J.C. Penney buys a piece of Martha Stewart company

J.C. Penney Co. is buying a minority stake in Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. for $38.5 million, the latest move by the department store to attract new customers and perk up lackluster sales.

Penney is acquiring a 16.6 percent stake in the media and merchandising company. The Plano, Texas, company will create mini-Martha Stewart shops within its department stores and the companies will jointly operate a home goods website.

The deal, announced Wednesday, comes as both brands aim to revitalize themselves. Penney recently brought on former Apple Inc. executive Ron Johnson as CEO. Johnson joined the company’s board in August, took over merchandising and marketing responsibilities on Nov. 1 and will assume the remaining CEO functions on Feb. 1.

Johnson has said he wanted to “re-imagine” the department store chain. As for Martha Stewart, it has grappled with declines in print advertising revenue and fierce competition from other websites.

Microsoft offers bigger cut to software developers

Microsoft Corp. is stepping up its competition with Apple and plans to give developers who write software for Windows computers and devices a greater share of the revenue they get selling the software through the company’s upcoming Windows Store.

Once an app brings in at least $25,000 in revenue, Microsoft plans to give its developer an 80 percent cut. In the case of Windows apps that don’t reach that threshold, Microsoft will share 70 percent. Apple gives developers 70 percent of the revenue an app brings in.

The bigger cut to successful developers is the latest sign that Microsoft is trying to compete with Apple – and with phones running Google’s Android operating system – by luring developers.

Aviation industry earnings expected to take steep drop

Global aviation earnings will likely decline to $3.5 billion in 2012, but they could fall much further and turn into losses exceeding $8.3 billion if the eurozone crisis veers toward catastrophe, the industry’s trade group said Wednesday.

For 2011, the industry says it anticipates that surging oil and fuel prices will clip its 2011 profits at $6.9 billion – less than half of its $15.8 billion profits for 2010.

The International Air Transport Association’s annual review focused on Europe’s debt crisis, which is threatening the global economy.

The Geneva-based trade group called the gloomy economic outlook – particularly weak European demand and higher costs – challenging for aviation throughout the world, despite strong growth in Asia.

Facebook flaw lets users see the real Zuckerberg

Newly revealed private photos of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may be a letdown if you were expecting party scenes like the ones in “The Social Network” movie.

The photos are tame, some even adorable. They show that the leader of the world’s largest online social network eats, cooks and likes to spend time with his girlfriend and puppy. Oh, and he hangs out with President Barack Obama, if time permits.

A Facebook security flaw, reported this week, allowed users to gain access to the billionaire businessman’s private pictures. Facebook blamed a software error in a feature that lets users report inappropriate content.

The company said the error was quickly fixed, but some people were able to view a limited number of other people’s photos, even if they were marked as private and meant for a small circle of friends.

Last month, Facebook settled with the Federal Trade Commission over claims it exposed details about users’ lives without getting legally required consent.

– From news service reports