Due to the holidays, this Week in Tech comes a day early. It’s a Christmas miracle!

Here’s the round-up of the week’s most interesting mobile and technology stories.

This week we cover the successful launch and landing of SpaceX’s Falcon 9, Google and Ford’s self-driving car partnership, Lyft’s big fundraise, and Apple and Ericsson’s patent deal.

SpaceX successfully launches and lands Falcon 9 rocket

For the first time ever, Elon Musk and the SpaceX crew launched the Falcon 9 rocket and successfully landed it back on Earth.

This is a historic achievement that can significantly decrease the cost of space travel.

Typically, rockets that are launched into space are designed to burn up upon re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, essentially making each launch a sunk cost of about $60 million.

Now that the Falcon can launch and land back on Earth, that $60 million can be spread across multiple launches, significantly lowering the cost of space travel by a factor of up to one hundred.

This can open the doors to more easily launching satellites into space and even colonizing Mars.

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin successfully landed a rocket a few weeks ago, but its flight was shallower and didn’t launch 11 satellites along the way, like the Falcon 9 did.

History has been made, and the future for space travel is bright.

Check out the launch and landing video below:

Google and Ford teaming up for self-driving cars

Google and Ford will create a joint venture and work together to build self-driving cars. The partnership will be announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

Ford has been experimenting with autonomous vehicles for a few years but only just received approval to test their cars in California. By partnering with Google, they take a massive leap ahead in software development and testing.

By engaging with Ford, Google instantly gains automotive expertise that may have taken many years and billions of dollars to acquire. They also will have access to Ford’s vast network of dealerships to sell the self-driving cars when they become available to the general public.

The deal is said to be non-exclusive, so Google may be able to partner with other car manufacturers in the future.

Lyft plans to raise up to $1 billion to keep up with Uber

Lyft has filed to raise a Series F round of up to $1 billion to continue its battle with much larger and better-funded rival, Uber.

The fundraise would put Lyft’s valuation at around $4.8 billion. Uber’s valuation, after it announced a huge fundraising round of $2.1 billion, is $60-70 billion.

The two companies’ services are essentially interchangeable but they have very different international expansion strategies.

Uber’s huge war chest is necessary because they are battling head-to-head against local competition in new markets like India and China.

Lyft, on the other hand, is partnering with these local competitors that include Didi Kuaidi in China, Ola in India, and GrabTaxi in Singapore, to battle Uber.

Read more at Bloomberg Business.

Apple and Ericsson reach patent deal

Apple and Ericsson have ended a long patent dispute, and Apple has agreed to pay the Swedish telecom giant a one-time payment and royalties that amount to 0.5% of future iPhone and iPad sales.

The dispute was over technology Ericsson developed that facilitates the use of 4G LTE standards in mobile phones. Most other cell phone manufacturers have agreed to pay Ericsson, but Apple believed their demands were unreasonable.

Ericsson is one of the world’s largest patent holders, with over 37,000 patents to its credit.

Read more at Ars Technica.

What do you think of these stories? Have you read other interesting mobile and technology stories this week that are worth mentioning? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments.

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Photo courtesy of SpaceX.