The Circuit: Netflix; Google Buzz; Kids and media

October 25, 2011

LEADING THE DAY: Netflix shares plunged in after-hours trading following the company’s announcement that it had lost over 800,000 customers in the U.S.

Despite reporting a net income of around $62 million for worldwide operations, investors are wary of the way the company has handled its public relations in the face of pricing changes and its abandoned plan to split into two businesses.

Chief executive Reed Hastings has said that the company’s missteps were, in large part, a mistake of hubris.

Google Buzz settlement: The Federal Trade Commission gave its final approval to its settlement with Google over the Google Buzz rollout Monday. The commission approved the settlement with a 4-0 vote. The settlement, first announced in March, requires Google to implement a full privacy program and agree to regular, independent privacy audits for the next 20 years.

Google recently discontinued Buzz, and has turned its efforts to its new social networking site, Google+.

Kids and media: A new study from Common Sense Media shows that infants and toddlers spend twice as much time with screen media as they do with books. The study, which will be presented Tuesday, found that more than 38 percent of children under 8 years old have used a smartphone, video iPod or iPad. On an average day, one in 10 children this age spends about 43 minutes using one of these devices to play games, watch video or use apps.

AT&T, Sprint: As AT&T and Sprint made their arguments before the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia Monday, Judge Ellen Huvelle expressed skepticism over whether or not Sprint Nextel has a right to challenge the proposed $39 billion merger between AT&T and T-Mobile.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Huvelle told Sprint Nextel that it does not “stand in the shoes of the consumer or the Department of Justice.” Huvelle did not issue a ruling.

In a statement, Sprint vice president of litigation Susan Z. Haller said that the company had “passed the test” of whether or not it has a plausible case on the grounds that, as a competitor, it would be harmed by the proposed deal.

Small business cybersecurity: A new tool announced yesterday by the Federal Communications Commission, the Small Biz Cyber Planner, will help businesses develop a plan to guard against cyber security breaches. The tool, unveiled by FCC chairman Julius Genachowski at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is intended to help small businesses that don’t have the resources to protect against cyberattacks. It offers a service that will help business owners design a custom plan based on a series of questions about their companies.

“Even a business with one computer or one credit card swiper can benefit from this important guidance,” Genachowski said in his remarks Monday.

Obama campaign opens a Tumblr: The Obama campaign has started a Tumblr account, likely hoping to rekindle the social networking push that President Obama enjoyed during the 2008 election. The account, started Monday, has three published posts: a welcome post, a picture of an Ohio campaign worker and a summary of Obama’s Monday speech in Las Vegas.

The campaign said in a post that it was drawn to Tumblr because of its “huge collaborative storytelling effort.” The service makes it easy to reblog posts wholesale or to add a little commentary after sharing.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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