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August 17

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Trending Tech: Facebook’s post-IPO troubles, Google’s acquisition and Samsung’s new tablet PC

August 17, 2012

Google is this week’s top newsmaker with its acquisition of Frommer’s travel guides and efforts to beef up its search patent library. The search engine giant also reported plans to re-org Motorola Mobility staff as part of its turnaround effort. In other news, the judge in the Apple-Samsung patent trial urged the companys’ CEOs to settle ahead of jury deliberations next week. Samsung released a new tablet, hoping to chip away at Apple, which retained its dominance in the tablet space in the second quarter.

10. RIM looking to offload NewBay after 10 months
Just 10 months after purchasing NewBay Software for $100 million, RIM is looking to sell the cloud service provider. As part of a broader effort to reorganize operations, the smartphone maker is considering selling off its recent acquisitions. However, even with issues related to stock price, restructuring and executive turnover, RIM still has more than $2 billion cash on hand and remains debt-free.

9. Major retailers team up on mobile payments
This week, major retailers including Target and Wal-Mart teamed up to create a company that will enable customers to make purchases with their smartphones. The new company, Merchant Customer Exchange, is developing a mobile application that will be available for almost all smartphones.  Just last week Starbucks announced it is accepting payments via Square.  Juniper Research estimates that mobile payments market worldwide will be worth $1.3 trillion by 2017.

8. Facebook shares hit new low as lock-up expiration begins
Facebook stock hit an all-time low this week as 270 million insider shares became eligible for trading.  When Facebook’s lock-up period ended, shareholders took the opportunity to sell, causing a plunge in stock price. The post-IPO stock price decline is expected to continue as potentially 1.91 billion more shares flood the market over the next several months.

7. Google flying high in travel with Frommer’s
Google announced plans to buy Frommer’s travel guides from John Wiley & Sons, reportedly in a $23 million deal. It is a small but important acquisition for Google, with the potential to attract more advertising revenue tied to online travel bookings and local business information. In addition, the deal could strengthen the company’s push to become a major online travel broker.

6. Cisco profit rises 56 percent; dividends boosted
Cisco reported a 56 percent increase in profit ($1.92 billion) in its fourth-quarter earnings report, which beat Wall Street’s forecasts. The company indicated stronger revenue and a decline in operating expenses with shares rising five percent following the report. Cisco announced it would increase its dividend by 75 percent as part of its commitment to return half of its free cash flow back to shareholders.

5. Motorola set for staff cuts as Google reinvents device maker
Motorola Mobility, purchased by Google in May, announced it is reducing staff by 20 percent.  The cuts are a key step in Google’s plan to reinvent Motorola. Though Google made the acquisition partly because of Motorola’s more than 17, 000 patents — which can help defend against challenges to the Android operating system — it also plans to use Motorola to make its own, better smartphones and tablets. Investors reacted positively to the restructuring plan that aims to cut down Motorola’s product portfolio to emphasize a smaller set of smartphones.

4. Samsung takes on the iPad again with Galaxy Note
Samsung has released a new tablet that is a direct competitor to Apple’s iPad. Galaxy Note 10.1 is designed around two key features the iPad lacks: a stylus and the ability to view two apps at once in a split-screen view. Tech critics have called this the “best Samsung tablet yet.” Will the new tablet help Samsung take a larger share of the tablet market as well?

3. Google beefs up patent search library with European patents
Google, the target of many patent infringement lawsuits, expanded its online patent search capabilities to include those filed with the European Patent Office. In addition, Google is adding a feature called ‘Prior Art Finder,’ which will search multiple sources for related content that existed at the time the patent was filed.

2. Apple retains dominance in tablet space
According to industry researcher IHS, Apple has retained dominance in the tablet market with better than expected sales of iPad 2 and new iPad (17 million units) during the second quarter. Apple’s share of the global tablet market rose to nearly 70 percent. With expected entrance of a ‘mini’ iPad in September, Apple intends to dominate this market over the long term. 

1. Judge urges Apple, Samsung CEOs to talk settlement
The high-stakes patent case between Apple and Samsung that began earlier this month is in its third week. Judge Lucy Koh has pushed several times for Apple and Samsung CEOs to settle their differences outside the court and once more asked the CEOs to meet before the jury begins deliberating next week. The judge believes there are risks for both sides if the companies do not arrive at a settlement. However, it seems the tech powerhouses are insistent on riding it out.

Disclosure: Samsung and Google (Motorola Mobility) are Weber Shandwick clients.