Why Microsoft Was Late to Tablets and Smartphones -- Tech Roundup

Microsoft (MSFT) got a late start to the tablets and smartphone business, two segments that have propelled Apple (AAPL) to the top of the tech food chain after many years of dominating both categories. 

Microsoft introduced the Surface tablet in 2012, but it didn't sell well and the company ultimately took a $900 million write down as a result. The business has since rebounded and is now doing much better. 

However, the company's former CEO Steve Ballmer -- who has since retired and purchased the Los Angeles Clippers -- reflected on those times and wish he had gotten involved earlier. 

Ballmer also led the charge on Microsoft's purchase of Nokia's handset business, but by the time that deal was completed, he had already resigned from the company. That didn't pan out too well either. 

It wasn't easy getting everyone on board with the mobile-hardware idea. Ballmer said some of the board was hesitant to enter the mobile hardware arena, and among them, Bill Gates in particular. 

Unfortunately for the duo, Ballmer says their friendship took a hit as a result of how they felt on entering these businesses. Hindsight is 20/20 though and luckily for Microsoft, it didn't go the way of BlackBerry (BBRY) or countless other tech companies. 

Under current CEO Satya Nadella, the stock has performed pretty well, trading just a few dollars per share below its 52-week high. 

Shares of Microsoft closed at $58.71 Friday, down 0.8%. 

Good thing for bounty programs. 

Alphabet (GOOGL) gladly paid out $20,000 in its bounty program -- where it asks hackers and programmers to find flaws in its software and applications for a potential reward -- to have this patch fixed. 

Ahmed Mehtab, a student from Pakistan and CEO of Security Fuss, uncovered a flaw in Google's Gmail application, a widely popular free email service. 

Mehtab found that a hacker could get into almost any email that they wanted to, by requesting a verification code on someone else's email. The hacker knows they will fail the verification, but when the email can't be received by the user and is sent back to the sender (the hacker) it accidentally contains the code. This code can then be used to hack into someone's email. 

Luckily, Mehtab told Google, rather than others. For that, he gets $20K and we - for now - have a safer email account as a result. 

Shares of Alphabet closed at $781.10 Friday, down 0.1%.

Alphabet and Apple are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells TKstocksymbol? Learn more now.

In an attempt to bolster its virtual reality exposure and get on board with an industry that's expected to show monstrous growth over the next few years and beyond, Intel (INTC) is purchasing Voke (VR) . 

The deal was done for an undisclosed amount, but apparently, Intel saw value in the company's technology, talent and existing business, according to TechCrunch

The company uses a unique camera and lens that specifically makes for favorable use during sporting events - one reason the Sacramento Kings were an investor in the company. 

VR certainly has its place in the world, at least, when it's picked up by the mainstream media and by more users across the globe. Virtual reality creates stunning new ways to learn, watch or play in nearly an endless amount of scenarios. 

Travel the world, tour a house for sale, watch Game 7 from the court side or play an action-based video game. The options are endless and Intel doesn't plan on missing out. 

Shares of Intel closed at $33.61 Friday, down 0.9%. 

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held TK positions in the stocks mentioned.

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