Weekly Tech Recap: Sprint Launched 4G LTE, Yahoo SHOCKED the Tech World

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Sprint (NYSE:S) officially initiated its 4G LTE network, in 15 metro areas including Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Kansas City. The firm still intends to have its LTE buildout “largely completed” by the end of next year. Timing is everything for Sprint, with Samsung’s Galaxy S III and most other high-end Android phones now supporting LTE, and the next iPhone expected to do the same.

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Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Nexus 7 got an unexpected positive review from MG Siegler, as he complimented its form factor and the polish of Android 4.1, and opined that 7 is superior to the Kindle Fire (NASDAQ:AMZN) “in pretty much every way.” In addition he pronounced that it’s now “an absolute no-brainer” for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to make a 7-inch tablet, even though a lot of the chatter says it will indeed happen. The early impressive sales of Nexus 7 also received favorable comment from Ben Rooney at the Wall Street Journal.

Leap Wireless International, Inc. (NASDAQ:LEAP) Chief Operating Officer Raymond Roman is exiting the company after just a year and a half, and will walk away with $495,000 termination package. It is supposed that he will have a consulting role with Leap. Pivotal Research believes that Roman “was pushed out as part of a house cleaning” and points out that Leap recently made a chief financial officer transition it views in a positive light.

AuthenTec, Inc. (NASDAQ:AUTH) shares popped following word that Samsung (SSNLF.PK) would join the firm’s QuickSec VPN software in its Android phones and tablets. Samsung’s share of the Android smartphone market is more and more dominant, and is boosting its endeavors to outfit its phones with the security and device-management features that are wanted by enterprises.

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Shares of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), which had impressively outperformed the NASDAQ from early June to early July, sank on Monday. Ken Sena at Evercore, who started coverage with a Hold in June, believes that the recent weakness in Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) and Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) is finally starting to weigh on Facebook.

At long-last a federal district judge threw out an extremely old antitrust suit filed by Novell against Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), which alleged that the latter’s Windows ’95 violated antitrust laws, since it removed a file-management feature required by Novell’s WordPerfect. Novell had sought almost $1 billion in damages. Meanwhile, back in 2012, Steve Ballmer is addressing Microsoft’s Office 2013 Monday in San Francisco, “designed from the get-go” for the cloud and having a heavier emphasis on the online-subscription version, Office 365.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) had promised to provide its users with a choice of Internet browsers, but says that a technical glitch is preventing it from doing so. The European Commission has launched an inquiry into the matter, and sanctions against the company are possible; Microsoft assures all that it is taking steps to fix the problem.

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Splunk, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLK) reports that the lead bookrunner Morgan Stanley is releasing a share lock-up that applied to stocks held by company officers and directors. This release will run concurrently with the company’s secondary offering of shares announced earlier on Monday.

Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) caused a commotion when it announced that Marissa Mayer, and not Ross Levinsohn, would become its new chief executive. The announcement has shocked the tech world, but it is not unwelcome to Silicon Valley and Dan Loeb, although Wall Street seemed just fine with the idea of Levinsohn as permanent chief. He is said to be leaving Yahoo, but the firm could certainly see several Google. Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) higher-ups follow Mayer in. Meanwhile, analysts are currently bombing away with their opinions: Larry Dignan is hoping that Mayer can repair the firm’s advertising technology infrastructure, Michael Arrington envisions the new chief as delivering a large boost to the company’s reputation, Matthew Ingram wonders aloud if she has the necessary media savvy to turn her new company around, and Jolie O’Dell blames Google for not offering Mayer a position that might have kept her there. So far, no one is asking publicly if she has a computer science degree.

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) won a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office that covered bidding on multiple auctions. Chatter has it that the firm could begin to enter new markets and businesses, since it’s currently setting up new distribution centers across the country.

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Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) next iPhone rumored to have have a thinner display, due to its utilization of in-cell touch panels, according to the Wall Street Journal. Previous chatter had it that Apple would adopt in-cell technology, which also reduces costs and enhances image quality. In a separate matter, Gene Munster at Piper says that a survey of 400 consumers found that 65 percent indicated that their next phone will be an iPhone, although 52 percent of those responding were already iPhone owners, which far exceeded the iPhone’s estimated 32 percent share of U.S. smartphone owners.

