Google goes wireless
Google unveiled its long-awaited cellphone platform, called Android, and an Open Handset Alliance with 33 other companies to promote Android-based phones. The alliance includes industry leaders as diverse as Intel, Qualcomm, Motorola, LG, Samsung, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, and eBay. (The Wall Street Journal) The Linux-based Android platform will let developers create software and mobile Web tools free of licensing fees, with the goal of wresting control of what’s on cellphones from wireless carriers. “The potential is there for this to be a game-changing development, but it remains to be seen,” said Opus Research analyst Greg Sterling. (Reuters)
Time Warner lays out succession plan
Time Warner announced that Richard Parsons will step down as CEO on Jan. 1, to be replaced by President and Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Bewkes. Parsons, who became CEO a year after the company’s troubled merger with AOL, will stay on as chairman. ( Bewkes succesfully and agressively led Time Warner’s HBO division for seven years, and analysts said he is more likely than Parsons to consider selling off parts of the media and entertainment giant. “Dick’s role was to still the waters,” said Lawrence Haverty of Gamco Investors. “Now Bewkes will maybe get license from the board to stir things up a little.” (Los Angeles Times, free registration required)
White House takes on consumer safety
The Bush Administration is unveiling new consumer safety proposals today, prompted by months of well-publicized food and product recalls. The proposals, some of which required congressional action, would expand the power of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Food and Drug Administration to issue mandatory recalls of unsafe products, and send U.S. inspectors overseas to examine food, drugs, and other products headed to the U.S. (The New York Times, free registration required) Many of the proposals would rely on industry self-policing, with the idea that inspectors can then focus on products deemed high risk. (AP in
Foreclosure double jeopardy
As a record number of homeowners face foreclosure, critics contend that loan servicers are illicitly profiting from the borrowers’ misfortunes. Bankruptcy specialists say that some homeowners may even be losing their houses unnecessarily, as lightly regulated lenders and servicers violate basic legal requirements, tacking on questionable fees and miscalculating the amount a borrower owes. In one case a lender demanded more than $1 million on a balance worth $60,000. “We’re talking about millions and millions of dollars that mortgage servicers are extracting from debtors that I think are totally unlawful and illegal,” said bankruptcy lawyer O. Max Gardner III. (The New York Times, free registration required)