Weekend Update, 4.11.09


Welcome back to Weekend Update, where we showcase some of the highlights from this site over the past week.

In the umpteenth round of the old media versus new media match, the Associated Press in its annual meeting this week played into the stereotype of the grizzled no-nonsense editor who shakes his fist at the new interweb thing (or was it intertube?) and its feisty friend Google News, who are running amok on his lawn. In addition to trying to “protect news content from misappropriation,” AP board chairman and MediaNews group CEO Dean Singleton emphasized that print was the “meat,” while online was merely the “salt and pepper.” Unimpressed, BoomTown thought Singleton was singling out the steak while missing the sizzle.

In response, Google (GOOG), or He Who Was Not Named, posted a polite, if rather ambiguous, statement on its public policy blog, which was just begging for translation. Also doing some interpreting of his own, AP executive Jim Kennedy spoke with MediaMemo on just what all the fire and brimstone was about. In quieter newspaper-related news, The Wall Street Journal continues on its quest to spread pay content online, possibly through niche content, according to WSJ.com Executive Editor Alan Murray. Also experimenting online is the recently opened news Web site, True/Slant, a heady combination of journalism, social networking and advertising.

Another news item that’s gotten people talking is the fallout from the collapsed IBM-Sun merger, aka Sun pulls a Jerry Yang. (Oh Jerry, the Internet kids because it loves… loves to kid! Pwn-age.) Following the news of the collapse, Sun (JAVA) shares dropped more than 27 percent, leading analysts and Digital Daily to predict difficult times ahead for the company, here and later here as the stock continued its fall over the week. Besides quashing its own stock price, Sun also quashed rumors that chairman and co-founder Scott McNealy would replace CEO Jonathan Schwartz.

Other nonthematic highlights this week:

BoomTown got the exclusive on the anticipated talks between Yahoo’s (YHOO) Carol Bartz and Microsoft’s (MSFT) Steve Ballmer in which the two CEOs discussed the possibility of a search and advertising partnership. Speaking of exclusivity, Google and Microsoft like totally want to be Twitter’s new bff, or maybe go steady if Twitter’s interested.

Digital Daily ruminated on speculations of Time Warner (TWX) doing an AOL spinoff, especially after its hire of former Google exec Tim Armstrong and its attempts to amend debt agreements as per an SEC filing. Also in the rumor mill: The iPhone 3.0 may support onboard video editing. Less of a rumor and more of a slap in the face, to Apple (AAPL) at least: Elan Microelectronics has taken off the gloves (and taken up the lawsuit) because it believes that Apple’s products infringe on its touchscreen patents.

MediaMemo goes over the facts about Vevo, the new online music video hub that’s a partnership between Google’s YouTube and Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, with interesting ramifications for both. Meanwhile, iTunes has put in place its new tiered-pricing system, in which songs will now cost 69 cents, 99 cents, or $1.29. But in a question that shocked no one: Where are the all the lowest-tier songs? Don’t worry your pretty little heads, said Big Music, they’re on their way.

In a new Mossblog, Walt Mossberg reports from the battlefield of the growing Smartphone Wars, in which iPhones, BlackBerries and others are engaged in mortal combat. In the Mossberg Solution, Katherine Boehret reviews BumpTop, an application that takes your flat, plain old X-Y plane of a desktop to the next dimension, that is, the third dimension.

More next week!

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus