Tech wrap: Verizon feeds hunger for cable spectrum

December 2, 2011

Verizon Wireless plans to pay $3.6 billion for wireless airwaves from a venture of cable companies Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Comcast said that the deal represented a 64 percent premium over the $2.2 billion price the cable consortium paid in 2006 for the wireless spectrum being sold to Verizon Wireless.

U.S. Representative Edward Markey asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether software maker Carrier IQ violated millions of mobile phone users’ privacy rights. Carrier IQ makes software that companies including AT&T and Sprint install in mobile devices. It runs in the background, transmitting data that the software maker says its customer companies use to better understand their devices and networks.

Zynga, which plans to go public in two weeks, slashed its value by more than 30 percent to $9 billion, hoping to avoid the fate of other recent Internet IPOs that have disappointed after stock market debuts. Just two weeks ago a filing listed the Facebook game maker’s value, based on a third party assessment, at $14.05 billion. CEO Mark Pincus, a serial entrepreneur before he founded Zynga, will hold a class of shares with 70 times more voting power than the common stock that will be sold in the offering.

RIM booked a huge charge to write down inventories of its underwhelming PlayBook tablet, capping a dismal year with a steep profit warning that sent its shares tumbling. The company said it now no longer expects to meet its full-year earnings forecast, due to weak sales, the PlayBook writedown and a charge related to a damaging service outage in October. RIM’s U.S. traded shares ended the day down almost 10 percent.

Google won approval from U.S. antitrust regulators to buy online advertising company Admeld without any conditions, the Justice Department said.

Britain’s consumer watchdog said it is investigating Groupon UK after receiving complaints about how the daily-deal company was conducting its business. The Office of Fair Trading said it had been investigating Groupon UK, which offers daily deals on products from hotel stays to calendars, in secret since July.

Hard disk drive maker Western Digital, the worst hit by the Thai floods, could recover the market share it has lost to smaller rival Seagate Technology faster-than-anticipated, analysts said. Western Digital said it partly resumed production ahead of schedule and raised its outlook for the December quarter, prompting at least three brokerages to raise their price targets on the stock.

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