iFive: iPhone 5 NFC, Spacecraft Orbits Mercury, Microsoft Kills Spam, Friendfinder to IPO, Is Groupon Worth $25 Billion?

It’s Friday, and you’ll be keen for the weekend to arrive, so let’s get off to a running start on the early news:

1. Reports of the demise of wireless payment NFC tech in the upcoming iPhone 5 may be exaggerated: A new rumor has surfaced, purporting to come from an entrepreneur working on a “secret” NFC project, that suggests Apple will indeed support the contact-free system in its new edition. This backs up moves by Apple in January to hire an NFC/RFID expert.


2. Late yesterday a little NASA spacecraft pulled off a world’s (or should that be “space’s”?) first: The Messenger vehicle successfully fired its retro rockets, commanded by NASA 96 million miles away, to put itself in orbit around Mercury–a feat that’s never been done before by anyone. We can expect miraculous data to start arriving about our solar system’s innermost planet in just a few weeks.

3. If your inbox is freer of spam emails than it usually is this morning, you’ve got Microsoft and the Feds to thank. As part of a civil lawsuit filed in Seattle, MS and U.S. Marshalls launched a number of raids to cease the operations of the botnet called “Rustok,” a system behind many of the typical spam emails that comprise a huge percentage of global email traffic. An MS spokesman says the raids were “100% effective.”

4. Remember Friendfinder? It canceled plans to IPO over a year ago because of bad market conditions, but apparently the trading situation has improved enough to please the company’s execs and financial backers: It’s just filed an S-1 amendment form with the SEC to re-start its IPO. The company is an offshoot of Penthouse (actually it’s Media Group), and when it last tried to IPO it was valued at close to $500 million.

5. Meanwhile there’s a brouhaha swelling over the potential value of Groupon at IPO. Last April it was valued at $1.4 billion, then later in the year it turned down a $6 billion acquisition offer from Google. Now there’s a rumor its valuation could poke as high as $25 billion–an astonishingly high figure. Is it a realistic one, or is it a symptom of another tech investment bubble?

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