In the works: A possible Google-FTC deal, Facebook’s new app, Cisco’s castoffs

A quick look at the latest deals and developments in the tech world this morning:

Google is reportedly close to making a deal with the FTC to end a 20-month-old antitrust investigation. Reports by the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News and the New York Times say Google is willing to make guarantees that it will not “screen scrape,” a process in which data copied from other websites comes up in search results, and it will allow advertisers to more easily transfer their data to competing search engines. Those promises would reportedly satisfy the FTC, ending its investigation without a lawsuit or penalties. Negotiations between Google and the FTC are reportedly still under way, but a final agreement is expected within days. Among the key remaining issues is a consent decree in which Google would agree to fairly license certain wireless patents to its competitors.

Ending the FTC probe without penalties would be a coup for Google and a blow to rivals, especially Microsoft and e-commerce companies such as Yelp and Expedia that allied to encourage the federal investigation. They have complained that Google puts its own content at the top of search results, hindering competition. “If the FTC fails to take meaningful action after a nearly two-year investigation, Google will only be emboldened to act in ways that are more harmful to consumers and innovators,” the group Fairsearch.org — which includes Microsoft and a number of travel sites — said in a statement Sunday.

Facebook is reportedly working on its own version of Snapchat, a mobile app that lets users send photos and videos that self-destruct after a certain period of time. All Things D reports the app could be released in the next few weeks, and will be a standalone service. Snapchat, a Los Angeles startup that launched in September 2011, lets users decide how long a photo or video may be seen by a friend — down to a few seconds — before it is automatically deleted. The company has seen its usage skyrocket in the past year, and says it’s now used more than 30 million times a day. Though derided by some as merely a tool for “sexting,” others see the app as a revolutionary tool for photo sharing that could pair nicely with Facebook’s other big standalone app, Instagram.

Cisco may be looking to sell its Linksys home wireless-router unit. Bloomberg News reports the San Jose computer networking giant has hired Barclays to find a buyer, as it moves to divest itself of consumer businesses in an effort to focus on corporate clients. Cisco CEO John Chambers said last week that the company’s future lies in software and corporate services, and expressed optimism that it can double its software sales and raise annual profits by up to 7 percent in the coming years.

Cisco has undergone a streamlining process over the past couple of years, cutting almost 8,000 jobs and closing other consumer-focused businesses, such as its Flip video unit. Cisco paid $500 million for Linksys in 2003, but Bloomberg reports any sale price would likely be significantly less.

 

 

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