Weekend Update 03.13.10–North by Northwest Edition

With virtually every twittery, techie media fanboy and girl swarming all over the greater Austin area this week, it feels a little empty in the Bay Area. The sun is shining, but Dolores park is just a little emptier. There are fewer fixed-gear bikes darting between cars in the Mission District, and convenience store shelves are overflowing with unpurchased Pabst Blue Ribbon. Weekend Update feels a little left out, sitting here staring longingly at all the #sxsw twitter tags. But we know why we stayed behind this year. It was to bring you all the updates from a wild week of tech. Neither rain, nor snow, nor a hipster-packed BBQ joint can keep AllThingsD from our appointed post, though.

Earlier this week, Google (GOOG) launched its App store, er, marketplace. Before the announcement, Kara shot a video with Manymoon, a start-up funded my Harrison Metal that is doing work in the social-productivity space. Its online tools are among the more popular on Google’s fledgling app aggregator, but it remains to be seen how the venture will fare. In a case of foreshadowing, or not, Kara covered the bump between Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim and Bill Gates this week. Slim, a major creditor of the New York Times (NYT), bumped Bill Gates from the top spot of the Forbes billionaire list by a mere half-billion, or as Weekend Update likes to call it, about 200 times most American’s lifetime earning potential. Kara rounded out the busy week with a post about wireless music player maker Sonos landing $25 million from Index Ventures. Kara even managed to get a lunch date with Mike Volpi of Index, who now also sits on the Sonos board.

John was out this week, but left us all with a provocative entry about the coming siege of HTC by the Apple (AAPL) horde. An analysis by Deutsche Bank says HTC may not have much support for its arguments in the freshly pressed patent suit. John will be back on Monday. We can’t wait to see how this shakes out.

Peter was posting like a madman this week and was on his A game for sure. He caught some news from Twitter that might have easily been swept under the mat. According to the Twitter blog, the company has come up with a plan to battle some of the phishing that’s been plaguing the twitterverse. The compay has decided to reshorten suspected attack links so that it can track them to their origin and decide if they need to be deleted. Creepy? Maybe. Effective? We’ll see. It was a tough week for record company EMI, and MediaMemo was on the case. The giant music label lost viral video mavens OK Go. Peter reminded us that OK Go hasn’t been as viral when it comes to album sales, but the band’s departure is certainly a hit to beleaguered EMI. Peter finished up this week by spending some valuable time on Chatroulette, though not in the way you’re thinking. He covered a conversation that the New York Times had with the Web video chat service creator, Andrey Ternovskiy. Seems that while the 17-year-old isn’t looking to sell Chatroulette right now, he would like Google to pay him the ad money so far denied him on account of his age.

Personal Technology was a little countercyclical this week as Walt reviewed an e-reader device much nearer to the Amazon (AMZN) Kindle than to the iPad. While Walt had some complimentary things to say in regard to the IREX DR800SG e-reader’s design and readability, he’s not a fan overall. The device’s software feels clumsy and it lacks a robust way to download new materials. While the bigger size and sleeker design may be the shape of things to come, Walt put this device squarely behind the Kindle in the purchase line. The Mossblog had a new post for the second week in a row, this time with a video of Walt on WSJ.com’s “Digits” talking about what to consider when purchasing an e-reader. Readability, battery life and ease of purchasing books are what it’s all about, but thanks to the magic of the Mossblog, you can check it out for yourself. Mossberg’s Mailbox featured a few important clarifications this week. Walt fielded queries on AppleTV, securely wiping hard drives and one more magicJack question. Katie got her hot little hands on Motorola’s (MOT) Backflip this week and said the new smartphone, which strangely runs an outdated version of the Android OS, gets high marks for innovative thinking, even if the execution has some bugs. The device offers users a way to use the touchscreen without actually touching it, in this case by placing a touch-sensitive area on the back of the device. The Backflip also features a full keyboard, though all of those features working together in a physical way was cumbersome at times, Katie said. She gave it 6 of 10, but looks forward to more innovation in the space.

That’s all from Weekend Update. We’re staying on the job here in Silicon Valley to keep you up to date with all the tech news, even if you are busy eating ribs, watching bloggers give presentations and listening to indie rock music under the Texas sky. You keep Austin weird. AllThingsD will keep you up to date.


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When AllThingsD began, we told readers we were aiming to present a fusion of new-media timeliness and energy with old-media standards for quality and ethics. And we hope you agree that we’ve done that.

— Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, in their farewell D post