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RIM said planning to bring Android apps to PlayBook

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RIM said to eye Android The technology world is abuzz today on a report that Research In Motion Ltd. plans to include software on its coming PlayBook that would let the tablet run apps for Android.

That would give users the ability to take advantage of more than 130,000 apps from Google Inc.'s Android, Bloomberg News reported.

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Some observers were excited by the report, telling the news agency the move could bring RIM users who might instead look at other tablets.

"It will be a shrewd move to let Android apps run RIM without any performance or user interface hiccups," Chetan Sharma, an independent analyst in Issaquah, Washington, told Bloomberg. "It will make the RIM platform attractive to consumers as it lacks the strength of the rivals from an apps perspective."

But analysts Phillip Huang, Amitabh Passi and Maynard Um at UBS Securities took a different longer-term view.

"If RIM legitimately brings Android apps to its PlayBook, this will likely be viewed positively (instant app ecosystem for consumers)," they said in a research note.

"However, we believe this could undermine the growth of RIM's developer community (more reason to develop for Android vs. PlayBook), help grow its competitor's ecosystem and essentially make RIM another Android play without the benefit of lower R&D as RIM supports it own OSs. Apps are also unlikely to be optimized or rewritten for RIM's PlayBook interface (such as the bezel), making them better suited for pure Android devices."

Nokia, Microsoft in historic tie-up Nokia Corp. today unveiled a sweeping strategic partnership with Microsoft Corp. that will see Microsoft's Windows Phone become the main operating platform for Nokia's ailing range of smart phones.

The move by Nokia, the world's biggest maker of mobile handsets, is an admission that its own smart phone operating systems are uncompetitive in a market that has rapidly become dominated by the iPhone from Apple Inc. and those powered by the Android operating system from Google Inc. , Globe and Mail European correspondent Eric Reguly reports from London.

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Telus in position of strength Telus Corp. today posted strong fourth-quarter results, with profit up sharply and the announcement of a quarterly dividend of about 52 cents a share.

The Vancouver-based telecom giant earned $227-million or 70 cents, compared to $156-million or 49 cents a year earlier. Even when adjusted for one-time losses, profit still rose by more than 40 per cent, Globe and Mail telecom writer Iain Marlow reports.

The gains show that Telus is in a position of strength amid the tumult that has defined Canada's telecom sector over the last year.

U.S. to wind down Fannie, Freddie The U.S. government wants to largely get out of the mortgage market and wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the troubled lenders taken over by U.S. authorities at the height of the crisis in September, 2008.

The Obama administration today released a lengthy report outlining three options, which are expected to spark a long debate in the United States. The process is expected to take years and, according to The Wall Street Journal, probably result in higher borrowing costs and reduced access to mortgages.

"This is a plan for fundamental reform – to wind down the [government sponsored enterprises], strengthen consumer protection, and preserve access to affordable housing for people who need it," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a statement.

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"We are going to start the process of reform now, but we are going to do it responsibly and carefully so that we support the recovery and the process of repair of the housing market."

Trade back in surplus A surge in energy exports has put Canada's trade balance back on the surplus side after several months of deficits.

Exports climbed 9.7 per cent in December, pushed up by a 16.5-per-cent increase in volumes of energy products, Statistics Canada said today. Imports also rose, but just by 0.7 per cent, leading to a $3-billion trade surplus, the first since February of last year.

Canada's surplus with the United States also surged, to its highest level since October, 2008, the statistics gathering agency said.

"The big question is whether this was a one-month wonder which will be reversed, or a sudden shift to a new higher plane for Canadian exports," said BMO Nesbitt Burns deputy chief economist Douglas Porter.

"Our best guess would be something in between, but perhaps more the latter. It appears that the upswing in U.S. spending is indeed providing a sizeable boost for exporters, at long last. As well, the recent powerful upturn in commodity prices is also helping pump up export values."

U.S. trade gap widens In the United States, exports and imports continue to rise, highlighting the recovery, though the U.S. trade deficit widened to $40.58-billion (U.S.), driven by a surge in oil imports.

When oil is removed from the equation, the deficit shrank in December.

"Much of the Q4 improvement in the U.S. trade balance is the result of declining imports related to a slowdown in the inventory accumulation of firms," said Toronto-Dominion Bank economist Alistair Bentley.

"In an environment of improving domestic consumption this trend will not be sustained, leading import growth to strengthen in the quarters ahead," he said in a research note.

"That said, recent movements in the exchange rate have improved the competitiveness of U.S. producers on the global stage. The nominal trade weighted [U.S. dollar] has been declining, and is sitting near its lowest levels since the financial crisis began. Also, faster inflation in developing countries – notably China – relative to the U.S. is causing depreciation in the real exchange rate."

PetroChina deal to be reviewed No surprise here, but Ottawa plans to review PetroChina's blockuster deal to invest $5.4-billion in a shale gas project with Encana Corp. .

Industry Minister Tony Clement said today the deal is subject to review under the Investment Canada act.

In Personal Finance today Not strictly for retirement funding, RRSPs can serve as income-smoothing tools for the self-employed.

There are better, cheaper, more Earth-friendly ways to show your love than a bouquet of roses.

One of the few advantages to divorce is that you are able to alter your spending habits and lifestyle drastically.

From today's Report on Business

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