Nintendo has been confirmed as the victor in the 2020 console wars, with its Switch console and Animal Crossing game perfectly timed for the pandemic.
Results for its three months to the end of December released on Monday represented its best quarter since 2008, according to Bloomberg. Its shares also outperformed those of rivals Sony and Microsoft last year.
They were late to the game with their next-generation consoles and were unable to meet demand in the holiday season as they suffered supply chain disruption.
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Nintendo posted profits of Y229.7bn ($2.2bn), well ahead of analysts’ expectations, and said it sold 24.1m hardware units in the first nine months of its financial year that ends in March — more than its previous full-year forecast. It now expects 26.5m Switches to be sold in the fiscal year.
Microsoft and Sony should be more competitive this year, but they still need to overcome shortages. Wired reports that “scalping bots” have bought almost every PlayStation 5 whenever they go on sale online. The scalpers, using retail bots to buy them, are then posting them at double the price on eBay.
The other gaming hardware winner of lockdown is Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2 VR headset. In the fourth quarter, it broke the record for sales of a standalone headset, according to SuperData research published today, with 1.1m units sold.
The Internet of (Five) Things
1. Elon has the Clubhouse lead
Silver has replaced GameStop as the investment du jour for retail traders, but there is also the Elon effect out there, with Mr Musk lifting bitcoin last week after adding it to his Twitter bio. Now his appearance on the Clubhouse audio service at the weekend has led to a doubling in the share price of Clubhouse Media Group, which happens to be a completely different company. The same thing happened last month when he recommended the Signal messaging service and unrelated Signal Advance rose by more than 6,000 per cent. Regarding Clubhouse, Lex says audio could be the future of online socialising, with the Discord chat app attracting 300m users as well.
2. Grabbing US attention and Kuaishou’s IPO
Ride-hailing service Grab, south-east Asia’s biggest start-up, has amassed $5bn in cash reserves after increasing the size of its debut term loan facility from $750m to $2bn on strong US investor interest. Meanwhile, Ryan McMorrow has an analysis of ByteDance rival Kuaishou’s business, ahead of an IPO in Hong Kong this week likely to value it at over $60bn.
3. Moritz-backed start-up launches in London
Getir, a Turkish start-up backed by the venture capitalist Michael Moritz, has launched a rapid delivery service for grocery and corner shop items in London, in a challenge to the competitive UK food courier market.
4. Cabling Africa: the great data race
Africa’s internet capacity is exploding — becoming faster, denser and more local, which has profound implications for the continent’s economies, according to our Big Read. Google and Facebook in particular have been going to extreme lengths to bring connectivity to the “last billion” worldwide who have yet to be properly connected to the internet.
5. Video: SoftBank — piecing the puzzle together
What exactly is SoftBank? The FT explains why the Japanese multinational is like a jigsaw puzzle, with the enigmatic founder and chief executive Masayoshi Son at its core.
Tech week ahead
Tuesday: A triple-A day. Google parent Alphabet is expected to break the $50bn sales barrier, buoyed by a recovery in digital ad spending during the holiday season, a period that is also set to boost Amazon sales as customers flocked to its website during lockdowns. Alibaba also reports.
Wednesday: Qualcomm is expected to post a jump in revenue in its first quarter, powered in part by Apple’s new 5G iPhones. EBay and Spotify also report earnings.
Thursday: Revenues and earnings are forecast to take a dip at UK telco BT, which recently shook up its core technology business as part of an effort to expand digital services as it attempts to improve returns and focus on new growth areas after shares hit an 11-year low last year.
Friday: Chinese chipmaker Minimum wage reports and TikTok competitor Kuaishou Technology makes its stock market debut in Hong Kong.
Tech tools — Osma coffee machine
Osma is a knockout new electronic coffee machine from the stable of industrial designer Joey Roth, according to Jonathan Margolis:
“Osma is a fairly dense (820g) near-cylindrical device about the size of a 70cl whisky bottle. It is powered by a rechargeable battery and is wholly portable. It will brew one 20cl cup at a time of hot- or cold-press coffee in a two-minute process. To put that in context, a conventional cold press takes 16 hours.”
The coffee the $185 Osma makes is exemplary, he says, and you can even drink it straight from the machine.