The third week of November was relatively slow for tech stocks: With the exception of cloud giant Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM), there were few major earnings releases.
Yet there were a handful of important announcements, ones that could affect many of the major tech giants, including Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF).
Salesforce.com stumbles on earnings
Shares of salesforce.com shed nearly 9% of their value over the course of the week, with the majority of the sell-off following Wednesday's disappointing earnings release.
In the third quarter, Salesforce.com earned an adjusted $0.14, one penny better than the estimate. Revenue of $1.38 billion was also slightly greater than the $1.37 billion analysts had been projecting.
But Salesforce.com's guidance was disappointing: For the fourth quarter, the company expects to earn an adjusted $0.13-$0.14 per share on revenue of $1.436 billion to $1.441 billion. Prior to the report, analysts had been projecting earnings of around $0.15 on revenue of $1.45 billion.
Given Salesforce.com's aggressive valuation -- on a pure, GAAP basis, the company remains unprofitable, and even based on project earnings, Salesforce.com trades with a sky-high forward price-to-earnings ratio of around 82 -- any signs of sluggish growth could be enough to spook investors.
Firefox ditches Google
Mozilla's Firefox isn't as dominant as it once was, but it's still the third most popular Web browser. That could pose a problem for search giant Google, as Mozilla announced on Wednesday that it would be changing its default search engine, swapping Google's out for rival search engines on a country-by-country basis.
Given Mozilla's share of the browser market (around 10% if you include mobile devices) it won't be a death blow, but it could knock Google's share of the search engine market down a few percentage points. Still, investors in the search giant were largely unfazed by the news, with the stock shrugging off the announcement.
Apple reveals more details about its Watch
Apple unveiled its smart watch back in September, but offered up precious few details. With key questions like battery life left unanswered, it's been difficult for investors to handicap the Apple Watch's success. Much still remains unknown, but on Tuesday, Apple released WatchKit -- a tool that allows developers to extend their iOS apps to Apple's wearable gadget, which gave us more clues.
At its unveiling, Apple announced that the watch would require a paired handset, but the release of WatchKit revealed exactly to what extent Apple Watch depends on the iPhone: By itself, the device is capable of virtually nothing, acting, essentially, as the iPhone's second, wrist-mounted screen.
There are a multitude of different ways to interact with Apple Watch -- at least 15 -- with several different swipes, glances, taps, and the digital crown all serving as potential methods of user input. This could make Apple Watch far more useful, but the complexity seems to contrast with Apple's long-standing commitment to simplicity.
Samsung plots its rebound
With its mobile profits in free fall, Apple's chief rival, Samsung, made several announcements this week designed, seemingly, to soothe investors.
Most notably, Samsung announced that it would begin shipping smartphones next year with flexible displays. Samsung has released a curved phone (the Galaxy Round) and one with a curved edge (the aptly named Galaxy Note Edge), but has yet to offer a device with display that can actually be bent or contorted. Those could arrive in stores next year, though nothing definitive has been announced.
Samsung also said it would reduce the number of smartphone models it offered by around one-third in an effort to combat a more competitive market. Over the last few years, Samsung has taken a shotgun approach, launching a new Galaxy smartphone seemingly every month. A 30% reduction could reduce some of the confusion, and increase manufacturing efficiency.
Finally, Samsung rolled out Milk Video -- a premium, curated-video app exclusive to its lineup of Galaxy devices. Like Milk Music that came before it, it gives Samsung's phones a service its competitors lack.
Sam Mattera has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Salesforce.com. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.