Tech wrap: Wikipedia, Google protest anti-piracy bill
The English homepage of Wikipedia went dark and Google’s search page ran the logo “Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the web!” in protest of legislation designed to stop copyright piracy but the free online encyclopedia says “could fatally damage the free and open Internet.” Big tech names including Facebook and Twitter declined to participate in protests of the House of Representatives’ Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate’s PROTECT Intellectual Property Act, despite their opposition to the legislation, unwilling to sacrifice a day’s worth of revenue and risk the ire of users.
European regulators will decide around the end of March whether to file a formal complaint against Google for misuse of its market position, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told Reuters. Until this point officials had been playing down expectations of an early conclusion to the informal investigation stage, although there still could be a long way to go. Antitrust investigations typically take several years.
EBay’s fourth-quarter profit jumped as the e-commerce company saw solid growth in its online marketplaces and an increase in transactions processed through its PayPal electronic payments business. The operator of the world’s largest online marketplace reported fourth-quarter net income of $2 billion, or $1.51 a share, compared with $559 million, or 42 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 35 percent to $3.38 billion.
Suspicion is growing that operatives in China, rather than India, were behind the hacking of emails of an official U.S. commission that monitors relations between the United States and China, U.S. officials said. U.S. officials who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said the roundabout way the commission’s emails were obtained strongly suggests the intrusion originated in China, possibly by amateurs, and not from India’s spy service, as previously thought.
Cellphone makers are set to struggle with slow sales growth this year as a weaker global economy discourages consumers from replacing older handsets. Fourth-quarter results are likely to show the slowdown under way. Apple’s long-awaited iPhone 4S and Samsung’s new, broad offering were likely the exceptions in an otherwise lackluster Christmas holiday season. Vendors are expected to report sales of around 142 million smartphones in the October-December quarter, up 42 percent from a year ago, according to a Reuters poll. But analysts said not everyone benefited. “We expect smartphone demand to have remained robust in the fourth quarter, but price erosion is intensifying. Profitability remains the crucial yardstick and it’s likely Apple and Samsung extended their lead,” said CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber.
Zynga said it bought four small mobile game companies for an undisclosed sum as the top maker of Facebook games seeks to expand its lineup on smartphones and tablets. The company’s top mobile executive David Ko told Reuters it had acquired German company Gamedoctors in December. Gamedoctors, based in Bielefeld near Hanover, makes the game ZombieSmash. The company also bought Page44 Studios, which is based in San Francisco, in September. That studio created the “World of Goo” game for Apple’s iOS platform. Zynga also acquired HipLogic, another San Francisco-based games company, in August. And Ko also confirmed Zynga purchased New York based Astro Ape Studios in August to develop new titles.