Tech 2.0 for Friday, July 19, 2013

Contributor: Matt Davenport
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Updated: 7/19/2013 2:19 pm


Microsoft's stock is taking a hit after the software giant behind Windows, the Xbox and Surface tablets reported disappointing results for the latest quarter. The results, which fell below Wall Street's expectations, included a large write-off for Microsoft Corp.'s surface RT business. A poor reception for Windows 8 contributed to a revenue drop in the company's operating system software unit. Microsoft's stock is down nearly 11 percent to $31.59 in midday trading. The stock is still up about 18 percent year-to-date. Microsoft announced a major reorganization late week, aimed at helping it transform into a "devices and services" company that is less reliant on providing software for personal computers. The earnings miss raised new questions as to whether the transition will succeed.

Google's financial performance faltered in the second quarter as a downturn in the Internet search leader's ad prices deepened. The results announced Thursday show Google is still having trouble navigating a technological transition driving more online activity on to smartphones and tablets. Those devices pose a challenge because their smaller screen sizes fetch lower ad rates than on personal computers. Google's stock fell more than 5 percent in extended trading. Google Inc.'s average ad rate fell by 6 percent from the same time last year during the three months ending in June. It marks the seventh consecutive quarter of falling ad prices. Google earned $3.2 billion, or $9.54 per share, up 16 percent from $2.8 billion, or $8.42 per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 19 percent to $14.1 billion.

Don't scream for ice cream. Just pick up your smartphone. Uber, the San Francisco startup known for letting people order private drivers in sleek black cars using a smartphone app, is offering an ice cream-on-demand service for one day only in more than three dozen cities around the world, including San Francisco, Philadelphia, London, Singapore and Rome. Friday's stunt, an expansion of last year's ice cream promotion, comes in the midst of a sticky heat wave in New York City and elsewhere. Last year, people in seven U.S. and Canadian cities could use the Uber app to summon an ice cream truck hired by Uber to their location, provided they purchased a minimum number of treats. But demand exceeded supply, and not everyone who wanted ice cream got it.

The Vatican is offering indulgences for "virtual" participants of the upcoming World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro — but there's a hitch. The Vatican's social media guru, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, warned Friday that merely checking the pope's Twitter feed won't result in an indulgence, the ancient church tradition related to forgiving sins that roughly amounts to a "get out of Purgatory free" card. Rather, Celli told The Associated Press, a Catholic seeking an indulgence for participating in Rio — either physically or virtually— must truly be contrite and have a moment of deepening faith. According to church teaching, Catholics who confess their sins are forgiven of the eternal, or spiritual punishment of damnation. An indulgence is designed to remove the "temporal" punishment of sin that may remain.
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