- - Tuesday, April 24, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO — Google on Tuesday launched a long-anticipated “Drive” service that lets people store, share and collaborate on digital files in the Internet “cloud.”

Google Drive accounts with five gigabytes of storage were available free at drive.google.com and upgrades to more space on servers in the California company’s data centers were available at rates set by size and country.

“The model is really designed at the core to help people live their lives in the cloud,” Google Vice President for Chrome and Apps Sundar Pichai said on a conference call with reporters.

“Google Drive is something we see as central to the online experience at Google.”

Google Drive software has been tailored for Windows and Macintosh computers, as well as for smartphones or tablets powered by Google-backed Android software.

A version tailored for Apple mobile gadgets will be released soon, according to Mr. Pichai.

“We want to make sure that all our users’ data are available wherever they are,” he said.

Google Drive data can be reached from various devices, and deleting it from one deletes it from all. Scanned letters can be saved. Fax messages can be sent or received at Drive.


Apple trumps expectations, sells 35M iPhones in 2Q

NEW YORK — Apple, the world’s most valuable company, is trumping skeptics once again by reporting blow-out iPhone sales.

Apple says it sold 35 million iPhones in the quarter, almost twice as many as it sold a year ago and above analysts’ expectations.

Apple shares were down before the report because investors thought phone companies had reined in iPhone sales.

Net income in Apple’s fiscal second quarter, which runs January to March, was $11.6 billion, or $12.30 per share. That was nearly double the net income of $6 billion, or $6.40 per share, of a year ago.

Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting earnings of $10.07 per share for the latest quarter.

Revenue was $39.2 billion, up 59 percent from a year ago. Analysts were expecting $37 billion.


Fitch ups Ford credit to investment grade

DETROIT — The Fitch Ratings agency lifted Ford’s credit rating from junk status to investment grade Tuesday, a sign that the company’s recovery from near collapse is almost complete.

But Ford Motor Co. needs another agency, either Standard & Poor’s or Moody’s, to make the same upgrade before it can get its blue oval logo, factories and other assets out of hock.

Ford lost its investment-grade status in 2005 as it was losing billions of dollars when the SUV and truck boom went bust. The company mortgaged most of its assets to borrow $23.5 billion. That allowed Ford to revamp its cars and trucks and avoid bankruptcy protection. Crosstown rivals General Motors and Chrysler didn’t have enough cash to make it through the 2009 economic downturn and were forced into government-funded bankruptcies.

Investment grade means that debt has a low risk of default, while junk status is considered poor credit quality. Companies with higher credit ratings can charge more for their bonds and generally get lower interest rates on their borrowing.

Fitch raised Ford’s credit to “BBB minus” from “BB plus” Tuesday. The ratings agency said that Ford’s work to repair its balance sheet and improve its array of vehicles in recent years “has put the company in a solid position to withstand the significant cyclical and secular pressures faced by the global auto industry.”

Ford’s cash generation and lower costs will give it the financial flexibility it needs to stay at investment grade in a period of economic stress, Fitch expects.


Wal-Mart creates global compliance officer post

BENTONVILLE — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is creating a new global compliance officer position after reports that the retailer covered up results of an internal probe proving that its Mexican subsidiary bribed officials there.

The world’s largest retailer said Tuesday that it has been working diligently to address corruption issues as they arise and that it has created a new position that will be responsible for making sure the company is in compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in every market around the world.

The new global leader has yet to be named, but will oversee compliance directors in five other markets.

Wal-Mart also said it has established a dedicated compliance director in Mexico who will report directly to this new global compliance leader.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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