GigaOM This Week: Silicon Valley Executive Shake-up

What a week in tech news. Apple (s aapl) and Google (s goog) both announced big changes at the CEO level, prompting a storm of questions about where the two respective companies are going. Steve Jobs announced he was stepping away for a medical leave, retaining the CEO title while handing day-to-day duties to chief operating officer Tim Cook. Meanwhile, Eric Schmidt said he was giving up the Google CEO title and will assume the role of executive chairman while former CEO and founder Larry Page takes over. While most assume the changes at the top won’t cause much disruption in the near term, there are questions for Apple and Google about comes next as they try to keep up their momentum. The companies both reported earnings this week with stellar results, with Apple in particular blowing away expectations.

Meanwhile, Google, fresh off of getting rebuffed by Groupon in its $6 billion bid, has launched a Groupon clone — though, as Mathew points out, the search giants is better off buying a company to achieve the necessary scale to compete, rather than trying to build a daily deal company itself. Speaking of daily deals, LivingSocial showed off what a $175 million investment from Amazon (s amzn) can do. The No. 2 competitor to Groupon sold more than 1 million Amazon gift cards by offering users the ability to buy a $20 gift card for half off. Though the promotion cost a pretty penny, it delivered a bunch of user e-mails in one feel swoop.

The NBC Comcast saga came to an end this week after the FCC agreed to allow Comcast (s cmcsk) to acquire NBC Universal (s ge). The FCC finalized conditions needed for it to approve the $30 billion acquisition, setting the stage for the close of the deal by the end of this month. As my colleague Liz points out, the FCC seemed to pay close attention to protecting online competition, an important issue though one that will be determined by FCC enforcement.

Speaking of video, Netflix (s nflx) removed the “Add to DVD” queue from the user interface on streaming devices, saying that by doing so, it could concentrate on streaming video to those devices. The move was not well received by many Netflix users, who complained about Netflix pushing them away from DVDs to streaming video. Meanwhile, my colleague Ryan Lawler found that Netflix’s selection of streaming videos was going down in quality and selection, which will be a major challenge for the company if it looks to migrate users away from DVDs.

Meanwhile in other news:

  • Verizon (s vz)  filed an expected appeal to the FCC’s recently passed Net Neutrality rules.As Stacey pointed out, Verizon’s main goal is to find a sympathetic court to take up the case. It looks like it might have found one in the D.C. Appeals court.
  • Nokia’s (s nok) X7 smartphone launch on AT&T (s t) apparently looks like it’s either canceled or delayed, which Kevin wrote suggests AT&T doesn’t need a Nokia smartphone as much as Nokia wants to get sign a deal with AT&T.
  • Google raised questions about its Android Market rules by removing the Kongregate Arcade gaming app, which Google said was an app-store competitor. It also got me wondering what that means for Amazon’s planned Android app store.
  • Starbucks (s sbux) launched a new mobile payment system, allowing people to pay for stuff using a Starbucks Card app on their iPhones and BlackBerry (s rimm) devices.

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