Tech Check


  Tuesday, 1 Apr 2008 | 2:52 AM ET

Microsoft Sees No Reason to Raise Yahoo Bid

Posted By: Reuters

Microsoft sees no reason to increase its bid for Yahoo, two months after it made a $44.6 billion offer to buy the Internet company, people familiar with Microsoft's plans said on Monday.

"Why would Microsoft bid against themselves? The company sees no reason to bid against itself," one of the people said. The people requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on behalf of the company.

A Yahoo spokeswoman declined to comment. Microsoft and Yahoo executives have met once to discuss a potential merger since Microsoft made its $31-a-share for Yahoo on Jan. 31, other sources told Reuters earlier.

Although some technology blogs have speculated that Microsoft is planning to raise its bid, one person familiar with the company's plans said Microsoft does not feel the need to pay more because no viable strategic alternatives have emerged.

Since Microsoft's offer, Yahoo has held talks with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and Time Warner's AOL division, sources told Reuters earlier.

Microsoft also feels comfortable biding its time because a recent roadshow by top Yahoo executives, intended to shore up support among U.S. institutional investors and prove the bid was too low, was "underwhelming," one of these people said.

Yahoo rejected Microsoft's offer, currently valued at about $42 billion, in February, saying it "substantially undervalues" the company.

Shares of Yahoo closed Monday's session down 0.2 percent at $28.93 on the Nasdaq, while Microsoft shares closed up 1.6 percent at $28.38.

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  Monday, 31 Mar 2008 | 1:16 PM ET

Take-Two Directors Get Nod from ISS

Posted By: Reuters

U.S. proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services has recommended that shareholders of video game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software re-elect all eight board directors at an upcoming shareholder meeting.

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  Monday, 31 Mar 2008 | 12:07 PM ET

Wireless Is Tech's "Best" Sector--Here's Why

Posted By: Jim Goldman

Rested, relaxed, and now raring to go. Two back-to-back weeks off is a rare treat in this business and we made the most of our time off, but talk about jumping back into the swing of things with a vengeance!

I'm in the office for a couple of hours today, and then getting right back on a plane to attend the big CTIA Wireless expo in Las Vegas, and this show promises to be a tech investor's candy store.

Wireless continues to be tech's most promising sector with so many of the key players beaten down by momentum players turning a blind eye toward the innovation and product releases by some of the biggest companies. Since I've been away, Research in Motion has seen a renaissance of sorts, trading above $116 this morning ahead of the company's earnings news scheduled for this Wednesday, and the report will be absolutely key. Analysts continue to call RIM the best story in tech.

The Street is looking for 74 cents on $1.86 billion, but the company's own guidance of 80 to 82 cents and whispers far ahead of that, could send this stock soaring. Of course, beyond the regular numbers, the Street always pays attention to hardware sales and subscription numbers, with some analysts anticipating as many as 2.5 million new BlackBerry users, though many are hovering around 2 million.

At the same time, there's bullish sentiment surrounding Verizon and AT&T , as well as Nokiaand Apple . In fact, Charter Equity says a big Nokia contract with Verizon should drive shares in both companies. In fact, the firm says Nokia's new 1XRTT phones could increase its share from 1 percent of the 33 million phones Verizon sells to a staggering 10 percent by year end. The big growth, the firm says, will come at the expense of Motorola which is more bad news for a company that can ill afford it. At the same time, several analysts say Nokia's new partnership with AT&T could double the number of Nokia phones that AT&T offers. All of this spells big problems for Qualcomm and potentially very good news for Broadcom .

Further, the debate continues to rage over just how successful Apple's iPhone is, and will be by year's end. Despite repeated calls by the company that Apple will meet its stated goal of 10 million units sold this year, there's a healthy amount of skepticism that it won't happen. But weeks ahead of Apple's own earnings report, I'm hearing rumblings that the company's move to 3G versions of the phone as early as May could help the company exceed its stated sales goals, not miss them. And while Apple doesn't attend CTIA, you can bet that iPhone--how to compete with it, how to partner with it--will be a big theme at the show.

