Weekend Update 11.07.09–Big Trouble in Little China Edition


Big news often comes in small packages and BoomTown was all over the little moves that meant big stories this week. Kara covered a massive redesign of Microsoft’s MSN homepage that follows the old car-racing-mantra-turned-Web-design ethos: Add power and lightness. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when BoomTown covered the end of the Skype ruckus. All is forgiven, and all it took was a sizable stake in the company and seats on the board. Kara rounded things out by running a quick post about a spankin’ new feature from AllThingsD: Every Friday, the just launched “Almost Famous” will cover interesting start-ups through the eyes of their chief geeks. Kara’s all about geek love.

Digital Daily isn’t usually big into bean-counting, but this week the numbers were where it was happening. The first sales figures came back from Apple’s iPhone launch in China, and the numbers weren’t good. As of pub time for the post, only 5,000 iPhones had been (legitimately) purchased. If the Chinese numbers were a picture of modesty, the App Store’s numbers were parading through Time Square in an orange jumpsuit singing Eddie Grant’s “Electric Avenue.” The two-year-old App store’s epic popularity has pushed its already outsized download numbers past the two-billion mark. Not to be outdone with unprecedented flash, Google (GOOG) violated its own nonrule late in the week and ran a semi-ad on the Google homepage. You say ad, they say synergy, but at the end of the day it was a direct promo for Motorola’s (MOT) new Droid, which runs on Google’s Android platform.

MediaMemo started the week off right with a fresh bite from Apple (AAPL). Peter covered the revamp of Apple TV, which will now be offered for $30 a month. News from News Corp. was no surprise this week, when MediaMemo brought us the story that the media empire (and AllThingsD’s uber-parent company) was doing fine as long as you only pay attention to cable and movies. Broadcast and print? Eh, not so much. Finally, Peter asked a few probing questions of Google CEO Eric Schmidt in regard to his company’s suspicious addition of a “blog” tag attached to some Google News postings. Schmidt speculated, but the ultimate answer wasn’t, as he suggested, because of your mother.

Deep in his Personal Technology bunker, at an undisclosed location somewhere in rural Maryland, Walt got to take a crack at the new Motorola Droid this week, and his response was, well, very positive. He praised the Droid’s exceptional battery life and call clarity, even if the touchscreen wasn’t quite up to the iPhone bar. All in all, he said it was a win for Verizon (VZ) and the Google’s mobile OS.

Mossberg’s Mailbox continues to fill with questions about the speculative Apple tablet. Walt offered some other sage advice about making the Windows 7 switch with 64 bits, and what to do with all that grief over the death of Microsoft’s (MSFT) Outlook Express.

Katie was sweatin’ to the newbies this week, with an energetic review of Fitbit, a wireless fob for tracking calories and exercise stats. The Bluetooth headset-sized clip attaches to your waistband and uploads your activities to the Fitbit Web interface, where you can track how many calories you did or didn’t burn. You can also add water consumed and calories eaten. The Fitbit has been shipping since September, but won’t appear on retail shelves until after the holidays. No word yet on if it will include a “Cheesecake Factory” tab to the interface so as to allow for calorie counts that require exponents.

Like any good gadget lovers, we are all about the small and mighty here at AllThingsD. Stay tuned in with your RSS reader, Twitter feed or the good ol’ homepage. We’ll keep bringing you the little things you need to know.

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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