Thursday, September 29, 2011
Gavin O'Malley, September 29, 2011, 12:41 PM
Justice Dept. Revisits Google/MotorolaAll Things D et al.

The Justice Department is requesting more information about Google's proposed $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, the search engine said this week.

In a blog post, Google said it plans to cooperate fully with the "second request" from the antitrust division, which it assures is "pretty routine."

Routine or not, "A second request does not mean the agency will block the deal, just that it wants to take a closer look at the antitrust issues," according to the Los Angeles Times.

"While Google doesn't appear to be too worried about the request, they did note this means they wouldn't be 'closing right away,'" notes 9to5Google.com.

According to All Things D, it's actually quite rare for proposed deals to elicit a second look. "Only four percent of transactions got such a follow-up request from regulators," it writes. "To be fair, it is much more common in high-profile, big-money deals like this one."

In a blog post, Google SVP Dennis Woodside writes: "We're confident that this deal will be approved. We believe very strongly this is a pro-competitive transaction that is good for Motorola Mobility, good for consumers and good for our partners."

"However, there's a chance Woodside is playing it cool, since the more quickly Google can seal the deal on Motorola Mobility, the more quickly it bags the 17,000 patents commonly thought to be a main motivator in the purchase," The Register writes.

Meanwhile, "Motorola Mobility said it too would cooperate and expected the transaction to close by the end of the year or in early 2012," the LA Times notes, citing a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Last month, Google announced plans to buy Motorola Mobility for more than $12 billion.

Along with Google, Microsoft was reportedly interested in acquiring Motorola's patent portfolio, which would have allowed it to take down Android. Rumor has it, however, that Motorola found a Google deal more desirable because Microsoft had no interest in running its hardware business. Read the whole story...

  • Gavin O'Malley, September 29, 2011, 12:41 PM
  • A startup named SweetLabs just secured $13 million in Series C financing led by Intel Capital, along with Google Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners. "SweetLabs started off creating an advertising network for software companies to advertise when people download software," Forbes explains. Now, however, it seems more focused on Pokki, a new platform for mobile-style apps on desktop PCs. "The idea of Pokki is to provide quick, always-on apps that give a similar experience to popular mobile iPhone apps," writes Forbes.

    Pokki apps, which live on a user's computer screen, can be quickly launched with a single click -- similar to mobile apps, Forbes notes. "They have mobile-like features such as real-time notifications and one-click installation through the Pokki store," it writes. "The goal of Pokki is to bring the app experience to the desktop," Chester Ng, co-founder and head of business development at SweetLabs, tells Forbes. "Our hypothesis going in was that you've got millions of consumers sitting in front of their computers who have a prehistoric app experience compared to what they've come to expect on mobile and tablets." Read the whole story...
  • Why all the recent fuss about patents? Well, along with stifling innovation, patents can cost a company millions! Illustrating the point, Goldman Sachs' tech analyst team calculates that Samsung, HTC and other phone manufacturers will have to pay Microsoft about $444 million in Android patent deals for fiscal year 2012 (from July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012). "Goldman estimates that Microsoft is getting $3-$6 per Android device sold," Business Insider reports. "With settlements from Samsung, HTC and others, Goldman arrives at its estimate."

    In this scenario, however, not even Microsoft is a winner, Business Insider insists. "Sounds good for Microsoft, but really, it's an empty victory," it writes, noting that Microsoft's revenue for fiscal 2012 is estimated to be $75 billion. "So, the money it gets from Android is almost nothing, especially when you consider the incredible damage Android is doing to Microsoft's dominance as a computing platform." Read the whole story...
  • Is Spotify -- which just debuted stateside -- curing the world of music piracy? TorrentFreak thinks so. When the streaming music service launched in 2008, TorrentFreak branded it "an alternative to music piracy." Now, a new report looking into online music consumption habits shows that, since 2009, the number of people who pirate music has dropped by 25% in Sweden. "The sharp decrease coincides with a massive interest for the music streaming service Spotify," the news site notes. "One of the main reasons why people switch to legal services is the wider range of material they can find there."

    The report is just the latest from the Swedish Music industry, which regularly polls the music consumption habits of thousands of Swedes between the age of 15 and 74. Over the last year alone, the research finds, piracy has dropped by 9% in Sweden. "The data further suggests that this downward trend is caused by the availability of improved legal services such as Spotify," according to TorrentFreak. But, will Spotify prove as affective at curbing piracy around the world as it has been in Sweden? For the United States, it's too early to tell. Read the whole story...
  • Determined not to let free, community-driven information services inherit the earth, Encyclopaedia Britannica is fighting back with a new, reasonably-priced iPad app. (It costs $2 a month, or $24 a year, versus $70 a year for the Web version and about $1,400 for the print version.) Meanwhile -- arguably as important as any price -- gadget god Walt Mossberg just gave the app his blessing. "It is much cleaner and more attractive than the cluttered Britannica website and sports some nice features, including a dynamic 'link map' showing the relationship between topics in a visual format," Mossberg writes in All Things D.

    Meanwhile, "Unlike the Web version, it is free of ads." Mossberg also notes that while Britannica is "often trusted by ... teachers and parents over less rigorously vetted sources," its content library remains far smaller than, say, Wikipedia. (The Britannica app contains 140,000 articles, while Wikipedia has about 3.7 million, by Mossberg's count.) What's more, "Many contemporary topics, like the latest in pop culture, or some current public figures, are included in Wikipedia, but missing from Britannica," he writes, while noting that Britannica does touch on topics missing from Wikipedia. Read the whole story...