Pacific Northwest Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser has lost share in the U.S. to the Firefox browser, designed by a 17-year-old...

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Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web browser has lost share in the U.S. to the Firefox browser, designed by a 17-year-old programmer, falling to 88.9 percent of the market, according to San Diego research firm WebSideStory.

Firefox, which is distributed for free by the Mozilla Foundation and worked on by thousands of volunteers, rose to a 6.8 percent share as of April 29, said WebSideStory, which has tracked browser share since 1999. Firefox had a 5.7 percent share as of February and Internet Explorer had 89.9 percent.

Firefox, which was released in November, is the first browser to seize more than 5 percent of the market from Internet Explorer since Microsoft surpassed Netscape five years ago.

Firefox has captured 22.6 percent of the browser market in Germany while Microsoft’s share has slipped to 69.5 percent, WebSideStory reported. In Japan, Firefox has a 2.8 percent share, compared with Microsoft’s 94 percent.


Subsidiary to offer diagnostic services

Combimatrix, a Mukilteo-based maker of computer chips for genetic analysis, said it has formed a subsidiary to use its technology for medical diagnostics.

The subsidiary, called Combimatrix Molecular Diagnostics, will be based in Irvine, Calif., and led by Matthew Watson as chief executive and David Baunoch as president and chief operating officer. Both come from US Labs, a large diagnostics lab operation that was recently acquired by Laboratory Corporation of America.

Company spokesman Bret Undem said the subsidiary plans to offer genetic diagnostic services for specialized forms of cancer. The tests will be done at a company lab, not by shipping packaged diagnostic tools to doctors, he said.


Former AOL chair joins Kirkland firm

Kirkland-based UBmatrix said Monday that Barry Schuler, former AOL chairman and chief executive, would join its board.

Schuler served more than seven years with AOL, where he was also chief architect of consumer products. Today, Schuler manages The Meteor Group, which invests in technology companies.

“Barry brings us an immeasurable amount of practical knowledge in building global businesses,” said UBmatrix’s Chief Executive George Blackstone.

UBmatrix uses a standard software language called XBRL (extensible business reporting language) to help companies more efficiently prepare, publish and share business data.

Dwango Wireless

New partnership made with Napster

Seattle-based Dwango Wireless said it has partnered with Napster to provide ringtones and other entertainment content for the mobile phone on its music service.

The service, called Napstertones, will include ringtones, short voice clips by artists called “shoutouts” and wallpapers for the mobile phone.

Compiled from Bloomberg News and Seattle Times business staff


Cisco Systems

Sweden detains individual in theft

Cisco Systems said yesterday authorities in Sweden had detained a person for stealing its source code, the basic instructions for the machines that direct Internet traffic around the globe.

“We are aware that a person has been detained in Sweden related to the IOS source-code theft and are encouraged by this action,” the San Jose, Calif., company said in a statement.

Swedish police have declined to say whether their investigation of a 16-year-old boy is related to a May 2004 incident that exposed the inner workings of Cisco’s Internetworking Operating System, or IOS.

The New York Times reported that the Cisco theft was part of a broader hacking campaign that targeted computer systems run by U.S. universities and government agencies.

Also yesterday, Cisco said third-quarter profit rose 16 percent on growing demand from telecommunications-service providers.

Net income climbed to $1.41 billion, or 21 cents a share, from $1.21 billion, or 17 cents, a year earlier, Cisco said in a statement. Sales in the period ended April 30 gained 10 percent to $6.19 billion, beating analysts’ expectations.


Free e-mail service in bid for customers

Its subscription business in decline, America Online is launching yet another product on the open Web: a free, ad-supported e-mail service tied to its instant-messaging platform.

Users of AOL Instant Messenger will be able to send and receive mail with “” addresses using their existing AIM screen names.

Initially, users will need the latest version of AIM software, available as a “beta” test download for Windows computers beginning today. Ultimately, they’ll be able to send and receive mail from any Web browser.

Each account comes with 2 gigabytes of storage — comparable to Google’s Gmail and more generous than the free offerings from Yahoo! and Microsoft’s Hotmail and even AOL’s flagship subscription service.


Children’s retailer to buy rival OshKosh

Children’s retailer Carter’s yesterday said it will acquire rival OshKosh B’Gosh in a $312 million deal, uniting two recognized brands into one company that will generate more than $1.3 billion in annual sales.

Carter’s — which operates 181 retail stores and sells its brand to more than 3,000 department stores — will pay $26 in cash for each share of OshKosh stock. The acquisition must still get shareholder and regulatory approval.


General Re execs may face lawsuits

The Securities and Exchange Commission will probably pursue lawsuits against several executives of Berkshire Hathaway’s General Re as it investigates reinsurance accounting, a person familiar with the probe said.

The SEC on May 2 informed Richard Napier, a senior vice president at General Re’s U.S. unit, that he may be sued by the agency for helping American International Group improperly use a reinsurance contract to boost its reserves for claims, said the person, declining to be identified. Elizabeth Monrad, a former General Re finance chief, also received a so-called Wells notice, her current employer said in a statement yesterday.

Regulators including the SEC are examining whether executives of Stamford, Conn.-based General Re aided clients such as AIG, the world’s largest insurer, in misstating their financial reports with a type of reinsurance that can be used to smooth earnings. A number of current or former executives of General Re, the biggest U.S. reinsurer, are likely to receive notices, said the person familiar with the probe.


Hybrid technology unlikely to be shared

Toyota Motor, the world’s largest seller of gasoline-electric cars, said it’s unlikely to provide its technology for making the so-called hybrid vehicles to General Motors, denying a Wall Street Journal report.

Rick Wagoner, chief executive officer of Detroit-based GM, may reach an agreement with Toyota this week in central Japan’s Aichi prefecture on sharing their hybrid technology, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

“I don’t think there will be a request for now” for Toyota’s hybrid technology by General Motors, President Fujio Cho told a group of reporters in Tokyo after an earnings news conference.

Cho said Wagoner is coming to Japan to see the Aichi Expo 2005. Toyota is based in Japan’s Aichi prefecture.

GM and DaimlerChrysler said Monday they are close to signing an agreement to cooperate on their own gasoline-electric hybrid-vehicle engine and don’t need technology from Toyota.

Compiled from The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and Reuters