Among other items: Vodafone Group Chief Executive Arun Sarin says a switch to international accounting rules will allow the world's biggest mobile-phone operator to book a profit next year; a new offering from Yahoo! will provide real-time traffic conditions; and NEC said today it will enter the Chinese market for third-generation mobile-phone-service infrastructure.

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TOKYO — Americans and Europeans will soon be able to buy a more powerful battery that promises enough juice for twice as many digital pictures as regular batteries.

The Oxyride battery, developed by Matsushita Electric, maintains higher voltage and output longer because its electricity-producing materials can be packed more closely inside the cell.

Matsushita, which makes the Panasonic brand, also developed techniques for stuffing the cell with more electrolyte, a key ingredient that leads to longer battery life.

The growing popularity of digital cameras, portable music players, handheld video-game machines and other gadgets is boosting demand for powerful batteries.

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The Oxyride battery will be available in the United States and Europe in April, a year after it was first sold in Japan. AA and AAA Oxyride batteries will cost about 10 percent more than regular, alkaline batteries, Matsushita officials said.

Accounting change to turn Vodafone loss into profit

Vodafone Group Chief Executive Arun Sarin says a switch to international accounting rules will allow the world’s biggest mobile-phone operator to book a profit next year after losses of $93 billion since 2000.

Rules taking effect in the European Union on Jan. 1 will let England-based Vodafone stop writing off goodwill tied to the company’s $206 billion purchase of Mannesmann in 2000. In fiscal 2004, goodwill, the part of an acquisition price for such things as brand value, turned a profit into a loss under British accounting rules.

More than 7,000 European companies are adopting a uniform method of accounting called International Financial Reporting Standards, or IFRS.

The switch marks a revolution in the EU, which adopted the standards for publicly traded companies after Enron collapsed in 2001.

IFRS will help align U.S. and European rules and make it harder to hide fraud.

The new rules will expose hidden costs, requiring companies to treat stock options as expenses, book pension obligations as liabilities and record derivatives and other financial instruments at “fair value,” rather than historical cost. The derivative rules will also make earnings more volatile, investors and accountants said.

Traffic reports added to Yahoo! maps, directions

NEW YORK — Many travelers by now are accustomed to getting maps and driving directions on the Internet. A new offering from Yahoo! will provide real-time traffic conditions as well.

Using information from radio traffic reports, police scanners, embedded road sensors and traffic helicopters, Yahoo! will warn motorists of construction and other delays along a planned route. In some cases, the new service will also provide weather advisories issued by state and local jurisdictions.

But for now, the service won’t be available where it would be most useful: on cellphones and car-navigation systems, said Yahoo! spokeswoman Terra Carmichael. Those features may be added later, she said.

Optimistic forecast for online advertising in ’05

Happy days will be here again for online advertising, according to a forecast of marketing spending prepared by Jack Myers, an economics analyst specializing in the entertainment industry.

He projected online ad spending will grow to $10.2 billion next year, a gain of 30 percent from this year, which showed a 25 percent rise from last year.

Major national advertisers are likely to shift money from developing their own Web sites and interactive features to sites operated by major media such as The Wall Street Journal, ESPN and local radio and TV broadcasters, Myers wrote.

Search advertising revenues are likely to grow 25 to 30 percent, he said, while spending will also increase for video and content sponsorships.

NEC targets China’s 3G market

TOKYO — NEC said today it will enter the Chinese market for third-generation (3G) mobile-phone-service infrastructure, targeting annual sales of $289 million.

A spokeswoman for NEC, Japan’s third-largest electronics conglomerate, said it has opened a showroom to display its ground stations and other products in Guangdong, near Hong Kong, and had talks with Chinese cellphone-service providers.

The spokeswoman said the Chinese government is expected to issue licenses around mid-2005.

Relationship Web site draws venture capital

A pair of venture-capital firms in Silicon Valley has agreed to invest $110 million in, a Web service for people looking for serious relationships.

The investments were made by Sequoia Capital and Technology Crossover Ventures. Nate Elliott, an analyst with Jupiter Research, told the San Jose Mercury News he expects eHarmony to continue to spend heavily for branding to differentiate itself from competitors including and Yahoo! Personals.

“It helped them go from nowhere to near the top of the pile in a short amount of time,” he said. But Elliott added, “That’s a shocking amount of money to give to this company.”

The 4-year-old Pasadena, Calif. firm reports it has almost 6 million registered users and is making money.

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