Tech News: Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s Siri Challenge, Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Vs. Google Inc (GOOG) Trial & More

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Editor’s Note: Related tickers: Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE:DB), Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS)

Google Now comes to iPhone, challenging Siri (Reuters)
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is bringing its Google Now technology to the iPhone, where it will compete head-on with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)‘s Siri to serve as the primary service that smartphone users rely on to get everything from weather updates to traffic forecasts. Google Now, which made its debut last year on mobile devices powered by Google’s Android operating system, will be available as a feature in the new version of the Google Search app for iPhones and iPads starting on Monday. Personal assistant technology such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s Siri, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Now and products created by various start-up companies aspire to play what could become a critical role on smartphones by helping users with daily chores such as looking up information on the Web, handling calendar appointments and managing travel plans.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)

Apple lays groundwork for first debt sale ever (ET)
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) took initial steps Monday for what would be its first debt sale ever, as the US computer giant lays the groundwork for what would be one of the most anticipated bond sales of the year. The company was to begin investor calls today led by Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE:DB) and Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS), a source familiar with the situation told IFR, and filed SEC paperwork for a debt offering. The only major tech company without a penny of debt on its books, Apple stunned the markets last week by announcing it could sell debt for the first time to help fund a $100 billion capital return programme for shareholders.

Samsung Galaxy Breaks More Easily Than Apple’s IPhone in Tests (BusinessWeek)
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is bigger, lighter and faster than its predecessor. It’s also easier to break, a phone-insurance firm has concluded. The flagship phone by Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) also scored worse than Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iPhone 5 in tests in which the phone was dropped and dunked in water, SquareTrade Inc. said today. On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being worst, the S4 got a seven, compared with a 6.5 for its older cousin, the S3, and a five for the iPhone. Samsung is counting on the S4 to help extend the Suwon, South Korea-based company’s lead in smartphone sales. The phonemaker got one-third of the global smartphone market in the first quarter — almost twice as big as Apple’s share, research firm Strategy Analytics said last week.

Microsoft Pays Higher Rate to Beat Apple Sale: Corporate Finance (BusinessWeek)
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is paying higher yields on new bonds than in a November sale after it beat the planned return of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to the credit market after an absence of almost two decades. The company, one of four U.S.-based businesses with the highest ratings from Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s, issued $1.95 billion of dollar-denominated debt last week with a weighted average coupon of 2.41 percent, exceeding the 2.33 percent for similar bonds it sold five months earlier even with interest rates at about the same level. The latest sale came two days after Apple said it would use debt to help fund a $55 billion addition to a plan to return cash to shareholders. …While the world’s largest software maker has a higher credit rating (MSFT) than Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), growth (MSFT) at the Redmond, Washington- based company has stagnated for more than a decade. After generating enough free cash flow in 1999 to buy Apple twice over, Microsoft’s $27.5 billion of funds earned in the last 12 months now accounts for about 60 percent of the amount produced (AAPL) by its Cupertino, California-based competitor.

Bad Apple? (TheDailyBeast)
On Tuesday, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) unleashed the corporate equivalent of shock and awe on the markets: its quarterly earning results. The company sold 39 million iPads, earned $9.5 billion, and saw the amount of cash on its books rise to $145 billion, a figure roughly equivalent to the gross domestic product of Belarus. More big numbers: Apple announced that by the end of 2015, it would move some $100 billion in cash off its balance sheet, where it is doing nothing, and onto others’ balance sheets. How? By buying back some $60 billion of its own stock and by increasing its quarterly dividend by 15 percent. Embattled CEO Tim Cook couched the cash blast in positive terms: “We believe so strongly that repurchasing our shares represents an attractive use of our capital.”

Microsoft gets upper hand in first Google patent trial (NDTV)
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) came out on top in the first of two patent trials versus Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Motorola Mobility unit on Thursday, as a federal judge in Seattle ruled largely in its favor. U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle said Microsoft owed only a fraction of the royalties Motorola had claimed for use of its technology in Microsoft’s Xbox console. Motorola had sought as much as $4 billion a year for use of its so-called standard, essential wireless and video patents, while Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) argued its rival deserved about $1 million a year. Robart decided the appropriate payment was about $1.8 million. Microsoft welcomed the outcome. “This decision is good for consumers because it ensures patented technology committed to standards remains affordable for everyone,” said David Howard, Microsoft’s Deputy General Counsel, in a statement.

Microsoft store planned at St. Johns Town Center (JaxDailyRecord)
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), which has about 65 full-line and specialty stores in 29 states, Canada and Puerto Rico, intends to open a Microsoft Retail Store in St. Johns Town Center, according to plans filed with the City. A building-permit application and plans specify a Microsoft Retail Store at St. Johns Town Center. Phase 1 construction will comprise the core and shell modifications in a 4,975-square-foot location at 4791 River City Drive, No. 107. A St. Johns Town Center official said today there are discussions with Microsoft but no lease has been signed. The Microsoft location is not far from the Apple store, which is at 4712 River City Drive and is one of the initial tenants at St. Johns Town Center, which opened in March 2005. The core and shell modifications for Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) represent a $400,000 project.

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