So keep it tuned to CNBC and also this blog: I'll be sitting down with Microsoft'sRobbie Bach, Virgin Mobile's Richard Branson and I'll post the highlights here. Also, there seems to be a big push toward WiMax enabled phones and that could be a huge and surprising boost to Intel, a company that abandoned the mobile phone market just a few years ago. This is one of the key themes we'll examine on Tuesday. This should be a good show, and it comes at a good time for the industry. It'll be interesting to see how investors react to what should be a flood of wireless headlines coming from Vegas this week. Running to catch my flight. Very good to be back.

Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.com

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  Thursday, 27 Mar 2008 | 3:21 PM ET

Comcast and BitTorrent: Enemies Become "Net-Neutral" Friends

Posted By: Julia Boorstin

Comcast, the cable giant, and file sharing web site BitTorrent, seem like natural enemies. The cable company wants to keep "broadband-hogging" BitTorrent from slowing down its system.

And BitTorrent wants its users to be able to use as much broadband as they need to get files through its system, super-fast. And the cable company and web company have been ad odds since Comcast said it blocked BitTorrent's traffic at peak times because Bit Torrent consumed so much of its broadband space, it was slowing internet speeds across its system.

But now, a monumental collaboration between the two. Comcast will no longer discriminate against specific applications like BitTorrent, which takes up half of Comcast's bandwidth. And the companies will work together to transport data efficiently, to improve consumer experience.

That means Bit Torrent is willing to change its software's structure so it doesn't take up quite so much space. One reason Comcast was biased against sites like BitTorrent was because they effectively cost them more by taking up so much bandwidth. BitTorrent's president tells me that by building a better network together, Comcast will be able to get a bigger bang for its buck.

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  Thursday, 27 Mar 2008 | 8:26 AM ET

Oracle Tumbles After Sales Outlook Letdown

Posted By: Reuters

Oracle shares fell sharply a day after the company posted disappointing quarterly software sales and said its customers had become more cautious, quashing the idea that the software sector would be immune to the economic turmoil that has roiled the rest of the tech sector.

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  Wednesday, 26 Mar 2008 | 4:11 PM ET

Oracle Earnings Rise but Software Sales Disappoint

Posted By: Reuters

Oracle reported a higher quarterly profit on Wednesday, but its 16 percent rise in new software sales was at the low end of expectations, and its shares fell steeply.

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  Wednesday, 26 Mar 2008 | 2:21 PM ET

Motorola Plans Break Up--But Is That Right Move?

Posted By: Julia Boorstin

Motorola announced today it's planning on splitting up into two publicly traded companies : spinning off its money-losing mobile device business from its growing broadband and mobility solutions business.

CEO Greg Brown said on a conference call this morning that having two independently traded companies would unlock value for shareholders. Motorola's stock is down nearly fifty percent over the past year, as Motorla sales have slid for four straight quarters. The company's Razr phone was a huge hit when it debuted back in 2004, defining a category of super lightweight phones. But now Motorola phones haven't been able to keep up with Apple's iPhones.

So what really prompted this move? Brown said the company evaluated this solution independently, but there's no question that pressure from activist Carl Icahn--the company's second largest shareholder--played a role.

After a dramatic drop of handset sales last year, Icahn bought up shares and waged a proxy battle for a seat on the board. This year Icahn has nominated four directors for the board, and this week sued the company for access to records on the handset business. The board offered Icahn two seats, which he nixed, so we'll see how many seats he walks away with after the shareholder meeting in May.

What does Wall Street think? The stock got a bit of relief today--up just over two percent last time I checked--mostly because investors are thrilled the company is making a change. But I'm hearing a lot of concerns that this isn't the right move, and could perhaps cause more problems for the company.

There's a lot of "wait and see." The company is looking to hire a CEO for the mobile devices unit and there's hope that new CEO could put the company on track. But the handset business is so challenging, Pacific Crest's James Faucette tells me he thinks this will cause more problems than it'll fix, pointing out that there's no successful model for a stand-alone company devoted to making handsets.

