The second week of December saw no tech company earnings releases of note, but was nevertheless punctuated with a number of major news items. Tech titans Google (GOOG 0.31%) (GOOGL 0.43%), Apple (AAPL -0.41%), and Microsoft (MSFT -0.31%) dominated the headlines, while a hacking scandal continued to plague electronics giant Sony (SONY -1.11%).
Google named the best place to work
According to Glassdoor, search giant Google is the best large company to work for. Among nearly 3,000 employee reviews, 92% would recommend the company to a friend and 96% approve of the company's CEO, Larry Page. Employee satisfaction rates tend to correlate with strong stock performance, as companies with satisfied employees might be better equipped to compete in their market.
Several other tech firms made the top 20, including F5 Networks, Facebook, Qualcomm, and Adobe. Click here for Motley Fool coverage of the Glassdoor rankings and the full list of 50.
Apple's partnership with IBM produces its first apps
In July, Apple announced a partnership with IBM aimed at creating enterprise apps for Apple's mobile devices. This week, that partnership produced its first tangible result: a wave of Big Data iOS apps intended for business users.
Although no single app is particularly significant, the partnership over time could entice more businesses to purchase Apple's mobile devices.
Amazon goes after eBay
Amazon (AMZN -1.43%) took a shot at e-commerce rival eBay this week, introducing a new feature to its site that could make it the go-to destination for shoppers seeking rare and collectible items.
Amazon now allows buyers to negotiate with some sellers, putting up a proposed offer price that the seller can accept or reject. The feature is limited to the sort of goods that would best seem to fit such a bartering system -- primarily collectibles and art. If it succeeds in driving additional sales, it could pressure eBay's business.
Sony pictures hit by hacking scandal
Activist investor Dan Loeb, when he was waging a campaign against Japanese electronics giant Sony, argued that the company's entertainment holdings were undervalued by the market and didn't necessarily fit with Sony's focus on consumer electronics.
Those entertainment holdings have dominated the headlines this week, as hackers have made public gigabytes of data, including sensitive emails. Some of the messages have painted Sony executives in an unfavorable light, and have revealed secret film projects the company had been developong. Despite Loeb's argument that investors have largely ignored Sony's movie business, the news seemed to drag down Sony shares, which fell more than than 5% this week.
Microsoft prepares to unveil Windows 10; Xbox One wins one
This week, Microsoft revealed that it would hold a press event on Jan. 21, at which it is likely to reveal Windows 10 in significant detail, laying out the operating system and how it should improve on its predecessor, Windows 8. Several Microsoft executives, including CEO Satya Nadella and Windows head Terry Myerson, will be in attendance, along with Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox.
Spencer's unit scored a victory this week: Data from research firm NPD revealed that Microsoft's latest video game console, the Xbox One, outsold its chief rival, Sony's PlayStation 4, in November. Until last month, the PlayStation 4 had consistently outsold the Xbox One by a significant margin.
The Xbox One could run Windows 10, as one of the operating system's primary selling points is its ability to run across all sorts of devices.