Apple, Microsoft summoned in Australian pricing probe

Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe Systems have been summoned by Australian lawmakers to explain why consumers pay more for IT products Down Under than in other countries.

The Australian Parliament's House Committee on Infrastructure and Communications said Monday that it wants the companies to appear before the committee as part of an ongoing probe regarding disparity between prices charged in Australia and in overseas markets.

"The Committee is looking at the impacts of prices charged to Australian consumers for IT products -- Australian consumers often pay much higher prices for hardware and software than people in other countries," … Read more

Google's Larry Page makes first public appearance after illness

After a several month hiatus, Google's CEO Larry Page made his first public appearance today at his company's annual Zeitgeist conference in Arizona, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Page spoke to an audience of hundreds of people about the company's recent affairs, such as its battle with Apple over maps, its dealings with antitrust regulators, and Google's specialized services.

Last June, the 39-year-old Page was noticeably absent from Google's annual shareholders' meeting, he also didn't attend Google I/O or the second-quarter earnings call in July. At the time, Chairman Eric Schmidt said … Read more

Scientists want to float a boat on Saturn moon Titan

While the Mars rover explores the Red Planet, a group of engineers submitted plans for a new out-of-this-world space mission: landing a boat on the Saturn moon Titan, which NASA, the European Space Agency, and Italian space agency ASI explored in depth over the last decade as part of the Cassini-Huygens mission.

Building on the successful 2005 landing of the Huygens probe on Titan, the new mission would aim to explore and collect data from the weird liquid methane makeup of the lakes found on the Saturn moon's surface. To explore these uncharted methane flows, engineers at the aerospace company Sener -- working in collaboration with Spain's Centro de Astrobiologia -- submitted a proposal last week to the European Planetary Science Congress for a Talise (Titan Lake In-situ Sampling Propelled Explorer) boat probe. … Read more

Justice Department closes probe into Google Street View

Google released information today that the U.S. Justice Department investigation into the company's use of wireless networks while working on the Street View project closed as of last May.

This information comes within a report that the Internet giant filed with the Federal Communications Commission today, according to Bloomberg. The Justice Department decided, "it would not pursue a case for violation of the Wiretap Act," Google said in the filing.

There have been a handful of government investigations into how Google's Street View cars collected the personal and private data of individuals via wireless networks … Read more

Space: Not a final frontier

Earlier today, scientists at the European Space Agency marked a milestone: On March 1, 2002, the largest Earth observation satellite ever built was launched into orbit. During the course of its (extended) lifetime, the Envisat satellite has circled the Earth more than 50,000 times, providing fodder to scientists publishing their research in an estimated 2,000 scientific journals.

But it's hardly an anomaly. Despite the well-chronicled budgetary problems affecting space programs around the world, space exploration nonetheless continues to extend our understanding of the solar system (and beyond). Just this week, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope took the … Read more

Report: Nortel portfolio buyers facing DOJ scrutiny

Despite last month's $4.5 billion sale of Nortel's patent portfolio wrapping up this week, government scrutiny over what its buyers intend to do with the patents continues, a new report says.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. Department of Justice is "intensifying" an investigation of the portfolio buyers to see whether they plan on launching litigation against competitors, specifically ones using Google's Android.

That consortium of technology companies, comprising Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion, and Sony, beat out Google, Intel, and others for ownership of the portfolio containing some … Read more

Buzz Out Loud 1503: FTC needs to put that probe somewhere else (Podcast)

Today on Buzz Out Loud, we preview tomorrow's "awesome" Facebook announcement -- and we hope it's not just Skype integration. Microsoft is getting in bed with Baidu in China, but Cisco is getting in a much dirtier bed with China's government, helping build a massive surveillance system that we're sure will just be used to hand out traffic tickets. Plus, is #antisec officially in a world of hurt? We'll see.

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Apple could face antitrust investigation in India

Apple could find itself the target of an antitrust probe in India after a complaint was lodged against it from an unnamed party, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The complaint specifically asks India's antitrust agency to investigate whether Apple broke India's Competition Act of 2002 in the rollout of the iPhone 4 by only making it available to certain carriers. Apple began selling the phone to Indian carrier outfits Bharti Airtel and Aircel on May 27.

Apple remains selective about what carriers it makes its devices available on, though the overall number continues to grow beyond 200 worldwide. … Read more

HP proposes new probe into Hurd's departure

Hewlett-Packard is ready to launch an "independent" investigation into former CEO Mark Hurd's departure from the company.

The probe would investigate the circumstances of Hurd's resignation from HP and his separation agreement with the company, according to a January 14 court filing (see below) in U.S. District Court for Northern California. The filing is in response to a shareholder lawsuit that claimed HP wasted corporate assets on an "unreasonable and grossly excessive severance award upon his resignation." HP awarded Hurd a compensation package valued at about $35 million at the time of his … Read more

NASA planning mission to visit the sun

We know it's hot up there, but NASA wants to know a bit more about the sun and its atmosphere. And so sometime before 2018, the agency intends to send a spacecraft into the solar atmosphere.

This will mark the first time that a spacecraft from Earth will actually visit a star.

The decision to chart a mission to the sun also realizes a dream that astronomers almost realized a half century ago, when the National Academy of Science's "Simpson Committee" in 1958 recommended a probe to investigate. Several studies were subsequently carried out to test … Read more