Weekend Update 11.21.09–The House of Cards Edition

cards_imageIn tough economic times like these, even the biggest businesses get the urge to restructure, reorg and reshuffle.

Kara began Monday with some of the hard facts from the pending AOL-TimeWarner (TWX) split. Stock issued for the post-spinoff AOL places the company’s total implied value at around $3 billion. Also on the list of stuff from 1994 being jettisoned from tech companies is the original instant messenger, ICQ. Kara reported that AOL seeks to shed the brand in an effort to keep the larger ship afloat. Over at Yahoo (YHOO), Kara opened the lid on CEO Carol Bartz’s shifting of top execs. In Silicon Valley’s house of cards, everyone watches out for a shuffle.

Over at Digital Daily, John brought some hard numbers to the stresses being felt by AT&T’s (T) 3G network thanks to a certain fruit-flavored smartphone. It seems that the iPhone is largely responsible for the 2,000 percent increase in data traffic in the San Francisco Bay Area compared with a year ago. (Weekend Update doesn’t claim sole responsibility.) Keeping up with layoff news these days is almost a full-time job. It’s a good thing Paczkowski is on the case. This week, Sony-Ericsson let roughly 2,000 employees go. The firm plans to shutter whole offices in both the United States and abroad. John finished strong with a whole slew of posts about the forthcoming Google (GOOG) Chrome OS, which was released in a developer’s beta this week. Next year, the good kids may be getting their stockings filled with Chrome rather than Apples.

You can never tell what MediaMemo will have up its sleeve in a given week, and this one was no exception. Peter came in early with reports that Wired magazine is another publication betting on a certain tablet. Wired may pave the way for other Condé Nast publication e-editions. From the department of “Hey, it looks like it worked for them,” a couple of music giants will release a Hulu-like service for music videos. No word yet on whether the Internet killed the video star. Peter closed it out this week with the fizzle that will be Oprah’s broadcast career. The talk-show-host-turned-deity will end her broadcast career in 2011, but may not be sorely missed by CBS, according to MediaMemo. Everyone is pretty torn up about Gail leaving though.

Personal Technology went a little off the reservation this week and covered an intriguing specialty gadget with a very specific target audience. The reading aid for the visually impaired is unusual for many reasons, not the least of which is that its branded Intel (INTC) both on the inside and outside. The reader uses a downward-facing camera to read text and translate it directly to speech. Walt was pleased with the device on the whole, though he encountered some bugs and a somewhat steep learning curve that may be a function of the novel nature of the product. Over at Mossberg’s Mailbox, the lead question this week was about data loss. Once the geek shudders stopped, Walt let the reader know that there are many alternatives to Apple’s (AAPL) Time Capsule drives, and the integrated Time Machine option is one useful alternative. At Mossberg Solution, Katie won a fight with a Pixi and brought us the blow-by-blow account. The cheap-and-cheerful version of the Palm (PALM) Pre features a stripped-down price. That savings came at too high a performance cost, said Katie. She praised Palms webOS, but came down on the side of spending a little more to get the Pre.

Stay tuned and check back often. Weekend Update will be back next week as long as we can make it out for the Black Friday sales with all our fingers and toes.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work