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Shares of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) fell in tandem (then bounce back, sort of) subsequent to a Capstone Investments report which says that Facebook’s domestic users fell 1.1 percent over the last 6 months. Capstone also remarked that FB’s growth was minimal or negative in 14 of the 23 countries in which its penetration rate is above 50 percent. Further, the report supports recent data that imply U.S. saturation, and reinforces the idea that the company’s dependence is on less profitable emerging markets to drive growth in user numbers.

Worries over demand for tech in China escalated, as Michael Dell commented that Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) is seeing a slowdown there, which is its number 2 market after the United States. Part of the problem is that Dell is also facing tough rivalry in China from Lenovo (NYSE:PCS) and Huawei (IT gear). Further, on Monday, the Chinese telecommunications equipment major ZTE warned of declining orders from local carriers.

Rich Vogel, the executive producer of Electronic Arts Inc.’s (NASDAQ:EA) Star Wars: The Old Republic, is said to have exited the firm. Star Wars reported a whopping 400,000 subscriber decline for the March quarter, reinforcing fears that EA won’t recoup its massive stake in the multiplayer online game. EA’s Bioware division, responsible for Star Wars, is implementing the expected layoffs, at the time that Vogel departs.

Samsung’s (SSNLF.PK) Galaxy S III smartphone is going great guns in its U.S. intro, reports Travis McCourt at Raymond James. Carrier store checks reveal that the device is routinely sold out between 2 and 4 days following the start of sales, and also that it’s the top-selling model at AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (VZ, VOD). Further, McCourt believes that Research In Motion and Samsung’s Android competitors are more threatened than is Apple, on whom he has a Strong Buy. In addition, analysts calculate that Samsung sold 50 million smartphones worldwide in the second quarter.

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Sprint (NYSE:S) reported that it will not go along with the intro of shared data plans by some of its rivals, citing its own efforts to keep its cost advantage. AT&T is following Verizon Wireless’ lead in launching shared data plans sporting unlimited voice and text. The plans are almost as expensive as Verizon’s, which are based upon 1 gigabyte shared between a smartphone and a tablet, and cost $95 per month, with 4 gigabytes at $120. However, unlike those of Verizon’s, AT&T’s plans will not be required for upgrading users.

Challenged smartphone vendor HTC again counter-sued Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) using purchased IP, and has filed suit over two patents it acquired from Hewlett-Packard: one covers providing network services by way of an embedded server, and another patent covers centrally managing a network. At the same time, an International Trade Commission ban requested by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) on 18 Motorola Mobility (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android devices goes into effect Wednesday. Motorola responds it has a secret scheme for keeping the hardware available.

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Shares of Rovi Corporation (NASDAQ:ROVI) collapsed following its huge second quarter 2012 warning, which was mostly concerning delayed patent licenses. Shares are now touching levels that were last visited in 2008, and have been downgraded to Neutral by Cowen and Barrington. Brean Murray restates its Buy, thinking that shares are oversold, but slashed cut its price target almost in half, remarking that Rovi “has been a slow moving train wreck” ever since its purchase of Sonic Solutions, which closed in early 2011.

Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) is staying committed to its storage division, which was obtained through the Sun Microsystems purchase, but the unit is mostly seen as a move that lost shares. However the most recent evidence that the database major is ticking with the division, comes by means of the StorageTek SL150, marking the first brand-new tape library system the firm has released since the acquisition. The SL150, which is aimed at server message blocks, could cause troubles for Quantum, which recently warned as well.

The European Commission is widening its antitrust inquiry into Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), to include Windows 8 and Windows RT. In what has become a familiar refrain, regulators say that they are worried that Microsoft is denying access to Windows 8/RT APIs that are needed by competitor browser vendors such as Mozilla and Google, Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG). Also, the Commission on Tuesday threatened Microsoft with huge new penalties for failing to keep its promises to offer browser choices.

