Girding for a potential threat from Apple, online DVD-rental service Netflix is lifting its limits on how long most subscribers can watch...

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Girding for a potential threat from Apple, online DVD-rental service Netflix is lifting its limits on how long most subscribers can watch movies and television shows over high-speed Internet connections.

The change will become effective today, the eve of Apple’s expected move into the movie-rental industry.

Until now, Netflix restricted how long its more than 7 million subscribers could use the streaming service each month, based on how much they pay to rent DVDs.

With today’s change, virtually all subscribers will be able to stream as many movies and TV shows as they want from a library containing more than 6,000 titles.

There will be no additional charge for the unlimited access.

Apple plans to charge $3.99 for movies that can be downloaded and played for up to 24 hours, according to media reports citing people familiar with the company’s rental plans.

With more than 90,000 titles available in the Netflix DVD library, delivering movies through the mail is expected to remain the company’s primary moneymaker.


Startup unveiling suite for Android

A small software developer today plans to unveil a suite of applications — browser, camera, games and more — based on the new Google-endorsed operating system, Android.

A La Mobile of San Ramon, Calif., installed its applications on a smartphone from HTC, the Qtek 9090. They include: a Google browser, phone dialer for making voice calls, audio player, Google maps, camera, games, calendar, contacts manager, calculator and notes.

HTC is among 34 companies in Google’s Open Handset Coalition, which aims to create a Linux-based wireless phone that makes it easy for consumers to use any application.

Andy Rubin, Google senior chief of mobile platforms, says the coalition is on track to roll out an Android-based phone in the second half of 2008.


Pump price rises a dime in 3 weeks

The average price of regular gasoline at the pump rose 10 cents in the past three weeks to $3.07 a gallon, according to industry analyst Trilby Lundberg’s survey of 7,000 filling stations nationwide.

The highest average price for self-serve regular gasoline was $3.39 a gallon in San Francisco. The lowest was in Cheyenne, Wy., at $2.77. The average price was $3.20 in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area, according to the AAA online fuel report.

“We cannot go up from here much until we come out of the winter gasoline-demand doldrums,” Lundberg said.

Walt Disney Co.

Company to invest in Chinese NBA

The Walt Disney Co. and four Chinese investment firms will take an 11 percent stake in the National Basketball Association’s subsidiary in China, people briefed on the matter said Sunday.

The NBA and Disney, which broadcasts games through its ABC and ESPN subsidiaries, will be joined by the Bank of China, China Merchant Bank and Legend Holdings, these people said. The final investor is a firm owned by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing.

The investors will pay about $250 million, valuing NBA China at about $2.3 billion. Disney will own 5 percent.

Timothy Chen, former CEO of Microsoft’s China operations, is CEO of the China NBA.

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