If smartphone companies are at war, the ammo keeps getting cheaper. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) kicked off the week by beefing up its iPhone line. The sultan of style is sealing up the few shortcomings of its iPhone by adding features like video recording and cut-and-paste functionality. Perhaps most importantly, buyers are now able to get iPhones for as little as $99 apiece.

This is meaty, as the iPhone and Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry try to grow their subscriber bases quickly before new entrants like Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android-enhanced smartphones and last week's rollout of the Palm (NASDAQ:PALM) Pre gain traction.

It's certainly been a busy week in the smartphone space. Beyond Apple's iPhone update, Palm is also shuffling CEOs at a critical juncture for the company. This is one baton that cannot be dropped, with so much potential waiting for Palm if the Pre becomes a serious player.

The one pitfall of a pricing war is that the size of the smartphone market has limits, even if carriers could give big enough subsidies for the makers to give them away. They are typically tethered to two-year contracts, and the number of smartphone jockeys who can pay $60 to $100 a month to keep their devices connected isn't as big as the wireless companies would like you to believe.

Briefly in the news
And now let's take a quick look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.

  • Uncle Sam is one convincing loan shark. Ten of the largest banks that accepted the government's TARP funds have been approved to repay the government, with interest. Companies on the list include JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS). Can you blame them? Once the government made it clear that there are shackles tied to the bailout greenery, such as strict vigilance and limits on bonuses and salaries, any bank that wants to retain its top talent is scrambling to pay back its borrowed billions.
  • FuelCell Energy (NASDAQ:FCEL) was one of the few stocks expected to post better results than it did a year ago. It did. Sure, all this means is that the alternative-energy company lost less money than it did during the same quarter last year, but all baby steps are welcome in this still iffy earnings climate.

Until next week, I remain,
Rick Munarriz

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz recommends windshield wiper fluid when trying to look back. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.