Tech Business Weekly Recap: Verizon Disrupts Telecom, Amazon and Apple’s Tablet Battle

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) reports Kindle sales increased 4X over last year’s Black Friday. However its e-readers are selling at a loss in order to gain content customers. ComScore confirms Amazon’s big day, saying Amazon.com tallied 50% more visitors than any other retailer’s website.

Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) MacBook Air is already the subject of multiple rumors. Given the Air’s huge success to this point, the release of a 15-inch model could contribute to an inventory overhang for ultrabook makers, who appear set to release a surplus of models as it is.

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SINA Corporation (NASDAQ:SINA) is off 3.5%. This is on a WSJ-China report that the firm could be the next target of Muddy Waters research. SINA CEO Charles Chao has served on the board of Focus Media (NASDAQ:FMCN), which was the focus of Muddy Waters in the past.

Russian search engine Yandex (NASDAQ:YNDX) increases its mobile offerings by acquiring privately held SPB Software. SPB is a software developer for smartphones and tablets with offices in Russia, Taiwan and Thailand.

Investing Inisghts: Hotel Tonight Disrupts Internet Travel Sector.

Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) is now down 41% from its post-IPO opening price of $28. Stocks are rallying although Groupon’s fall could give pause to Yelp, another big name in the local commerce space, as it prepares to go public.

Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) on Research In Motion’s (NASDAQ:RIMM) PlayBook; is BBY giving up? Many online buyers are reporting cancelled orders, and PlayBook listings on Best Buy’s web site have been pulled. The PlayBook has seen terrible sales this year, and the release of Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle Fire (also a 7-inch tablet) may prove to be it’s one archrival.

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Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is reportedly submitting a plan to take up to a 20% stake in Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO)according to a consortium led by P-E firm Silver Lake and Microsoft. TPG Capital is also eyeing a minority stake. Yahoo’s board is expected to meet this week or possibly even today, to discuss options.

Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) next iPhone will contain a 4-inch display: Japanese site Macotakara claims Hitachi (NYSE:HIT)and Sony (NYSE:SNE) have begun shipping a 4-inch LCDs for use in future iOS devices. Sales are soaring for Android phones with 4″+ displays, such as Samsung’s Galaxy S II. The Galaxy Nexus will soon join their ranks.

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AT&T’s (NYSE:T) efforts to acquire T-Mobile may fall through, but it could still be in good shape, argues Keving Fitchard. AT&T will still have a decent amount of spectrum, and its support for GSM standards will guarantee a solid device lineup. Meanwhile, deal opponent Sprint (NYSE:S) will continue facing tough low-end competition from T-Mobile, and PCS and LEAP will have missed out on a chance to expand through AT&T’s asset sales.

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) unveils its Mobile Fusion enterprise mobility system, which aims to help corporate customers keep track of employees’ BlackBerrys running as well as Android and iOS.

Investing Insights: Facebook Preparing to Go Public and Take Over the World.

Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) expects consumer data center traffic to grow nearly 5x between 2010 and 2015, thanks in large part to cloud apps. Cisco still has a dominant position in the overall market for data center networking gear, while F5 (NASDAQ:FFIV) leads the fast-growing ADC switch segment.

Zynga is planning to begin its IPO road show on Monday next week, Fortune reports. The Internet games company had intended to raise $1B, however, poor showing in the shares of Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN)LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) and Angie’s List (NASDAQ:ANGI)doesn’t bode well for Zynga.

Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) continues its descent after S&P cuts its already low credit rating by another notch to BB- late Monday. The ratings agency says the company’s aggressive expansion plans are likely to hurt its profitability as its subscriber growth decelerates.

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Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) request for a ban on Samsung’s (SSNLF.PK) Galaxy Tab was an error of an Australian federal appeals lower court unanimously ruled on. The ruling is a major victory for Samsung, whose tablet can now go on sale in the country as soon as Dec. 2, in time for the Christmas shopping season.

Silver Lake and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) bid of ~$16.60/share for a minority stake in Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOOwas a bit low, sources say. It was somewhat lower than an offer made by TPG Capital. Alibaba Group, KKR (NYSE:KKR), THL and Blackstone (NYSE:BX) are still potential bidders as well.

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Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) claims 960K Xbox units were sold last week, as well as 750K Kinect units. NPD’s data reveals the Xbox to have eclipsed Nintendo’s Wii as the leader in U.S. home console sales, while Activision’s (NASDAQ:ATVI) Q3 report shows Xbox title sales easily outrunning Wii and PlayStation 3 (NYSE:SNE) sales.

Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) is rolling out its Social Marketing Cloud product, which provides major brands with tools to manage their social media activity. The product is the result of Salesforce’s $326M March acquisition of Radian6. It also appears to be a rival to Constant Contact’s (NASDAQ:CTCT) Social Campaigns solution.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) execs met with Korean regulators today in Seoul ton discuss allegations against the firm of unfair practices with its search engine – a slightly different version of earlier media reports stating a raid took place. Google’s presence in Korea is viewed as crucial to its growth in Asia with China standing largely as a no-go for the firm.

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Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE), struggling to deal with soft Creative Suite sales and the slow demise of Flash, is working to bolster its ad technology offerings. It was recently singled out as a priority for the company. The latest proof comes via its acquisition of Efficient Frontier, which is a provider of online ad buying solutions across multiple platforms. Adobe also announced the purchase of video ad solutions provider Auditude.

H-P (NYSE:HPQ) CEO Meg Whitman says the fate of her company’s webOS unit will be determined in the next two weeks. H-P has been looking to sell the division, which still contains ~600 workers. However, buyers have been hard to find. The company recorded $1.66B charges related to webOS in FQ4.

