-year in the first quarter to 1.29 billion Chinese yuan (US$189.6 million), while its net profit soared 165.3 percent to 480.5 million Chinese yuan. Baidu forecast its revenue will reach a fresh record high in the second quarter, between 1.83 billion yuan and 1.87 billion yuan.

The better-than-expected financial results surprised analysts and investors.

Baidu's stock soared 14.3 percent, or US$89.13, in after-market trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market to end at $710.51 per share. Baidu released its first quarter financial results after regular trading on the Nasdaq had already ended.

The head of Baidu acknowledged the business impact of Google's decision, saying that "we saw marginal benefit from this so-called 'semi-exit' by Google...we are certainly benefitting from this, but at the end of the day I think the China search market is still in its very early stage and the performance of Baidu is largely driven by our own execution."

Analysys International, a Beijing-based market researcher, said Baidu's share of all Internet searches in China rose to 64 percent in the first quarter from 58.4 percent in the previous quarter, while Google's dropped to 30.9 percent from 35.6 percent. The figures are the first real sign of Google's decline in business in China since its March announcement.

Israel had previously banned the iPad and confiscated some of them out of fear that it would hamper with their electronic signals. This is especially true in Israel where they are afraid of any interference with their secret and high tech observations of their neighbors, especially Iran. Even tourists were forbidden from bringing in the iPad just when Apple was starting its blitz in gaining foreign market sales. The visitors and tourists were even charged a storage fee when the iPad was confiscated at Ben-Gurion international airport. Israel was considerate enough in that they gave the tourists a option of paying a storage fee or paying for the iPad to be shipped home.

But, this ban was suddenly upturned, as announced by the head of the communications ministry Moshe Kahlon. Tests conducted by Israeli technology experts have now given the all clear to the iPad. The iPad has now been removed from the Israeli “cherem” which is the list of things prohibited from entering the Jewish state.

The device does need an additional “app” for the user to be able to type in Hebrew. Israel uses the same standards as the EU (European Union) and it was weird that no protests at all came out of Europe.

Global online retailer Inc. has announced that its first quarter profit climbed 68 percent, which fell short of some analysts’ estimates, suggesting that the company may not be reaping enough profits from the economic recovery.

Investors had expected that the consecutive positive results over the last 2 quarters would be repeated from 2009 to 2010. However with the earnings report, it seems Amazon is also reflecting its competitor eBay Inc., whereby earnings growth is not keeping up with the overall increase in consumer confidence.

“In [Amazon’s] case what we have is a very solid first quarter, but it looks like margins compressed ... so that might be a concern going through the rest of the year,” said Scott Tilghman, a Hudson Square Research analyst, in an interview with Reuters.

The Seattle-based company had first-quarter net income increased to $299 million, or 66 cents a share, from $177 million, or 41 cents, a year earlier. forecasted the revenue for this quarter to be $6.1 billion to $6.7 billion. The analysts had predicted $6.84 billion on average for the first quarter and $6.4 billion for the second quarter, according to Bloomberg.

Established 15 years ago, the online retailer had focused its initial trading as an Internet seller of books. Since then, there has been more diversification of products available on their electronic platform, such as music, movies, electronic gadgets—including computers, and even kitchen and dining products.

However, aggressive competition, such as Apple Inc., has been blatantly on the attack. For instance, Apple CEO Steve Jobs stated during a recent interview that “Amazon's done a great job of pioneering this [e-book] functionality with the Kindle, and we're going to stand on their shoulders.”

Amazon’s Kindle was launched in 2007 as a product that enabled consumers to purchase electronic books directly from its internet portal. Although seems to have a monopoly on the e-book market, tallying up to 90 percent, Apple's iPad and similar competing products will likely compromise Amazon’s position and gain 72 percent this year, according to Credit Suisse Group AG.'s stock plunged as much as $10.59 to $139.50 in late trading, after closing at $150.09 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Its stock has soared 90 percent over the past year, double the gain by the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Hershey Co., the chocolate maker that dropped a plan to bid for Cadbury Plc this year, jumped as much as 4.3 percent in New York trading after reporting a first-quarter sales increase that beat analysts’ estimates.

Revenue climbed 14 percent to $1.41 billion, as the candy maker’s U.S. market share grew by half a percentage point, the company said today in a statement. Analysts had predicted revenue of $1.29 billion.

The company benefited from increased advertising and promotions, Chief Executive Officer David West said in the statement.

“Your reinvestment in the business is good for both the short term and the long term,” Eric Katzman, an analyst at Deutsche Bank AG, told Hershey executives on a conference call.

Hershey rose $1.84 to $46.68 at 9:46 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Before today, the shares had increased 25 percent.

Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker, on Thursday said its pre-tax profit for the first quarter 2010 was nearly nine times as high as the year-earlier figure, but said it had experienced "tough competition" for its more advanced devices.

The Finnish-based company posted pre-tax earnings - excluding special items - of 488 million euros (651 million dollars), compared to 55 million euros in the same period of 2009.

Analysts had forecasted higher sales and pre-tax earnings and the share tumbled some 11 per cent after the report was published.

