Apple Plays with Fire – Morning Business Memo

Mar 7, 2012 6:52am

Apple is playing with fire – The Kindle Fire. Today in San Francisco Apple CEO Tim Cook is expected to launch the iPad 3 – the latest bid to smother the Fire and stay dominant in the rapidly growing tablet market. Sure, Apple has kept the features of the new device secret. There could be a San Fran surprise, but a sharper screen, better camera, SIRI voice assistant and faster processor are all likely to be included in the new version of the iPad.

Apple may also launch a new set top TV box. Technology news site TheVerge.com says “both devices will get their debut” at today’s special event. Both may use the same super-fast chip. A published report says Apple plans to use a dual-core chip, versus one with four cores. Apple lovers may not have long to wait. Nearly a year ago the iPad2 went on sale nine days after it was revealed. Similar timing is likely this year.

Are you being squeezed by rising health costs? For years health care inflation has far outpaced other price hikes. A survey of 52,000 people by the Centers for Disease Control finds 1 in 5 Americans say their families are having trouble paying their medical bills. Worse, half of those who are struggling say they are unable to pay a single dime toward those debts.

Greece put the skids under the stock market. The Dow, S&P 500 and other averages had their biggest down day in three months. Tomorrow is an important deadline for Greece’s private bondholders to accept heavy losses. A proposed agreement would have them swap their government bonds for replacements with a lower face value and interest rate.  The swap is vital for Greece to cut its enormous debt load and qualify for a $172 billion bailout from other European nations and the IMF. Hedge funds and some other investors hate the bond swap. Greece’s government may extend the deadline in another desperate bid to win more support.

Cable TV viewers may soon see a Netflix button on their remote. Reuters reports Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has met with cable companies about adding the red white and black Netflix logo to their bundles. The move would have obvious advantages for Netflix, which faces growing competition from Wal-Mart, Hulu, Apple TV, Red Box and others. Cable companies are worried out their drop rate: the people who’ve cut the cable and get their TV from the Internet and antennas.

Richard Davies, Business Correspondent, ABC NEWS Radio

 

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