Other items: Satellite-radio battle enters new-car realm; New Sony president says company struck out; and more.

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Intuit, the world’s largest maker of tax-preparation software, said shipments of its TurboTax program increased 9.7 percent in the current U.S. tax season, led by Internet sales.

Paid shipments through March 19 rose to 8.49 million units from 7.74 million in the same period a year earlier, the company said.

Free copies distributed by the Internal Revenue Service almost tripled to 1.57 million from 560,000 a year earlier.

TurboTax accounted for more than a quarter of Intuit’s fiscal 2004 revenue of $1.87 billion. The company started offering free copies of the program in January, trying to convert users to paying customers.

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Intuit competes with H&R Block, the biggest U.S. tax-preparation company, which also began giving away copies of its TaxCut software this year.

XM

Satellite-radio battle enters new-car realm

The CD player, cruise control and heated seats are standard features on many new cars — is the satellite radio far behind?

Many analysts say satellite radio is on the verge of a major market debut, with Hyundai’s deal last week to make equipment from XM Satellite Radio a standard feature in all the South Korean automaker’s models. Rival Sirius Satellite Radio has struck similar agreements with Land Rover and Jaguar, both owned by Ford.

The XM-Hyundai deal marks the first time a major auto manufacturer has agreed to offer satellite radio.

Sony

New president says company struck out

Sony’s engineering prowess helped the company develop an array of nifty products but those gadgets often failed to appeal to consumers, the electronics maker’s new president said Thursday.

Ryoji Chubachi, a production expert appointed president this month to lead a turnaround at the struggling manufacturer, said Sony often struck out with buyers because engineers had sometimes strayed from market trends.

“Engineers have always been Sony’s heroes,” Chubachi said, addressing a small group of reporters at the company’s Tokyo headquarters. “A lot of work is going into producing megapixels, ultra-thin super-light gadgets, long-lasting batteries or zooms, and Sony has that kind of power. But we strike out.”

In a major management reshuffle, Chubachi was appointed Sony president, overseeing the electronics business, and Howard Stringer, who has led Sony’s entertainment business, was chosen chairman and chief executive.

The company needs to shift to “growth” areas such as flat TVs, DVD recorders and mobile gadgets, Chubachi said, while declining to give specifics.

Intel

2 executives to leave chip-making firm

Intel, the world’s biggest computer-chip maker, said John Miner, president of Intel Capital, and Pamela Pollace, director of corporate communications, will leave the company.

Arvind Sodhani, 51, will become head of Intel Capital, the company’s strategic investment arm, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel said.

Compiled from Bloomberg News, The Associated Press and Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services