Number crunching has never been so crucial. The analysis of data and trends is a vital part of business for many companies, especially with the rise of the Internet. The latest example of what it's worth is Apple's decision to spend more than $200 million to buy Topsy Labs, a San Francisco based startup. Find out more about the purchase here.
Topsy pours through the conversations on Twitter to identify trends and people influencing the opinions of others. The firm says it has built an index of all the tweets ever posted, creating a resource that Twitter doesn't offer.
Google and Microsoft have their own search engines and other research to tell them what users and doing. Apple could use the new data to help recommend movies, music and TV shows to customers. The information from Topsy may also help Apple target users with advertising and improve their experience on Siri.
Sony may have delivered its best piece of news in a long time. Sales of the new PS4 game box reached 2.1 million units worldwide, giving Sony an early lead of the rival Microsoft Xbox. The holiday shopping season is the most important time of the year for console sales. "PS4 delivered the best launch in PlayStation history with the North American release and we've continued this incredibly successful start in Europe, Australasia and Latin America," said Andrew House, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment.
Pay TV customers who are used to watching fewer ads on on-demand shows may have to get used to longer commercial breaks. Comcast, the nation's largest cable TV provider, says it is testing out a system with its NBCUniversal subsidiary to use full commercial loads on older episodes - while disabling fast-forwarding of ads - if consumers watch them within three days after a new episode airs. Currently, if people binge-watch to catch up on popular shows they only see the full ad load on the most recent episode. Older episodes have few if any ads. Comcast says putting full ad loads on older shows will help generate more revenue for networks and encourage them to make more shows available for on-demand viewing.
If you want to give a Christmas gift but don't know what to buy, getting a gift card is an obvious answer. Despite a bewildering array of choices for shoppers, there are two basic types. Brand specific cards from stores or restaurants and general purpose gift cards that you can use anywhere. "If it's a general purpose card you're probably going to spend between $3.95 to $6.95 on top of the $40," says Janna Herron of Bankate.com. And a branded gift card? "If you are buying it from a retailer or a restaurant or a gas station you're probably not going to pay a fee." But in some cases you will, says Herron, so look at the terms before you buy a gift card.
A disappointing start for December after recent gains for the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial index fell 77 points. The S&P closed down 4 points yesterday. This came after early reports of disappointing sales for many retailers during the four days of Thanksgiving shopping. Urban Outfitters dropped 3.5 percent. Shares in JC Penney, Target and Coach fell more than 1 percent. Stock futures fell this morning.
Down two cents in the past week - the price of regular unleaded now sits at $3.27 per gallon nationwide. The Energy Department reports drivers in the Midwest, Gulf Coast, and Rocky Mountains paying the least, around $3.12 a gallon. New York and California have the most expensive gas.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow