Tech news from around the web:

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has become the centre of bid speculation. The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft and Nokia had, in recent months, considered the idea of making a joint bid for RIM, people familiar with the matter told the newspaper. Meanwhile, Reuters says that online retailer Amazon had hired an investment bank in the summer to review a potential merger, but did not make a formal offer. Read more

Jive Software’s successful debut on the Nasdaq on Tuesday reflects investor enthusiasm for social media companies, though it is unclear how eager businesses are to bring a Facebook-style network to the workplace. Read more

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Apple has announced that it has hit the 18bn mark in downloads of the 500,000 apps it has on offer at its App Store, PaidContent reports. Last week Google revealed that it had achieved 10bn downloads from its app store. Read more

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Amazon is to release an over-the-air software update to its latest tablet computer, the Kindle Fire, The New York Times reports. News of the uprgade comes as complaints about the tablet’s features and usability are on the rise. Among the complaints, the NYT reports, are:

  • There is no external volume control.
  • The off switch is easy to hit by accident.
  • Web pages take a long time to load.
  • There is no privacy on the device.
  • The touch screen is frequently hesitant.

 Read more

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Microsoft has revealed details of its Windows Store for Windows 8, The Verge reports. The store is to be released in late February and developers can submit apps starting at $1.49. The company also revealed a revenue share that differs from rival marketplaces. Read more

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Microsoft is planning an iPad version of its popular Office software suite, The Daily reports.The product is set to cost around $10 – about the same price Apple charges for its Pages, Numbers and Keynote products. Read more

The Black Friday glad tidings from consumer electronics makers continued on Tuesday, with Sony announcing a big rise in US sales and Microsoft reporting a record week for its Xbox 360 console and Kinect controller.

The news followed Nintendo’s announcement on Monday of record sales of its Wii and 3DS gaming machines. Read more

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China has overtaken the US as the world’s biggest smartphone market by volume in the third quarter, Reuters reports. According to research company Strategy Analytics, smartphone shipments grew 58% to reach 23.9m units in China during the quarter, while US shipments fell 7% from the second quarter to reach 23.3m devices. Read more

Steve Ballmer received only half the potential bonus he stood to make in Microsoft’s latest fiscal year, though the pay-out was still in line with the “target bonus” the company had set for him.

The message from the Microsoft board: despite successes like the Kinect and a breakthrough deal with Nokia, under Mr Ballmer’s leadership the company is still falling short in the all-important smartphone and tablet markets. Read more

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Chrome, Google’s web browser, is on the brink of replacing Firefox as the second-most-popular browser after Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, ComputerWorld reports. Chrome’s global average user share for September was 23.6%, while Firefox’s stood at 26.8%. IE, meanwhile, was at 41.7%, according to data from StatCounter, which predicts that Chrome will overtake Firefox by December. Read more

Could there be a lawsuit over the Fire in Amazon’s future?

This was what Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, had to say when I caught up with him shortly after the launch of the device on Wednesday: “We have yet to see an Android device in the market that does not infringe on our patents.” Read more

Things are heating up again in the world of tablets. While talk of a tablet war is buzzing, with the latest player soon to be Microsoft, existing tablet makers are struggling to catch up with the iPad.

This week, Microsoft showcased its Windows 8 operating system on tablets at the Build conference and RIM announced its Playbook tablet sales had fallen far below expectations. Read more

steven sinofsky

Here is some unexpected news from the frontline of the tablet computing revolution: the screens full of “apps” that have achieved an almost iconic status thanks to the success of the iPad, may not be the be-all and end-all of touchscreen computing.

The unlikely prompt for this thought is none other than Microsoft. The PC software leviathan has hardly been known for its pioneering ways with computer interfaces, let alone for design flair. Nevertheless, it looks set to add an interesting new twist to tablets.

 Read more

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Club Penguin, the Disney-owned social network for children, is to make its debut on mobile devices with the release of Puffle Launch for iOS, Mashable reports. Puffle Launch for iOS is a replica of an existing Club Penguin web game which is played by 150,000 children each day. Read more

Yahoo which is expected to lose its US display-advertising leadership this year to fast-growing Facebook, is trying to shore up its position by striking a mutual selling agreement with rivals Microsoft and AOL. Read more

Following through on its pledge earlier this week to weigh new strategic options even as it looks for a new chief executive, Yahoo and its bankers are already fielding inquiries. Read more

Tech news from around the web:

Twitter has acquired Bagcheck, a service that allows users to create, discover and share lists, for an undisclosed price, The Next Web reports. Co-founder Sam Pullara will be joining the Twitter engineering team as part of the acquisition.

Less than a month since launching in the US, Spotify has 1.4 million registered users in the US says a source familiar with the company’s operations, AllThingsD reports.  Read more

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Google has announced that it is to use its own data to detect malware viruses targeting its users, Techcrunch reports. From today, the online search giant will use Google Search results pages to warn users if their computers are infected with a specific form of malware.

Chinese search engine Baidu has launched an internet browser designed to compete with Internet Explorer and Chrome, The Wall Street Journal says. The program’s home page will display links to software applications and popular websites, such as the Weibo microblog service. Read more

Google logoAct one of Google’s spat with the Chinese authorities over censorship and government-backed hacking closed last year with Google partially retreating from the world’s most populous nation.

There was, however, still the unresolved issue of Google Maps, and act two of Google versus China may now be beginning with Google having submitted an application to Beijing to allow the service to remain in China. Read more

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Groupon competitor LivingSocial is considering a $1bn initial public offering, according to PaidContent. The IPO could value the social shopping site, which expects to generate $1bn in revenue this year, at $10bn-$15bn.

Hewlett-Packard’s chief executive officer Leo Apotheker has said the computer manufacturer is in talks to license its WebOS mobile software, says Bloomberg.  WebOS would give hardware makers a choice beyond Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows software as they seek to challenge Apple’s hold over the smartphone and tablet markets. Read more