Tech wrap: Sony suffers as TV picture dims

November 2, 2011

Sony warned of a fourth straight year of losses, with its television unit alone set to lose $2.2 billion on tumbling demand and a surging yen, sinking its U.S. shares and raising concerns about the viability of its high-profile TV business. Investors had expected Sony to reduce its profit forecast, but not flag a swing to massive losses.

The maker of Bravia TVs, Vaio computers and PlayStation game consoles cut its sales forecast for TVs, cameras and DVD players and said it may report a 90 billion yen ($1.1 billion) net loss for the current financial year, scrapping its earlier net profit estimate of 60 billion yen.Sony’s U.S. listed shares closed down nearly 6 percent.

A small Spanish tablet maker won a patent infringement battle with Apple in a rare victory against the tech giant in its global defense of markets for its iPads, a court document showed. Spain’s Nuevas Tecnologias y Energias Catala (NT-K) successfully appealed a 2010 injunction from a local court to ban the import of its tablet computer — manufactured in China — to Spain. NT-K, from the Valencia region of Spain, is demanding compensation from Apple for losses during the ban of its product and is suing the U.S. giant for alleged anticompetitive behavior.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be sent to Sweden from Britain to face questioning over alleged sex crimes, the British High Court ruled, rejecting his appeal against extradition. Assange now has two weeks to consider whether to make a final appeal to the Supreme Court. However, any recourse to Britain’s highest judicial body can only be made on a point of law considered by judges to be of general public interest, so permission to appeal must be obtained first from the High Court.

Google launched and then pulled a much-anticipated Gmail app for Apple iOS devices via Apple’s App Store. Initially launched to make access to Google’s email service faster and easier, the app was removed after it quickly became apparent that it wasn’t working, causing “users to see an error message when first opening the app,” Google said in a blog posting. No estimate was given for when the Gmail app would return to the App Store.

Yahoo unveiled a handful of products to try and bolster its mobile and social networking offerings, as the struggling Web company continues to evaluate its future. Among the new products unveiled were a multimedia newsstand for tablets dubbed Livestand, a weather application for Android mobile devices, and a new version of IntoNow, a social application related to television, for the iPad. Yahoo has long endured criticism for lacking a more comprehensive strategy for engaging Web users who are drifting away from PCs and spending more time on tablets and smartphones.

AOL’s third-quarter revenue dropped 6 percent because of its dwindling dial-up Internet access business though it beat analysts expectations and its stock rose more than 11 percent. “Investors have gotten used to disappointment from AOL especially in the forward outlook,” said Benchmark analyst Clayton Moran. “Mainly there are no negative surprises in this quarter… and the forward outlook seems to be more stable.” Prior to the rally, AOL shares were down more than 40 percent year to date.

Mobile gaming firm Rovio said its hit game Angry Birds had reached a record 500 million downloads in less than two years since its launch. “It’s more than any game ever before,” Rovio’s marketing chief Peter Vesterbacka told a conference in Helsinki. Unlike most mobile-game crazes, Angry Birds — in which players use a slingshot to attack pigs who steal the birds’ eggs — has stayed at the top of the charts since it was launched for Apple’s iPhone on Dec 11, 2009.

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