Tech Biz Recap: Apple’s Smartphone Belt, Googles Purchases

In spite of Larry Page’s interest in focusing on a smaller number of projects, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) spent nearly $2B on 79 acquisitions in 2011, according to its 10-K. That figure is up sharply from the ~$1B Google spent on 48 acquisitions in 2010. The largest of the 2011 deals was Google’s controversial $676M purchase of travel information provider ITA Software. Its $12.5B purchase of MMIis still pending.

Don’t Miss: Google Spent $2 Billion in Acquisitions in 2011.

Riverbed (NASDAQ:RVBD) crashes for the second time in 6 months, after investors fail to be appeased by the company’s excuse for its weak Q1 guidance – “product transition” issues related to next-gen hardware for its flagship Steelhead appliance line. A 120 bps Q/Q decline in Riverbed’s gross margin in Q4, partly blamed on higher hard drive prices, also isn’t going over well.

A software suite announced this week by VMware (NYSE:VMW) represents a challenge to old-guard systems management software firms such as IBM, H-P (NYSE:HPQ), CA, and BMC Software (NASDAQ:BMC). VMware’s solution is tailored to the needs of virtualization environments, and combines many previously disparate functions into one product. Microsoft has its own ambitions for boosting its systems management presence.

Investing Insights: Leaked: Facebook Revenue and Operating Profit.

A SEC filing reveals that Monster Worldwide (NYSE:MWW) CEO Salvatore Iannuzzi is a buyer of shares on the heels of yesterday’s weakness.

Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone is the new smartphone champ for Q4, according to separate reports from Strategy Analyticsand IHS iSuppli, delivering 37M vs. Samsung’s (SSNLF.PK) 36.5M; Samsung was the top vendor for the full year, edging Apple and well ahead of 2010 leader Nokia (NYSE:NOK). Q4 smartphone sales rose 54% Y/Y.

The ASP for 10-gigabit Ethernet switches fell 53% in 2011, according to research firm Dell’Oro, and that’s contributed to a surge in demand. Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), estimated to have 76% of the 10-gig market, is hoping this demand offsets the weak sales and price competition it’s seeing for less powerful switches. ChipmakersBRCM and MRVL are also hoping the 10-gig market gives them a lift.

Companies taking a hit from pension contributions is a major theme this earnings season. AT&T (NYSE:T) contributed $1B to its pension plan in Q4 and took a $6.3B charge in 2011 related to re-measuring its pension and post-retirement benefits. Verizon (NYSE:VZ) reported similar issues. The moves highlight the downside of shifting to accounting for their pension plans on a mark-to-market basis.

Don’t Miss: Apple Sits on the Throne of Smartphones.

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