Fourth-quarter sales increased 3 per cent year-on-year to 9.5 billion euros but declined 21 per cent compared to the preceding quarter, the group said.

The company sold 107.8 million units during the quarter, up 16 per cent year-on-year but down 15 per cent compared to the fourth quarter of 2009.

"We continue to face tough competition with respect to the high end of our mobile device portfolio," chief executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said in a comment.

Nokia estimated that it had 33 per cent of the global handset market share in the quarter, slightly up year-on-year and down compared to its 35-per-cent share in the final quarter of 2009.

In its outlook, Nokia projected that the global handset market for 2010 would rise by 10 per cent compared to 2009, and that its share of the market would remain level.

The average selling price (ASP) of Nokia's handsets in the quarter was 62 euros, down from 64 euros in the fourth quarter of 2009.

The group's network business reported a 9-per-cent drop in first- quarter net sales year-on-year to 2.7 billion euros over "challenging competitive factors and market conditions."

The Australian share market has been hauled lower by last week's fall on US markets and the continuing flight disruptions in Europe.

Qantas had fallen more than 2 percent to $2.92 by 11:45am (AEST), as investors wonder how much the European air travel disruptions will cost airlines.

Virgin Blue was down more than 4.5 percent.

The major banks were all about 1.5 percent lower after the US lawsuit against Goldman Sachs for alleged securities fraud sent jitters through financial institutions.

The All Ordinaries are 60 points lower at 4,948, and the ASX 200 has glided 61 points to 4,923.

The Australian dollar has also eased to 92.24 US cents.

Opera is not the world’s most popular browser, despite being one of the best. Small size however does not mean that Opera has not been innovating, especially in the mobile market.

Opera scored a major coup just a few days ago when Opera Mini (their mobile browser) was included in the Apple App store, for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. What has access to those tens of millions of devices done to Opera Mini’s market share? It doubled, in just three days.

Web analytics firm Clicky, tracks mobile browser market share across the sites that use their service. Safari Mobile (iPhone, etc) and Blackberry dominate the scene with more than 80% of the market between them. Take a look at the graph below, it explains the whole story:

That little green line is Opera Mini, in all its glory. You will note that its market share has been more or less flat for months on end. However if you look at the last few days, everything changes. On April 11th, Opera Mini controlled just 1.63% of the Mobile browser market.

Today it stands at just over 3.4%, a more than 100% increase nearly instantly. And people thought that Apple only liked themselves and could not share.

Still with a mere rounding error slice of the pie, Opera has miles to go to be a real player, but the momentum that it has picked up in the last week is going to do wonders for the company’s efforts. Safari Mobile might lose a few points to Opera Mini, but for it to mean anything, Opera needs to show consumers that it has something that no one else has.

Apple has slid back substantially in US market share in the first three months of 2010, IDC said in a study. An early estimate says Apple's share shrunk from 7.4 percent this fall to 6.4 percent in the winter with about 1.13 million. The number was also a drop from 7 percent a year ago.

Some of the drop came through gains from Toshiba, which took over fourth place to reach 8.6 percent and 1.51 million PCs. The Acer Group, which includes eMachines and Gateway, also jumped to 13.1 percent with 2.3 million shipped, though some of that was likely at the expense of leaders HP and Dell. They held their first- and second-place spots at 25.4 percent (4.45 million PCs) and 24.1 percent (4.22 million PCs) respectively.

Worldwide, HP held on to the lead at 19.7 percent, but Acer took over from Dell at 13.6 percent of the market versus 13.3 percent. Lenovo was the fastest riser, jumping over a point to 8.8 percent, while Toshiba only grew slightly to 5.8 percent.

Analysts at IDC didn't attempt to explain Apple's drop but did note that Acer succeeded mostly because of its budget computer line and the sheer reach of its sales. Toshiba's US sales were helped by strong notebook sales in developing countries.

Apple may have been affected by a number of factors, including continuing drops in the average price of Windows PCs as well as customers waiting for updates to most of Apple's lineup, especially the MacBook Pro.

Ford President of the America’s Mark Fields said Tuesday that the company’s U.S. market share increased by 2.7 points during the first three months of this year.

“The last time we had a gain that big was back in the fourth quarter of 1977,” Fields said at a breakfast event in Detroit that coincided with the opening of SAE World Congress, an automotive engineering conference. “In 1977, 'Saturday Night Fever' was just being launched and 'Close Encounters of The Third Kind' was out, so it’s really been a long time.”

Through March, Ford’s share of U.S. auto sales was 17.4%, according to Autodata Corp. That puts Ford in second place for the year behind General Motors, whose market share over the first three months was 18.7%.

Both companies have benefited as Toyota struggled, especially in February, to deal with fallout related to the recall of nearly 6 million vehicles in the U.S. for faulty pedals or floor mats that could lead to sudden acceleration.

Fields said Ford achieved its market share gains with across-the-board sales increases for its cars, SUVs and pickups and said in April so far sales also have increased compared with the same month last year.

