Tech Business Weekly Recap: Amazon’s Controversial App, Microsoft’s Battle for TV

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is being probed by the EU for allegedly restricting competition in the e-book market.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) says Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZis blocking users from installing its Google Wallet payments app on the new Android-powered Galaxy Nexus line of smartphones. A joint venture between VZ, T, and T-Mobile called Isis will be a direct competitor to Google Wallet in the mobile payment space. It is due to be launched soon.

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DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) is introducing TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVOboxes that work with its satellite TV service more than 3 years after originally announcing plans to do so. TiVo investors are counting on increasing shipments to DirecTV and other pay-TV providers. This should help the company maintain its newfound subscriber growth.

EBAY (NASDAQ:EBAY) takes a PR hit when TechCrunch outs PayPal’s donations service as being too stingy with customers after shutting down the account of a charity trying to raise money to pay for holiday gifts for kids of financially-pressured parents. John Biggs still findsAmazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Google Check-Out (NASDAQ:GOOG) better options for firms looking to collect money online despite acknowledging the rampant attempts at fraud with which PayPal has to contend.

Investing Insights: Can Microsoft Win Television?

Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) makes comments about rebounding market demand during FQ1 CC, and IDC backs them up with estimates the Ethernet switch market grew 10.9% Q/Q and 6.1% Y/Y in Q3, thanks to a 27.8% Y/Y increase in Asia-Pac sales. Cisco’s share of the market is estimated to have risen 270 bps Q/Q, to 66.5%. The company was hit hard in the first half of the year by competition and price pressure.

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is launching a promotion, starting Saturday, in which consumers will receive up to a $5 discount on Amazon merchandise if they compare prices at a store using its Price Check app, available for iOS and Android. As Tricia Duryee observes, the promotion is not only useful for boosting sales, but for letting Amazon’s customers provide it with a large amount of price data about competing retailers.

Qihoo 360 Technology (NYSE:QIHU) gains after releasing an official statement to address recent allegations against the company by Citron Research. QIHU says the Citron report contains many errors of fact and speculations that mislead and asserts that it has a “very unique business model” which is not comparable to the business models of other companies in China or globally.

Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO) trades higher after its Rockstar Games subsidiary announces Grand Theft Auto III. The 10th Anniversary edition will be available on the iPhone 4/4S, iPad, and high-end Android devices next week for $5. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, released for iOS last year (but not Android), has been well-received.

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Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) sets December 20 as a target date for its spinoff of TripAdvisor to shareholders. Expedia will implement a one-for-two reverse stock split of its own shares, as part of the transaction.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) plans to roll out a PC app store borrowing a page from Apple once again. Previously it was in tandem with the release of Windows 8. However, whereas the App Store and Android Market take a 30% cut of software sales, Microsoft will only take a 20% cut from developers generating over $25K/month. Digital River (NASDAQ:DRIV), which has handled a large chunk of Microsoft’s software downloads thus far, could play a role.

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Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) has hit another wall. A U.S. district court has granted a temporary injunction barring RIMM from calling its next-gen OS ”BBX.” The company has apparently responded by renaming the QNX-based software “BlackBerry 10.”

Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS), has seen strong Facebook uptake for The Sims Social. It is working on a Facebook title for its SimCity franchise, suppposedly. A move like this would put EA in direct competition with Zynga’s (ZNGA) CityVille, which still claims over 49M monthly users more than a year after its release.

Investing Insights: Verizon to Launch Streaming Service to Rival Netflix.

AT&T (NYSE:T) claims it sold 6M smartphones in the first 2 months of seasonally strong Q4. This was more than the 4.8M sold in all of Q3. It is also near its quarterly record of 6.1M. The news is a positive for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), given the iPhone’s dominant share of AT&T’s smartphone sales.

Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) rallies after the House passes a bill allowing its videos to be shared through social networking sites. Meanwhile, Reed Hastings’ lively comments at a UBS conference have left some in shock. Hastings said he was previously convinced Netflix shares would soon reach $1,000, and compared his company’s content-purchasing moves to the “Moneyball” tactics of the Oakland A’s.

