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Tech News: Apple Beats Out Samsung as Fourth Quarter Smartphone King

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Also, Google has finally figured out how to ship the Nexus on time.

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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. What fun!

VentureBeat
Link: Apple Was the Largest US Phone Vendor in Q4
"Strong sales of the iPhone 5 helped push Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to the top spot among US phone vendors, reports the research firm Strategy Analytics.

"The firm estimates Apple shipped 17.7 million iPhones during the fourth quarter (Apple's own figures cover its fiscal quarters, not calendar quarters), barely edging out Samsung's 16.8 million phones. That left Apple with 34% of the US phone market (a big jump from its 25.4% share last year), compared to Samsung's 32.3%.

"Strategy Analytics points out that Samsung (PINK:SSNLF) has been the top US phone vendor since 2008, and it will likely reclaim the top spot once it releases its next major phone, the Galaxy S 4. Samsung also has several other phone lines, like the Galaxy Note and lower-end Android phones, while Apple only has its iPhone line."

TechCrunch
Link: Google Gets Its Act Together: New Nexus 4 Orders Reaching Customers in as Little as 48 Hours
"Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is apparently doing a good job of improving its supply stream issues and making good on promised delivery times for customers for new Nexus 4 orders – better than good, in fact. UK customers are reporting this morning (via CNET) that the Nexus 4 devices they ordered when Google released its latest crop of phones this past Wednesday are already arriving at their doorsteps, less than 48 hours later.

"Google had predicted that phones would take one to two weeks to arrive at the homes of those placing new orders when the phones went on sale, but it clearly seems to have done something right, either on its end or in terms of getting LG (NYSE:LPL) to deliver more consistently."

Mashable
Link: HBO Shows Could Come to Apple TV This Year
"According to Bloomberg, Apple is in talks with Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) to make its HBO Go app, which already allows HBO subscribers to watch shows on their iPhone and iPad devices, available on Apple's Internet-connected TV console. The $99 device lets viewers watch TV shows and films purchased on iTunes and stream content from providers like Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Hulu Plus, YouTube and more.

"The move would make Apple TV more competitive - in the eyes of HBO subscribers, at least - with other Internet-connected set top boxes, such as Roku and the Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox 360, which already have the HBO Go app. Sony (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation 3 devices also lack HBO Go access. Apple sold more than 2 million Apple TVs in the holiday quarter, the company said on its fiscal 2013 earnings call."

Wired Business
Link: Amazon Crash Could Cost a Lot More Than 400,000 Pairs of Unsold Underwear
"Imagine the front doors suddenly locked on every Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) in the country simultaneously right in the middle of the business day - and for nearly an hour, no one could find the keys. That's basically what happened to Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) when, in an incredibly rare hiccup, its homepage went down for nearly an hour Thursday afternoon.

"Pundits and investors have been chattering all week about the resilience of Amazon's share price despite ending 2012 in the red. Amazon's sales are growing at a faster clip year-over-year than Walmart's during the big-box giant's ascendancy in the 1990s. So when that sales engine grinds to a halt, that's a lot more money lost than it used to be."

The Next Web
Link: Facebook Introduces the Facebook Card: Yet Another Way for Businesses to Rely on the Social Giant
"Rolling out gradually to US users, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) claims its Facebook Card is 'a new type of gift card.' The card, which is built into the Facebook Gifts product, counts Jamba Juice (NASDAQ:JMBA), Olive Garden (NYSE:DRI), Sephora, and Target (NYSE:TGT) as launch partners.

"What's particularly interesting is that this single, reusable card works across different merchants, but holds separate balances for each one. For example, Facebook has shared that on one single card, 'you might have gift balances of $100 at Sephora, $75 at Target, $50 at Olive Garden, and $8.25 at Jamba Juice.'"
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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