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Tech Rewind: FCC Passes Net Neutrality, Apple Teases 'Spring Forward' Event

By Natalia Angulo Columns FOXBusiness

Tech Rewind: FCC Votes in Favor of Net Neutrality

It's life in the same lane for everyone on the web, and Apple has plans to 'spring forward' - this is your tech rewind of the week.

It’s life in the same lane for everyone on the web, and Apple has plans to spring forward -- this is your tech rewind of the week.

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After a long, and heated, debate in America over whether and how to regulate the Internet, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on Thursday in a 3-to-2 vote down party lines to reclassify the Internet as a public utility. The FCC touted the move as one supporting free expression, innovation and investment. Not everyone is a fan, though. Critics call the action a government overreach. And Verizon (VZ), in a tongue-and-cheek statement following the vote, called the new rules “badly antiquated” that would “encumber broadband Internet services” and only create uncertainty for all stakeholders. 

The new rules, which under Title II will regulate the Internet similar to a public utility like a telephone company, ban the so-called “Internet fast lanes” that in the past would have let companies give preferential treatment in the form of faster service to those who could afford it.

Also on Thursday, Apple (AAPL) teased a playful “Spring Forward” event slated for March 9, a month before the much-hyped Apple Watch is expected to launch. The event invite comes a week after Bloomberg News reported the California software/hardware company has plans to drive it’s way into the auto business. Experts aren’t ruling it out of the realm of possibility, but say Apple’s ambitious goal to make an electric car in five years will face plenty of hurdles. Apple shares were slightly lower for the week.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) revealed adjusted fiscal first-quarter profits per share of 92 cents, topping Street views by a penny. Meanwhile revenue came in at $26.8 billion, short of expectations. The company also forecast full-year earnings well-below estimates, sending shares down nearly 7% after hours on Tuesday following the news.

On the heels of new reports that Gilt Groupe had raised $50 million, and effectively put on hold its IPO, Slice Intelligence took a deeper dive into the online flash-sale space and found sales are flattening

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“Ten years ago the question was whether this was just going to be a tiny corner of the Internet in the off-price world,” Slice Intelligence Analyst Ken Cassar said. “The focus now has got to be on bringing in new shoppers.” 

Even as Gilt managed to surpass the $1 billion mark, it and fellow flash-sale pioneer RueLaLa are experiencing slowing growth rates, while newcomers like Nordstrom’s (JWN) HauteLook and Zulily (ZU) are outpacing them at rates of 84% and 80% for 2014, respectively. Gilt grew at just 9% while RueLaLa is expanded by 13% last year.

And the wait is over for parents: Google (GOOGL) launched YouTube Kids on Monday. The family-friendly app features a brighter, bigger interface that makes it simpler for children to navigate. Separately, starting March 5, Nickelodeon will debut an ad-free streaming app, Noggin, for preschool-aged kids. The service will cost $5.99 a month and will be initially available on Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, according to AdAge.

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