Pressure to drop e-book suit against Apple; Oracle makes a purchase; eyes on Google earnings

A quick glance at some of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies in the news today:

• An influential senator is calling on the Justice Department to drop its antitrust case against Apple and five major book publishers. In an open letter in the Wall Street Journal, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the charges are misguided and threaten to “wipe out the publishing industry as we know it,” Fortune reports. The feds in April accused Apple and the publishers of colluding to raise prices on e-books in an effort to break Amazon’s low-cost stranglehold on the digital book market. “The suit will restore Amazon to the dominant position atop the e-books market it occupied for years before competition arrived in the form of Apple,” Schumer wrote. “If that happens, consumers will be forced to accept whatever prices Amazon sets.” The Hill reports that Schumer also called on the Justice Department to develop guidelines as to when antitrust suits are in order: “The administration needs to reassess its prosecution priorities,” he wrote. Apple has said it wants to go to trial to defend itself, but the case isn’t expected to land in a courtroom until 2013.

Oracle has made its fifth acquisition of the year, announcing the purchase of  Menlo Park-based software company Skire on Thursday. In a statement, Oracle said it intended to integrate the cloud-based real estate management software into its Primavera project management platform to help its clients boost efficiency and cut costs. No price was announced, and the deal is expected to close later this year, Reuters reports. CEO Massy Mehdipour, who founded Skire in 2000, said in the statement that “we are thrilled to be joining Oracle.”

• The spotlight will be on Google this afternoon when it posts its second-quarter earnings after the market closes, and all eyes will be looking for signs of weakening spending in online ads. Analysts will also be looking to see how Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility, which closed in May, and its entry into the tablet wars with the Nexus 7 will be reflected in the bottom line. Expectations are high, with double-digit gains expected in both revenue and earnings, according to MarketWatch. Google shares have slipped 10 percent this year, but are already up nearly 2 percent early this morning. MarketWatch also reports analysts are concerned about the state of Google CEO Larry Page’s health. Page did not speak at last month’s shareholders meeting or Google’s I/O developers conference, and will not be on today’s conference call. Google has been vague on the reasons for Page’s absence, saying only that he lost his voice. Page reassured employees in June that “nothing’s seriously wrong” and he was not seriously ill. Still, “Why Mr. Page feels he can’t speak for 3-4 weeks is beyond us,” wrote Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney earlier this week.


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