The auction of Seattle-based Getty Image appears to be in jeopardy, people briefed on the matter said Sunday. Though several bidders, mostly...

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The auction of Seattle-based Getty Images appears to be in jeopardy, people briefed on the matter said Sunday.

Though several bidders, mostly private equity firms like Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Bain Capital, had expressed interest, the photo and video distributor got no offers significantly above its $1.6 billion market value, the people said.

Last month, the company acknowledged it was for sale and had hired Goldman Sachs as an adviser. Getty cautioned it could not guarantee a sale would take place.

The nearly frozen credit markets have cut off private equity from cheap, high-yield debt used to finance deals.

The auction’s collapse may also reflect waning interest in established photo and video providers when rivals offer similar material for much less.

Microsoft

Sony Ericsson taps Windows Mobile

Sony Ericsson announced Sunday a premium handset using Microsoft’s operating system. The Xperia X1 will launch in the second half of 2008.

It marks the first time Sony Ericsson is using Windows Mobile in a departure from its collaboration with Symbian, an open operating system that is partly owned by Sony Ericsson.

Executives said many Sony Ericsson features, including a patented nine-panel interface, had been built on top of the Windows operating system. They declined to give pricing.

Audience

Chip aims to help cellphone sound

Silicon Valley startup Audience today plans to introduce an integrated circuit intended to improve the sound quality of cellphones.

The circuit is a chip only slightly larger than a grain of sand. The company said the device would offer higher quality noise suppression than the software that performs this function in today’s cellphones.

“Voice quality is one of the top three reasons for customer churn,” Audience CEO Peter Santos said.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is an Audience investor.

Information technology

New-equipment slowdown forecast

The technology industry’s outlook for 2008 looks worse than it did two months ago, when fears of a recession already were leading analysts to predict a slowdown in purchases of computers, software and tech services.

A report being released today by Forrester Research says U.S. companies and government agencies are expected to increase their spending on information technology 2.8 percent this year.

That is a sharp downward revision from the 4.6 percent growth Forrester predicted in December.

Forrester expects the worldwide tech market to grow a healthier 6 percent, but the December forecast had envisioned a 9 percent gain.

Gasoline

Pump prices slide 3 cents nationally

The average price of regular gasoline at the pump fell 3.5 cents in the past two weeks to $2.94 a gallon, according to industry analyst Trilby Lundberg’s survey of 7,000 filling stations nationwide.

The highest average price for self-serve regular was $3.35 a gallon in Honolulu. The lowest, in St. Louis, was $2.76.

Lundberg said a glut of gas is being used up, allowing refiners to recover margin losses and gas prices to start rising again.

Compiled from The New York Times, Bloomberg News and The Associated Press