NEW YORK — Americans are saying C U L8TR to text messaging, a wireless industry group says, as Internet-based applications such as Apple's Messages are starting to take over what once was a cash cow for phone companies.
CTIA — The Wireless Association says Americans sent 2.2 trillion text messages last year, down 5 percent from 2011. That's still 19 text messages per person per day.
Texting, or short message service, vaulted into the mainstream in 2007, despite often costing 10 cents each. Costs came down quickly as phone companies started selling monthly “bundles” of texts. Now many phone companies give text messaging away as part of a plan that meters the amount of data used.
That has helped stave off mass migration to Internet chat applications and Facebook messaging in the U.S., making the decline somewhat surprising, said Pamela Clark-Dickson, an analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media in Britain. In countries where phone companies have kept the cost of texts messaging high, the use of chat applications such as WhatsApp has exploded. Informa estimates those messages surpassed texts worldwide last year.
Clark-Dickson said texts still will remain popular and noted businesses have started using it as a way to communicate with customers. “SMS has still got quite a lot going for it,” she said.
-- The Associated Press
U.S. Cellular to offer Apple phones
U.S. Cellular Corp., a Chicago-based provider of mobile-phone service, expects to get Apple Inc. products later this year, joining the country's four largest carriers in offering the devices.
“We have a number of strategies in progress to increase loyalty and attract more customers, including ... offering Apple products later this year,” Chief Executive Officer Mary Dillon said Friday.
Apple's iPhone, the best-selling smartphone in the U.S., may help the company compete with larger carriers. U.S. Cellular also is rolling out a speedier network based on long-term evolution, or LTE, technology. Still, the network expansion is increasing capital-spending costs, and revenue will probably decline this year, according to analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
-- Bloomberg News
Apple debt plan is a tax avoider
Apple Inc. avoided as much as $9.2 billion in taxes by financing part of a $55 billion stock buyback with debt rather than offshore cash that would have been billed by the U.S. government, Moody's Investment Services estimates.
Based on current rates, Apple will pay interest of about $308 million a year on the $17 billion bond offering, said Gerald Granovsky, a senior vice president at Moody's.
“From a pure corporate-finance theory perspective, this was a no-brainer,” Granovsky said.
If the funds had come from Apple's offshore cash pile of about $100 billion, the iPhone maker, based in Cupertino, Calif., would have had to pay a 35 percent tax to repatriate the money, he said. That means Apple avoided about $9.2 billion in taxes. And because interest payments are tax-deductible, that's another $100 million a year, Granovsky said.
Apple's sale of bonds last week was the biggest corporate offering on record.
-- Bloomberg News
Nook HDs to gain Google apps
NEW YORK — Barnes & Noble is teaming up with Google to vastly increase the number of apps available on its Nook HD tablets.
The bookstore chain said Friday it was adding Google's Play app store to its 7-inch Nook HD and 9-inch HD+ products in the U.S. and U.K. via a software update. The move expands the number of apps available from the roughly 10,000 the Nook already offered in its own store — such as Angry Birds and Netflix — to 700,000-plus apps and games offered on Google Play. And it comes after a weak holiday sales season for the Nook, which is struggling to gain market share in the rapidly expanding tablet market.
CEO William Lynch said research and sales during the holidays show that consumer preference is shifting toward all-purpose tablets rather than simple e-readers.
“We saw coming off holiday the market moved to multifunction tablets,” he said. “Consumer research showed us the breadth of applications available is really critical.”
-- The Associated Press