Today: Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook goes on a media tour as Samsung patent trial reboots, part of a big day of Apple news that included a rebound on Wall Street. Also: Zynga pushes for real-money gambling, tech stocks gain.
A busy day for Apple news as stock rebounds from big loss
One day after its largest one-day stock drop in four years, Apple was all over the news Thursday, partly of its own doing, as CEO Tim Cook went on a media tour unlike anything he's done since taking over the Cupertino tech giant from late co-founder Steve Jobs.
The biggest announcement in Cook's first exclusive interview, with Bloomberg's Businessweek, was that he wants Apple to start producing a line of Macs in the United States, where Mercury News columnist Mike Cassidy has been chronicling the resurrection of manufacturing. Cassidy pointed out that this would be a return to Apple's roots, as the company manufactured early Macs in Silicon Valley at a factory Jobs praised.
Cook also took on the new competitors to Apple's iPad, calling Microsoft and Android-based tablets "confusing," and again apologized for Apple's botched mapping application that replaced Google (GOOG) Maps in the most recent iOS update.
"We set out to give the customer something to provide a better experience. And the truth is it didn't live up to our expectations. We screwed up," he said.
While the interviews -- Cook also spoke to NBC's Brian Williams in a talk that will be broadcast Thursday night -- came a day after a large fall on Wall Street, analysts expect Cook's media tour is more for Apple fans who have been disappointed with Apple's recent product refresh and the maps debacle, a point of view Guardian writer Heidi Moore outlined.
In Silicon Valley, the most important Apple news was the fresh start of the company's gargantuan legal battle with Samsung on Thursday afternoon, as judge Lucy Koh again began hearing arguments after a jury determined that Samsung owed Apple more than $1 billion for infringing on mobile-device patents. The early news from the court battle was Samsung's filing of a redacted version of Apple's patent deal with HTC, which could have a big effect on the battle.
The Apple vs. Samsung mobile battle played out away from court as well, with reports that Samsung's next Galaxy phone will have an unbreakable screen, which could do even more to push its surge in sales, and an IDC report that the iPhone has fallen to No. 6 in the Chinese market. In the United States, T-Mobile -- the only major U.S. carrier that doesn't offer the iPhone -- announced that it has reached a deal to carry Apple products, though it didn't mention the iconic Apple smartphone by name.
On Wall Street, Apple opened with a stock price so diminished in after-hours trading that its market capitalization fell lower than $500 billion, but the price quickly bounced back in what Fortune writer Philip Elmer-DeWitt called "a classic Apple slingshot." By the end of the day's trading session, Apple had gained 1.6 percent from Wednesday's closing price, with shares trading for $547.24, representing a market cap of $514.8 billion.
Zynga's push for real-money gambling pushes stock higher
Apple's increase was light compared with the bounceback for San Francisco online gaming company Zynga, which zoomed 7.1 percent higher after announcing it was seeking a real-money gambling license in the state of Nevada.
It was the largest one-day gain for Zynga's beleaguered stock in six weeks, reflecting investors' hopes that the company can find a new source of revenue in real-money gambling, even if it takes years to get there. Zynga said it would take a year or more to gain approval from Nevada, one of only three states -- along with New Jersey and Delaware -- seeking to approve online gambling. Nationwide approval could take much longer, or never happen at all.
"The broader U.S. market is an opportunity that's further out on the horizon based on legislative developments, but we are preparing for a regulated market," Zynga Chief Revenue Officer Barry Cottle said in a statement.
Zynga is scrambling to prove to its investors it has a future with this and other moves, after serious problems with revenue this year and a high-profile official split with Facebook last week. Zynga failed to appear in Facebook's top-five games of 2012, with once-popular titles like "FarmVille" fading fast. One of Zynga's few continuing successes is its online poker game, which even the company's enemies admit is a strong offering.
"The only thing that still works for them is their Zynga poker app," Will Harbin, CEO of gaming rival Kixeye has said. "It's a thoughtful game and it's not a surprise that it's still working for them."
Zynga's bounce gave it a closing price of $2.48, still far, far below its IPO price of $10 a share.
Yahoo closes at two-year high, Facebook and Yelp fall
Apple's large gain helped boost tech stocks, one day after its massive losses pulled down the sector. the Nasdaq gained the most of the three major U.S. stock indexes for the day, the technology sector was the biggest gainer in the Standard & Poor's 500 index, and the SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies advanced 0.9 percent.
Other tech stocks with notable Wall Street movement included Yahoo (YHOO), which continued its run of notable successes by closing higher than $19 for the first time since 2010; the Sunnyvale Internet company gained 1.6 percent to close at $19.20.
Santa Clara chipmaker Intel (INTC) also rose 1.6 percent Thursday after outgoing CEO Paul Otellini continued to say he believes an insider will succeed him, while also positing that the world's top semiconductor company will likely open up its manufacturing to make chips for other companies, with Apple the biggest name. Intel shares closed at $20.16.
On the negative side, Facebook declined 2.7 percent as news leaked that the Menlo Park social network is negotiating with Microsoft for advertising technology, and Yelp plummeted 4 percent after a court ruling forced a reviewer to take down her critique, seen as a blow to the company.
Silicon Valley tech stocks
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 15.57, or 0.52 percent, to 2,989.27
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Up 39.55, or 0.3 percent, to 13,074.04
And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up 4.66, or 0.33 percent, to 1,413.94
Check in weekday afternoons for the 60-Second Business Break, a summary of news from Mercury News staff writers, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and other wire services. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/mercbizbreak.