Today in Tech: Why Amazon and Google will duke it out next year

December 26, 2012: 9:50 AM ET

Also: What e-book price war?

google_vs_amazon_271403429198_640x360Analysis: Amazon, Google on collision course in 2013 [REUTERS]

Both companies have a lot at stake. Google's market capitalization of $235 billion is about double Amazon's, largely because Google makes massive net earnings, expected by analysts to be $13.2 billion this year, based on a huge 32 percent net profit margin, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. By contrast, Amazon is seen reporting a small loss this year.

Seven question for Google enterprise chief Amit Singh [ALL THINGS D]

What do you have that they don't?

We used to compete on just cost. But that's changed. On the cloud, over time you shouldn't have to charge more money to get cloud services. Overall, your costs should go down. We've been at the $50 price point for apps for some time, while increasing the depth and breadth of our solution. On the other hand, the way they are incenting their customers to move is by charging them more. That is their strategy, and they are entitled to do what they want. Devices are going to proliferate, and Web services are now being delivered at scale. Then the question becomes whether you want to build around the desktop, or whether you want to build around Web services and devices being connected together. And, frankly, they don't have the credibility to deliver Web services at scale. That's just not what they do. They learn, hopefully, over time.

Little sign of a predicted e-book price war [THE NEW YORK TIMES]

One big reason for the lack of fireworks is that the triumph of e-books over their physical brethren is not happening quite as fast as forecast.

"The e-book market isn't growing at the caffeinated level it was," said Michael Norris, a Simba Information analyst who follows the publishing industry. "Even retailers like Amazon have to be wondering, how far can we go — or should we go — to make our prices lower than the other guys if it's not helping us with market share?"

Web sites vary prices, deals based on users' information [THE WALL STREET JOURNAL]

Offering different prices to different people is legal, with a few exceptions for race-based discrimination and other sensitive situations. Several companies pointed out that their online price-tweaking simply mirrors the real world. Regular shops routinely adjust their prices to account for local demand, competition, store location and so on. Nobody is surprised if, say, a gallon of gas is cheaper at the same chain, one town over.

Weotta improves its activity-planning app with time and place filters, plus Facebook integration [TECHCRUNCH]

With the update, Weotta has gotten a new name (it was previously called Weotta Go) and a new design. More importantly, you can now use the app to plan activities in advance, thanks to new time and place filters. Combined with some of the filtering that Weotta already offered, it's easy to tailor your search to a number of different situations — you just enter where, when, what, and who you're planning for. In one case, you might want to look at things you can do in San Francisco's Mission neighborhood for a date tonight. In another, you could be planning for a bachelor party in Las Vegas this weekend. (The app works for dates up to 30 days ahead.)

Grockit picks up $20 million led by Discovery Communications to expand its social learning tool Learnist [THE NEXT WEB]

Grockit, an online social learning company, has received a $20 million investment from Discovery Communications and others in a move that will go towards building out the company's Learnist product. It also marks what the company says, the first "social learning startup investment from a global leader in broadcast and digital media." Through this strategic investment, Grockit will be receiving capital investment, shared technology, marketing distribution, and promotion.

Other investors that participated include the Summit Group, who previously invested in Uber and Scribd, Atlas Ventures, Benchmark Capital, Integral Capital Partners, and GSV Capital Corp.

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About This Author
JP Mangalindan
JP Mangalindan
Writer, Fortune

JP Mangalindan is a San Francisco-based writer at Fortune, covering Silicon Valley. Since joining in 2010, he has written on a wide array of topics, from the turnaround of eBay to the evolution of net neutrality. A graduate of Fordham University, Mangalindan has also written for GQ, Popular Science, and Entertainment Weekly.

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