Yandex (NASDAQ:YNDX) shares burst after the Russian internet search provider announced the integration of its music service with Facebook. The new system will display the names of tracks to which a Yandex.Muzika user is listening on the Facebook news feed displayed to friends.

RF Micro Devices (NASDAQ:RFMD), which is down in spite of positive comments from Sterne Agee are likely being affected by HTC’s weak November sales, which are likely adding to the selloff in supplier. While noting recent concerns about pricing, customer weakness, and share losses to SWKS, the firm thinks a RF Micro will get a boost from its partnerships with Samsung and QCOM. Rival TQNT is up, perhaps due to iPhone optimism.

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Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) owns 40% of Alibaba, but Alibaba is reportedly looking for up to $4B in debt financing to buy back the piece of the company owned Yahoo.Yahoo’s stake is worth at least $9B.

Verizon (NYSE:VZ) Coinstar’s (NASDAQ:CSTR) Redbox, have a Netflix-like (NASDAQ:NFLX) online video service, and that is reportedly working on will be launched in May in partnership with claims TechCrunch. Internally called Project Zoetrope, the service will feature both streaming and downloading, and will support a variety of devices. Unlike Netflix, subscription pricing will be based on “credits” rather than all-you-can-eat usage.

Investing Insights: Best Buy Co. Inc. Third Quarter Earnings Sneak Peek.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) says it is compliant with India’s tax rules. The statement was released in response to a local report that cited India’s income tax department as saying the company has not offered its entire income for taxation. Google India was served a tax assessment order this week, accusing it of admitting revenue of 749M rupees ($14.6M) instead of the “correct” 1.67B rupees for 2008-09.

Nokia (NYSE:NOK), already believed to be in talks with AT&T (NYSE:T) to sell its Lumia Windows Phones, will sell its mid-range Lumia 710 model through T-Mobile. With Nokia currently accounting for just a miniscule share of U.S. smartphone sales, the company’s standing in the country has nowhere to go but up.

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Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) dives after increasing the size of a recently-announced stock offering. An additional $50M in shares will be sold to the public. Sprint (NYSE:S), courtesy of its pro rata preemptive rights will purchase nearly as much. Moreover, Clearwire is pricing its offering, which now totals almost $700M, at $2/share, below yesterday’s close of $2.28.

Samsung (SSNLF.PK) as expected, was shot down by a French court in an attempt by to obtain an injunction banning iPhone 4S sales within the country. An Italian court will hold a second hearing next week on a similar ban attempt. According to Florian Mueller, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung are now engaged in more than 30 lawsuits in a minimum of 12 courts and in at least 9 countries on 4 continents.

Nintendo (NTDOY.PK) denies a Wired report that Shigeru Miyamoto, one of the world’s most influential games designers, will reduce his role at the company. A move such as this by Miyamoto, who created Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda, would be a hard pill to swallow following the flop of Nintendo’s 3DS device.

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Zynga (ZNGA) has received enough orders to cover the 100M shares it’s selling in its IPO, reports Bloomberg. IPO advisor Lise Buyer says warns it’s too early to draw conclusions but Zynga’s “off to a promising start”.

Samsung (SSNLF.PK) wins the Australian round of its global patent battle with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). However, this is after the country’s High Court lifts a ban on selling the Galaxy tablet, with the decision coming just in time for Christmas. A French court rejected Samsung’s bid to block sales of the iPhone 4S in France yesterday.

Investing Insights: Fortune’s 10 Best Stocks for 2012: Better than Last Year’s Picks?

Panasonic (NYSE:PC) announces a plan to expand its smartphone business into the European market. Set to start in March 2012, the firm states a goal of delivering 9M overseas smartphone sales in FY16, using Europe as a launching pad.

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) reports, WSJ, will jump back into the U.S. cellular market next week with an announcement that T-Mobile (DTEGY.PK) will carry Nokia’s Lumia 710 smartphone running Windows Phone 7 (NASDAQ:MSFT) software, confirming an earlier report. Research in Motion’s issues have provided a window of opportunity for NOK, but the launch likely will be dubbed a failure if early sales are slow.

Pandora (NYSE:P) shares trade lower in advance of the expiration on Monday of a big lock-up of 144M shares. For the first time, insiders and other locked-up Pandora owners will be eligible to sell.

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