Staying in the tech world now, later today Microsoft releases its earnings for the final quarter of 2012. And no matter what the computer software giant announces, it won't mask the fact that last year was a brutal one for the personal computer industry.
Dell - one of the largest computer makers on the planet - is in talks to be taken over by a private equity firm. PC sales are declining globally.
And as NPR's Steve Henn reports, some see a technological shift in the works that could undermine the empire built by Microsoft.
NPR's business news begins with a bite out of Apple.
It's still the largest tech company in the world - let's make no mistake about that. But Apple reported yesterday that its profits were flat - despite brisk sales of iPhones and iPads. In after-hours trading, Apple's stock plunged, reflecting fears that interest in Apple products may start waning as consumers seek more affordable options.
OK. Let's turn to a rivalry between siblings. Today's last word in business is Harbowl - or Harbaugh Bowl.
An Indiana man tried to trademark those two phrases last year, according to ESPN.com.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Roy Fox figured the Harbaugh brothers - both NFL coaches - might someday meet in the Super Bowl. This year it is happening. Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers face John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens a week from Sunday.
A week has passed since the terrorist attack on a natural gas facility in Algeria, but risk analysts and security experts are still undecided about the incident's likely impact in the energy world.
The price of oil, a good indicator of anxiety in the energy market, went up modestly right after the attack, but then it stabilized. No energy company has suspended operations in Algeria, nor has any company announced it will hold off on future investments in North Africa, a key source of oil and gas supplies.
There's a quick, one-word explanation for why the federal government started selling flood insurance: Betsy.
Hurricane Betsy, which struck the Gulf Coast in 1965, became known as billion-dollar Betsy. Homes were ruined. Water up to the roofs. People paddling around streets in boats. Massive damage.
This would be the time when you'd expect people to be pulling out their flood insurance policies. But flood insurance was hard to come by. You could get fire insurance, theft insurance, car insurance, life insurance. Not flood.
When compared with its neighbors Coney Island and the Rockaways, Manhattan seemed hardly touched by the waters and winds of Superstorm Sandy in late October. But almost three months later, areas of lower Manhattan are still laboring to recover.
Earlier this month, a museum devastated by Sandy finally reopened. About 800 people packed the lobby and upstairs galleries of the South Street Seaport Museum in lower Manhattan as Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed the crowd.
"Britain's prime minister said Wednesday he will offer citizens a vote on whether to leave the European Union if his party wins the next election, prompting warnings from fellow member states about the soundness of such a move," The Associated Press writes.
The wire service adds that:
"Cameron proposed Wednesday that his Conservative Party renegotiate the U.K.'s relationship with the European Union if it wins the next general election, expected in 2015.
The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a Republican leadership plan to put off the debt ceiling fight for three months. This marks a new strategy for House Republicans who until recently had pledged not to raise the debt ceiling unless it was matched with an equal amount of spending cuts.
MONTAGNE: Nebraska's governor has approved a new plan for where the controversial Keystone XL pipeline will pass through his state. In 2011, the governor opposed the pipeline for its potential environmental impact. Yesterday, he wrote a letter to President Obama saying the new route avoids the more environmentally fragile parts of Nebraska.
It now falls to the Obama administration to approve the project. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
And today's last word in business is: extraterrestrial gold rush.
A company called Deep Space Industries - which sounds like it's a company fm a Mel Brooks movie - anyway, it's planning to start mining asteroids - mining asteroids by the year 2015. The idea is to first send small spacecraft to explore asteroids for minerals like platinum and gold.
Half of all tomatoes eaten in the U.S. come from Mexico, and tomato growers in Florida aren't happy about that. In fact, they're willing to risk a trade war to reverse the trend.
At JC Distributing In Nogales, Ariz., one misstep and you're likely to get knocked over by a pallet full of produce. Forklifts crisscross each other carrying peppers, squash and especially tomatoes from trucks backed into the warehouse loading dock.
"This is a Mexican truck being unloaded," says JC President Jaime Chamberlain. "He's just waiting for his paperwork to get back."
