Microsoft’s Cloud City
Today, Great Ones, we’re launching headfirst into a great adventure. We’ll start by joining Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), zoning out for an hours-long gaming sesh — hey, it is almost Friday — and generally getting lost in the clouds.
Hold up, we gotta talk about that image up there. Is that … Cloud City? Like … from the Star Wars?
Yes, gramps, it’s from “The Star Wars.” Don’t take it too seriously… But unironically, you know what you should take seriously? The next generation of gaming tech — and it’s all thanks to Microsoft, surprisingly enough.
Because sure, making Xboxes is cool… But what if (hear me out) you turned the TV into an Xbox? Or rather, what if you could remove the need for a console in the first place?
Behold: cloud gaming.
Microsoft just announced that it’s bringing a bona fide Xbox app to Samsung smart TVs. This means you could literally stream video games directly to your TV — even if you don’t have an actual, physical Xbox to begin with.
While other game console-makers are still playing around with physical media versus digital downloads — for instance, the latest PS5 gives you the choice to stick with discs or go fully digital and disc-free — Microsoft is taking things one step further.
Cloud gaming is an entirely different way to play, store and access games. This is about removing the console completely, playing video games beamed directly to your screen … the ultimate in platform accessibility.
Of course, for PC players, arguably the first gamers to ditch disc games completely … this sounds old hat. (Thanks, Steam.) And even PlayStation has PlayStation Now, for which you still need a console.
But cloud accessibility from almost anywhere? That’s new.
Microsoft already has Xbox Game Pass, a subscription service that’s been beta-test-dipping its toes into cloud gaming. And before this starts to sound like a Microsoft ad, the Game Pass service lets you play games “on the devices you already have,” be it a PC or tablet or Xbox console.
Now, remove the Xbox out of the equation completely … and that’s where Microsoft’s headed. No need for a console — if you’ve got a PC or a TV, you’re game-ready.
So … why is Microsoft jumping into cloud gaming right now?
It’s simple, really: Just look at recent console sales. Microsoft had a bit of a boost with Xbox sales from bored folks in lockdown during the pandemic, but so too did its console-creating competitors, Sony and Nintendo.
Best estimates put Xbox sales at around 7.7 million units in 2021, which pales compared to the 12.5 million Sony PlayStation 5s and 24.3 million Nintendo Switches sold last year. And that’s considering Xbox’s hardware revenue jumped 92% last year.
So what does Microsoft think is the best way to take on Nintendo and Sony? Remove the need to buy a console.
It’s almost an Apple kinda move. When hardware sales aren’t as flashy and great as you want, focus on services … gaming services, in Microsoft’s case.
Of course, this brings up Microsoft’s next hurdle: bringing the games — particularly the games that gamers actually want. And now Microsoft’s recent buyout of gamemaker Activision Blizzard comes more into focus.
This is Microsoft trying to out-compete Sony with cloud gaming through sheer accessibility.
If all you need to game on Xbox is a TV and a controller, that could lead to a whole lot more new Game Pass subscribers. Especially since you can use controllers from other platforms for on-TV gaming (supposedly).
I’ve always wanted to play as Master Chief using Wii Nunchuks.
Umm, no. I should also note here that the feature will first be available for Samsung smart TVs, with other brands to come. It makes sense, as Samsung has the most smart TVs on the market, with a 21.3% share. So why not target as many gamers as possible?
But wait, wait! I think there’s something you’re forgetting here, Great Stuff. Have y’all actually, you know, tried cloud ………. gaming? Sorry, I lagged out there.
Indeed, the only thing holding cloud gaming back from prime time is super … slow … internet … speeds. Sure, some of y’all might be spoiled with blazing fast internet, but others … not so much. And you can ask any gamer how much they love playing with lag…
Playability will decide if people flock to the new platform through their smart TVs, or if gamers end up sticking with their consoles and PCs for the time being.
What do you think, Great Ones? Have you tried Xbox Game Pass? Would you sign up if it meant you didn’t need a console? Let me know your cloudy thoughts in the inbox.
Former Rocket Scientist Invents Breakthrough Stock Tool
You’ve probably heard of the VIX… Known as the “fear gauge” on Wall Street, it has THREE critical problems. And they’ve now been completely solved by the brand-new “greed gauge.”
This controversial story is NOT being covered by CNBC or Bloomberg.
But back testing shows this new “greed gauge” — invented by a former rocket scientist — identified winning trades literally almost every month from 2000 to 2021! But how does this innovation work?
Has it really been *checks notes* four whole months since we’ve mentioned Spotify (NYSE: SPOT) in these here virtual pages?
I guess the streaming star’s been keeping a low profile ever since top-billed podcaster Joe Rogan’s rabble-rousing…
But I digress. Today, Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek is back with a brand-new prediction: The company’s top line will grow by $100 million annually over the next 10 years.
