Tech Roundup: Panasonic Eyes Sanyo, Used IT, Oprah Moves Kindle, More

Last Updated Nov 3, 2008 10:20 AM EST

Panasonic considers Sanyo -- In economic rocky water you can bet on two things: some companies will pull back and try to weather the storms, and others will acquiring when businesses come cheap. Panasonic is reputedly mulling a purchase of Sanyo Electric. The largest global maker of consumer electronics would buy Sanyo from that company's largest three shareholders: Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and Daiwa Securities SMBC Co., which rescued struggling Sanyo in 2006. Warren Buffet said that Berkshire Hathaway was going to invest $5 billion in Goldman and Sumitomo just lowered its earnings estimate for its current fiscal year by 63 percent. Ah, nothing like dealing with banks during a credit crisis to find potential sellers that might have a strong interest in obtaining cash to cover whatever bad business bets they have outstanding. An acquisition would give Panasonic a foot into the solar cell arena and give it the biggest lithium battery maker in the world. [Source: Bloomberg,]

Google, Yahoo, and service-level agreements -- Things are looking a little bleak for the Google-Yahoo alliance, particularly as the Department of Justice would likely require a consent decree, which would mean monitoring Google's future compliance. It's unlikely that Google would want to particularly in that sort of ongoing search activity. That might put Yahoo back to talking with Microsoft, and suddenly that $33 a share once offered might seem like a dream number -- Jerry Yang and the board would be dreaming if they thought they could get Steve Ballmer and company to be that generous again. In the meantime, Google pushes Google Apps by introducing service-level agreements, though how is that going to matter to people when they don't pay for the service in the first place and so may not be able to collect in case of an outage? [Source: Financial Times, InfoWorld]

IT eBay? -- There's a corporate IT trend bound to make vendors uncomfortable: the rising popularity of used and refurbished hardware. That hits the manufacturers in two ways. First, both business users and consumers are more frequently considering getting a used-but-not-too-old machine, and there are many on the market, directing money away from the vendors. Second, the vendors face themselves as their own newest competitors, making touting brand reliability a pretty difficult argument to make. What will they say, "Don't buy that use machine because we only build them to last two years?" [Source: BusinessWeek]

Paper or silicon, Oprah moves books -- Not long ago, Oprah Winfrey publicly promoted the Kindle e-book reader. It seems to have paid off handsomely for Amazon, as search traffic for Kindle jumped by 479 percent. Amazon's traffic was up 6 percent, four-fifths of blogs about the Kindle on October 23 mentioned Oprah, and traffic from to was up almost 15.5 times. Not percent -- times. [Source: DigiTimes]

Acer to world: "Meltdown? What meltdown?" -- Perhaps the stance is hubris or complete fabrication, but Acer says it has felt little impact from the world's financial crisis and, by its own numbers at least, expecting to take between 40 percent and 50 percent of the growing global netbook market. Them that's got shall get, I guess.[Source: DigiTimes]

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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.