Screen time: watching Cisco, Netflix, Sonic, Apple and Google

• Rising online traffic because of data downloads, mostly from online video viewed on mobile devices, are costing U.S. wireless companies $30 to $50 billion a year as they try to keep up by upgrading their networks, according to one analyst quoted in a report this morning. Cisco, which expects mobile data downloads to double every year till 2014, is one of the big beneficiaries: Demand for its networking equipment is likely to rise accordingly. Shares of the San Jose company, which also was the subject of a recent Barron’s cover story that was optimistic about its future — and the upside of its stock — are up more than 1 percent today.

• Speaking of online video, shares of Netflix are slightly higher this morning (about 0.5 percent) after falling nearly 2.5 percent yesterday to $180.01. Over the weekend, a Barron’s report suggested that short sellers could be right about the Los Gatos company’s inability to maintain its margins as it faces increased costs for rights to rent out movies and TV shows. Last week, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings publicly responded to a short seller. (See Quoted: Reed Hastings rebuts the shorts.) The online video-rental provider lately has been dealing with charges that it is overhyped and its stock overvalued.

But wait, there’s more — in the way of competition for Netflix, that is. Sonic Solutions this morning announced the launch of Alphaline Entertainment, its partnership with Sears Holdings on a service that will allow consumers to download movies the same day they come out on DVD. Last week, Santa Clara-based Rovi (formerly Macrovision) bought Novato-based Sonic for $720 million.

• And in the budding world of the digital living room — it’ll be full-grown any day now — Apple reportedly confirmed that it has sold 1 million Apple TV units since the revamped device made its debut at the beginning of October. In Google TV news, Logitech yesterday blogged that “all’s well with Logitech Revue,” its Google TV device. Ashish Arora, Logitech’s Digital Home Group VP and general manager, wrote that he “can’t ignore the recent puzzling speculation that Google has asked Logitech to suspend production of Logitech Revue to address software issues.” (Also, see Google TV needs more time in the oven, but can content be baked in?) Arora says Logitech will be at the Consumer Electronics Show next week to show “how Google TV is transforming the TV-watching experience.”


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