If the deal does go through, it'll be in 2009, as a tax-free distribution to Motorola shareholders. The next big milestone? The company's May 5th annual meeting.

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  Tuesday, 25 Mar 2008 | 1:10 PM ET

Television: Its Future Is You (And What You Want)

Posted By: Julia Boorstin
Future of Television
Future of Television

Forget about channel surfing--it's so passe. I'm at the Future of Television Conference at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, where content companies, tech giants, and startups are convening to figure out what television should and will look like tomorrow.

The digital future is increasingly crowded and all the players here want to make it easy to consume their content, delivering what you want, when you want it.

The head of IBM's Media and Entertainment division Steve Canepa made the opening keynote yesterday. His fast-growing divisions gives both strategy advise and tech solutions. Canepa tells me one big trend everyone's talking about is customization: tailoring products precisely to viewers also serves advertisers, because they can know their messages are being heard by the right people.

He says TV won't be about a passive process but it'll be more of a give and take between consumers and their gadgets--a dialog about what exactly they want, when, and even why.

The tech giants are in the spotlight here. Microsoft is showcasing its "Media Room" software, which it licenses to broadband service providers. Its focus is connectivity. Launched by Bill Gates at the Consumer Electronics show in January, it connects devices within the home, giving you access to your TV and DVR on virtually any gadget.

It also connects people by layering a social network element on top of your social network process. The head of this Microsoft TV division described it to me as connecting what was a previously isolating experience of watching TV (except the water cooler the next day).

And then there are the content creators: they're all trying to figure out how to monetize their products without cannibalizing revenues in as many ways as possible. More on that after I talk to some more of the studios later today.

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  Monday, 24 Mar 2008 | 4:49 PM ET

Google's New Ad Tool: What Exactly Does It Mean For Industry?

Posted By: Julia Boorstin

Online advertising is the fastest-growing segment of the ad industry. Standard offerings like TV commercial and print ads are all trying to keep advertisers interested, but it's online ads that are measurable, offering complete accountability.

And being the ad giant that it is, Google is constantly thinking of new ways to expand its already significant search marketshare. The latest strategy keeps websurfers on that Google search page longer --though it's not necessarily good for everybody.

While Google has traditionally allowed users to search for information and products by directing them to other sites, now Google allows users to search within sites including Washingtonpost.com and bestbuy.com, while staying on its own webpage. Google profits from that extra time on its site, and it says makes searches for information and products easier.

But some of those companies are protesting, saying that Google is not only potentially directing users away from their sites, luring them with ads from different companies, but it's stealing hits from their sites. Google Best Buy or Newyorktimes.com, and up pops up a window to extend that search on the Google platform. Try searching for Amazon, and it doesn't happen. Google says it does honor requests to drop the search-within-a-search approach.

Google isn't the only company trying new approach to snag more online ad dollars. Traditional media companies like Conde Nast, CBS , and Viacom have been building their own ad networks--selling inventory to sites other than their own--to offer advertisers deeper inventory on a single topic like style (Conde Nast) or music (Viacom's MTV). And today Forbes is expected to announce that it's launching an ad network for financial sites--selling ads on some 400 blogs.

Traditional media companies are looking to compete online, and when their own content isn't sufficient to satisfy advertisers needs, they'll look elsewhere. And don't forget, advertisers like the fact that they can trust a company like Forbes to find appropriate content, and to place the ads in the same savvy way they do on their sites.

Can these old school media companies newfangled online ad networks work? Well, they do have big competition in the behemoths Google, Microsoft and Yahoo . But if you're selling online ad space, more is always better.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  Thursday, 20 Mar 2008 | 11:17 AM ET

Camcorder Brings Zen to the Shoot

Posted By: David Pogue

Well, this is a little embarrassing. One of the most significant electronics products of the year slipped into the market, became a mega-hit, changed its industry — and I haven’t reviewed it yet.

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