Shutterfly (NASDAQ:SFLY) takes a hit on fallout from yesterday’s presentation at Baird’s technology conference. The company said it’s seeing a significant amount of competitor discounting. This may limit positive note for the company. Shutterfly’s management also added that it doesn’t have any creation app for Apple devices.

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) supports federal framework for collecting online sales taxes, as long as it’s all-inclusive, according to testimony at a House hearing today. Voter-conscious politicians are pushing this idea to help put local mom-and-pop stores on the same playing field as online retailers when it comes to taxes. There remains a relatively complacent attitude from AMZN on online taxes, which are sure to cut into its pricing advantage. But it isn’t tied to any sense of fairness because it focuses on a larger strategy with its battle over eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) and its band of small online sellers.

Spotify is the fastest growing startup and is unveiling an application programming interface, or API that allows third-party apps to leverage its music service. Launch partners include Rolling Stone and Last.fm. Pandora (NYSE:P) is trading above its morning lows, but continues to underperform.

LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) and other social media stocks are benefiting from today’s temporary reprieve, as retail investors sell in flocks and institutions aren’t adding to their skinny 12% post-IPO ownership level; “the stock was broken from the get-go.”

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Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) good news is that, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is releasing a version of Android that supports the x86 chip architecture used for Intel’s PC CPUs. Good news because Android devices currently rely on ARM-based (NASDAQ:ARMH) chips. However, as 9 to 5 Google notes, the software is still a work-in-progress, and with software support or not, mobile device makers have thus far been wary of supporting x86 chips.

Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) has spun off its Youa e-commerce site, which has subsequently received millions and millions of dollars in VC funding. The spinoff is further evidence of the challenges faced by Baidu as it tries to expand beyond its core search business. Youa has struggled to deal with strong competition from Jingdong Mall and Alibaba’s, which is a challenge.

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Sprint (NYSE:S) has offered Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) up to $1.6B in conditional revenues and funding. This confirms the report that was floated just before the close of trade yesterday. This clears the way for Clearwire to make a $237M interest payment today.

Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) crashed on account of weak FQ2 results and FY12 guidance. Best Buy provides another piece of discouraging data as well for the company: the Nook Tablet is only the 8th-best-selling tablet on Best Buy’s site, 7 spots below the top-ranked Kindle Fire (NASDAQ:AMZN). The iPad (NASDAQ:AAPL) is likely the most popular tablet overall, given that over a dozen models are listed.

NetEase.com (NASDAQ:NTES) moves up. This news in after announcing a $50M stock buyback to be executed over the next three months.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is facing a challenge from the success of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) Prime says WSJ reports. It is in talks with major retailers and shippers to create its own next day or even same-day shipping service; those possibly pitched are Macy’s (NYSE:M), Gap (NYSE:GPS), OfficeMax (NYSE:OMX), and UPS.

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Western Digital (NYSE:WDC) joins Seagate (NASDAQ:STX)in signaling a recovery from the Thai floods. It has resumed the output of hard disk drives and that it is raising its FQ2 rev outlook to at least $1.8B. That’s above Street forecasts and prior guidance. WDC is also upbeat on margins but expects to take a charge of $225M-$275M.

Zynga files for its IPO, planning to sell 100M shares at a price of $8.50-$10, a 14.3% of the company. This would give the firm a valuation of $7B should the top of that range be achieved. The stock will trade under the symbol ZNGA on the Nasdaq (NASDAQ:NDAQ).

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Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) is being investigated for advertising and trading methods by a British regulation OFT, after having the case referred to it by another regulator. The firm’s latest debacle in the UK came last week when it was banned from using a promotional email for cosmetic surgery that “pressured” consumers to make a quick life-altering decision.

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) announces it will take a $485M pretax provision in relation to its PlayBook, contributing to updated guidance. The firm says it now expects Q3 revenue will be slightly lower than the previous range of $5.3B-5.6B. It is estimating that EPS will fall in the low to mid-point of its prior guidance of $1.20-$1.40. In Q4 RIM sees lower shipments impacting its outlook, while it no longer expects to meet its full-year EPS guidance of $5.25-$6.00. Shares halted in premarket trading.

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Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle Fire contract manufacturer Quanta has reportedly shipped 3M-4M units of the tablet thus far, and expects shipments to reach 5M by late December or early January. Early consumer demand for the Fire appears to remain strong despite negative reviews.

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) (NASDAQ:VOD) agrees to buy Spectrum as it is trying to keep up with the fast-growing demand for bandwidth. It’s also purchasing 122 wireless licenses from Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) for $3.6B. Comcast’s share of the proceeds will be $2.3B; Time Warner’s, $1.1B.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is attempting a $400M acquisition of AdMeld, sources tell Bloomberg. U.S. Justice Department staff attorneys have recommended antitrust approval of the acquisition. The staff urged approval after a detailed analysis reportedly found AdMeld’s competitors in online display advertising were strong enough to offer companies alternative ways to advertise.

Corning’s (NYSE:GLW) Q4 warning was partly attributed to weak Gorilla Glass shipments. Some DisplaySearch data helps explain why the industry trends likely playing a role. The firm estimates shipments of “cover glass,” of which Gorilla Glass is the most popular kind, and it will rise likely 178% Y/Y in 2011, but it sees growth falling to just ~25% in 2012, as the pace of its adoption in the mobile device market slows down.

Investing Insights: S&P 500 Winners: Western Digital and 2 Stocks Popping.

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