Microsoft's overall business is still going strong, even though it's not seeing the shockingly huge profit growth it saw last year. In its Q2 earnings report today, company reported revenue of $51.7 billion (up 20 percent from last year) with profits of $18.8 billion (up 21 percent). As usual, Microsoft has its unstoppable cloud business to thank, as well as a decent showing from its PC group, Office and other business products. Its Intelligent Cloud business grew by 26 percent, reaching $18.3 billion, while its Productivity and Business group saw revenues increase by 19 percent to reach $15.9 billion.There weren't any true major weak links this quarter even Surface revenue, which Microsoft previously expected to dip a bit, grew by 8 percent thanks to strong Surface Laptop sales. Windows OEM revenues also increased by 25 percent, not a huge surprise since the overall PC industry is still going strong. Where the PC business goes, Microsoft's revenues will follow, after all. When it comes to Office, the company says its consumer revenue increased by 15 percent, and that it has reached 56.4 million Microsoft 365 subscribers.While Microsoft's earnings reports have basically looked the same over the last few years Cloud good! Revenues grow! the company's numbers will look a bit different once it finalizes its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard in 2023. At the very least, we'll get to see how much the new Microsoft Gaming division actually helps (or hurts) Microsoft's overall business.
President Joe Biden has offered some more backing to right to repair rules, following an executive order he signed last summer. He acknowledged that many companies have made it difficult for consumers to fix their own devices. Biden also nodded to Apple and Microsoft for changing their right to repair policies ahead of the Federal Trade Commission taking more action on the matter.Among dozens of other issues the executive order covered, it encouraged "the FTC to issue rules against anticompetitive restrictions on using independent repair shops or doing DIY repairs of your own devices and equipment." The agency said later that month it would tackle unlawful right to repair restrictions by enforcing existing laws and doing more to help consumers and small repair shops fix products."Denying the right to repair raises prices for consumers, means independent repair shops cant compete for your business," Biden said. "Too many areas, if you own a product, from a smartphone to a tractor, you dont have the freedom to choose how or where to repair that item you purchased."The president noted that, in many cases, consumers need to go to a dealer or the manufacturer and pay their asking price for repairs. He added that he was pleased to hear the FTC unanimously voted to "ramp up enforcement against illegal repair restrictions."Toward the end of last year, both Apple and Microsoft announced programs that would help consumers repair their own iPhones, iPads and Surfaces. "What happened was a lot of these companies said, 'Youre right. Were going to voluntarily do it. You dont have to order us to do it,'" Biden said. "For example, Apple and Microsoft are changing their policies so folks will be able to repair their phones and laptops themselves although Im not sure I know how to do that."The president added that moves such as ones made by Apple and Microsoft, as well as possible regulations at state and federal level, will "make it easier for millions of Americans to repair their electronics instead of paying an arm and a leg to repair or just throwing the device out."
Don't expect the worldwide chip shortage to end any time soon. Bloomberg and The Washington Post note the US Commerce Department has published a semiconductor supply chain report estimating that the global shortage will last until at least the second half of 2022. "We aren't even close to being out of the woods" with supply problems, Department Secretary Gina Raimondo said.Many companies are particularly sensitive to problems, too. The median chip inventory for a client company plunged from 40 days in 2019 to under five days in 2021. Even a relatively short (weeks-long) disruption overseas could shut down an American factory, the Department said.The shortage is particularly damaging to broadband companies, car makers and medical device producers, according to the report. Despite early claims, there wasn't evidence hoarding contributed to the shortfalls. Demand was higher, too, with median interest about 17 percent higher in 2021 than it was two years earlier. The Commerce Department's study was comprehensive, obtaining supply chain data from almost all major semiconductor firms and companies across a range of industries.Officials concluded the government couldn't directly end the shortage. Private companies were "best positioned" to overcome challenges by increasing production, optimizing their designs and limiting the impact on their supply chains. However, Raimondo used this as an opportunity to plug President Biden's proposed $52 billion subsidy through the US Innovation and Competition Act (USICA). The investment could help "rebuild American manufacturing" and boost domestic supply chains for "years ahead," she said.Factories resulting from USICA money wouldn't be ready for years, however, and the bill itself has been delayed. While it passed a crucial Senate vote, the House bill is only expected to surface by this week at the earliest. It could take longer to both clear the House and evolve into a final form Biden can sign into law. For now, the tech industry largely has to solve this dilemma on its own.