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Tech wrap: Is Ray Lane HP’s agent of change?

November 18, 2011

When Ray Lane took over as chairman of Hewlett-Packard Co a year ago, little did he know that he would soon be presiding over another ugly CEO transition and drawing withering criticism for what investors and analysts viewed as incompetence on the part of the HP board. Now, as executive chairman, the respected Silicon Valley veteran and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers venture capitalist has his reputation on the line as he tries to get the iconic computer maker back on track.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Clearwire may decide to skip on a big, looming debt payment. The company can afford to make the payment, but it also needs to raise lots of money to stay in business after the next 12 months. Thus it’s debating the unusual step of failing to make a payment. Investors did not take kindly to the news, sending the stock down 30 percent.

Teardown experts at IHS iSuppli found it costs Amazon $201.70 to build the new Kindle Fire, less than $3 above the $199 retail price. Computerworld reports that many analysts expected Amazon to take a much larger loss on the device, if only to compete against other tablets such as the iPad 2, which has a starting price of $499 or the Nook Tablet at $249. Amazon is expected to make up the loss with products and apps sold through the device.

Logitech, which lost tens of millions of dollars building set-top boxes for Google TV, would back the project again, but would be much more cautious, its chief executive said. Guerrino de Luca told Reuters that set-top boxes for Google TV, coupled with a failed revamp of European retail operations, in total cost the company around $100 million.

Federal investigators are looking into a report that hackers managed to remotely shut down a utility’s water pump in central Illinois last week, in what could be the first known foreign cyber attack on an industrial system on U.S. soil.

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