MediaFile

Tech wrap: Intel and Google launch Android partnership

Intel Corp and Google Inc launched a development partnership aimed at accelerating the chipmaker’s foray into smartphones. They will work together to optimize future versions of Google’s Android mobile software for Intel’s “Atom” processors, hoping to speed the development and time-to-market of future Intel-powered smartphones.

Microsoft Corp handed out sleek new tablet computers with a test version of Windows 8 at its annual developer conference, to spark excitement over its new operating system.

Cisco Systems Inc CEO John Chambers said he remained upbeat about technology spending by customers despite an uncertain economic outlook.

Dell Inc, the world’s second-largest computer maker, is cautiously optimistic that its strong performance in Europe and Asia will continue, but is concerned about U.S. government spending, an executive said.

The forecasts will be key for BlackBerry maker Research In Motion this quarter, as investors grope for hints that the company’s long downturn is coming to an end.

Tech wrap: Google fined over drug ads

Google has agreed to pay $500 million to settle a probe into ads it accepted for online Canadian pharmacies selling drugs in the United States, the U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday. The forfeiture is one of the largest ever in the United States, according to the DOJ. It represents Google’s revenue from Canadian pharmacy advertisements to U.S. customers through Google’s AdWords program and Canadian pharmacies’ revenue from U.S. sales.

Apple won another battle in the mobile tech patent wars on Wednesday when a Dutch court ruled that Samsung Electronics must stop marketing three of its smartphone models in some European countries. Apple, which has conquered the high end of the phone market with its iPhone, argued that Samsung had infringed on three of its patents. The court ruled that Samsung smartphones Galaxy S, S II and Ace breached just one of Apple’s patents.

BlackBerry users tired of the narrow selection of apps available to them should welcome news that models expected next year will be able to run apps designed for Google’s Android mobile platform. According to a Bloomberg report, which cites three unnamed sources, Research in Motion plans to make its forthcoming BlackBerry models Android-compatible in an attempt to boost sales of its smartphone models and win back consumers. The Android Market currently offers more than 250,000 apps, nearly six times as many as RIM’s own app store, the article notes.

Tech wrap: HP spinning off PC division

Hewlett-Packard is close to a deal to buy software company Autonomy for $10 billion and will announce a long-rumored spinoff of its PC division.

Autonomy, which counts Procter & Gamble among a long list of major corporate customers that use its software to search and organize unstructured data like emails, confirmed it was in talks with HP.

Google+, which has picked up more than 25 million users since launching in June, is headed down the right path and is the first serious challenge to Facebook’s dominance.

Tech wrap: A trillion-dollar Apple?

Apple Inc briefly edged past Exxon Mobil Corp to become the most valuable company in the United States. Looking ahead, Beakingviews columnist Robert Cyran asks: Could Apple be the first $1 trillion company?

Three initial public offerings were postponed on Tuesday, the latest casualties of volatile market conditions. Nearly half of the dozen IPOs planned this week have now been called off and Fortune.com’s Dan Primack says it “wouldn’t be surprising if none of them get out.” Primack added that Boston-based Carbonite is the best bet to stay the course: “A source familiar with the offering puts its chances of pricing this week at around 70 percent, so long as we don’t experience another major swoon.”

AOL reported a surprise second-quarter loss, citing weaker-than-expected advertising growth. The news sent shares of the company plummeting as much as 20 percent.

Please — let’s not call these the ‘BlackBerry riots’

Here we go again: Young people, rioting in the streets, railing against leadership, using their mobile phones to outsmart law enforcement caught off guard by the nimbleness of cool kids in what would be a B-movie script if it wasn’t unfolding in real time.

But this time it isn’t happening in some far off, ambiguously backward Middle Eastern place. No, this is happening in the homeland of Sir Thomas Moore, Winston Churchill and Kate Middleton.

And, for a pleasant change, the technology being blamed/credited for fueling the fire is neither Facebook nor Twitter, but BlackBerry Message Service — one of the oldest means of mobile-to-mobile text communication, better known among aficionados simply as BBM.

Tech wrap: Netflix sees subscriber slowdown

Netflix says it’s expecting its subscriber growth in the United States to slow in the coming quarter. The warning to investors came as the popular video rental company also reported second-quarter revenue that missed Wall Street expectations. The double-shot of bad news sent the company’s shares down about 9 percent in late trading.

