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If you're feeling good about the market, you're not alone. Take my hand as we go over some of this week's more uplifting headlines.
1. Its bark is worse than its bite
Garmin's (NASDAQ: GRMN ) going to the dogs. Literally.
The GPS giant introduced a new line of pet products.
BarkLimiter is billing itself as the first intuitive bark correction device. Delta is a higher-end remote dog-training device.
Unlike other collars that vibrate or shoot off spray blasts of citronella to deter barking, the BarkLimiter packs an accelerometer to help distinguish between barks and other vocalizations. It also adjusts, intensifying as the barks get louder. There's even an odometer to measure the barks. It's like NikeFuel for Fido!
Why is this in the "smart" column instead of the "dumb" one to rip Garmin for desperate diversification? Well, Garmin can use a little branching out as its flagship GPS business meanders along.
2. Baidu breaks free
Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU ) has plenty of room to grow in the world's most populous nation, but it's always a good idea to explore strategic opportunities outside of China.
Baidu is teaming up with French telecom Orange to co-develop a mobile browser for smartphone customers in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The browser reportedly offers a mobile experience that lowers data consumption by as much as 90%, and that's a big deal in many overseas countries where cash-strapped customers are on the data clock.
The two companies are also working on a French version of the browser.
3. Those blenders are moving fast
Jamba (NASDAQ: JMBA ) introduced a refreshed store format this week. The new format at the 788-unit smoothie chain will introduce limited-menu Smoothie Stations, juice bars, and even drive-throughs when possible.
Jamba will also be sprucing up its existing stores over the next four years.
It will also probably be easier to get in and out of Jamba in a hurry in the future. PayPal announced a test with a Jamba Juice store in California where folks can order from their smartphones right from the PayPal app. They set a pickup time and can then bypass the register since they will have prepaid with PayPal.
Jamba already has pre-ordering functionality, but teaming up with PayPal and its more than 100 million active accounts is a winning idea.
4. This frog didn't need a kiss to turn into a prince
Shares of LeapFrog Enterprises (UNKNOWN: LF.DL ) have closed higher for 10 consecutive trading days as of Thursday night's close. You don't see that kind of winning streak happen too often. Even some of the sharpest rallies catch breathers along the way.
Investors have been buying into LeapFrog on anecdotal evidence that the leading maker of educational electronic toys had a strong holiday showing. Now proof is starting to come out.
According to NPD Group's Retail Tracking Service, LeapFrog products took three of the top four spots on the best-selling toys list for 2012. The LeapPad Explorer, LeapPad2 tablet, and Explorer licensed software took the honors, boding well for when LeapFrog reports its holiday-quarter results early next month.
5. To infinity and beyond
Disney (NYSE: DIS ) may be ripping off the biggest video game software company, but it's just what the sluggish video game industry may need.
The family entertainment giant introduced Disney Infinity, a console and PC gaming franchise where players collect Disney action figures that come alive in games when placed on a connected base.
The setup is a lot like Skylanders -- Activision Blizzard's big seller in 2012 -- though the virtual realms and actual games are unique in their own right. The ability to pair up a Buzz Lightyear action figure with one of the family members from The Incredibles to create a one-of-a-kind gaming experience is going to give this expandable franchise legs.
It's also going to woo back young gamers who have been turning to tablet apps and casual games instead of the video game diversions that their older siblings grew up on.
The video game industry needs this, even if Disney isn't exactly breaking new ground here.
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