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Monday, November 29, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
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Technology Briefs
Kazaa adds free Internet phone to file sharing

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Free Internet-based phone calls are the newest feature of the popular Kazaa file-sharing program.

The offering, in a software upgrade last week, comes as Kazaa's maker, Sharman Networks, faces increasing pressure to retain a user base eroded by rising competition from other file-sharing services and a full-court press by the recording industry.

Many of the computer users sued by the industry were using Kazaa, once regarded as the largest file-swapping community.

Internet-based phone calls travel in data packets online instead of being carried through analog telephone lines.

Consumer electronics

Holiday purchases of electronics dipping

Interest in holiday purchases of consumer electronics appears to be leveling off this year after peaking in 2003, a new survey found.

The demand for electronics gear is still healthy, but interest in high-definition televisions, DVD players, game consoles, PCs, digital video recorders, cellphones and wireless networking equipment all dipped a little, the Ipsos-Insight survey found.

From a list of 18 electronics items, only printers and satellite radio gained slightly, though the difference is still within the margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Interest in digital cameras, home theater systems, satellite TV, portable MP3 players, personal digital assistants and DVD recorders held steady.

About one in four surveyed said they wanted a new cellphone or PC, making them the most-wanted items, followed by digital cameras, DVD players, then printers.
The survey of 1,000 adults was conducted Oct. 28 to Nov. 5.


Deal with Toshiba, Sony yields new chip

NEW YORK — International Business Machines is set to introduce a new chip to be used in products that it has developed with Sony and Toshiba, The Wall Street Journal reported today.

IBM plans to unveil the chip, which is expected to give stiff competition to Intel, today; limited production is expected to begin next year in East Fishkill, N.Y., according to the newspaper.

The Journal said the chip will be used for products such as Sony and Toshiba high-definition TV sets, a "home server for broadband content" from Sony and the next generation of the Sony PlayStation video-game system.

The three companies have worked on the chip for four years; IBM and Sony invested $400 million and Sony put in $325 million for production, the paper said.


Satellite's loss could derail takeover plan

PHILADELPHIA — A planned $3.1 billion takeover of satellite operator Intelsat may be in jeopardy after the company said yesterday an electrical problem had ruined one of its satellites.

Bermuda-based Intelsat said Zeus Holdings had the right not to close its takeover if the satellite was lost.

Zeus, an investment vehicle formed by private equity firms Apax Partners, Permira, Apollo Management and Madison Dearborn Partners, was evaluating the impact of the satellite's failure, Intelsat said.

It said an "electrical distribution anomaly" hit its Americas-7 satellite early yesterday and that it was working with manufacturer Space Systems/Loral to determine the cause.

The satellite, launched in 1999, covered the United States, Canada, Central America and parts of South America. Compiled from The Associated Press and Reuters

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