THE NEWS WRAP: Facebook buys Instagram for $US1 billion

Facebook has announced a $US1 billion deal to buy popular smartphone photo-sharing application Instagram.


Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said in a blog post the company is “psyched” to be joining Facebook.


“It’s important to be clear that Instagram is not going away. We’ll be working with Facebook to evolve Instagram and build the network,” he said.


It’s been suggested the acquisition could be an attempt by Facebook to strengthen its defences against Google and Pinterest ahead of what promises to be a history-making stock market debut.


AOL to sell 800 patents to Microsoft

AOL says it has agreed to sell 800 of its patents and their related applications to Microsoft, and grant it a licence for its remaining patents for a total of about $US1.06 billion in cash.  


New York-based AOL Inc also plans to return some of the sale proceeds to its shareholders.


The company says it will still hold more than 300 patents and applications covering a variety of core and strategic technologies.


AOL also received a licence to the patents being sold to Microsoft Corp.


AOL says it will determine the best way to distribute some of the sale proceeds to shareholders before the sale closes, which is expected to happen by the end of this year.


Tourism spending hits four-year low


The high Australian dollar continues to take its toll on Australia’s tourism industry, with official figures showing foreign visitors’ spending has slumped to its lowest level in four years.


According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, income from foreign tourists is estimated to have fallen to $2.63 billion in February, the lowest monthly figure since December 2007.


In a double whammy for the industry, the high dollar has also tempted thousands more Australians to take their holidays overseas.


Australians are estimated to have spent $2.82 billion on overseas tourism services in February, the most on record.



The Australian dollar has opened slightly higher after the Easter break, as Wall Street slipped on weaker-than-expected US jobs figures.  


At 6.30am, the Australian dollar was trading at 103.15 US cents, up from 103.05 cents on Thursday.


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