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KIT Digital, Inc. (NASDAQ:KITD) will move its corporate headquarters from Prague to New York City, and will be removed from the Prague exchange. However, the firm will continue to maintain research and development facilities in Prague.

Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) reported mixed second quarter figures. The firm’s pre-subsidy Lumia ASP dropped 15 percent quarter-over-quarter to €186 ($227), as it reduces prices to build demand. North American Lumia shipments amounted to just 600,000, even with AT&T’s (NYSE:T) promotions. MKM is still bearish, pointing out that Nokia’s €4.2 billion in net cash could burn in 2 years. The end of the year could make or break the company, as it launches Windows Phone 8 models featuring its PureView camera technology.

British Judge Colin Birss continues to confound certain tech giants, as he has ordered that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) place a notice on its Web site for six months and also in United Kingdom newspapers, that say that Samsung (SSNLF.PK) did not copy the design of the iPad. Birss is the same judge who said last week that Samsung could not have copied the device, since its own tablet is “not as cool” as the iPad.

Rovi Corporation (NASDAQ:ROVI) is rumored to have a licensing agreement with Panasonic in the works, which would cover the use of Rovi’s Divx Plus Streaming tech in Panasonic’s HDTV and Blu-ray processors. Divx Plus’ goal is to produce a Blu-ray-like feature set for online streaming.

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) announced that there will be no discussion of a dividend payment for Vodafone Group (NASDAQ:VOD) at next week’s board meeting, although a decision is mandated by the end of 2012. Vodafone received a $4.5 billion special dividend in 2011, linked to its 45 percent investment in Verizon Wireless. The announcement follows Verizon Wireless getting high praises for its impressive second quarter performance.

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) won another legal victory against Samsung (SSNLF.PK) Thursday, when a Federal appeals court denied the latter’s request for a stay of a preliminary injunction which banned the manufacture and sales of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets in the United States while its appeal against the ban remains pending. Separately, Apple officially introduces the iPad 3 in China, but this time purchasers must pre-order so as to avoid the disorder that marred the launch of the iPhone 4s back in January.

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Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) will now be able to add several television shows to its Prime Instant streaming service, subsequent to an arrangement with Time Warner, Inc. (NYSE:TWX). The service will have exclusive rights to Fringe and The West Wing for the summer. Amazon says it currently streams more than 18,000 titles, though that figure includes every TV episode as a title. Although Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) doesn’t divulge the magnitude of its library, a recent article put it at 60,000.

Viacom, Inc. (NYSE:VIAB) and DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) ended their dispute in time for the weekend, as the former will receive more than $600 million per year in programming fees under their new seven-year arrangement, which is a jump of a minimum of 20 percent from the previous terms, according to Bloomberg. The agreement ends a 10-day blackout for the satellite TV service’s 20 million viewers, and was announced Friday morning.

Palo Alto Networks (NYSE:PANW) has delivered an impressive initial public offering. Shares opened at $55.20 and are trading a bit above that price in late afternoon trading, which is considerably up compared to the offering price of $42. If the price holds, it represents a valuation of approximately $3.8 billion, for the security hardware company, and exhibits further evidence that the market for enterprise technology IPOs remains hot. What a difference a month or so makes.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) reported an earnings beat, but sales in the Windows unit have dropped by 13 percent year-over-year, without the help of Windows 8 upgrade bookings, and that might be putting some investors off. Goldman says to not expect a lot of near-term share movement, as investors are now anticipating the Oct. 26 Windows 8 intro, and the board meeting scheduled for late August, at which a dividend hike might be granted.

Google, Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) shares continue to move up post-earnings, as the Street likes it’s strong year-over-year paid click growth and the halt to recent ad price decreases, even though the prices remain below levels seen in 2011. Some observers would prefer that the company provide details concerning Motorola’s full-quarter performance. However, Deutsche Bank forecasts increasing mobile advertising prices as well as higher shopping-related mobile search activity, that should provide Google with a second half boost. Meanwhile, Google has acquired Sparrow, which is a developer of popular Mac and iOS e-mail applications that feature a Twitter-like interface.

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