Under The Radar News - Thursday

by: SA Eli Hoffmann

Yahoo layoffs -- not done yet? After 1,100 layoffs this week, sources inside Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) suspect that more cutbacks could be in the offing in the coming weeks.

A buyer for Motorola's cell unit? Chinese mobile phone maker ZTE Corp. is in talks with Motorola (MOT) about deepening the companies' relationship. There is speculation it may be looking at buying MOT's cell phone unit, which could be worth $9B-$12B.

MacBook Air sales soft. According to Piper Jaffray, 60% of retailers are seeing less demand for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) just-released MacBook Air than they did after the introduction of the MacBook Pro. Analysts say the lack of interest could contribute to an 18% drop in Apple sales.

iPhone breathes life into mobile search. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) says it has seen 50 times more mobile searches using Apple's (AAPL) iPhone than any other mobile handset. "We thought it was a mistake and made our engineers check the logs again," the head of Google's mobile ops said. If the trend continues, mobile search could overtake fixed internet search within the next several years.

Comcast to buy Plaxo for $175M. Sources say online address book Plaxo will be bought by Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) for $175M. Previously, Google (GOOG) was thought to be interested. Some think the deal, if true, is bad for Comcast.

Iraq to buy $6B of Boeing planes. The Iraqi Transport Ministry is expected to sign a contract with Boeing (NYSE:BA) to buy 40 aircraft of assorted sizes in a deal valued at $6B.

Hulu lands big names. Sources say Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) and Viacom (NYSE:VIA) will distribute their video content via Hulu, the web-video JV of NBC Universal (NYSE:GE) and News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS). Time Warner is a done deal; Viacom's deal is "not totally signed."

Asking for trouble? "Expect a big shakeup at Ask.com (IACI)," a source says, including "change in product lineup and company direction."

EMI's Disney deal in jeopardy. Disney (NYSE:DIS) is looking to replace EMI (OTC:EMIPY) as its international soundtrack distributor. EMI has about a year left in its contract, and may have to pay a premium to renew it. Disney has held discussions with Universal Music and may talk with Warner Music (NYSE:WMG).

HP settles spying case. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) has settled with The New York Times (NYSE:NYT) and three Business Week magazine journalists, after a scandal that implicated then-chairwoman Patricia Dunn and lead to her resignation. HP allegedly hired investigators to spy on reports and obtain their phone records. The parties declined to disclose the amount of the settlement.

Dot those i's. A proposed nuclear plant to be built by NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG) has been delayed indefinitely because its application was incomplete. The plant, designed by GE (GE), would be the first U.S. nuclear reactor in 30 years.

Yahoo sacks 40 in India. Yahoo (YHOO) cut about 5% of its staff in India to improve the quality of its R&D in the country.

Xbox 360 shortfall hits Microsoft. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is seeing Xbox 360 shortages in the U.S., as it failed to anticipate strong post-holiday demand. "We're literally out of stock in many stores. We think this will have an impact on our sales," an exec. said. "It is a lag I think we're seeing in January and that may continue into February, then as spring ramps up, we'll be able to meet that demand."

Wii to whack Xbox. Just 18 months after its launch, Nintendo's (OTCPK:NTDOY) Wii will have caught up to Microsoft's (MSFT) Xbox 360, doing away with the Xbox's advantage of being introduced one year earlier. Market research firm iSuppli also says installed base of both systems will begin decreasing by 2011.

More Xbox woes. About 15% of all Xbox 360s fail, vs. failure rates of just 3% for Nintendo's (OTCPK:NTDOY) Wii and Sony's (NYSE:SNE) PS 3. An expert says, furthermore, that failure rates are likely to increase over time.

New game consoles? Pacific Crest Securities analyst Evan Wilson believes Nintendo (OTCPK:NTDOY) and Microsoft (MSFT) will roll out new consoles by 2010.