“We still have most of the month ahead of us, but it’s encouraging so far,” Fields said.

While Fields declined to say if Ford would post a profit for the first quarter, he said an industry-wide increase in incentives in March did not hurt the company’s first-quarter performance.

“Not only did we have good balanced share growth…year-over-year our incentives were down and our revenue was up,” Fields said.

He declined to elaborate further because the company is prohibited from commenting on financial results this close to reporting them. Ford typically reports first-quarter earnings at the end of April.

“We’ve said…our intent for this year is to be profitable in North America, profitable in automotive (operations) and profitable as a company,” Fields said.

Fields also said the U.S. economy appears to be recovering, but said the big question is how quickly.

“We are starting to see the economic metrics start to go in the right direction,” Fields said.

According to the latest comScore figures, Bing has increased its search market share for the 10th straight month in March, moving to 11.7 percent, a slight increase from 11.5 percent in February.

Yahoo moved up slightly as well, to 16.9 percent from 16.8 percent in February.

Despite seeing a decrease in March, Google remained the clear leader, at 65.1 percent. The search giant held 65.5 percent in February.

In fourth place was Ask which increased again, to 3.8 percent from 3.7 percent.

Alongside a giant $100 million USD advertising campaign, Microsoft launched Bing last June, revamping its struggling "Live" search engine.

comScore has just released its latest report on smartphone marketshare, and the trend we saw last month has continued: Google’s Android is gaining quickly on the iPhone, as Palm and Microsoft’s shares continue to dip. The report compares smartphone market share averaged over the three-month period ending November 2009 against the three months ending February 2010.

The report concluded that 45.4 million people in the United States were using smartphones in the period ending in Feb. 2010, which is a 21% increase over period ending last November. RIM still has a strong lead over the field, with 42.1% of the smartphone market share, and it rose by 1.3% over this period. But the most interesting story is the rapid rise of Android, whose share grew 5.2%. Apple’s share has remained stable, with a .1% drop.

It’s important to note that while Android is clearly growing quickly, it still has a long ways to go to match Apple’s mobile user base. Apple’s iPhone OS is also used by the iPod Touch (and now, the iPad); Android still hasn’t been deployed on any popular devices that aren’t phones.

Intel maintains stranglehold on microprocessor market, but rival is gaining.

Advanced Micro Devices, which has struggled for profitability against Intel, managed to snatch a bit of market share in terms of shipments from its larger rival in the fourth quarter of last year.

Researcher iSuppli said Wednesday that AMD gained 1.6 percent year over year for a 12.1 percent share of the microprocessor market in the quarter. Intel lost 1 percent over the same period, for an 80.6% share.

Smaller microprocessor suppliers collectively accounted for 7.3% of shipments in the quarter, down 0.6 of a percent from a year ago.

AMD's gain in the quarter came at the expense of Intel and the smaller players, iSuppli said.

For the full year, the numbers were more balanced. AMD ended 2009 with a 12.1% share, up 0.2 percent from 2008. Intel ended the year with an 80.3% share, an increase of 0.3 of a percent from a year ago.

"This is an interesting development because PC average selling prices dropped significantly during the course of 2009 -- especially for notebooks," iSuppli analyst Matthew Wilkins said in a research note Wednesday.

"The fact that AMD and Intel virtually maintained their market share at the annual level shows that neither supplier was overly punished by the dropping ASPs [average selling prices]. It also indicates that neither was able to capitalize on the situation very effectively," said Wilkins.

While the latest numbers do not mean AMD will continue to grow at Intel's expense, it is a positive sign for the company, which continues to slug it out with Intel in the PC and server markets.

Both companies this week released new lines of server processors in hopes of capturing the attention of businesses, which are expected to start replacing older computers this year after delaying purchases during last year's economic recession and the wait for Windows 7.

AMD in January reported a 42% increase in revenue to $1.65 billion in the fourth quarter, driven by higher sales of its microprocessors and graphics cards. While the company reported a loss of 5 cents a share, AMD's results easily beat Wall Street estimates of a loss of 18 cents a share on revenue of $1.49 billion.

Continuing its fast adoption pace, Windows 7 made up more than 10 percent of devices accessing the Web for all of March, according to new figures from NetMarketShare.

The operating system topped 10 percent usage on a weekend day in February, but March marked the first full month where its use cracked that milestone. For March, Windows 7 made up 10.2 percent of Net-accessing devices, up from an 8.9 percent share in February.

However, that gain came from a drop in older versions of Windows, not from users switching from the Mac. Windows XP usage declined a full percentage point, from 65.5 percent to 64.5 percent of the market, while Vista's share dropped half a percentage point, to 16 percent.

Indeed, despite its popular acclaim, Windows 7 has yet to help Microsoft gain market share against rivals like the Mac and Linux. Windows actually lost market share in March, falling to 91.6 percent from 92.1 percent in February. The Mac, meanwhile, went from 5 percent to 5.3 percent share, while Linux topped 1 percent of share.

Within a month on the market, Windows 7 had topped 4 percent market share, a figure it took Vista seven months to reach.

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