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Tech News: Mobile Phone Sales Fell in 2012; Bullish Investors See Hope for Netflix

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In other news, Twitter and AmEx partner up.

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This column brings you the most interesting and useful business and financial commentary on technology from around the Web every day.

"Sales of mobile phones around the world fell last year for the first time since 2009 as consumers shunned cheaper feature phones, research company Gartner said on Wednesday.

"'Tough economic conditions, shifting consumer preferences, and intense market competition weakened the worldwide mobile phone market,' Gartner analyst Anshul Gupta said on Wednesday.

"Smartphone sales, a category dominated by Samsung and Apple, continued to rise, he said, and the higher-end devices would account for more than half the market for the first time this year."


Marketwatch:
Link: Is the Twitter Hashtag About to Be the New Dollar Sign?
"Is the Twitter #hashtag about to be the new dollar sign?

"Maybe, thanks to a new partnership between Twitter and credit card and finance giant American Express (NYSE:AXP).

"As noted on All ThingsD, The two are teaming up to launch a new social-commerce platform in which American Express cardholders can send tweets using #hashtags to get access to special deals and buy products via Twitter.

"Cardholders need to sync their American Express cards with Twitter to participate in the #hashtag deals. The first offer was for a $25 American Express gift card that Amex card holders can receive for $15 by tweeting #BuyAmexGiftCard 25."

CNET:
Link: HTC Teases Next Flagship Smartphone

"HTC (TPE:2498) is gearing up for its next big launch.

"The Taiwanese company put a countdown clock on its Web site in an effort to tease next week's event. While the company hasn't publicly talked about what it will be launching, it is widely expected to unveil its next One flagship smartphone, which has also been known in some circles as the M7.

"There are no details on HTC's site beyond the occasional lens flare in the background.

"HTC has continued to see if it profit and revenue slide as the company desperately attempts to win back the hearts and minds of its customers. While HTC was a high-flyer in the early days of Android, it has lost its leadership position to Samsung Electronics, which has overtaken the industry on the back of its Galaxy S franchise."

Gizmodo
Link: Iran Photoshopped Its New Stealth Fighter Jet to Look Like It Was Flying When It Really Wasn't
"Oh, Iran. Your Qaher 313 stealth fighter jet sure looks intimidating but it will never get off the ground. So why do you insist on tricking everybody into thinking that the beast can fly? Iran's latest transgression is especially hilarious: they've photoshopped the Qaher 313 onto a stock image of Mount Damavand to make it look like it's flying.

"Seriously, the stock image that Iran used of magestic Mount Damavand can be found at PickyWallpapers.com. If you brighten up the picture a little bit, it's the SAME EXACT THING. Iran floated the picture with the Qaher 313 superimposed on the mountain to "prove" that the fighter jet could fly."

Wall Street Journal
Link: Bullish Investors See New Hope for Netflix Profit Stream

"Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX): A house of cards or built on firm foundations?

"The online-video and DVD-by-mail company long paid top dollar for content, raising questions over its ability to generate consistent profits. For example, its deal with Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) alone, announced in December, will cost around $300 million a year, or about 12% of its current content budget, from 2016.

"But Netflix hasn't gobbled up everything on offer. Monday, premium channel Starz (NASDAQ:LSTZA) agreed to a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment (NYSE:SNE) that analysts estimate is modestly higher than the $200 million a year it currently pays."

No positions in stocks mentioned.
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