The Upload: Your tech news briefing for Friday, April 24

Comcast-Time Warner merger may be falling apart... Amazon finally discloses cloud numbers... Microsoft services make up for weak PC market

AWS' re:Invent conference brought in over 13,000 attendees to Las Vegas.

AWS' re:Invent conference brought in over 13,000 attendees to Las Vegas.

Comcast: Let's call the whole thing off

Just one day after a U.S. regulator was said to be calling for hearings on the proposed $45 billion merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable come reports that Comcast is ready to abandon the tie-up, and may make an announcement on Friday. The combined companies would control more than half of the broadband Internet access market in the U.S. -- a market where customers already grumble about their lack of choice, and pay more for less than people in virtually every other developed country. The omens for gaining regulatory approval have been darkening: not only did the Federal Communications Commission want hearings on the matter, but the Department of Justice, which monitors antitrust issues, was also apparently not a fan of the deal.

Amazon breaks out cloud revenue to show a thriving, profitable business

For the first time since Amazon Web Services started up nine years ago, its parent company is breaking out the unit's revenue in its quarterly financials, and the numbers look good. In the most recent quarter it tallied nearly $1.57 billion in sales and turned a $265 million profit.

Cloud services lift Microsoft results, too

Microsoft has reported better-than-expected financial results for the quarter just ended, helped by strong sales of cloud services like Office 365 and Azure. The results were hurt by the weak PC market, however, with sales of Microsoft's Windows and Office software both declining. That meant that while sales were strong, profits declined from last year.

Retail tracking firm slapped for snooping on shoppers

Nomi Technologies has settled a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission after it tracked retail store customers through their smartphones without notifying them and without giving them a chance to turn off the tracking. The problem? It had promised in its privacy policy that it would provide a customer opt-out mechanism at stores using its tracking services, thus implying that it would notify customers of the tracking efforts, the FTC said.

Acer is ready to play in both Chromebooks and Windows 10

The big new hardware rivalry shaping up is between Windows 10 laptops and Chromebooks, and Acer is ready to arm both camps with the low-priced laptops and laptop-tablet hybrids it announced on Thursday. Its new Chromebook 15 CB3-531 laptop will ship in July priced from $199. A new lineup of Aspire laptops and hybrids, likely shipping with Windows 8.1 but upgradeable to Windows 10, has models starting at just a bit more, $249 and $299.

Microsoft wants Surface to edge out Chromebooks in education

Meanwhile, Microsoft is targeting Chromebooks in the education market, where they have been outselling Windows PCs in K-12 schools. It plans to introduce an even cheaper model of the Surface 3 tablet and sell it to schools at a discount, PC World reports.

Samsung ramping up production to meet Galaxy S6 Edge demand

The Galaxy S6 Edge is apparently so popular that Samsung has added a factory ahead of schedule to make the curved screens for the device, Bloomberg reports. The new line at Samsung Display more than doubles monthly output to 5 million screens from about 2 million currently.

Kleiner Perkins threatens Pao with legal fees if she appeals

Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins successfully defended itself against the gender discrimination case brought by Ellen Pao. Now it's looking to ensure that no more of its legal, but still very dirty, laundry, will be aired, by sending her a nearly $1 million bill for legal fees which it will forgive if she promises not to appeal.

Watch now

On World Tech Update this week, the U.S. government warns airlines about hackers and a robot explores a crippled nuclear power plant in Japan.

One last thing

Smart home technology looks cool, and checking your thermostat via smartphone is kind of engaging, but significant energy savings have yet to take off.

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IDG News Service staff

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