Tech Weekly: Apple's iCloud Takes Shape

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Apple ( APPL) was the week's biggest headliner, launching its iCloud service and a host of other software products at its Worldwide Developers' Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco on Monday.

CEO Steve Jobs was the star of the show in just his second public appearance since taking a medical leave of absence earlier this year. Jobs' keynote speech focused on the new iOS 5; Lion, the new Mac OS X; and iCloud, Apple's hotly anticipated cloud-based service aimed to streamline access to user files on all Mac devices.

Among the more interesting tidbits: iMessage, or integrated messaging across all iOS devices that includes the ability to share text, photos, videos, contacts and group messaging.

Much to tech watchers' dismay, there was no word on an iPhone update -- WWDC usually serves as the launchpad for Apple's latest phone iteration. Developers attending the event, however, were unperturbed by the absence of a new iPhone, and were keen to show off their latest apps.

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With investors largely underwhelmed by the company's WWDC announcements, Apple shares ended the week down 1.69% at $325.90.


Elsewhere in California on Monday, Microsoft ( MSFT) announced plans to turn the Xbox into an entertainment hub for the living room.

At the E3 video game show in Los Angeles, the software giant revealed plans to launch voice search capabilities for its Xbox 360 gaming system with the Kinect motion sensing device, giving users the ability to control live television, music and watch YouTube through verbal commands.

Microsoft plans to bring its live television offering to the U.S. sometime next year in an attempt to keep up with rivals Google ( GOOG) and Apple, which also have TV offerings.

Xbox users will be able to access movies and TV on demand from Hulu. Netflix ( NFLX) and YouTube will also be available with the Kinect through the Xbox service.

Microsoft's stock closed down 1.06% at $23.70 on Friday.

In other gadget news, Sprint ( S) and Motorola ( MMI) unveiled a new Google Android superphone Thursday afternoon in New York City.

The Motorola Photon 4G features a 4.3-inch screen, front- and back-facing cameras (8-megapixels on the back, VGA on front), Android 2.3/Gingerbread, and a dual-core Nvidia ( NVDA) Tegra 2 processor. The Photon runs on Sprint's 4G WiMax network, a strong selling point as faster data speeds have become one of the telcos' key competitive points.

Like Motorola's Atrix, the new phone can be docked to a user's PC to access and create content from a larger screen. It's also a world phone, which means it runs on Sprint's network overseas.

The Photon goes on sale sometime during the summer, although pricing has not yet been announced.

Sprint shares ended down 3.51% at $5.22 on Friday, while Motorola's stock was down 0.57% at $45.30.


The recent run of tech sector IPOs continued this week, with storage specialist Fusion-io making its debut as a public company on Thursday.

The Salt Lake City-based firm, which counts Facebook and Apple among its largest customers, enjoyed a strong first day of trading, closing at $22.50, more than 18% above its opening price. Fusion-io priced its offering at $19, north of its projected range of $16 to $18 a share, for a total IPO value of $233.7 million.

A relic from the dot-com era, CafePress, continued the IPO frenzy on Friday, announcing that it had filed paperwork for an offering of up to $80 million.

Fusion-io's stock closed up 6.67% at $24 on Friday.


Intel ( INTC) hosted its ninth annual Research@Intel event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., on Tuesday, showcasing the latest innovations from the chipmaker's labs.

The tech giant's CTO, Justin Rattner, who keynoted the event, told TheStreet about Intel's plans to bolster its presence in the smartphone market, where it faces stiff competition from ARM Holdings' ( ARMH) low-power technology.

"We remain undaunted and continue to invest heavily in that space," he said. "Our semiconductor technology leadership will allow us to be very competitive the smartphone space."

Intel's shares ended down 1.75% at $21.38 this week.


All eyes will be on embattled phone maker Research In Motion ( RIMM) when it reports its quarterly results next week. The Canadian firm, which hit a new four-year low of $36.08 earlier this week, reports its first-quarter results after market close on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, tech giant IBM ( IBM) will celebrate its centennial. CEO Sam Palmisano will kick off the festivities by ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

And finally, Internet music streaming company Pandora, which raised its IPO price on Friday, is scheduled to go public on Wednesday.

-- Written by James Rogers in New York.

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