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion delivered on a promise it made last month to pare back its global workforce  . . . and then some. The Canadian company announced it is laying off 2,000 staffers – or 11 percent of its workforce – in an effort to cut costs and offset sales declines in the mobile market, which is increasingly dominated by Apple and Google. Analysts are split on whether the cost cuts will do much to help the firm regain a competitive position. “The problem is you can’t cut your way into growth or market leadership, and while I’m sure there was fat at RIM, the core problem sits squarely with management,” Ed Snyder from Charter Equity Research told Reuters. Another analyst, however, argued that the cuts were a necessary step for RIM as it adjusts to a “new growth, or sales, reality.”

In addition, RIM announced a number of changes to the roles and responsibilities of some of its senior managers. Most notably, the company said one of its three chief operating officers, Don Morrison, is retiring and that his responsibilities would fall to the remaining two, Thorsten Heins and Jim Rowan. As AllThingsD points out, though, the changes fail to address shareholder concerns that the real shakeup needed is at the very top with Mike Lazardis and Jim Balsille, who share CEO and chairmen duties.

Tech wrap: Apple’s valuation flirts with Exxon’s

Apple shares neared a record $400, a day after the world’s most valuable technology company posted blockbuster results and triggered a spate of brokerage upgrades. Apple’s climb brought the maker of the iPhone and iPad within shouting distance of Exxon Mobil’s market value of more than $400 billion despite the oil and gas producer raking in more than four times Apple’s annual revenue.

“We expect Apple will become the largest market cap company on the planet when the stock hits approximately $445, which is only about 13 percent away from aftermarket levels,” said Gleacher & Co analyst Brian Marshall, based on the assumption that Exxon shares remain flat. Apple shares rose to a high of $405 in after-hours trading on Tuesday.

Intel posted second-quarter revenue above expectations, defying investors’ concerns about slowing personal computer sales. Intel’s revenue in the June quarter was $13.1 billion, up 22 percent over the year-ago period and  above the $12.83 billion expected by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Tech wrap: Government bringing knife to cyber gun fight?

A recent wave of computer network attacks has boosted concerns about U.S. vulnerability to digital warfare. The Obama administration is racing on multiple fronts to plug the holes in the U.S. cyber defense, focusing on an expanded effort to safeguard its contractors from hackers and building a virtual firing range in cyberspace to test new technologies.

However, the overall gap appears to be widening, as adversaries and criminals move faster than the government and corporations can respond, officials and analysts say.

Microsoft has made available a Windows 7-compatible test version of the software behind its hit Kinect motion-sensing game device, in the hope that developers will invent a host of “hands-free” features for standard PCs.

Tech wrap: Apple’s iCloud on the horizon

Apple will pay between $100 million and $150 million to the four major music labels in order to get its music streaming service iCloud started, according to the New York Post.

Besides increasing the consumer appeal of future Apple gadgets because they’ll need less computer memory, the company’s iCloud service will make it more likely that subscribers will stick with Apple products, Robert Cyran writes. If users store data and programs remotely, devices blend together, Cyran argues.

Together with colleagues and analysts, I’ll be covering Steve Jobs’s keynote speech at Apple’s WWDC live on Monday at 10:00 a.m. PT (1:00 p.m. ET). Chime in at: http://live.reuters.com/Event/Apples_2011_WWDC_Keynote_Speech

Tech wrap: RIM’s Playbook recall

Research in Motion shares neared a two-year low after the BlackBerry maker said it has recalled about 1,000 of its Playbook tablets due to an operating system bug. Most of the devices affected remain in the distribution channel and haven’t yet been sold to customers, the Canadian company said in a statement posted on CrackBerry.com.

RIM said it will replace faulty tablets and prompted customers who had received one to contact the company for help. Engadget, the technology blog that first broke the news over the weekend, has compiled a spreadsheet of the 935 alleged serial numbers affected by the recall.

Sony began restoring access to its PlayStation Network games service over the weekend, nearly a month after it was shut down due to a massive security breach that exposed personal details of 100 million users. The Japanese electronics and entertainment company apologized to customers for the service disruption and said it had implemented a new early warning system that would help prevent similar attacks in the future. Sony will phase in service on a country by country basis with the aim of having the process completed by May 31.