Google's App Race: Morning Tech Bytes

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Google ( GOOG) is planning on hiring engineers to develop in-house smartphone applications in an attempt to keep up with Apple ( AAPL), according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Android users can access an app marketplace of 100,000 applications, while Apple's app store has more than 350,000 apps.

Shares of Google rose 0.42% in pre-market trading Monday to $603.50.

Verizon ( VZ) will begin taking pre-orders for the Apple iPhone from existing customers beginning at 3 a.m. ET on Feb. 3, according to the company's Web site. Verizon is calling it an exclusive opportunity for current customers to get a jump on the iPhone supply before it's opened up to everyone else.

The Verizon iPhone officially goes on sale Feb. 10.

Intel ( Intel) Capital and IBM ( IBM) both announced they had committed funds to President Obama's Startup America campaign, designed to increase the success of American entrepreneurs. Intel Capital will put $200 million towards the project, while IBM will invest $150 million.

Shares of Intel rose 0.7% to $21.61, while shares of IBM were up 0.04%.

KIT Digital ( KITD), an online video technology company, has acquired video start-ups KickApps, Kyte and Kewego for a combined $77.2 million. As part of the acquisitions, KickApps CEO Alex Blum will be the company's new chief operating officer.

Shares of KIT Digital rose 4.4% in pre-market trading to $14.14.

ShopKick, a mobile shopping application, has more than 750,000 users since launching in August, the company announced Monday. The app, which gives shoppers rewards for entering stores, has signed retailers like Sports Authority, Best Buy ( BBY) and Target ( TGT) for its service.

Digital reading technology company LibreDigital has raised $4 million in venture funding, it announced Monday. The company aggregates reading material for Apple's iBookstore.

--Written by Olivia Oran in New York.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/Ozoran.

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