MediaFile

Tech wrap: Microsoft allowed looks at Yahoo’s books

Microsoft has signed a confidentiality agreement with Yahoo, allowing the software giant to take a closer look at Yahoo’s business, according to a source familiar with the matter. Microsoft joins several private equity firms that are also poring over Yahoo’s books and operations, as they explore various options for striking a deal with the struggling Internet company. Microsoft’s signing of a nondisclosure agreement with Yahoo occurred “recently,” according to the source.

Shares of Groupon fell for a third day , sinking below the company’s initial public offering price of $20 less than three weeks after the daily deal company went public. Groupon raised more than $700 million in an IPO in early November, making it the biggest IPO by a U.S. Internet company since Google raised $1.7 billion in 2004. Analysts have cited concerns about increased competition, a greater availability of the company’s stock for short-selling, and a sharp reversal of market sentiment that is taking down more speculative companies. Groupon shares ended the day down 15.5 percent at $16.96.

Big-Box retailer Best Buy has no regrets about stocking Research In Motion’s PlayBook tablet, despite the product’s poor reception and subsequent sharp discounting. RIM says it has shipped 700,000 PlayBooks since its launch, a figure dwarfed by the millions of iPads Apple sells each quarter. “When a product is less successful, you do what you need to do, and you move to the next thing,” Best Buy’s president for the Americas, Mike Vitelli, told Reuters. “That kind of quick reaction by the suppliers, whether it is BlackBerry or HP with their product, I actually think that is good for consumers too,” Vitelli said.

Nokia Siemens Networks, the world’s second-largest maker of mobile phone network equipment, is axing 17,000 jobs, nearly a quarter of its workforce, to help save about 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion) a year. NSN, which has struggled to make a profit since being set up in 2007, did not say where it would make the cuts, part of wider changes that analysts said looked aimed at gearing up the company for an initial public offering.

Google said on Tuesday that it was pulling the plug on seven projects, including Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal as well as a Wikipedia-like online encyclopedia service known as Knol. The plans, which Google announced on its corporate blog, represent the third so-called “spring cleaning” announcement that Google has made since Google co-founder Page took the reins in April.

Tech wrap: HP TouchPad’s second coming?

In an interview with Reuters, the head of HP’s PC business Todd Bradley gave the throngs of people who lined up outside stores to snap up discontinued and deeply discounted TouchPads hope that the company wouldn’t abandon them, saying the tablet could be resurrected. This, as the TouchPad was on track to become the second-best selling tablet of all time behind Apple’s iPad.

GigaOm’s Ryan Kim says HP’s revelation muddies the waters, making the biggest maker of PCs in the world seem indecisive, which hurts it’s stock price.

There are lessons to take away from HP’s TouchPad firesale, argues Jon Collins of The Register. Chief among them is that there’s a massive pent-up demand for tablets from any manufacturer at the expense low-end PC and netbook sales.

Tech wrap: HP’s TouchPad sell-off

Hewlett-Packard has finally discovered the magic price point for its TouchPad tablet: $99. The tech giant announced the new low price for the 16 GB model of the recently discontinued device over the weekend, also dropping the price for its 32 GB version to $149. Retailers such as Best Buy, Staples and Walmart followed HP’s lead by offering TouchPad fire sales of their own.

The response: overwhelming. According to PC World, many retailers had sold out of the devices by mid-day on Saturday. By Monday morning, the TouchPad had climbed to the No.1 spot on the Amazon best-seller list for electronics. Expect the selling frenzy to continue this week: HP said on Monday it intends to deliver more of the tablets until the supply runs out. HP originally launched the smaller model with a $500 price tag, but reduced it to $400 soon after its July 1 release in an attempt to spur demand.

Separately, HP launched a new desktop on Monday, days after the technology company revealed that it might spin off the world’s largest PC business — part of a wrenching series of moves away from the consumer market, including killing the TouchPad. HP billed the new computer — the HP Compaq 8200 Elite All-in-One Business Desktop — as the “first all-in-one PC” aimed at corporate and public sector customers.

HP’s TouchPad tablet: The reviews

Hewlett-Packard’s decision to enlist funnyman Russell Brand to promote its new TouchPad tablet in a series of online videos seems to have been the right one. People love the ads. Whether consumers will warm to the device itself remains to be seen, though.

HP pitches the TouchPad as a workhorse that’s a boon to productivity and a marvel of multitasking, but which can also hold its own as an entertainment device. The Wi-Fi enabled tablet, which hit U.S. shelves on July 1 (at $500 for 16 GB model, $600 for 32 GB), is up against some serious competition from Apple’s standard-bearing iPad models and a stable of well-regarded Android alternatives.

HP is smart to trumpet the TouchPad’s ability to play Web video and multimedia formats such as Adobe Flash, which Apple has refused to support on its devices despite demands from its own customers. But reviews of the 9.7-inch tablet, which runs on Palm’s webOS mobile software, could so far be characterized as tepid at best. Overall, they seem to suggest that while HP should be praised for some of the TouchPad’s features, it falls short on too many other crucial elements. Here’s a sampling of what’s been said so far:

Tech wrap: Myspace sale saga nears end

An investor group involving Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is in final talks to take a controlling stake in News Corp’s social network site Myspace, according to a source familiar with the matter. Kotick’s involvement is personal and nothing to do with Activision at this stage, the source said.

News Corp, which paid $580 million for Myspace in 2005, had hoped to do a deal valuing Myspace at about $100 million, but sources said it was unlikely to achieve that target.

Major U.S. banks came under growing pressure from banking regulators to improve the security of customer account information after Citigroup became the latest high-profile victim of a large-scale cyber attack. While Citigroup insisted the breach had been limited, experts called it the largest direct attack on a major U.S. financial institution, and forecast it could drive momentum for a systemic overhaul of the banking industry’s data security measures.