While Americans can recount the weekend's epic battle on the gridiron - and which companies had the best TV commercials - we here at Investopedia can give you the rundown of the biggest tech news in the last week. Many of the same themes that drove the sector forward in 2012 still prevail today. Earnings continue to roll in, and new product launches shift. Likewise, mobile patent litigation and buyout activities have taken the sector by storm. Many of these themes were the biggest headlines of last week.
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Blackberry Fights Hard
This past Wednesday, bewildered handheld device marketer BlackBerry (Nasdaq:BBRY) - formerly known as Research In Motion - unveiled what is expected to be its "live or die" moment. RIM showcased its new BlackBerry 10 operating system, along with its all-touchscreen Z10 and classic QWERTY keyboard Q10 devices to a packed house. The software is set to be the central piece to RIM's turnaround.
The company has suffered as its bread and butter clientele - the corporate world - has shifted toward other devices. Features on its new phones, such as being able to access email from any app with a swipe and BB Balance, which lets users keep their corporate and personal information completely separate, are attempts to gain this critical group back.
So far, the market hasn't liked what it has seen, and RIMM shares fell hard on the announcement. However, it will take a quarter or two of real sales numbers to see if BlackBerry 10 will be the firm's saving grace.
SEE: BlackBerry Needed "Wow" - Delivered "Pretty Good"
Android Is King
While Research In Motion suffers, Google's (Nasdaq:GOOG) Android OS continues to mop the floor with its competition. Its latest feather in its cap? Winning the tablet crown. According to consultant IDC, the fourth quarter showed that the overall tablet market grew rapidly, but more importantly, Android grabbed a bigger chunk of that growth. Apple's (Nasdaq:AAPL) market share of its branded tablets - such as the iPad and iPad mini - dropped below 50% for the first time at just 43.6%.
Apple is still the biggest single vendor of tablet computers. However, the fact that Google will let anyone use Android has allowed the OS's combined market share to finally surpass the Cupertino, Calif. firm. Device makers such as Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS), Amazon (Nasdaq:AMZN) and Asus have flocked to the OS, and the range of Android tablets available is far larger than Apple's.
It'll be interesting to see just how far Apple's tablet market share slips, as Android continues to gain acceptance.
Mr. Softy Gets Sued
They aren't calling it the patent wars for nothing. Fresh off its search patent victory against Google and AOL (NYSE:AOL), small-cap Vringo (AMEX:VRNG) has placed Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) in its sights.
The company alleges that Mr. Softy uses search technology based on patents it owns. Microsoft uses the technology to generate advertisements and associated links for its Bing search engine. The lawsuit filed Jan. 31 claimed that Microsoft willfully infringed its patents and that one of the trademarks in question was referenced by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office in 2003, when the agency rejected a similar Microsoft patent application.
Back in November, Vringo was awarded $30 million in damages from Google and AOL for violating the same patents as in the Microsoft case.
SEE: What You Need To Know About Mobile Patent Wars
Facebook Grows Mobile
Long-suffering shareholders in social media darling Facebook (Nasdaq:FB) may finally be getting some good news - the company has begun turning some revenue on its mobile offerings. Back in August, the company created a new iPhone app and began showing ads to mobile users. This included "Sponsored Stories" and other ways to "like" company pages.
Those efforts seem to have borne fruit. Facebook's fourth-quarter mobile ad sales accounted for 23% of the company's advertising revenue. The $306 million was a jump of 14% last quarter. More importantly, mobile "daily active users" exceeded the site's desktop active users for the first time ever. That stat is considered a key metric for the firm.
Mobile remains the key moneymaker for many firms, and with revenue in the sector finally rising, Facebook shareholders could finally be seeing some green in their future.
SEE: Uncertainty Over Facebook's Emerging Model Will Keep Things Interesting
The Bottom Line
For tech investors, the previous week saw more of the same themes that were playing out all of last year. Patent war litigation continues to heat up, while new mobile and tablet devices will drive innovation. Overall, these factors will continue to be the driving force for the industry going forward.
At the time of writing, Aaron Levitt did not own any shares in any company mentioned in this article.
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