Saturday, August 9, 2008

Nokia will double fund with additional $150 mil

Nokia Corp. is more than doubling the size of its direct-venture investment fund with an injection of $150 million, with a view to putting some of the money to use in India and China.

Menlo Park, Calif.-based Nokia Growth Partners was set up in 2004 to manage $100 million of Nokia's money. Its investments have included Bitboys, a Finnish developer of graphics chips that was bought by ATI in 2006 for $44.5 million, and Global Locate, a U.S. maker of GPS chips that was bought by Broadcom Corp. for at least $146 million last year.

Apart from seeking a financial return, the fund hunts for startups with technologies that are useful to Nokia. Some areas of focus include mobile payments and camera technology.

Venture funds have become a standard accessory for companies in the cell-phone arena, though the approaches vary. Qualcomm Inc. has a venture fund with a broad portfolio, much like Nokia Growth Partners. Research in Motion Ltd., which makes the BlackBerry, announced in May that it had set up a $150 million fund with outside partners to invest in companies creating software for BlackBerrys and other mobile devices.

Yahoo offering refunds for music downloads

NEW YORK - Yahoo Inc. is offering coupons or refunds to users who find songs they bought inaccessible after Sept. 30, when the company shuts its music-download service.

The decision to close the Yahoo Music Store had added fuel to criticisms over copy-protection measures known as digital-rights management, but Yahoo promised it won't entirely abandon loyal customers.

The company said Wednesday that it is offering coupons on request for people to buy songs again through Yahoo's new partner, RealNetworks Inc.'s Rhapsody. Those songs will be in the MP3 format, free of copy protection.

For people who bought songs outright - paying a one-time fee for a specific track rather than a subscription for unlimited music - Yahoo will shut down the servers needed to verify eligibility. Copy-protection measures placed on the tracks require access to those servers when users buy a new computer or upgrade their operating system.

Internet overhaul gets $12 mil funding boost

NEW YORK - A massive project to redesign and rebuild the Internet from scratch is inching along with $12 million in government funding and donations of network capacity by two major research organizations.

Many researchers want to rethink the Internet's underlying architecture, saying a "clean-slate" approach is the only way to truly address security and other challenges that have cropped up since the Internet's birth in 1969.

BBN Technologies Inc. is overseeing the planning and design of the Global Environment for Network Innovations, or GENI, a network on which researchers will test new ideas without damaging the current Internet.

The $12 million in initial grants from the National Science Foundation will go to developing prototypes for the GENI network.

Craig Partridge, chief scientist at BBN Technologies, said the commitments amounted to an important endorsement of GENI.

Construction on GENI could start in about five years and cost $350 million. Congress still has to approve those funds.

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