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Originally published September 5, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified September 5, 2007 at 2:53 PM

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Business Digest

Fall NBC shows for sale on Amazon's Unbox

Nbc universal said Tuesday it will sell episodes of its new fall television shows using Amazon's Unbox digital download service, after the...

Amazon.com

NBC Universal said Tuesday it will sell episodes of its new fall television shows using Amazon's Unbox digital download service, after the network failed to reach an agreement with Apple last week to offer the shows on iTunes.

Amazon.com and NBC Universal said episodes of programs such as "The Office" and "Heroes" are available for $1.99 on Unbox, and that new episodes will be added the day after they air. Customers can buy an entire season at once.

The NBC content can be played, without commercials, on the computer screen or on a TV through a Web-enabled TiVo set-top box.

NBC Universal, which is majority owned by General Electric, has said it wants to package programming in different ways at different prices, something Amazon is willing to consider, according to Jean-Briac Perrette, president of NBC Universal's digital-distribution division.

Jones Soda

Law firm starting shareholder suit

A San Diego law firm said it has initiated a shareholder lawsuit in federal court in Seattle, accusing Jones Soda and some of its officers and directors of violating securities laws by failing to deliver on "bullish statements" they made about sales and distribution of their products.

The firm, Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins, said the lawsuit is on behalf of people who bought Jones Soda stock between March 9 and Aug. 2.

During that time, the stock climbed more than 80 percent to $31.54, then gradually dropped. On Aug. 2, it closed at $15.30, 11 percent below its price March 9.

The lawsuit was not available on the court's Web site Tuesday.

"We are aware that there may be a pending lawsuit," said Jones Soda Chief Executive Peter van Stolk. "We strongly deny the allegations and will aggressively defend against them."

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Saflink

Merger in works with IdentiPHI

Kirkland-based security-technology company Saflink will merge with privately held IdentiPHI, of Austin, Texas, in a stock swap, the companies announced Tuesday.

The new company will operate as a public company based in Austin.

Saflink's Kirkland office will close, and some of the 30 employees will join the new company in Austin, a Saflink spokeswoman said. The majority will be transferred to FLO, a Saflink subsidiary focused on airport-security technology for the government's Registered Traveler program, she said

The company said today layoffs are possible; a company spokeswoman had said when the deal was announced Tuesday that no layoffs were expected among its local employees.

Saflink interim Chief Executive Steve Oyer will be chairman and CEO of the combined company. Jeff Dick will be chief financial officer and Brian Wilchusky will be vice president of marketing.

Founded in 1988, Saflink has struggled to keep afloat recently. Earlier this year, the company was delisted from Nasdaq after its price dropped below the minimum $1-per-share bid price.

Emeritus

Senior Living acquisition is final

Seattle-based Emeritus, which operates nursing homes and assisted-living centers across the country, closed its acquisition of rival Summerville Senior Living over the long Labor Day weekend, and gained a new top executive in the process.

Granger Cobb, who had headed San Ramon, Calif.-based Summerville since 2000, is now president and co-chief executive officer of Emeritus, and a director of the company. Daniel Baty remains Emeritus' other CEO and chairman.

A representative of Apollo Real Estate Advisors, whose affiliates owned 95 percent of Summerville, also has joined the Emeritus board.

Cobb, 46, will receive base pay of $600,000 a year, a bonus tied to operating profit and options on 500,000 Emeritus shares; the options vest over the next four years.

To acquire Summerville, Emeritus issued 8.5 million shares, worth $230.8 million at Friday's closing price. The company now owns or operates 287 facilities in 36 states, with total capacity for nearly 29,500 residents.

Nation and World

Apple

iPhone a best-seller in its first month

Apple's iPhone, the wireless handset that doubles as a music player, became the best-selling advanced U.S. mobile phone in its first full month of sales, research firm iSuppli said.

Apple sold 220,000 units in July, 1.8 percent of all U.S. mobile-phone sales, iSuppli said Tuesday. The firm estimates that customers in 2007 will buy 4.5 million of the phones, which went on sale June 29.

Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs' goal is to sell 730,000 iPhones this quarter, for a total of 1 million through this month. Apple has forecast sales of 10 million units in calendar 2008.

"It's likely that the speed of the iPhone's rise to competitive dominance in its segment is unprecedented in the history of the mobile handset market," iSuppli said.

The iPhone topped July sales of Research In Motion's BlackBerry devices, Palm's Treo handsets and advanced phones from Motorola, Nokia Oyj and Samsung Electronics, iSuppli said.

Apple rose $5.68, or 4.1 percent, to $144.16 on Tuesday.

Yahoo

BlueLithium will be purchased

Yahoo is buying online advertising network BlueLithium for $300 million in cash, building upon an expansion aimed at ending a financial malaise that has ravaged the Internet pioneer's stock price.

The deal announced late Tuesday marks the latest step in Yahoo's attempt to regain some of the ground that it has lost during the past three years to Google, whose Internet-leading search engine propels the most lucrative online ad network.

Besides operating a large ad network, BlueLithium provides tracking technology, known as "behavioral targeting," that identifies Web surfers with particular interests so the ads they see will be more interesting to them.

Both Google and Microsoft also are trying to supplement their advertising services through acquisitions.

Microsoft last month completed a $6 billion takeover of aQuantive, while Google hopes to buy DoubleClick for $3.1 billion if it can gain approval of federal antitrust regulators.

Compiled from Seattle Times staff, Bloomberg News and The Associated Press.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

UPDATE - 09:46 AM
Exxon Mobil wins ruling in Alaska oil spill case

UPDATE - 09:32 AM
Bank stocks push indexes higher; oil prices dip

UPDATE - 08:04 AM
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UPDATE - 07:54 AM
Underwater mortgages rise as home prices fall

NEW - 09:43 AM
Warner Bros. to offer movie rentals on Facebook

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