Yahoo! Inc (NASDAQ:$YHOO) revealed last month that it will start using its rival Google’s (NASDAQ:$GOOG) advertising services Adsense and AdMob as it looks to increase its revenue base. In an official blog post dated 6th February, the company said that it has entered in a non-exclusive agreement for contextual advertising to be displayed on Yahoo and its co-branded sites for autos, finance, news and sports. This is in line with Yahoo’s CEO and a former Google executive Marissa Mayer’s strategy to give a better experience to Yahoo’s users through more customized ads so that they can spend more time on Yahoo properties. Although Yahoo’s users won’t notice any significant change it is almost certain that Yahoo will see increasing revenues through its partnership with Google.
The Russian search engine giant Yandex NV(NASDAQ:$YNDX) recently surprised Wall Street by revealing that it has surpassed Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:$MSFT) Bing to become the fourth biggest search engine in the world in terms of number of searches according to ComScore’s 2012 data. A total of 4.6 billion searches were conducted on Yandex in November and 4.8 billion in December as opposed to Bing’s 4.5 billion searches in each of those months. However, this says more about the relative popularity of Microsoft’s sites than it does about changes within in the search business. Ultimately this is good news for the growth of Russian internet usage and Yandex itself but Bing’s inability to truly grab market share from Google (NASDAQ:$GOOG) and Baidu (NASDAQ:$BIDU) is a separate issue entirely.
The two biggest social media growth stories continue to evolve in 2013 similar to how they did in 2012. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is still searching for the right way to monetize users while LinkedIn (NASDAQ:LNKD) continues to improve monetization while searching for more ways to integrate LinkedIn itself into the daily life of its users.
Samsung (SSNLF.PK) and Apple ($AAPL) are facing the challenge of increasing competition in the Chinese market from the leading local players such as Lenovo (LNVGY.PK), Huawei, Xiamoi and ZTE (ZTCOF.PK). The Chinese market is witnessing explosive growth with 53 million cell phones being shipped in the previous quarter, a 64% year-over-year increase. In such an environment, everyone wins on paper but the real fight is for market share. For both Apple and Samsung, their early-mover advantage is eroding. According to IHS iSuppli, Samsung’s market share in China fell from 20% in 2011 to 14.2% in 2012, while Apple’s share dropped from 10% to 7.9% in the same period. On the other hand Lenovo, whose growth is astounding versus the shifting background of the PC market, has increased its share in the smartphone market from 5% to 10% and both Huawei and ZTE are now ahead of Apple with a market share of approximately 9% each. These dynamics demand a response from Samsung and Apple.
Facebook (NASDAQ:$FB) is by far the biggest social network in the world in terms of active users. However, is an enormous user base a guarantee for a rising stock price and satisfied stakeholders? Ultimately, as a public company it has to be. Unfortunately the IPO of the Century is infamous for all the wrong reasons highlighting the difference between potential and reality. Facebook has made repeated attempts to transform its billion users into billions of advertising dollars to justify its very rich premium, while at the same time not chasing users away. I still don’ think they have succeeded and may never do so.
Peter Pham is an author, international fund manager, and a registered financial director by the Cayman Monetary Authority (CIMA). In 2013 he published his first book entitled, The Big Trade: Simple Strategies for Maximum Market Returns. He currently manages the portfolio of a global hedge fund and runs an asset management company, Phoenix Capital. (read more)
The Big Trade: Simple Strategies for Maximum Market Returns
This material is provided for informational purposes only, as of the date hereof, and is subject to change without notice. This material may not be suitable for all investors and is not intended to be an offer, or the solicitation of any offer, to buy or sell any securities.