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Today in Tech: Amazon Exaggerates Prime Offerings and Google Splits Its Stock


Amazon jukes the streaming stats and Google's co-founders defend themselves against their own investors. Also, an IP battle that will decide the fate of programming languages to come.

Size matters, or at least Amazon (AMZN) thinks so. The Wal-Mart of the Web has been inflating the size of its streaming library by counting individual episodes of TV shows as separate TV shows. So basically, the benefit of having a Prime membership gets you only a tenth of the shows that you thought it would get you. Prime members pay $79 per year (a number randomly chosen because its a prime number, hahaha)* to access "17,000" movies and television shows. Fast Company counts a grand total of 1,745 movies and 150 TV series. 4.2% of Amazon's streaming offerings are comprised of different branches of the Power Rangers franchise. Nothing here to keep Netflix (NFLX) up at night. Netflix doesn't trumpet any specific number of titles, but an independent analysis estimates that Netflix has approximately 13,000 titles -- about 9,500 of those are movies and the rest are full TV series.

Are programming languages intellectual property? Can a company own a language like Java or C++? Conversations like these might take place alongside debates like Next Generation vs. Voyager**, indeed. But this is exactly the crux of a massive intellectual property case involving two of tech's biggest players. Oracle (ORCL) is suing Google (GOOG) for using its Java language as the backbone of the Android operating system, and the judge in the case specifically asked lawyers on both sides to take a firm yes or no position on the copyrightability of programming languages. They're pulling out all the stops and the full trial will start on Monday. For the record, Android was like that before it was bought by Google. Android apps are built in Java and the OS uses Java APIs, usually verbatim. Oracle snatched up the Java language when it acquired Sun Microsystems. Under US law, you can't protect an idea, but an expression of the idea can be copyrighted. Like you can't copyright "movie about teenagers murdering each other in some kind of apocalyptic totalitarian future" but you can copyright Lions Gate's (LGF) The Hunger Games and there's nothing Japan's Gentosha can do in court, no matter how much the movie rips off the classic Battle Royale.

If the judge rules in Oracle's favor, the creation of new programming languages might become much more expensive, as they usually borrow syntax and appearance from earlier languages. Microsoft's (MSFT) C#, which is basically a cookie-cutter copy of Java with some Microsoft syrup drizzled on top, is a good case in point. Will authors of Java programming manuals have to give Oracle a cut? If Google wins, will companies like Oracle continue to invest in programming innovation? This will be interesting.

Google reported earnings yesterday. Ad revenue grew, and the company beat expectations with $10.08 per share. The big news from their announcement is that the company is splitting its north-of-$600 stock, making a whole new class of non-voting stock in the process. This means that an investor that holds one share of Google worth $654.50 (as it is in the pre-market this morning, up 3.49%) will get one voting share and one non-voting share, both worth $327.25. This effectively dilutes the voting power of each investor and protects the independence of Larry Page and Sergey Brin to continue making the awesome stuff of the future that has nothing to do with the core business of selling ads. The measure will come up for a vote at the company's annual meeting.

Is this stock split "evil?" Felix Salmon at Reuters thinks so. This kind of corporate-governance shenanigan wasn't even legal until the 1980s. Google's stock is down today, so looks like investors aren't crazy about it.

Apple (AAPL) applied for an application for futuristic "unibody" earbuds," according to Apple Insider. The new earbuds will be pieced together in such a way that the cable, jack, and earpiece all look like one single seamless unit, a hallmark of Apple's sleek aesthetic.

Barnes and Noble (BKS) might get the short end of the stick in the e-book pricing war that Apple is fighting with the DOJ. The struggling bookseller is trying to revive its fortunes with a new Nook e-reader tablet. The new Nook will be the first e-ink reader that can be read in the dark.

Nokia's (NOK) much-trumpeted Lumia 900 Windows Phone has a pretty bad profit margin next to the iPhone. According to iSuppli, the Lumia costs $217 to make, and sells for $450 without subsidies from wireless carriers. The iPhone 4S 16GB costs $196 to produce and sells for $649.

*More nerd humor: There are 10 types of people in the world, those who understand binary, and those who don't. Nyuk Nyuk. Get it?***

**Next Generation. No friggin' contest.

***10 is binary for the numeral two. You may now scrape your cerebrum off the ceiling.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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