Get the latest news alerts: at Twitter.
A roundup of the latest high-tech news from The Associated Press:
- Feds don’t like Google digital book deal
SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Justice Department still thinks a proposal to give Google the digital rights to millions of hard-to-find books threatens to stifle competition and undermine copyright laws, despite revisions aimed at easing those concerns.
The opinion filed Thursday in New York federal court is a significant setback in Google’s effort to win approval of a 15-month-old legal settlement that would put the Internet search leader in charge of a vast electronic library and store.
A diverse mix of Google rivals, consumer watchdogs, academic experts, literary agents, state governments and even foreign governments have already urged U.S. District Judge Denny Chin to reject the agreement.
The Justice Department’s perspective presumably will carry more weight with Chin, given its position as the chief U.S. law enforcement agency.
In its 26-page brief, the Justice Department praised the revised settlement for making "substantial progress" since it objected to the original agreement in September.
But the government advised Chin that the agreement still oversteps the legal boundaries of a class-action settlement, describing the proposal as "a bridge too far." The Justice Department also raised concerns that Google’s partnership with the participating U.S. publishers could turn into a literary cartel that would wield too much power over book prices.
"The United States believes that the court lacks authority to approve" the settlement in its current form, the government’s lawyers wrote.
The filing also asserted that the modified agreement doesn’t adequately protect the copyrights and financial interests of "orphan works" — out-of-print books whose writers’ whereabouts are unknown.
Despite its misgivings, the Justice Department urged the parties to take another stab at making changes that would eliminate its legal concerns. The department provided a list of recommendations on how to achieve that.
In a statement, Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker gave no indication whether the company and other settling parties are willing to amend the agreement again.
"The Department of Justice’s filing recognizes the progress made with the revised settlement, and it once again reinforces the value the agreement can provide in unlocking access to millions of books in the U.S.," Stricker said.
Chin has scheduled a Feb. 18 hearing to consider approving the class-action settlement.
Consumer Watchdog, one of the groups fighting the settlement, applauded the Justice Department for taking a stand against a deal "that unfairly benefits the narrow agenda of one company."
• ComScore names new chief technology officer
RESTON, Va. — ComScore Inc., a company that tracks Internet traffic to Web sites, said Thursday that it has hired a new chief technology officer.
Chris Nicotra will take over the position vacated by Greg Dale, who became chief operating officer.
Nicotra came from AOL, where he was senior vice president of AOL advertising technology and chief technology officer and chief information officer for Advertising.com.
• Credit Suisse downgrades Verizon to ‘Neutral’
NEW YORK — A Credit Suisse analyst downgraded Verizon Communications Inc. Thursday and said he no longer believes rival AT&T Inc. will lose its exclusive deal to carry Apple’s iPhone before 2011.
Jonathan Chaplin lowered his rating on Verizon to "Neutral" from "Outperform," and cut his share price target to $30 to $32.
Chaplin said he’d originally preferred Verizon’s shares over AT&T’s in part because he believed AT&T would lose its exclusive iPhone contract with Apple in the middle of 2010. If this happened, he said a "substantial" number of subscribers and value would transfer to Verizon from its rival — "an event that was not adequately priced into either stock," according to Chaplin.
Now, Chaplin thinks AT&T won’t lose its iPhone exclusivity until mid-2011 at the earliest.
Apple Inc. and AT&T have not disclosed the length of their exclusive contract. But Apple appeared to reaffirm its commitment to AT&T on last month during the unveiling of its iPad tablet computer, when it announced that the carrier will be the sole U.S. data provider for the device.
Chaplin also said his expectations for earnings-per-share growth at Verizon have "come down due largely to disappointing wireline margin results."
• AOL names ex-Time Warner VP as new head of content
SAN FRANCISCO — AOL Inc. has named a former executive from Time Warner Inc. as its new head of content. He takes responsibility for the Internet company’s dozens of Web sites and other content platforms.
AOL, which was spun off from Time Warner in December, said Thursday that as of March 1 David Eun, 43, will take over for Bill Wilson, 41, who is leaving the company in May after nine years.
Eun worked as vice president of operations for Time Warner’s media and communications group for several years. In that role he oversaw digital distribution and broadband content and services for AOL, Time Warner Cable and Time Inc. He left Time Warner in 2006 and most recently was a vice president of strategic partnerships at Google Inc.
In an interview, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong said Eun is one of very few executives with experience in traditional media, Web media, video and mobile.
• Advanced Analogic narrows 4Q loss to $4 million
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Advanced Analogic Technologies Inc., which makes chips for wireless phones and digital cameras, reported Thursday that its fourth-quarter loss narrowed to $4 million as sales rose 12 percent.
The loss for the three-month period was equivalent to 9 cents a share, compared to a loss of $15.4 million, or 34 cents a share, a year earlier.
Revenue in the quarter rose to $20.8 million from $18.6 million a year earlier.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, who generally exclude one-time items from their estimates, were expecting a fourth-quarter loss of 5 cents a share on revenue of $20.7 million.
• Unisys posts 4Q profit on lower costs
BLUE BELL, Pa. — Technology services provider Unisys Corp. on Thursday reported a profit for the fourth quarter, reversing the prior year’s loss as lower costs offset a drop in revenue. The 2008 quarter also had a hefty charge related to cost cuts.
Unisys earned $114.5 million, or $2.64 per share, in the fourth quarter compared with a loss of $58 million, or $1.59 per share, in the same period a year earlier. The 2008 quarter included a $99 million charge related to the company’s cost-reduction efforts.
Revenue fell 5 percent to $1.21 billion from $1.28 billion. Revenue in the just-concluded quarter would have fallen further were it not for a 5 percent boost from foreign currency translation.
For the year, Unisys earned $189.3 million, or $4.75 per share, compared with a loss of $130.1 million, or $3.62, in the prior year’s period.
Revenue fell 12 percent to $4.6 billion from $5.23 billion. Foreign currency dragged down revenue in 2009 by 4 percent.
• Shutterfly 4Q profit rises 68 pct on revenue boost
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — An increase in orders for its photo products led Shutterfly Inc. on Thursday to report a 68 percent increase in net income for the fourth quarter.
The company, which lets consumers store their photos through its Web site and sells photo albums and related products, earned $24.1 million, or 88 cents per share, in the quarter.
That compares with a profit of $14.4 million, or 56 cents per share, in the 2008 quarter.
Revenue rose by 22 percent to $131.1 million from $107.7 million.
Shutterfly’s performance in the quarter handily beat the expectations of analysts, who on average were expecting earnings of 70 cents per share and revenue of $113.8 million.
The company said orders increased by 12 percent in the quarter to a total of 3.1 million. The average order was $42.40, up 8 percent from the prior year.
For the year, Shutterfly said it earned $5.8 million, or 22 cents per share, up from $3.7 million, or 14 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue rose by 15 percent to $246.4 million.