3 Tech Titans Making Noise: Icahn’s Advice for Apple, Google’s Banner Ads, Amazon’s Box Delayed

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL): Carl Icahn published his open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook on his website, and in it, he encourages Apple to immediately begin an offer to buy back $150 billion in shares at the current share price of $525 per share, “financed with debt or a mix of debt and cash on the balance sheet,” The New York Times reports. However, Icahn concluded by noting that he does not plan to personally benefit from stock buyback should to occur, “to invalidate any possible criticism that I would not stand by this thesis in terms of its long term benefit to shareholders,” he wrote.

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Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG): Despite once pledging to never use banner ads, Google is testing just that with a slate of 30 advertisers. The ads will appear if a user makes a brand-specific search query within Google’s search engine; this falls in direct conflict with Google’s statement from 2005, which said that “there will not be crazy, flashy, graphical doodads flying and popping up all over the Google site. Ever.” Southwest Airlines, Crate & Barrel, and Virgin America are among those giving the ads a shot. The test is showing for less than 5 percent of search queries.

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Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN): Amazon’s set-top box has been further delayed, possibly pushing the release date past the 2013 holiday season. While launching a competitor to products such as Apple TV and Roku makes sense for the company from a strategic point of view — especially considering how hard Amazon has been pushing its Prime viewing service — technical delays have kept the box from virtual shelves up until this point, and the company is still weeks, maybe even months, away from having a working version ready to sell.

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