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Apple, Amazon, FTC: News briefs

Apple's stock hits 16-month low
Not too long ago, Apple was being hailed at the most valuable company in the world, with its stock trading for more than $700 last year.

However, in the past six months, the company?s shares have consistently headed down. At one point last week, the company?s share price hit a 16-month low, dropping to $392.05 and closing below $400 for the first time since late 2011.

By Friday morning, the stock value had rebounded slightly and was trading at $399.
Analysts and industry watchers have no clear answer for why Apple?s stock has fallen so dramatically given that the company is still enormously profitable.

However, the downward trend suggests that the significant excitement around Apple?s mobile offerings have tempered somewhat as competition in the marketplace heats up. 

Amazon patent suggests mobile payments play
Online retailing giant Amazon has been issued a patent that would enable users to make payments from a mobile device anonymously. If launched, such a service would put Amazon in competition with PayPal as an alternative payments provider.

The patent describes a payment solution which issues registered users temporary tokens that can be used instead of information such as a name or email for identifying the buyer and seller. The tokens would expire after a transaction is completed.

Under this system, Amazon would be the only with the identity of the buyer and seller.

FTC brings case alleging unauthorized text charges against Wise Media
The Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint against Wise Media LLC alleging it made unauthorized charges for premium text message services and took in millions of dollars as a result.

The case, which also names Brian M. Buckley and Winston J. Deloney, is the first to be brought by the FTC related to the practice of mobile cramming. The agency has been focusing more intently on mobile in response to strong consumer adoption and the explosive growth of mobile technology.

The defendants allegedly signed up consumers randomly for premium services without consumer permission, sending text messages with horoscopes, love tips and other information, resulting in monthly charges of $9.99 on the users? mobile phone bills.

The FTC is asking the court to freeze the defendants? assets, order them to stop their deceptive practices and force them to relinquish their gains so refunds can be provided to victims.