Webwire: Apple ducks overseas tax; Microsoft tests own smartphone

Apple is another company that uses tax loopholes to reduce payments outside its home market, with a US regulatory filing revealing it paid 2% corporation tax abroad. Google and Amazon are already facing pressure on the issue in the UK and France
Microsoft is developing own-brand smartphones, component suppliers in Asia Pacific claim. The firm is increasingly moving into the hardware market, after many years supplying software only.
Google has requested a patent battle between its Motorola Mobility division and Microsoft be conducted behind closed doors, to protect trade secrets.
Facebook is trialing updates to a controversial timeline feature, which has proven unpopular with users since being launched in August.
Japanese consumer electronics giant Sharp may seek a government bailout to cover bonds that mature in 2013, after its cash reserves were battered in 1H12.
Consumer electronics maker Panasonic is forecasting its second annual loss in as many years. The prediction caused a 19% drop in its share price.