Sprint Buys Some Spectrum, Video Streaming Gets Bigger And Your Weekly Tech Recap

By Aaron Levitt | December 18, 2012 AAA

While the previous week ended on a rather somber mood, the technology industry continues to be a hot bed of deals and there were plenty of new services launched by top providers. All in all, the tech sector continues to be the place for investors to gain portfolio energy and growth.

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Sprint Gets Larger
Investors in beaten down Internet provider Clearwire (Nasdaq:CLWR) got some good news at the end of the week, when the nation's third largest telecom provider Sprint (NYSE:S) offered to buy a portion of the company. Clearwire has been seeking financing for a high-speed wireless network upgrade, to keep itself afloat as rivals have taken away market share and as 3G/4G networks have provided faster data speeds. The telecom hopes to use the purchase to help it offer high-speed wireless services.

Sprint is already a majority shareholder in the Internet firm, and will pay roughly $2.2 billion for more than half of the remaining shares. The $2.2 billion bid works out to be $2.97 a share. Although many minority shareholders disagree with that amount, Sprint does have the blessing of its new parent company, Japan's Softbank, as well as other major shareholders including Comcast (Nasdaq:CMCSA) and Intel (Nasdaq:INTC).

SEE: A Primer On Investing In The Tech Industry

More Options for Video Streaming
Digital video firm Netflix (Nasdaq:NFLX) may have just received some more competition in the streaming space. Both Coinstar's (NYSE:CSTR) Redbox division and Amazon (Nasdaq:AMZN) unveiled new ambitious plans to tackle the streaming video space.

Redbox announced that it will move beyond its kiosk service and offer an instant video service. Partnering with Verizon (NYSE:VZ), Redbox Instant will cost only $8 a month - the same as Netflix - and include four credits for one-night DVD rentals from Redbox's 42,000 kiosks. The comparable Netflix plan only includes streaming.

At the same time, Amazon has also boosted its streaming media offerings by launching its Instant Video service and its Cloud Player App to more mobile platforms. Amazon's app is now available on the iPhone and iPad as well as other devices like the Kindle and Android. That will allow users with device accessibility access to more than 30,000 movies and TV shows.

Either way, both announcements give consumers more choices in the streaming video segment besides just Netflix.

SEE: Netflix Has A Bumpy, Crowded Road Ahead

Users Now Won't Get Lost
Lately, stumbles have been rare for Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL). So when its Maps application was a dud, investors and pundits went crazy. iPhone users won't have to get lost anymore. Google (Nasdaq:GOOG) Maps is once again available. The app features turn-by-turn navigations, live traffic information and public transportation directions. These features were missing or were very problematic on Apple's system. While Google won't be collecting licensing fees from Apple now that Maps is just an app rather than an integrated feature of iOS, it does have the opportunity to be ad supported. Analysts expect that fact to actually bring in more money for the tech firm.

Cisco Sells a "Core" Business
Finally, networking giant Cisco (Nasdaq:CSCO) is continuing in its efforts to reinvent itself as a more software and enterprise tech firm has announced that it has hired Barclay's to sell its home-based router division. Cisco acquired the division for $500 million in 2003 and its Linksys routers have become the staple of many home offices. However, it's a very low margin business and the tech firm is finding better opportunities in the cloud and smart grid.

The Bottom Line
The technology sector started off pretty strong. Year-end mergers continue to happen at a rapid pace and firms continue to transform themselves. Once again, the tech sector has proven itself as the go-to place for portfolio growth.

At the time of writing, Aaron Levitt did not own any shares in any company mentioned in this article.

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