That’s … umm, ballsy. What fringe math did he use to work that one out?
Well, according to Ek, Spotify’s original music library + podcasts + audiobooks = a suite of streaming content worth $100 million … even though year-end revenue in 2021 barely touched $11.4 billion.
Now, obviously there’s some subtraction involved to pay for the rights to all that content … but hey, who’s counting when the CEO’s gut feeling is on the line?
I’m not trying to be pedantic — oh, who am I kidding? — but my napkin math tells me Spotify’s got some hustling to do if it wants to hit that first $100 million goal by the end of this year.
Especially in today’s market, when unnecessary monthly expenses like paid streaming services are likely to get cut first in an effort to fight inflation.
It’s a daring dream, to be sure. But even Spotify investors took Ek’s forecast with a grain of salt, sending SPOT stock 1% lower on the news.
Love him or hate him (and I don’t care to know either way), it’s no secret that President Biden’s been advocating for alternative energy initiatives since taking office. And electric vehicles (EVs) have been a big part of that clean-energy conversation.
In fact, earlier this year, the White House set aside $5 billion to fund the development of 500,000 new EV charging stations by 2030. But the question on everyone’s mind is: Will this new infrastructure push really make EVs more practical to own?
Well, today we got some more clarity on that answer.
The Biden administration just released a set of new standards that will help states build charging stations everyone can access — regardless of their location, the brand of EV they drive or the charging company they use.
Government talking heads say these new standards will help ensure homogeny between all the different stations in terms of pricing and charging time. It should also reduce the number of charging “deserts” scattered throughout the country, which makes driving coast to coast challenging for EV owners.
Now, the other week, 39% of Great Ones said that if charging stations were no longer a concern, they’d ditch their gas guzzlers in a heartbeat.
So I’d like to follow up on that: After today, are you any more willing to buy an EV knowing more uniformity — and availability — is coming to the EV market? Let me know: GreatStuffToday@BanyanHill.com.
For those of you still hesitant to hit the EV highway, I’ve got some good news for you:
A light, inexpensive and quick-charging “Forever Battery” is promising to power EVs for 1,000 miles — on a single charge!
It’s small enough to fit in your pocket … and it can be charged in just 15 minutes … making the company that pioneered this new technology the investment of a lifetime.
Nio’s (NYSE: NIO) first-quarter numbers are in, Great Ones. And if I’m being honest … they’re nothing to write home about.
While revenue did climb 24% year over year, Nio’s net losses reached an abysmal $281.2 million — far greater than the $1.65 billion it managed to make in the first three months of the year.
And while it’s perfectly normal — heck, even expected — for a growing EV company to be in the red as it builds out its infrastructure, the gap between Nio’s profits and its expenses is growing concerning.
Add to that China’s ongoing coronavirus lockdowns that are hampering Nio’s ability to keep up with demand … and yeah, it’s not exactly the recovery story any of us hoped for.
However, there was one bright spot in today’s earnings report: deliveries.
In the first quarter, Nio managed to deliver 25,768 vehicles — up from 20,060 deliveries a year ago. If Nio can figure out how to widen its margins as commodity costs climb, it might just have a chance at becoming profitable as EV demand grows.
But it is not this day.
And now for the news absolutely no one’s been waiting for: Meta Platforms (Nasdaq: FB) is officially changing its ticker symbol to “META” to reflect its rebranding campaign.
Like a lizard person shedding his old skin, Zuckerberg hopes that by ditching the old “FB” symbol, we’ll all finally start taking the “company formerly known as Facebook” seriously in its bid to become our new metaverse master.
So those FB shares you’ve secretly stashed at the bottom of your portfolio (you know who you are)? Yeah, don’t freak out when you suddenly can’t find them. I promise they’re still there, losing you money by the minute.
… aight, Imma head out now.
Wait, wait! Meta may not be the one to drag us into the digital diorama we’ve been promised, but there are a few companies out there developing the tech the metaverse needs to grow.
Matter of fact, Mr. Great Stuff created this handy cheat sheet of companies developing the hardware and software powering the metaverse … or at least, the very first iteration of it.
We’re still years off from the Ready Player One stuff of science fiction, so it’s important to manage your expectations if you’re looking for a pure metaverse play.
Luckily, the companies on this list have their fingers in many a tasty tech pie (eww), so even if the metaverse doesn’t materialize past migraine-inducing VR headsets and NFTs for a while, you’re still investing in some of the most essential tech plays of today.
All that said, it’s time for Great Stuff to slip into the great gaming abyss — minus the console-less cloud tech (for now).
GreatStuffToday@BanyanHill.com is your home for hot takes and spit takes, investing questions and random market tomfoolery too. Whatever you want to write, we want to read!
In the meantime, here’s where you can find our other junk — erm, I mean where you can check out some more Greatness:
Until next time, stay Great!