This Week's 5 Smartest Stock Moves

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. Chrome wasn't billed in a day
Google
(NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) is aggressively expanding its Chromebook retail presence.

The online search giant behind the largely web-based Chrome operating system announced that it would be tripling the number of stores stocking its entry-level laptops.

Chromebook laptops were introduced into 2,800 Wal-Mart superstores and 1,500 Staples office supply stores this week, pushing the number of stores selling the laptops to 6,600 physical store locations.

Google has done a good job of teaming up with its hardware partners to promote Chromebook systems online, but when one considers the true appeal of the $199 Acer Chromebook, it's hard to beat being stocked at the country's largest retailer. It will be the cheapest laptop selling at Wal-Mart, and that's going to make it stand out given the nature of many buck-stretching Wal-Mart shoppers.

2. Xbox One hits the reset button
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) has been backpedalling since the negative fallout of its E3 presentation.

The software giant didn't win too many fans by pricing its new console $100 more than its rival, but the real damage came from die-hard gamers publicly ridiculing the system's connectivity requirements and the inability to swap used games.

Microsoft heard the outcry, and it's responding quickly.

In an update on Wednesday, Microsoft reversed its policy on disc-based, regional, and Internet check-in restrictions.

Gamers may be hesitant to forgive Microsoft, but at least it was responsive to the negative feedback. Doing this now also gives the company the ability to prepare for November's rollout of the Xbox One on the same competitive playing field as the PS4.

3. Take a moving picture -- it'll last longer
Facebook
(NASDAQ: FB  ) is hoping to give Twitter's fast-growing Vine a run for its streaming money.

At a media event on Thursday, the leading social networking website operator introduced short clips on its Instagram photo-sharing website.

True to Instagram's photo-tweaking property, the videos can be dolled up in several different filters. There's also a pretty nifty image stabilization tool. The clips can also be as long as 15 seconds, and they won't repeat like the six-second cap on Vine videos that loop over and over.

The appeal of short clips seemed unlikely until Vine emerged on the scene, and Facebook users already had the capability to upload longer clips to that site. However, Instagram's edgy appeal with shutterbugs -- there are 130 million active users that have shared more than 16 billion photos -- makes it a natural for a video platform that Facebook hopes goes viral.

4. Netflix isn't done kidding around
Netflix
(NASDAQ: NFLX  ) knows that it has some apologizing to do to young families after seeing Nickelodeon shows including SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer leave its digital catalog last month.

This week, it expanded its partnership with DreamWorks Animation in a deal that will expand its original programming by 300 hours.

We're not talking about DreamWorks Animation's computer-rendered movies. That was covered in an earlier deal. This will be new kid-friendly shows based on the expanding character library of DreamWorks Animation.

5. SodaStream's latest counterattack
SodaStream
(NASDAQ: SODA  ) has found a new way to fizz up your kitchen counter.

The company behind the popular namesake beverage maker is teaming up with KitchenAid to introduce a new line of soda makers that will be "Powered by SodaStream" technology.

That's just what SodaStream needs. It doesn't make much on its starter systems. SodaStream's fat margins can be found in the sale of flavor bottles and CO2 canisters. It also receives validation from kitchen buffs who probably already have a few KitchenAid small appliances in their home.

SodaStream's brand is getting stronger, and between Samsung refrigerators and now KitchenAid carbonated beverage makers, it's now letting bigger global juggernauts handle the dirty work that leads to the sale of higher-margin consumables.


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