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    Comcast Corp's (CMCSA) board was meeting late on Thursday to finalize plans to abandon its proposed $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable Inc (TWC), according to a person directly familiar with the matter. An announcement is expected as early as Friday, the person added, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential.

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    Microsoft Corp.' s stock jumped 2.5% in after-hours trade Thursday, after the software giant beat fiscal third-quarter profit and sales expectations. For the quarter ended March 31, earnings fell to $6.59 billion, or 61 cents a share, from $6.97 billion, or 68 cents a share, in the same period a year ago, beating the FactSet consensus of 51 cents a share. Revenue rose to $21.73 billion from $20.4 billion, with commercial revenue increasing 5% to $12.8 billion, above the FactSet...

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    E-commerce company Amazon.com Inc's (AMZN) quarterly revenue rose 15 percent, helped by higher revenue from North America, its biggest market, and its fast-growing cloud-computing services unit. The company reported a loss of $57 million, or 12 cents per share, for the first quarter ended March 31 compared with a profit of $108 million, or 23 cents per share, a year earlier.

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    The Federal Trade Commission announced a consent order Thursday with Nomi Technologies, which it said did not abide by its own promises to allow consumers to opt out of being tracked while they shop.This is the first enforcement action by the FTC against a retail tracking company.Nomi is one of several companies that have developed ways to use consumers' cellphones to track their real world movements for commercial purposes. According to the FTC complaint, the company used censors in stores to collect the MAC address -- a code unique to each phone -- of a shopper's smartphone when the device searched for WiFi networks, a thing many phones do almost constantly by default. The movements of users both in and outside these stores were tracked by this unique ID along with the device type, when the shopper was observed and the signal strength of the device, which could be used to tell how nearby a shopper was.Nomi collected information on about 9 million mobile devices during the first nine months of 2013, the FTC alleged. It used a technique called "hashing" to obscure MAC addresses that could be used to identify a particular smartphone. But it still generated a unique code that was associated with those devices allowing them to be tracked over time and potentially revealing sensitive information about a shopper's movements, according to the FTC.The company used the tracking information to give retailers insight into their customer base -- for instance, how many repeat customers they had during a given period and how long consumers stayed in the store, the FTC said.These reports did not share information about specific shoppers, but the FTC found Nomi had violated its own privacy policy.Nomi did not provide a way for consumers an in-store way to opt out of being tracked, as it promised in late 2012, the complaint alleged -- in fact, consumers were not told they were being tracked at all. It did provide a way to opt out through its Web site, but that was not enough, according to the FTC.“It’s vital that companies keep their privacy promises to consumers when working with emerging technologies, just as it is in any other context,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in a news release. “If you tell a consumer that they will have choices about their privacy, you should make sure all of those choices are actually available to them."Under the terms of the settlement, Nomi agreed to abide by its privacy promises and not misrepresent consumers' options to block being tracked. The agreement will be open for public comments for 30 days before the commission finalizes it. The commission voted 3-2 to issue the complaint and accept the consent order, with Commissioners Maureen Ohlhausen and Joshua Wright dissenting.Nomi said in a statement that it was pleased with the agreement. "We continually review our privacy policies to ensure that they follow best practices and had already made the recommended changes in pursuit of that goal by updating our privacy policy over a year and a half ago," the statement said.




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    Cablevision Systems Corp. (CVC) is pitching new packages aimed at cord-cutters that combine broadband service with a free digital antenna to pick up local television signals. The move by the New York cable operator is meant to appeal to consumers who are tired of rising pay-TV bills and are dropping those connections. It comes just days after Cablevision (CVC) rival Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) launched new low-price packages for its FiOS TV service that allow customers to mix and match...

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    Mexico's telecoms regulator said on Thursday it had approved 12 commercial concessions for companies to offer a full range of telephone and television services as the country seeks to spur greater competition. Mexico's phone business has long been dominated by Carlos Slim's America Movil, with Televisa the most powerful force in broadcasting.

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    Facebook (FB) doesn't just want to be your social hub, it also wants to be a bigger part of how you communicate in general.  Now Facebook's (FB) gone a little further with the introduction of a new app, Hello.The new program, introduced Wednesday, was designed by the company's Messenger team but is essentially a calling, caller ID and search app for your phone. Available only on Android phones, the app pulls Facebook (FB) data to identify callers -- it can do this even if they aren't in your address book, thanks to Facebook's (FB) bank of phone numbers  -- and will also let you search for businesses that have put their phone numbers on the social network.The Hello announcement came shortly before the company released mixed results for its first-quarter earnings. Facebook (FB) reported lighter-than-predicted revenue of $3.54 billion for the quarter versus analyst expectations of $3.56 billion.The firm beat analyst predictions for earnings of $.41 per share, by one cent. And the company's focus on mobile has also continued to pay off, with 73 percent of its advertising revenue coming from smartphones and tablets. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg called it a "good quarter and a good start to the year" in the company's earnings call with analysts.But most of his remarks focused on Facebook's (FB) future plans for expansion, including in the world of messaging.The introduction of Hello continues a trend Facebook's (FB) been exploring for the past couple of years. From the company's 2014 acquistion of WhatsApp, to its purchase of the virtual-reality startup Oculus, or the expansion of its own Facebook Messenger app, many of the company's major moves demonstrate a deep interest in the future of communication via text, voice and video messaging.Not all of them have borne fruit yet. The Oculus Rift, for example, still isn't on the market. Facebook's (FB) attempt to catch up to Snapchat, with an app called Slingshot, has gained almost no traction. But the efforts do show where Facebook's (FB) interests lie as its core social network ages.Of course, it faces fierce competition from the likes of Twitter, Google (GOOG), Skype, Snapchat and many others. It's a crowded space. But Facebook (FB) seems happy to just be in the mix for now, with plans to keep experimenting.When talking about messaging during Wednesday's call, Zuckerberg told analysts that he's happy Facebook (FB) has "evolved from a single blue app on your phone into a family of apps" that allow users to talk to each other in a variety of ways.For example, Zuckerberg said that WhatsApp is used more as a text-message replacement for users around the world. Facebook Messenger, on the other hand, is more "focused on expression," he said. He also said he's not interested in unifying the company's many messaging services, preferring to serve these small niches rather than pulling everything together in a one-size-fits-all tool."I think that these are just going to keep on growing, is my expectation and hope," he said, "And we're excited to kind of pursue both different products to serve the different communities."




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    As data grows, so do startup opportunities. Venture capitalists are always looking for the next big investment in tech, whether it's cloud-computing, data analysis, or software development. But a growing trend in startup funding seeks to give the smaller retail investor a shot at getting in on the ground floor of the next Google (GOOG) or Facebook.

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    Shares of Sysorex were gaining 32.1% to $2.76 on heavy trading volume Thursday after the announcement that the big data software company's Lilien Sysorex division was selected as a National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center Prime Contract Holder.

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    A Nigerian group called for the International Criminal Court on Thursday to investigate Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini for "hate speech" blamed for a wave of violence against immigrants in South Africa.

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    * Operating profit falls but better than analyst forecasts. * To quit low-margin mouse manufacturing for PC makers. * Product price rises to partly offset forex declines-CEO. * Actions position firm for sustained sales growth, CEO says. By Eric Auchard.

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    * German engineers more worried about Internet than China. * Germany relies on manufacturing more than US, W Europe. * German firms seen spending 40 bln euros/year on technology. By Ludwig Burger. If customers of Germany's Harting Group, a maker of industrial plugs and sockets, want bespoke products, they can buy them -- if they're prepared to assemble them from a kit themselves.