The software package that comes with the Form 1 3D printer, which I reviewed a few months ago, has gotten a much-needed update. First, the new software, called PreForm is now compatible with OS X, which means more users can use the system natively on their machines.
The new software also supports automatic mesh repair using software from NetFabb. Writes Sam Jacoby of Form Labs: “PreForm’s mesh repair tool integrates software from Netfabb to examine the triangle meshes that make up your digital design. It will automatically clean up artifacts, close triangles, and join vertices, so that your models will print reliably on the Form 1.” This means prints will be far smoother than they were in earlier versions of the software.
I’ve used the OS X version of PreForm and found it to work flawlessly on Macs. PreForm creates a lattice structure that allows you to print objects using the Form 1′s unique technology and then slices the object up for proper printing. While it’s not a formal editor, it does allow you to scale and modify some models before printing. On August 6 Form Labs released an update that allowed users to estimate print time.
Windows users looking for something resembling the classic Start Menu that was stripped out of Windows 8 don’t have to look too far. Several apps that roughly recreate the Start Menu’s functionality can be downloaded and installed easily enough.
But some PC manufacturers are making Start menu replacements more visible to users—and we suspect not all PC users will appreciate the way they’re going about it. SweetLabs, a company that makes one of these Start menu replacements, announced today that it has a deal with Lenovo to “preload SweetLabs’ Pokki software on new Lenovo PCs shipped worldwide, starting with consumer devices.” That’s a big deal, as Lenovo is now the top seller of PCs worldwide by some measures. SweetLabs already had a deal with Acer to preload Pokki and various Zynga games.
Today’s Lenovo announcement prompted a Bloomberg story titled “Lenovo Turns to a Startup to Bring the Start Menu Back to Windows.” But the devil is in the details. This isn’t a straightforward replacement of Microsoft’s iconic Start menu, which was left out of Windows 8 in favor of the touch-friendly Start screen. According to SweetLabs, Lenovo PCs “will include Pokki’s modern Start menu, app store, and game arcade out-of-the-box, all powered by SweetLabs’ dynamic app recommendation and distribution platform.”
This is actually the second time Pandora has instituted a free cap and then lifted it again — it last lifted the cap in September 2011.
CFO Mike Herring said the decision was based on two factors. First, he described the cap as a “blunt tool” for limiting usage and costs, and in the time since, the company has developed more “surgical techniques” (such as skip limits), that control costs without affecting the listener experience as obviously. He also said that due to improvements the business, particularly in the advertising business, Pandora can now “monetize those hours from 41 onward at a much higher rate.”
Herring also noted that when the mobile cap was reinstituted, usage dropped 10 percent. He said lifting the cap won’t lead to a corresponding jump, due to the measures he hinted at earlier that are limiting usage: “We don’t expect a big spike in hours. We do expect the hours to go up.” And Herring suggested that without the cap, subscriptions won’t grow dramatically, and he predicted that they’ll make up 20 percent of the company’s revenue for the year.
One thing that Herring didn’t directly connect with the news was increased competition — an issue that’s looming large with the upcoming launch of iTunes Radio, where there hasn’t been any cap reported. However, he did touch on competition in another portion of the call, saying, “We are no strangers to intense competition.”
Those earnings, by the way, beat Wall Street estimates, with revenue up 58 percent year-over-year. The company predicts that it will be profitable for the full year.
Here’s the script for Herring’s initial remarks during the call:
Our investment in advertising infrastructure and implementing smart levers such as reducing song skipping and limiting mobile listening have helped us drive monetization and manage content costs, as reflected by the increase in RPM and a decrease in content costs as a percentage of revenue. When we introduced the 40 hour mobile listening limit, we were confident that our scale – over 7% of total radio listening and Pandora’s number one ranking in most major markets – would allow us to take this action without impacting our key monetization initiatives in driving the disruption of the radio advertising market and driving our mobile advertising leadership. As our results have shown, the continued strong growth in our advertising revenue allowed us to cover the increased royalty costs with dollars left over to invest back into the business.
With these tools in hand, and insight into how they work, we are resetting our levers in September. Notably, Pandora plans to eliminate the blanket 40-hour-per-month limit on free mobile listening effective September 1st. In the 6 months since we first implemented the free mobile listening limitation, we have gained critical insights into our user population that has given us greater control of our business. Because of these insights Pandora has implemented both other surgical levers to control content cost and new features that will allow for greater product usage. With these tools in place we are well positioned to continue to both optimize the cost structure of the business and further monetization progress.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Internet radio service Pandora Media Inc said on Thursday that rising expenditures to acquire music and compete with rivals would push fiscal 2014 earnings below analyst expectations, and its shares slumped 5 percent.
(Reuters) – Autodesk Inc forecast third-quarter results below analysts’ estimates as it anticipates lower demand for its computer-aided design (CAD) software used in construction, manufacturing and engineering industries.