In today’s Bulldog wrapup of technology news:
- Iowa law cracks down on Uber, Lyft
- Sprint’s challenges weigh on Softbank
- Nokia reports a loss
- Warner reports a surge in streaming vs. downloads
- Iowa law requires background checks for Uber, Lyft drivers
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has signed a bill into law that creates new statewide rules for ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft to do business in Iowa.
Branstad signed the bill Monday following approval this session in the Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-majority House.
The law establishes a new regulatory system for companies that let people use smartphones to pay for prearranged rides. It will require liability insurance for vehicles, add background checks for drivers and change licensing expectations. State regulators would also have the authority to ensure compliance.
A representative for Uber says the new law mirrors similar legislation enacted in more than two dozen other states. The industry, which is still fairly new, has faced criticism over concerns about public safety for customers.
The law was signed a day after Uber and Lyft suspended service in Austin, Texas, after voters decided against overturning city requirements that include fingerprinting their drivers.
But following Saturday’s vote, a lawmaker who is a rideshare supporter said that when the Texas Legislature reconvenes next year it will consider establishing statewide regulations for rideshare companies that will aim to be “consistent and predictable.”
- Sprint hurts Softbank
Japanese Internet company SoftBank Group Corp., which is struggling to turn around Sprint in the U.S., reported Tuesday a 27 percent drop in profit for the fiscal year ended March 31, compared to the previous year.
Tokyo-based SoftBank had a net profit of 558.2 billion yen ($5.1 billion) for the fiscal year through March 2016. It reported a 763.7 billion yen profit for the previous fiscal year. It didn’t give a forecast, citing many uncertain factors. It also did not break down quarterly results.
Sales for the fiscal year that ended in March totaled 9.15 trillion yen ($84 billion), up nearly 8 percent on year.
Although SoftBank’s mobile and broadband business in Japan is not lagging, it is not expected to grow in coming years, so the company is eyeing overseas growth.
Overland Park, Kansas-based Sprint, which SoftBank acquired in 2013, has promised to create a superior network, offer competitive prices and provide better services, but its revival will likely take some time.
SoftBank owns a stake in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding as well as Yahoo Japan.
The first to offer the iPhone in Japan, it sells the Pepper companion robot and has recently entered the solar power business.
- Nokia reports loss, warns about further decline
Nokia reported Tuesday a first-quarter net loss of 513 million euros ($584 million) due to lower demand in mobile networks as well as the impact of its acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent, and warned of a further decline in earnings.
In the company’s first earnings report since the 15.6-billion-euro acquisition, Nokia said the loss compared with a profit of 177 million euros a year earlier.
Net sales were 5.5 billion euros, compared with the 2.9 billion euros it reported a year earlier. Combined net sales in the period in 2015 would have come in at 6.1 billion euros, Nokia said.
CEO Rajeev Suri described the revenue decline as disappointing and said the climate remained “challenging” in mobile networks. He warned of further cuts and layoffs as the company searched for savings with the merger. He did not give figures but said that layoffs had begun globally, including in the United States.
Nokia’s share price fell 2 percent to 4.90 euros in early morning trading in Helsinki.
Hannu Rauhala, senior analyst at Inderes, an independent equity research company, said the result was much as expected.
- Warner Music reports surge in streaming revenue
In a further sign that the download era is waning, Warner Music Group says it made more money from streaming platforms than any other single source of recorded music revenue in the latest quarter.
Warner claims it is the first of the three majors to hit the milestone. But the others are sure to follow.
Last month, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry said streaming revenue globally grew 45 percent last year, while the number of subscribers who paid for services like Spotify and Apple Music leapt 66 percent to 68 million. Meanwhile, the IFPI said download revenue dropped 10.5 percent.
For Warner, streaming revenue grew 59 percent in the quarter through March, helping boost overall revenue by 10 percent to $745 million.