MediaFile

Tech wrap: Yahoo finds interclick, pays $270 million for it

CORRECTION: The original headline falsely stated that Yahoo will pay $240 million for interclick. The correct amount is $270 million.

Yahoo will pay $270 million for interclick as it tries to revive its ailing online advertising business, even as the search and advertising giant continues to scout for potential bidders. Yahoo is paying $9 per share, or about a 22 percent premium, for the online advertising technology firm. “It’s not a transformational acquisition, but it helps Yahoo in a market they are not strong in … they have to take some steps to keep pushing forward,” BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis said. Among the parties interested in Yahoo are private equity firms Silver Lake, TPG Capital, Bain Capital, Blackstone, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Providence Equity Partners, Hellman & Friedman, Carlyle Group, and Russian technology investment firm DST Global, apart from rivals Microsoft and Google.

Olympus named six men, including a former Japanese supreme court justice, to investigate past M&A deals at the core of a scandal engulfing the endoscope and camera maker in a bid to stem an exodus of irate investors. None of the six have had any previous association with the company, an Olympus spokeswoman said. As yet, no deadline for the group to report its findings has been set, she added.

HP unveiled plans to develop extremely low-energy servers, partnering with companies such as chip designers ARM and AMD in a move that could threaten the dominance of Intel. The new servers will significantly reduce both power and space requirements, HP said. HP’s first Calxeda-based pilot server platforms will be available in the first half of next year, the company said, but did not reveal when HP expects to sell the production version. Explosive growth in data centers that drive the Internet is taking up increasing amounts of electricity and tech companies are looking for ways to make servers more efficient and trim their energy bills.

Britain and the U.S. rejected calls from China and Russia for greater Internet controls at the opening of a major cyberspace conference, but Western states faced accusations of double standards. While Western states worry about intellectual property theft and hacking, authoritarian governments are alarmed at the role the Internet and social media played in the protests that swept the Arab world this year. Around 60 countries, including China, Russia and India, are represented at the conference as well as tech industry figures such as Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, and senior executives from Facebook and Google.

Tech wrap: Sony CEO says sorry to gamers

Sony CEO Howard Stringer broke his silence on the biggest Internet security break-in ever, apologizing to users of the PlayStation Network and other online services. Stringer did not specify when services would resume.

One analyst said security concerns could weigh on sales of Sony’s gadgets and hurt growth prospects for its network services. “The network business itself still only makes a small direct contribution to earnings, but we see a potential drop in hardware sales as a concern,” analyst Kota Ezawa at Citigroup Global Markets Japan, wrote in a note ahead of the comments from Stringer.

But Peter Walshe at brands research agency Millward Brown said the main Sony brand should bounce back, although PlayStation specifically might suffer. “People may shout: ‘I’m never going to buy Sony again,’ but in our experience that doesn’t tend to happen.”

CES: HP demos Android smartbook

qualcommThe nascent smartbook market got a big nudge forward on Friday, courtesy of Hewlett-Packard, the world’s biggest personal computer maker.

Todd Bradley, executive vice president of HP’s PC division, turned up on stage at the Consumer Electronics Show during a keynote address by Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs to demo a device based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip and running Google’s mobile Android software.

There was no formal product unveiling, but HP showed off a smartbook with multitouch capability, and Bradley spoke with apparent interest on the  category, which is just beginning to build steam.

Netbooks, Goldilocks and Nvidia

Netbook makers say the small laptop computers are perfect for Goldilocks – not too big, not too small, just right. But Nvidia wonders if smaller Internet-connected smartbooks might make the netbooks line look like a fairy tale.

“I wonder if the netbook is not enough satisfaction for a PC, not enough battery life to be mobile? I kind of feel like the netbook is a ‘tweener’,” Chief Executive Jen-Hsun Huang said on Monday on the sidelines of a conference on the Stanford University campus, later adding that he thought netbooks would be replaced by “smartbooks.”

That would be great for Nvidia Corp, since it is making ARM-based chips for smartbooks while its rival Intel Corp’s Atom powers most netbooks. The bet on lower-power ARM chips is that consumers will privilege battery life over computing power.

Netbook name game

Netbook is a remarkably clear and memorable terrm as far as most computer industry jargon goes. Which is why, as with any hot product category, it’s hard for the computer industry to agree on exactly what it means.

Most people who started using the term over the last two years say it refers to a new class of tiny, low-cost, Web-connected computers.  That’s at least what Intel thought when it adopted netbook last year as a generic term.  

For this simple act of clarity, Intel must be punished. The ghost of Psion, the old handheld digital organizer maker, sued Intel for trademark infringement. It turned out Psion trademarked the term as far back as 1996 and sold a line of computers it called netBooks earlier this decade before discontinuing the line.