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Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Silver Lake Partners have agreed to buy Agilent Technologies’ semiconductor division for about $2.6 billion, several newspapers said yesterday.

Agilent, the world’s biggest maker of scientific-testing equipment, had said last month it might sell the Palo Alto, Calif.-based unit, which builds chips for consumer electronics and mobile phones.

The sale to the two private-equity firms would enable Agilent to shed a business Chief Executive William Sullivan has said is less than half as profitable as it should be.

The deal is expected to be announced today along with a major reorganization of Agilent, both The New York Times and The Mercury News reported yesterday.

Agilent was spun off Hewlett-Packard in 1999. The chip unit has about 6,800 workers.


TV downloading to undergo testing

Add TiVo to the list of companies trying to wed the Internet to television. The digital-recording company is preparing to enable customers to download TV shows to their set-top boxes via the Internet — even before the shows air on TV.

TiVo has struck a deal with the Independent Film Channel (IFC) to transmit several of the cable channel’s shows through a broadband connection as part of a trial program.

A group of customers was asked to take part in the test; those who do so will start getting the IFC shows next week, said TiVo spokesman Elliot Sloane.

Sona / Viacom 

Phone to resemble Star Trek device

Two tech companies next month plan to release a mobile telephone that resembles the communicators featured on “Star Trek.”

With a black body and face plate, the Star Trek Communicator Phones will, from the outside, resemble the devices on the show, although they will be slightly smaller, said Marie Wiese, vice president of marketing for Sona Mobile, a mobile software company partnering with Viacom Consumer Products to sell the phones.

Flip them open, however, and they will look not much different from a cellphone, with the flip-top forming the screen and the black body forming the dial pad, she said.

Opera Software

Browser lets more phones surf Web

A new browser from Opera Software promises Web surfing from almost any mobile phone, even inexpensive ones with little built-in memory.

Accessing the Internet largely has been restricted to higher-end mobile phones with the memory capacity to run a browser.

The Oslo, Norway-based company said its new Opera Mini browser can allow surfing from 700 million low-to-medium-cost phones as well.

Opera said the system only requires the phone to have a small Java program. Rather than have the phone itself process a Web page, a remote server does the processing before sending it to the phone, reducing system requirements.

Though Opera is used on less than 1 percent of Windows-based computers, it has been gaining ground in mobile phones and personal digital assistants.

DoubleClick / ComScore

Advertisers buying generic keywords

While Google has shown how profitable it can be to sell keywords to advertisers, advertisers are trying to cut their costs. Instead of being pulled into an auction for terms, in which the search companies stand to benefit, they are acting like good investors and “diversifying their holdings.”

That means bidding for “plain Jane” words rather than chasing specific terms or brand names. A significant majority of searches performed by buyers are “generic and do not include brand names,” according to research commissioned by DoubleClick and conducted by ComScore Networks.

The lesson for advertisers is that they can save money by bidding on more keywords and terms that are in less demand and, therefore, less expensive. “Buyers clearly favor generic terms,” the DoubleClick research said.

The average cost of “owning” a keyword for a month has stabilized between $19 and $22, according to Performics, a division of DoubleClick that tracks keyword costs

Performics said its analysis also showed that marketers are greatly expanding their keyword selections, with the number of keywords being used this June more than double those used last June.


New ad-counting system introduced

Yahoo! is implementing a new system for counting advertising impressions in the United States, designed to minimize reporting errors.

The method will only count and report impressions after the ad has been displayed on the Web page, the company said. Yahoo! is using the method in the United States and will introduce it globally next year.

Yahoo! brought in $1.09 billion in fees from marketing services including advertising in the second quarter, a 51 percent jump from a year earlier.

The company, which has led a task force looking into ad-impression measurement, is seeking an industry standard for measuring the accuracy of Internet advertising.

Compiled from The Associated Press, Bloomberg News, MarketWatch and the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service