Fresh snow lures a lot of people to do some outdoor exploring, but sometimes that exploring can go too far. When snowmobilers or skiers wander off or get in over their heads, many call 911, putting a strain on already underfunded search-and-rescue budgets.
In Vermont, state police have had to help find 50 lost skiers in the past four weeks.
Farmers who had hoped to get some answers on why prices for their raw milk went into free fall a decade ago were disappointed Tuesday by the settlement of a case accusing Dairy Farmers of America Inc. of creating a milk monopoly in the Southeast.
Dairy farmers and industry observers had hoped for their day in court after years of delays in the large class-action suit. But the day before the trial was to start in federal court in Tennessee, DFA announced a $158.6 million deal, saying it didn't want to risk going to trial.
This undated image shows the Amenas natural gas field in Algeria, where Islamist militants raided and took hostages last week. Dozens of hostages and their captors were killed when Algerian forces subsequently raided the facility.
The prime minister of Algeria is defending his government's response to last week's attack on a natural gas plant that left 37 hostages dead. He says the Islamic militants who were behind the attack planned to blow up the facility and would have killed a lot more people if they hadn't been stopped.
The attack happened at a huge, internationally operated facility in the Sahara. And it underscores the dangers that energy companies face when they do business in politically unstable places.
And today's last word in business is: Who do you trust with your money?
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MONEY")
PINK FLOYD: (Singing) Money, get away. Get a good job with more pay and your OK.
INSKEEP: Any excuse to play Pink Floyd. A new ranking suggests which industries consumers trust. And for the third year in a row, the industry consumers trust the least is the industry that you pretty much have to trust with your money.
NPR business news starts with global unemployment figures.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: We usually focus on American unemployment, which has been going down. But world unemployment may hit record levels this year, according to an annual report by the International Labor Organization, which is forecasting that up to 202 million people who won't work will be out of work around this world this year.
Lots of companies make products that don't have much in common, but AeroVironment specializes in two products that are very different — electric vehicle chargers, which keep cars like the Nissan Leaf on the road, and military drones. The Los Angeles-area firm is a leading manufacturer of small unmanned aircraft.
One of President Obama's gun control proposals appears to have widespread support — universal background checks for gun purchases. Some experts on mental health and gun violence find problems with the current laws, and they say the system doesn't do a very good job of predicting and preventing gun crime.
When you enter Kerley's Hunting and Outfitting in Cupertino, Calif., you're greeted by a taxidermy lion roaring and leaping. There are rows of rifles on the walls, but the owner, Harry Dwyer III, doesn't appear to be as fierce as his mascot.
All eyes will be on the First Lady Michelle Obama's fashion choices at Monday's inaugural events. Presidential fashions do make history — think Ronald Reagan's brown suits, or Jimmy Carter's cardigans.
And we're in the midst of year-end earnings announcements. This week, companies including Apple, Lockheed-Martin, Microsoft and Starbucks will announce their final 2012 results. NPR's Yuki Noguchi has a preview of the corporate earnings season.
INSKEEP: OK, last year, the United States government shut down the file-sharing website Megaupload over charges of copyright infringement. That was a popular place for users to share pirated films and music. Over the weekend, the founder of Megaupload, the New Zealand tycoon Kim Dotcom, launched a successor to the site. It's called simply Mega.
With huge crowds expected in Washington, D.C., dozens of pedicab drivers have come to town to take advantage of the president's swearing in. Mike Kowalczyk of Newport, Rhode Island, told WTOP he's a little worried about directions. He said he got lost his first night in the nation's capital.
After the first Obama inauguration, everybody talked about three things: the historic moment, the Arctic weather — and Aretha Franklin's hat.
If it is possible for a piece of millinery to steal the thunder of one of the most-watched moments in recent memory, the Queen of Soul's hat managed to do it. Her gray felt cloche was topped with a giant, matching bow, outlined in rhinestones that flashed in the chill sunlight as she sang "My Country 'Tis of Thee."