Online video-rental service Netflix and giant LG Electronics on Wednesday said they will develop a set-top box that lets consumers stream...

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Netflix

Online video-rental service Netflix and giant LG Electronics on Wednesday said they will develop a set-top box that lets consumers stream video content from the Internet to high-definition TVs.

The straight-to-TV service, due in the second half of the year, would be the most direct way yet for Netflix’s 7 million members to view movies and TV series.

For a year, Netflix users have been able to stream content to their PCs. They can also rent videos from Netflix’s Web site, for home delivery of DVDs.

Last week, Apple declined to comment on reports it is entering into a video-on-demand deal with News Corp.’s 20th Century Fox.

Another player in this emerging market is Amazon.com, whose partnership with TiVo lets consumers download video to TVs.

Automotive

Sales for 2007 had rough road

Major automakers today will close their books on what is expected to be the worst year of car sales in almost a decade, as buyers were too busy dealing with ballooning gas prices and persistent housing woes to flock to showrooms.

Car-buying research Web site Edmunds.com pegged Toyota to lead a retreat in results for the Japanese automakers, with a 2.9 percent pullback in December. Honda and Nissan are also expected to post lower sales.

Edmunds.com forecast that Ford and Chrysler will drop almost 7 percent in December versus a year ago, with General Motors down less than 1 percent.

Qualcomm

Judge’s ruling to affect business

Qualcomm said Wednesday its business will immediately feel the impact of a federal judge’s order to stop selling chips for cellphones that infringe on rival Broadcom’s patents.

U.S. District Judge James Selna of Santa Ana, Calif., ruled Monday that Qualcomm cannot sell chips that rely on three Broadcom patents, the latest development in legal disputes between the two companies.

The judge allowed Qualcomm to continue selling some chips until the end of January 2009 if it pays royalties.

Qualcomm said the ruling will have “an immediate, short-term impact” on handset makers that use WCDMA technology.

Its shares fell 96 cents to $38.39. Broadcom’s shares rose 18 cents to $26.32.

Compiled from USA Today, MarketWatch and The Associated Press