Thursday, March 6, 2008

iFund for the iPhone

Plus: More on the iPhone; Some good, but mostly bad economic news

iFund for the iPhone: Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers is creating a new $100 million fund targetted at iPhone software developers. Didn't know there were such things? Well, KPCB is expecting them to start coming out of the woodwork after Apple today opened the iPhone to programmers, rolling out new tools to help them create applications for the device. KPCB is already funding one iPhone developer and is looking at funding another.

iPhone gets pushy: In other news from the Apple event, company officials announced that the iPhone will soon be able to get so-called push e-mail from Microsoft Exchange servers. The company has licensed Microsoft's ActiveSync technology, which will allow iPhone users to sync not only their mail, but their calendars and address books, and will allow IT managers to remotely delete data from iPhones. The new service, which will be included in a software update the company plans to release in June, goes a long way toward addressing concerns of enterprise customers - and is a direct shot at Research in Motion's rival BlackBerry devices.

Sales up, consumer confidence down: Mixed economic news today. On the whole, February retail sales were better than expected, according to a preliminary survey of chain stores. Such sales rose 1.9 percent, compared to a mere 0.5 percent increase in January. But home foreclosures rose to an all-time high in the fourth quarter last year, according to a separate report, and consumer confidence plunged last month. On the jobs front, weekly filings for unemployment insurance declined, but they're still up significantly from last year.

Anyone want a mortgage? Anyone? Interest rates on various types of mortgages dropped this week, amid growing concerns about the economy. The rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 6.03 percent from 6.24 percent last week. For a five-year adjustable-rate loan, the rate fell to 5.34 percent from 5.43 percent.

Enter the bear: The three major stock indices - the Dow Jones industrials, the Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 - each fell about 2 percent on the cheery economic news. Each index is now within spitting distance of it 52-week low.

Silicon Valley tech stocks:

Up: Oracle, Adobe, Yahoo. Down: AMD, Google, Apple, eBay, Electronic Arts, Sun Microsystems, Intel, Applied Materials.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Down 52.31 points or 2.30 percent, closing at 2,220.50

The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average: Down 214.60 points or 1.75 percent, closing at 12,040.39

And the Standard & Poor's 500 index: Down 29.36 points or 2.20 percent, closing at 1,304.34


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